If you want to explore the diverse landscapes of South Florida, see alligators up-close, visit a 200 year old ranch and learn more about the cities of tomorrow, Babcock Ranch is the perfect place for you.
BABCOCK RANCH IN A NUTSHELL
The Babcock Ranch was named after Edward Babcock. In 1899, this lumber baron bought the 90.000 acre area in today’s Lee County from a wealthy family of bankers to use it for forestry, cattle farming and mining. In 2006, the state of Florida purchased this stretch of land known for its great biodiversity. 90% of the area now form the Babcock Ranch Preserve. No buildings are allowed here. Instead, the area is used for tours by Babcock Ranch Wilderness Adventures. On the remaining land a model city powered by renewable energy has been constructed.
BABCOCK RANCH ECO TOURS
In an area of 26 square miles – more than your average small town – Babcock Ranch Eco Tours offers the perfect chance to explore Florida’s wildlife. Here are some highlights visitors can look forward to at the preserve:
SWAMP BUGGY ECO TOUR
On this tour, guests jump aboard a camouflaged bus and discover ecosystems between water and land that are teeming with wildlife: Alligators and turtles are found in the rivers, herons hunt for fish on the shores, and owls can be spotted in the cypress canopy. The extensive prairie is home to Caracaras: birds of prey that feed on little rodents. If you are lucky, you might even spot a Florida panther in the undergrowth.
Included in the tour is a trip to the Crescent B Ranch. Cattle, pigs and horses are not the only animals raised here. The ranch is also home to baby alligators that you can pet during your visit.
The tour costs 24 USD for adults, 23 USD for senior citizens and 16 USD for children aged 3–12. Younger children take the tour for free. During main season in winter and spring, it is a good idea to reserve your ticket in advance on the official website babcockranchecotours.com.
If you want to explore South Florida’s beautiful forests on lesser-known paths, the Walking Tour is perfect for you. And do not forget your binoculars, as the densely wooded area is teeming with birds of prey like caracaras and swallow-tailed kites, as well as woodpeckers and cranes. A highlight is the Gator Bridge where you can spot Florida’s alligators in great numbers. It takes about 45 minutes to complete this easy loop trail.
DINING OPTIONS AND SHOPS
Spending the whole day outdoors can make you hungry. Luckily, the Gator Shack Restaurant serves hearty comfort food like sandwiches filled with meat and fish, tender steaks and crispy French Fries. The deep-fried cornmeal balls called Hush Puppies are particularly popular with fans of the Southern Cuisine. Visitors who always wanted to try real alligator meat should order the fried Gator Bites.
The Babcock Gift Shop offers a wide variety of souvenirs – from stuffed alligators and coloring books for children to stylish T-shirts and homemade chili sauce.
BABCOCK RANCH TOWN
After touring the preserve, you should also visit Babcock Ranch Town. There, you can see what the cities of tomorrow might look like. This sustainable and eco-friendly town features some remarkable innovations:
- The city gets its energy from solar panels and produces more electricity than it needs.
- The residential homes are equipped with Smart Home technologies that further reduce energy consumption.
- Public transport is done with noiseless, self-driving E-shuttles.
OPENING HOURS BABCOCK RANCH
The Babcock Ranch is open seven days a week from 10 am to 2 pm. During this time, Swamp Buggy Tours are available and the hiking path is open for visitors.
DIRECTIONS TO BABCOCK RANCH
The ranch is located north of the Caloosahatchee River and can be reached from Cape Coral in 45 minutes by car. This makes Babcock Ranch a perfect destination for guests in Cape Coral and Fort Myers who do not want to take the long trip to Everglades National Park.