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The best places to see wild alligators in Florida

Maria Mora is a freelance writer and single mom fueled by coffee, questionable time management skills, toaster oven waffles and the color orange. She lives in Florida with her two young sons. If you see her on Twitter, tell her to stop p...

Get up close with big reptiles

If you're a fan of alligators, there's no better place to see them than in Florida. Find out where the locals get close, but not too close, to these majestic creatures.

Florida is known for its alligators for a reason. There are over a million wild alligators in Florida, and they can be found all over the state. Golf courses, retention ponds and even swimming pools have become homes to curious gators. Find out where you can see alligators in the wild when you visit Florida.

1

Hillsborough River State Park

Hillsborough River State Park

Photo credit: Walter via flickr

Just outside of Tampa, Hillsborough River State Park is a wild escape from city life. The clean and well-maintained park is a haven for campers, hikers and kayakers. Rent a bike, or rent a kayak to explore the wild twists and turns along the river. You're bound to see a gator, even if you take a short boardwalk stroll. Bring your camera, and never feed wild gators.

2

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Photo credit: Robert Linsdell via flickr

Wild alligators don't care if they live just a few miles from a NASA launch site. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and nearby Kennedy Space Center are home to wild gators that sunbathe by trails and roads. Take a wildlife driving tour to see gators and dozens of species of wild birds from the comfort (and safety) of your car.

3

Ocala National Forest

Ocala National Forest
Photo credit: Todd Vision via flickr

Home to over a dozen lakes as well as springs and rivers, Ocala National Forest is a treasure trove of alligator habitats. Located in Central Florida, it's an expansive park with campsites geared toward more-experienced hikers and campers. Take a day trip into the forest unless you're used to staying in isolated, primitive areas.

4

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park
Photo credit: Miguel Vieira via Flickr

Due to the subtropical climate, Everglades National Park is an excellent place to spot gators year-round. Gators love warm weather and warm water, and they can frequently be found lounging alongside the boardwalk of the popular Anhinga Trail. Less than a mile long, this boardwalk trail is family-friendly and big on wildlife. Stay and play in Miami, and take a day trip out into the Everglades for gators galore.

5

Myakka River State Park

Myakka River State Park

Photo credit: Julie Smith David via Flickr

Just outside of Sarasota, Myakka River State Park wows visitors with untouched Florida landscape. A kayaker's paradise, it is a beautiful place to see alligators in the wild. While you're there, do not miss the canopy walkway, where a massive tower gives visitors a birds-eye view of the park.

More Florida travel

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Glazer Children's Museum in Tampa

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