The 14 Best Places to See Wild Alligators in Florida (2023)

Alligators in Florida are wild reptiles that are predators! Found only in the southeastern United States, its name comes from Spanish settlers when the creatures were first spotted in Florida.

Found in ponds, swamps, bogs, swamps, lakes, and rivers, alligators increase plant diversity and provide habitat for other animals during droughts. This makes them very important to their ecosystems!

Although alligators have been considered critically endangered since 1973, conservation efforts have reversed it! Alligators are now in abundance in Florida, the state's official reptile!

The 14 Best Places to See Wild Alligators in Florida (1)

Does Florida have crocodiles or alligators?

In fact, Florida has both! Florida's warm climate makes it a perfect habitat for crocodiles and alligators.

South Florida is actually the only place on earth where crocodiles and alligators can coexist! While alligators can be found in all 67 Florida counties, crocodiles are shy and only found along the Florida coast.

While both creatures are dangerous, alligators prefer freshwater habitats while crocodiles prefer saltwater habitats. Alligators have U-shaped faces, while crocodiles have toothier grins.

How many alligators are there in Florida?

The average number of alligators in Florida is staggering: 1.25 million! Incredible considering they were once in danger!

The alligators are now populated enough to report to animal control. If an alligator is seen in your home and is over 5 feet tall, you can report it as a "nuisance alligator" and the animal welfare agency will take care of it.

How long do alligators live? On average, most live between 30 and 50 years. Some alligators, despite fighting for their lives, can live up to 70 years. The oldest recorded alligator lifespan exceeded 100 years!

Did you know that the alligator population has grown so much that from 2006 to 2015 Disney World had to delete more than 200 of them? Luckily, alligators leave humans alone and will only attack if provoked.

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What Types of Alligators Live in Florida?

Florida is home to two different species of alligators. American and Chinese alligators call Florida home, but the two couldn't be more different.

Although alligators are the largest reptiles in North America, the American species is much larger than the Chinese alligator. The easiest way to tell these two apart is to look at their snouts. The Chinese alligator has a narrower, tapered snout than the American alligator.

While both species are carnivorous, the Chinese alligator has blunt teeth and is better equipped to eat shellfish. However, you should be more careful when dealing with American alligators.

American alligators will attack and eat anything when hungry. They have been known to attack turtles, humans, and pets such as dogs and cats. Chinese alligators are notorious for not attacking humans.

How big are the alligators in Florida?

On average, an American alligator, the most common type of alligator in Florida, can grow up to 800 pounds and up to 13 feet long.

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How big are alligators? Males average 9.8 to 15 feet tall, while females only grow to 8.5 feet. Females generally rarely exceed 3 meters, but males can grow much larger.

How long do alligators live? In the wild, alligators can live 35 to 50 years. As impressive as they may appear, you should always keep at least 15 meters away!

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The 14 Best Places to See Wild Alligators in Florida

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is the third largest national park in the United States. With over 200,000 wild alligators calling this park home, this is one of the best places to see alligators in Florida!

The Everglades consists of 1.5 million hectares of wetland reserves. Sawgrass swamps, pine forests and coastal mangroves make up the park! This is the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators can coexist.

Alligators are one of the most important parts of the Everglades ecosystem. The breeding activity of the females is the largest peat bog in the region!

The best place to see alligators in the Everglades is at the park entrance in Shark Valley. Take an airboat ride on a trolley tour! For the best alligator views, do the Anhinga Trail in Royal Palm, which is a 10-minute drive from the Ernest Coe Visitor Center!

Although alligators are among the most dangerous predators in the park, we recommend bringing insect repellent with you. Without them, the mosquitoes are almost unbearable!

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Hillsborough River Staatspark

In the northeast corner of Hillsborough, near Zephyrhills, you'll find Hillsborough River State Park! With 2,900 acres and more than 7 miles of trails, the park is one of the oldest in Florida.

Popular for its proximity to Tampa, alligators are easily spotted here! Among the many ecosystems found along the Pantanal Trail are perfect alligator habitats. These are great areas for them because they are so swampy!

Look out for the Rapids Trail, there are almost always alligators resting on a log or swimming in the water. Walk down the stationary bridge and alligators sun themselves on a bench over the river.

Swim safely and gator-free in the State Park Pool! Next door is the Hillsborough Park Poolside Cafe, which offers food and drinks, as well as umbrella and lounge chair rentals.

