With its powdery beaches and shallow waters, Southwest Florida is a beautiful part of Florida with its own storied history and culture. The region is considered the gateway to Fort Myers and Florida’s Gulf Coast. Notable cities include Naples, Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Bonita Springs and Fort Myers. The area south of Naples is surrounded by some of the state’s most important wildlife sanctuaries, including Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve and the Florida Panther National Refuge. At the southernmost tip of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Marco Island is the largest inhabited island in the beautiful Ten Thousand Islands ecology.
Home to both retirees and families looking for a quiet place to raise their children, each part of Southwest Florida has something different to experience for both residents and visitors alike. For years, people have vacationed in the region to escape the cold winters up north—including some of the nation’s most inspired inventors such as Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Off-peak travel is generally considered from May through April. During May to September, rains, storms and hurricanes are more active in the region. Even if visiting during the off-season, there’s plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, including kayaking, canoeing, picnicking, bird and wildlife watching, and strolls through the beautiful parks.
When it comes to one-of-a-kind experiences, Southwest Florida offers magnificent sunsets, fine dining, historical sights and much more. The city of Naples thrives on people from around the world who often see it as their idyllic dream destination where the beaches are textbook perfect. For a vintage feel head to downtown Naples, where charming, walkable streets along Fifth Avenue, Third Street and the “Old Naples” district beg to be explored. Live music and festivals energize Fifth Avenue throughout the year like The Grape Escape Wine & Food Festival in November and family activities such as the Spooktacular in October and a tree lighting and Christmas Walk during the holiday season.
While most travelers are drawn to the beaches and nature, there is a lot to do and areas to explore while in Southwest Florida. Marco Island features an inland maze of waterways and stands of mangroves and sawgrass, making it a destination for outdoor sporting and adventure such as boating, fishing, shelling, snorkeling and windsurfing. For a day out on the greens, check out the Naples golf courses at Arrowhead, Links of Naples, the Country Club of Naples, and dozens more places that have drawn some of the biggest names in the sport. History buffs will find a slice of Old Florida at the Marco Historical Society Museum, Sanibel Historical Museum and Village or the Calusa and Mound House between the beach and Estero Bay.