on June 25, 2011
The alligator farm is located on the outskirts of Everglades National Park. It took us about an hour to drive here from South Beach, and was easy to find using sat nav.The farm gives you a great taste of South Florida's alligator filled wilderness. There are more than 3,000 alligators and crocodiles in pens or breeding ponds. Trainers wrestle alligators and display colourful, exotic snakes. Entrance was $21 each for us and $9 for our son. The farm is in Homestead and is open daily 9am until 6pm. We arrived at midday and left just after 3:30.It started here as a family owned attraction and became a commercial alligator farm in 1985. At this time alligators were facing extinction and farming was permitted to try and save the species.The visit includes an airboat ride, the walking trail around the farm and the hourly wildlife shows. On entry, they give you a time for the airboat ride - you have to stick to this, you can't just turn up for any airboat.The airboat ride is great fun, but is extremely loud and visitors are advised to wear ear protectors (they provide these). You need to make sure if you want to take children on this ride that they can cope with the noise and the speed - it is a bit of a thrill. I think our son was the perfect age at 7, any younger and I think children might be a bit concerned. Avoid sitting in the first 3 rows if you don't want to get wet - all seats have a great view.The ride starts out slowly along a narrow channel. We saw a couple of alligators next to the boat and the driver points out other wildlife. When we got further along, the noise level increased dramatically, the driver speeded up and the boat zoomed along. It went so fast, it almost made you breathless. It is such a thrill and so exhilarating. They also spin the boat at little at various places to make it even more thrilling. The whole ride lasted about 25 minutes. It was fantastic - I could not emphaise enough how much we all enjoyed this.The snake show was very educational and the handler showed us 2 different types of snake. If you hang around after the show, you get a chance to hold the snakes. The alligator show is also excellent. The handler dragged a huge alligator into the pen by the tail, told us lots of interesting information about the animals, wrestled with it and even held its jaw open with his chin. Entertaining and educational! After this show, you get to hold a baby alligator (with its mouth taped shut), which is also a great experience.There is a basic, but adequate snack area where we ate alligator sandwiches - very nice. They also have pens with baby alligators which you can see quite closely. Do buy the 25 cent handful of alligator food - it is fun for children especially to feed them.Walk along the paths looping around the farm for a look at the alligators in the pond and climb the observation decks for a better look at the rivers of grass.They have alligator feeding too - apparently alligators only need to feed about once a year, but they feed them here so visitors can see them eat. The snap of their jaws and the sound it makes is mesmorising.There are other animals you can look at as well - we enjoyed the turtles - again you can buy 25 cents worth of feed for them.The alligator farm is a world away from Miami and South Beach, but was one of the best and most memorable experiences of our entire holiday. I would definitely recommend it.
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