Top boat tours in South Florida

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With so much water around, it's only natural to go for a boat tour, and here in South Florida you can choose from an old-time paddle wheeler for a lunch or dinner cruise, a glass bottom boat ride over a reef or an airboat adventure into the Everglades.

1. Delray Beach Cruises – 801 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561-243-0686. Delray Beach Cruises offers two-hour narrated Intracoastal cruises and brunch cruises. The brunch cruise isr $30 for adults and $27 for children 12 and younger; those under 2 are free. The two-hour cruise is $20 for adults; $17 for seniors and children (12 and under).

2. Loxahatchee Everglades Tours – 15490 Loxahatchee Road, west of U.S. 441 north of Deerfield Beach, south of Boca Raton; 800-683-5873. Direct weather update: 561-482-8026

Airboat tours of the Everglades, with frequent sightings of alligators, wading birds and more. Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Tours begin at 10 a.m. There are two tours - 55-minute 6-8 miled Evergaldes eco-awarness tour and a 40-minute 4-6 mile Everglades tour. The ec-awarness tour is $44 for adults and children (6-12) are $22. The Everglades tour is $32 for adults, $16 for childen and free for ages 5 and under.

3. Jungle Queen Riverboat -- A1A, Bahia Mar Yacht Center, Fort Lauderdale; 954-462-5596.

Barbecue and shrimp dinner sightseeing cruise with variety show departs nightly at 6 p.m.; Adults $36.95, children (2-12 years old) $20.50. Three-hour narrated sightseeing cruises depart at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; adults $16.50, children $11.75. Cash or traveler's checks only.

4. Carrie B. Harbor Tours – Las Olas Boulevard at SE 5th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale; 954-768-9920.

Seasonal sightseeing cruises of the New River, Intracoastal Waterway and Port Everglades featuring yachts and homes of the rich and famous. Hours: 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. daily. Cost: Adults $16.95, children under 12 $9.95.

5. Chesapeake -- One of the few boat tours that offers ocean sailing.

Go aboard Walter Cronkite's former yacht, the Chesapeake, a 46-foot cutter yawl. Pick up at the Doubletree Hotel on Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Laudedale; 954-463-1414. Daily 3-1/2-hour sailing cruises by appointment. Tickets: $59.95-$79. Up to 10 people.

6. Water Bus of Fort Lauderdale -- 651 Sea Breeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-467-6677.

Makes regular stops at 11 different points between Oakland Park Boulevard and SE 17th Street along the Intracoastal Waterway, and west along the New River into downtown Fort Lauderdale as far as the River House restaurant, from about 10:30 a.m. to after midnight. Fare: $10 for an all-day pass, with other passes available.

7. Everglades Holiday Park -- End of Griffin Road west, half mile past U.S. 27; 954-434-8111.

One-hour airboat tours include alligator wrestling. Free admission and free parking, but the airboat tour is $20 for adults and $10 for children. Full-service RV campground, boat rentals, gift shop, deli, Everglades bass fishing. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

8. Sawgrass Recreation Park -- On U.S. 27, 2 miles north of I-75; 954-389-0202 or 800-457-0788. Narrated Everglades airboat tours daily. Also features a live alligator and birds of prey exhibit, boat rentals, fishing, food and beverages. The tours are from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: Adults $19.50, children under 12 $10 (plus tax), free for children 4 and under.

9. Biscayne National Park – 9700 SW 328th St., Homestead; 305-230-1100 or 305-230-7275.

Three-hour glass-bottom bout tours, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. The park is 95 percent underwater and features colorful coral reefs and undeveloped keys in Biscayne Bay, southeast of Miami. Directions: The auto entrance to the park is at Convoy Point, which can be reached by taking Florida's Turnpike south to Exit 6 (Speedway Boulevard), turning left from the exit ramp and continuing south to Southwest 328th Street (North Canal Drive). Turn left and continue to the end of the road. The entrance is approximately 5 miles on the left. Reservations are recommended for the boat tours, and six passenger minimum applies. Fee: $24.45 plus tax for adults, $16.45 for children under 12 years, and $19.45 for seniors. A $2.50 fuel surcharge will also apply.

10. Island Queen Cruises of Miami -- Leaves from Bayside Marketplace at Biscayne and Port Boulevards, Miami. 305.379.5119 ext. 201.

This 1- 1/2 hour cruise along Biscayne Bay takes in the downtown Miami skyline, the Port of Miami, Brickell Key, Fisher Island and the celebrity filled islands of Miami Beach known as "Millionaire's Row." Adults are $22; children (4 -12) are $16 and children under 4 years are free. Cruises are hourly from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.. Monday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday to Sundays. The firm also offers nightly dance cruises.

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