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Merritt Island Nature Reserve

When NASA bought the land that would become the Kennedy Space Center, there was still a lot left! The surrounding unused land would become the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Start at the Visitor Center, where you'll find the best spots to see an alligator on your trip. Along the trails you'll see what life was like before Cocoa Beach became civilized. Birds fly while Spanish moss hangs like cobwebs from the oak trees.

For $10 you can drive your car down Black Point Wildlife Drive. On the 7 mile drive tour you are sure to spot an alligator from the safety of your own car! Alligators can be seen on warm, sunny days in winter, but they're best seen in the sun during the winter and fall months.

If you venture onto the trails, wear repellent! Be careful, alligators can sunbathe near these trails. Always be vigilant and make sure you never feed or bother the alligators! Stop at the Manatee Observation Center forsee wild manateesbefore going home!

(Video) Only in Florida: Video of HUGE gator in Lakeland goes viral

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Ocala Nationalforst

North of Orlando, the 600-square-mile Ocala National Forest is known for its sandy pine forest. Besides alligators, this park is packed with activities perfect for the whole family!

The best place to see alligators in the Ocala National Forest is on the banks of the rivers where they sunbathe on the boardwalk! Alligators can also be seen on the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway, a trail through the heart of the forest.

For a closer look, rent a canoe and take a dip at Salt Springs Run. Highly regarded as one of the best paddling trails in the country, you can spend 2-4 hours in a canoe spotting alligators off shore. Since the treetops provide plenty of shade, this trail is particularly refreshing in summer.

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Myakka River State Park

Located just off I-75, Myakka River State Park is a perfect destination for spotting Florida alligators. In Sarasota County is a trip to see alligators in this 37,000-acre parkone of the funn things to do in Sarasota!

Alligators can be spotted on all of the park's bodies of water year-round, but rangers say the best chance of seeing these creatures is in early spring. Alligators like heat, but not heat!

During the warmer months of the year in Florida, alligators tend to spend more time in the water. They like to lie at the bottom of rivers and lakes where it is cooler. Mating season is actually late March, one of the easiest times to see alligators in Florida.

Myakka is home to the "Deep Hole", a popular spot where alligators congregate like moths in a lamp! Scientists and researchers have not been able to figure out why, but at least 120 alligators have been sighted in this area in just one sighting!

If you want a safer guided tour, follow the signs to Myakka Outpost once you enter the park to find a guided airboat tour. If you decide to just hike the park's nature trails, signs will warn you of the possible presence of alligators!

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Lake Kissimmee State Park

Located south of Orlando, Lake Kissimmee is the third largest lake and third largest park in the state of Florida! Inall attractions in Orlandoor it's Lake Kissimmee State Park, which is perfect for seeing all kinds of wildlife, not just alligators.

Just off SR 60, you can spot eagles, ospreys, bobcats, and alligators in this lush park. First, look for alligators in canals and lakes.

Lake Kissimmee is known for its cow camps, where early Florida cowboys fought cows and alligators. Today, more than six miles of trails are still available for riders who don't want to get their feet wet.

Lago Jessup

Central Florida's Lake Jessup is one of the largest alligator habitats in Florida, averaging 12,925 alligators per year. There are an estimated 421 alligators per mile of shoreline on Lake Jessup!

Lake Jessup is an ideal setting for alligators as the land is teeming with mudfish, tarpon and turtles that are perfect for an alligator dinner. This is the second largest place in Florida to find wild alligators, after Lake Okeechobee!

While the state record for length of wild alligators in Florida is just 14.3 feet, hunters at Jessup Lake have reported an 18-foot alligator. They say it's a matter of time before they measure you, but we recommend caution and social distancing during the visit.

Spread over 16,000 acres, Lake Jessup is a popular tourist attraction with breweries and sunflower parks. If you're looking for the largest alligators in Florida, this might be the place to start!

(Video) Large alligator saunters through Florida neighborhood

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fluss st john

The St. John's River is the longest river in the state of Florida and its fresh water is the perfect home for alligators. The river runs along the east coast and has a slow current. It's like a real lazy river!

A favorite spot for hikers, boaters, and bird watchers, the St. John's River is also a very common spot to see alligators in Florida! An estimated 771 alligators live within just thirteen miles of the river.

The lazy river is lined with swamps rather than banks, where it's easy to spot an alligator basking in the sun. The easiest place to spot lots of alligators at once is in Clay County's Black Creek tributary.

Enjoy alligator spotting from the safety of the trails or from an airboat ride, but be careful. In recent years, these alligators have become more active. Never go near an alligator and never try to feed an alligator if you find one!

