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Florida gem included in NYT best places to go in the world list

by Staff

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Every year The New York Times publishes a list of places around the world it calls “52 to Places to Go.” Through research and reporting the experts at the Times determine, for this year anyway, these are the places worth your time and money to check out.

The 2024 list hit the Times’ website on Jan. 8 and appropriately, the very last place on the list, No. 52, is in Florida. Why is it appropriate? Because the place, Flamingo, Florida, is pretty much the last place, geographically, anyone can visit in the southern part of the Sunshine State. It’s the southern most headquarters in the Everglades National Park and located in Monroe County.

The headline: “Rediscover a beloved lodge in the heart of the Everglades.”

Only six other places in the United State made the list: Maui, Hawaii, Craters of the Moon, Idaho, Baltimore, Maryland, Kansas City, Missouri, Montgomery, Alabama and Pasadena, California,.

Located 157 miles from Naples (just over a three-hour drive), it appears that Flamingo got the attention of the New York Times because of not only its natural beauty and things to do around it, but also because of its celebrated comeback after multiple hurricanes and most notably, the reopening of the Flamingo Lodge.

According to the Times’ summary (written by Patricia Mazzei) the lodge is “now elevated and made out of sturdy shipping containers. A renovated visitor center and restaurant have been built to better withstand sea level rise caused by climate change.”

It also has air-conditioning, something that hadn’t existed until the lodge reopened last Oct. 27 “because two hurricanes destroyed the park’s only hotel in 2005.”

According to the National Parks Service website, the lodge features 24 rooms, constructed from durable shipping containers and raised off the ground by stairs. This includes eight two-bedroom suites that can accommodate up to six guests, twelve one-bedroom suites suitable for up to four guests and four studios designed for two guests.

Additionally, four of the 24 rooms are ADA accessible and can be accessed by an elevator and walkway. The interiors blend industrial chic with subtropical influences, from palm tree-themed window shades to calming blue and green tones. Every room boasts an eastward-facing balcony, offering breathtaking sunrise and sunset views over Florida Bay.

Reservations, cost for a room at the Flamingo Lodge in the Everglades

  • Lodge reservations stared being accepted last Nov. 1.
  • Nightly rates start at $159 for June through October and $259 from November through May, plus tax.
  • There is a 14-day maximum limit on stays.
  • A park entrance fee or pass is required to enter Everglades National Park to access Flamingo Lodge & Restaurant, both for vehicles and vessels.
  • Gasoline and boat slips are also available at the Flamingo Marina and Store for visitors arriving by boat.

Adjacent to the lodge is the Flamingo Restaurant with traditional South Florida fare on the menu and of nearby Florida Bay. Like the lodge, the restaurant is now made from durable shipping containers. The restaurant offers meal service for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus a full-service bar. 

With the lodge back up and running it only left the restaurant as the final piece of the puzzle to complete the comeback. Spokesperson Melissa Benhaim said Wednesday (Jan. 10) that the restaurant opened last week.

Even with the return of the Flamingo Lodge, the park was and still is offering other accommodation options at Flamingo with its campsites, eco-tents and houseboats.

To better ensure the sustainability of the lodge, restaurant and visitor center for future hurricanes, the National Parks Service conducted extensive feasibility studies and began planning for the new lodge in 2018. Considerations for resiliency and storm protection in the face of sea level rise from climate change were integrated in the design and building of the lodge, restaurant and visitor center.

Flamingo, Florida: What to know

  • Early history: Flamingo was first settled circa 1892, although Tequesta Indians had lived in the area prior to that. 
  • Name: The settlement received its name in 1893 when the settlers had to choose a name for their new post office. They chose the flamingo as it was the most distinctive bird seen in the area. 
  • Climate: Flamingo experiences a tropical savanna climate (Köppen climate classification Aw) in which all twelve months have mean temperatures of at least 18 °C (64 °F). Summers are hot and humid and high temperatures average between 89° and 91 °F (31° to 33 °C). Winters are warm and dry.
  •  Flamingo Lodge history: In 1959, the two-story Flamingo lodge opened, with 103 rooms. There were 24 cabins built as well.
  • What is an eco-tent?: A cross between a tent and a cabin. The tent structure is elevated, so one does not have to sleep on the ground. The tent sits on a 14-foot square wooden platform, and is designed to take advantage of the breezes coming off of Florida Bay and efficiently move warm air out of the tent. It is currently furnished with bed frames, a table, and chairs. 
  • Things to do: Flamingo provides visitors the opportunity to explore the nation’s largest subtropical wilderness through popular recreational activities such as fishing, boating, paddling, hiking, birding and wilderness camping. Abundant wildlife viewing opportunities await, from manatees to crocodiles and alligators.− Naples Daily News research

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