My son and I took a trip down to the Everglades and the Keys last year. Coincidentally, it was also over New Year's, so I think I can offer some thoughts. We had a great time, but definitely found certain areas to be much richer photographically than others.
If I were in your situation and had an interest in nature photography, I would absolutely pick the Everglades. We were completely blown away by the incredible variety of birdlife, most of it very accessible and easy to photograph. Shark Valley was a wonderful place to shoot (probably worth a couple of trips), as was Eco Pond (near Flamingo) and the Anhinga Trail. There were a number of other locations that were rich with subjects, but those three were particularly nice. They tend to be pretty popular, but the crowds weren't bad in early January. As is often the case, early morning and sunset tend to be the most photogenic, but you can find good subjects all day.
You'll want to have a 80-200 zoom for close up subjects and a 400mm+ lens for ones at more moderate distances. A 1.4x teleconverter is also essential. Needless to say, a good tripod is essential.
Weatherwise, it was very nice. Temperature were generally in the seventies, and we experienced only a little bit of rain. It was frequently overcast, but that just gave us softer lighting for photogrpahing birds and alligators. We only ran into problems with mosquitos once; we rented a canoe in Flamingo and were eaten alive.
If you go to the Keys, it's a different experience. Good nature subjects aren't as plentiful, but Key West has character (and a lot of tourist traps). For a different experience, is take a seaplane down to Dry Tortugas National Park for snorkeling and touring the Civil War-era Fort Jefferson. Fort Jefferson is a neat subject and worth seeing if you get down that way. My preference is still for the Everglades, though.
I hope you have a great trip. We really enjoyed ours and plan to return to the Everglades in Jan 2004. Feel free to e-mail me at
if you have any questions.[/font]