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Canaveral National Seashore

Canaveral National Seashore is a series of barrier island campgrounds between New Smyrna Beach and Titusville in Volusia and Brevard counties. One of the 14 islands of Lagoa do Mosquito, camping here is considered "primitive". You need your own boat to get to your campsite!

This beach is considered a nature reserve as it has no hotels, restaurants or other man-made infrastructure. A camp here is a perfect way to reconnect with nature and see some alligators among the other creatures!

Even if you don't want to set up your own campground, there are many ways to visit Canaveral National Seashore.a perfect day trip,and see some alligators.

Take a walk along Bio Lab Road to see some alligators lounging on the beach. Hike the Scrub Ridge Trail, which takes you past swamps and ponds where alligators are always on the hunt! Or take the drive to Playlinda Beach, where guests say they've seen more alligators.

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Black Bear Wilderness Area

The Black Bear Wilderness Area is a 1,650-acre wetland and wetland area in Sanford, Florida just north of Orlando. With winding trails and boardwalks, this is one of the premier wildlife spots in the state of Florida.

The area got its name because visitors could easily see black bears scratching their backs on a tree or playing with each other! Aside from being a haven for black bears, you'll find a variety of wildlife including spoonbills, white-tailed deer, and of course, alligators.

The best way to see these alligators is to hike the 7.1-mile Black Bear Wilderness Loop Trail. You will be guided through swamps and riverbanks where you will no doubt see alligators.

This is a moderate to difficult trail that can be very slippery and steep in places. We recommend using a walking stick and following the loop counter-clockwise to catch the river breeze for the second half of the trip!

Wekiwa Springs State Park

Wekiwa Springs State Park is home to over 7,000 acres of springs, nature trails and campgrounds. Swim in the springs but stick to the wildlife, including alligators of course!

The main attraction is the natural spring, perfect for swimming, kayaking and canoeing. There is a cave, but guests are not allowed to dive or visit caves in the area.

Surrounding the spring are acres of undeveloped, pristine Florida wilderness. Here, in the waters surrounding the springs, you will see alligators as well as deer, foxes and rabbits!

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After bathing in the springs, dry off with a walk along the trail network. There are also bike paths and bridle paths! If you hike the Volksmarkweg, you will pass the Sandsee, where alligators always rest on the shore.

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Audubon Corkscrew Sanctuary

In Naples, east of Bonita Springs, the National Audubon Society oversees the Corkscrew Audubon Sanctuary. At the heart of the Everglades' flora and fauna, the sanctuary protects the wetlands and the creatures that call these lands home.

The land was protected in 1954 to protect the cypress forests from being bulldozed for their timber. The wetlands are home to otters, white-tailed deer, and rabbits, as well as more than 150 alligators.

Enjoy the pristine beauty of the forest on the 2.25 mile boardwalk as you guide guests through the boughs of the cypress trees. Through wild swamps and swamps you can find alligators lurking in the water.

Be sure to bring a camera as the sanctuary provides a perfect backdrop at all times. We recommend bringing insect repellent or wearing long sleeves and trousers as the park can be infested with insects at night.

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Circle B reserve bar

Circle B Bar Reserve is not a brewery! It is actually a beautiful nature reserve that stretches over 1,267 hectares. With wildlife like wild boar and herons, this is a perfect place to see alligators in the lake region!

Formerly a cattle ranch, Circle B Bar Reserve is home to a variety of wildlife in diverse ecosystems. Guests can almost always spot alligators basking in the sun or floating in the water at Lake Hancock in the middle of the preserve!

This is also a haven for bird watchers such as cranes, gray herons and bald eagles. Take a walk up the Mark Rabbit Run Trail to see more alligators and maybe a few families of otters playing in the water.

Entry to the Circle B Bar Reserve is free. The enclosure is open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

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Wakulla Springs State Park

Located south of Tallahassee, Wakulla Springs State Park is a 6,000-acre preserve that is also home to the world's largest and deepest freshwater springs. The springs flow into the Wakulla River, which has many alligators living on its banks!

As one of the best places to view wildlife in Florida, guests have the opportunity to hike one of three nature trails. Lose yourself in pine forests and bare cypress swamps where you can see manatees, wild turkeys and of course alligators!

On any given day, you can see anywhere from 14 to 21 alligators on a typical riverboat cruise. In fact, alligators are the backbone of the natural spring ecosystem!

After you've had enough of alligators, cool off with a dip in the spring system's always fresh water! There are also opportunities for tubing, canoeing and kayaking!

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(Video) Alligator swims toward woman, tries to bite paddleboard at Central Florida park


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