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Free entry at Everglades National Park and Shark Valley on Sept. 22

Doreen Christensen
Contact ReporterSouth Florida Sun Sentinel

Explore the River of Grass with free admission to Everglades National Park on Sept. 22. 

The National Park Service is waiving the $25 entry fee in honor of National Public Lands Day.

There are many fun and free things to do in and around America’s largest subtropical wilderness. Learn and appreciate about this delicate ecosystem, which is the source of our drinking water. Reservations are not required unless noted. For more information, visit NPS.gov/ever or call 305-242-7700.

Anhinga Amble: Rangers give a terrific, free, 50-minute tour at 10:30 a.m. daily down the Anhinga Trail to see alligators, wading birds and other wildlife. Enter at the Homestead entrance and meet at Royal Palm Visitor Center benches. Also, just a few steps away, wander through a junglelike hardwood hammock.

Shark Valley: This area of the park, named because its water flows southwest toward Shark River, is the heartland of the Everglades. Take a tram or bike the 15-mile loop and see migratory birds and countless alligators sunning themselves on the road. Climb the observation tower to get an expansive view of the sawgrass prairie. Call 305-221-8455 or visit the SharkValleyTramTours.com for bike rental, tram prices and times.

Park passes: Purchase a Lifetime Senior Pass for $80, which grants unlimited free entry to all parks for those 62 or older. A 12-month Senior Pass is also available for $20. For everyone else, annual passes are $40. Purchase them at the Ernest Coe Visitor Center at the Homestead entrance or go to Store.USGS.gov/senior-pass.

After going to the park, squeeze in visits to other attractions in Homestead.

Fruit & Spice Park’s  tram tour is a fun and informative  way to learn about the 35-acre park’s horticulture, and sample some of the more than 500 varieties of exotic fruits, herbs, spices and nuts from around the world. The park is at 24801 SW 187th Ave., Homestead, RedlandFruitandSpice.com, 305.247.5727.

Napa schnapa. We have our own winery in the Redlands. Take a tour and enjoy tastings of unique mango, lychee and avocado wines at Schnebly Redland's Winery & Brewery. There also is a restaurant, which serves Sunday brunch. The winery is at 30205 SW 217th Ave., Homestead, SchneblyWinery.com, 305-242-1224.

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