Florida's iconic reptile is easy to spot when you know where to find it, and any place there's fresh water in Florida is a potential alligator habitat. The many parks and preserves on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel are full of alligator-rich viewing points where you can observe the mysterious animals from a safe and comfortable distance. There aren't many places in the world where you can go drive-by gator spotting, but the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island is one of them. Along the park's four-mile-long Wildlife Drive, alligators often haul up from the water and lounge right near the roadside to sun themselves.
At the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, you can walk along an elevated boardwalk that meanders through an ancient cypress forest, skirting several alligator holes. Keep your eyes on the water and look for the telltale ridge of an alligator's back or the rise of the animal's eyes rippling the water's smooth surface. You can also spot alligators at the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, from the safe vantage point of a boardwalk.