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Endangered Vacays

Gator Zone

Miami, FL

the draw

Everglades National Park. It's the biggest mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere, famous for its sawgrass prairies and gators. But at just 45 minutes from Miami, pollution and urban expansion is doing it in.

how to see it

Take an airboat tour (ecosafari.com). More of a raft than a boat, it's like Disney's Jungle Cruise…but for real. Float past ten-foot American alligators, turtles, pelicans, turkey vultures, and if you're really lucky, a Florida panther. (Keep an eye out for the Skunk Ape, the Everglades's answer to Bigfoot.) Lunch at the Everglades Seafood Depot is included. Should you tell the kiddies the nuggets are made of gator? They kinda do taste like chicken.

where to crash

The Miami Marriott Doral Golf Resort & Spa (marriott.com) is about the closest, and your kids will go bonkers over the five pools. There's also a swanky spa with a hot massaging waterfall.

while you're there

Drive over to the Miami Children's Museum (miamichildrensmuseum.org) and your kid can compete in the Olympics. Mt. MiChiMu (also known as an awesome rock wall) is the site of the museum's Summer Olympics competitions. Make a day of it by heading across the street to Jungle Island, a tropical zoo. You can meet an 11-foot Liger and feed a Rainbow Lorikeet.

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