Alligators in Fort Lauderdale: 3 Spots You’re Most Likely to See Them

Boats along Fort Lauderdale Canals on a sunny day, Florida.
© jovannig/iStock via Getty Images

Written by Katie Melynn Wood

Updated: January 7, 2024

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If you are planning a trip to Florida or are a local wanting to find something new to explore, consider visiting a must-see spot for gators. The Sunshine State is known for its large alligator population. These animals live everywhere from the famous Everglades to backyard ponds and lakes. They are even known to take a dip in an unattended pool from time to time.

These top spots are some of the best in the Fort Lauderdale area. Just north of Miami on the Atlantic Coast, Fort Lauderdale is a great place to vacation and see what Florida is all about, including its amazing wildlife. Whether you want to pay for a tour of the natural area or prefer a low-cost or no-cost park, here are some great places to spot alligators in Fort Lauderdale.

1. Everglades Swamp Tours

Everglades National Park - Airboat

Airboat tours go where the alligators live, making them one of the best ways to see these animals in their natural environment.


Take a private or group airboat tour through the waterways of Fort Lauderdale to spot alligators in their natural habitat. According to their website, Everglades Swamp Tours has been doing this for more than 60 years, so they know all of the best spots to get an up-close view of gators from the boat. During your tour, you’ll also see plenty of birds, fish, and other wildlife. One of the best parts of an airboat ride is that you can travel quickly through the Everglades and enjoy the exhilarating ride as well as the natural beauty of the environment.

These tours are offered for 1-hour, 1.5-hour, or 2-hour trips. The group tour, which is charged per person, can be cheaper if you have a pair or trio. However, it is only available for the 1-hour ride. During your trip, your guide will operate the boat and point out wildlife in the environment. This area is also home to American crocodiles, which you might get to see. This is one of the best ways to see alligators because the boat takes you to their natural habitat.

2. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Aerial photo Hugh Taylor Birch State Park Fort Lauderdale Beach FL

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Florida’s Intercoastal Waterway.

©Felix Mizioznikov/

Fort Lauderdale’s Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is open 365 days a year, which makes it a great day trip if you don’t want to make reservations at a pricier tour location. It only costs $6 per car and is open from 8:00 in the morning until sunset. The park has been compared to Central Park in New York City for its urban location within the city. The park is located between the Atlantic Ocean at Fort Lauderdale Beach and the Intercoastal Waterway. You can access either from the park.

There are spots to bike, hike, a designated roadway for cars, youth camping that is available by reservation for select groups, fishing unless otherwise noted by a sign, paddling, kayaking, and canoeing. Fishing and getting onto the water with a paddleboard, kayak, or canoe are two of the most popular activities within the park and also get visitors up close to the water. This is where you’re more likely to encounter wildlife like alligators. Be aware of what to do if you do come face-to-face with an animal so that you and the animal both remain safe.

3. Plantation Heritage Park

Alligator floating in a pond in Florida

Small alligators make their way into ponds, small lakes, and even backyard pools in Florida.

©Heather Schor/

For a free place to take in nature in Fort Lauderdale, head over to the Plantation Heritage Park. This city park is 88.5 acres and includes plenty of things to do in addition to a lake in the middle. Water and alligators go together so keep your eyes peeled for wildlife when you walk along its banks. There are also playgrounds, walking trails, a disc golf course, gazebos and pavilions, and plenty of traditional park activity spots for picnics and playing.

If you want to drive into the park, there is a $3 entry fee per vehicle. For larger vehicles that hold more than 8 people, the fee is $20. You can always walk or bike into the park for free. The chances of seeing a large alligator are slim because the city surrounds the park. But be on the lookout for the smaller gators. They often look for a water oasis within the city just like the one in this park.

Summary of Top Spots to See Alligators in Fort Lauderdale

1Everglades Swamp Tours
2Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
3Plantation Heritage Park

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About the Author

Katie is a freelance writer and teaching artist specializing in home, lifestyle, and family topics. Her work has appeared in At Ease Magazine, PEOPLE, and The Spruce, among others. When she is not writing, Katie teaches creative writing with the Apex Arts Magnet Program in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. You can follow Katie @katiemelynnwriter.

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