From alligator tours to breathtaking beaches to parasailing, southwest Florida boasts more than its fair share of things to do. It embodies untouched natural beauty for nature lovers and families alike. Take the edge off at this serene region of the Sunshine State!
Want to spot some prehistoric gators? Airboats & Alligators in Lake Trafford features more than 1500 acres filled with alligators, native birds, expert staff and amazing tours. Fly across the water in an airboat, where you’ll catch more than a glimpse of these wild beasts and other wildlife. It is also famous for fishing, so be ready to reel in some bluegill, bass and shellcracker. Rent a pontoon with your friends or get the adrenaline pumping with alligator sightings.
Naples Botanical Garden: Delight in the dazzling gardens. The walk tours last anywhere from one hour to a full day depending on what you’re in the mood for, so set up camp for the day or simply stroll around at your leisure to gaze at the beautiful flowers and plants. Bring your kids to the Children’s Garden for the butterfly house, tree house and fountains. Afterward, have lunch in the midst of this subtropical paradise.
Smugglers Cove Adventure Miniature Golf: The whole family will love the 18 outdoor holes of miniature golf over rushing waterfalls, mysterious caves and tropical plants. It has been voted “Florida’s Best Mini Golf” by Florida Monthly Magazine readers three years in a row. You can even feed live gators at the cove. This place is an ideal family outing!
Estero Bay Preserve State Park: Situated between Fort Myers and Naples, this park was the first aquatic preserve established in the state. You can find fiddler crabs, gopher tortoises and a diversity of wildlife among the trees and shores here. Enjoy the miles of trails that provide gorgeous vistas for hiking or biking. If you want to discover the park on the water, go kayaking or canoeing and take a little dip to cool off.
Adventure Water Sports: Sail boats, wave-runners, kayaks, dolphin sightings - you name it - there are all sorts of fun water activities you can enjoy here. Located right on Fort Myers Beach, this adventure business features guided dolphin tours around the island. You’ll zoom across the waves on a jet ski on a 90-minute journey beside mangrove forests, quiet bays and the open water to scout the dolphins. Tours depart daily at 9:30 a.m. For a day of fun in the sun, Adventure Water Sports has got it all.
Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota opens up to the glimmering waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Explore the mangrove forests or sail the boat out for some fishing, where you can reel in pompano and snook. The waters are calm and courteous to swimmers old and young. In for an adventure? Try parasailing for a bird’s eye view of the gulf. In 2011, it was rated the “No. 1 Beach in America” by Dr. Beach. For some quality relaxation (since siesta means nap), put this beach on the must-do list.
Swing by Englewood Beach for family fun. You can spot dolphins popping up through the turquoise waters. There are basketball courts, barbecue grills and volleyball courts that’ll turn any day into one packed with activity. Other amenities include horseshoes, picnic areas and a playground.
Bring the crew camping along the calm waters of Marco Island. It’s quiet and serene - in other words, it’s a leading alternative to what you’d find in Southwestern Florida’s Miami Beaches. Recapture some peace of mind fishing offshore, or hit the snooze button in a hammock on the beach. The weather is perfect year-round, so make sure you don’t miss this tranquil opportunity!
Sanibel Island is a popular locale for shelling. Find gems of the sea here, as there’s more variety than you could ask for. Brimming with roughly 400 species of bright-colored seashells, you’ll be able to find varieties of all shapes and sizes. Due to the protective boomerang shape of the island, its shores are known to bring in shells in one piece.
Shopping and Dining
To pick up a souvenir or two, make your way to the outdoor Bell Tower Mall for some top-of-the-line stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Jacobson’s department store and dozens of boutiques. In Naples, hit up the Boardwalk Shops and Dining for a Key West-style evening. You’ll also be able to find some delicious eats here.
For top-notch restaurants, check out Capital Grille in Naples. It offers legendary dry-aged steaks and the freshest seafood on the coast. Did we mention there’s more than 5,000 bottles of wine you can sip and swirl?
Another fantastic meal can be found at Cibo, an Italian restaurant with an award-winning chef. This place serves mouth-watering antipasti and roasted chicken breast that you've been craving.
With a variety of beaches and outdoor fun, southwest Florida is a top-tier getaway for vacationers nationwide.