Southwest Florida

Ghost Orchid by Mick Fournier, Pompano Beach. (Note: This photo is a ghost orchid, but not the one at Corkscrew.)

Naples: Rare ghost orchid ready to bloom at Corkscrew for 2018 season

Corkscrew Sanctuary could be hosting lots of orchid fans again this summer, as its rare ghost orchid has formed buds. The ghost orchid was made famous by the 2002 film “Adaptation” starring Meryl Streep and the best-selling “Orchid Thief,” by Susan Orlean.

2009 Freedom Swim. Photo courtesy the Sun Herald.

2018 Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim: Cool 4th of July ‘happening’

The 2018 Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim begins at 11 a.m. July 4, but while folks cross the 1.5-mile wide Peace River, this isn’t a race. It’s a “happening” and one of the few ways to celebrate the Fourth of July in Florida and stay cool.

Florida's dramatic sky at Tigertail Beach in Marco Island. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Off-the-beaten path in Marco Island: Go beyond your hotel pool

The beach town of Marco Island is all manicured and modern, but here are four adventures into the wild and authentic Florida that are within a quick drive. You can wade across a lagoon to a wild beach or have lunch in a funky fishing town or stroll on a boardwalk into a beautiful old growth cypress swamp.

What Alligator Alley is named for: This fellow was cruising along at the viewing tower at the MM 35 rest stop. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Alligator Alley: ‘Boring’ road can be a gateway to Everglades experiences

Crossing the state on Alligator Alley? Here are tips on a how to spend 15 minutes, a half hour or a half day exploring the Everglades from I-75. This mile marker guide helps you decide where to stop and what to do along the way.

Everglades Seafood Festival

Everglades City Seafood Festival: Feb. 9-11, 2018

Seafood lovers mark their calendars for the annual Everglades Seafood Festival, scheduled for the weekend of Feb. 9-11, 2018, in Everglades City, gateway to the Ten Thousand Islands. This free event packs ’em in for fresh seafood, country music, carnival rides, crafts booths — with an estimated 50,000 people expected to attend this year’s event in a remote corner of Florida.

Armadillo races at 2015 Swamp Cabbage Festival. Photo courtesy Pete Cross.

Swamp Cabbage Fest marks 52 years, Feb. 24-25, 2018

You can get gator tail and swamp cabbage at this festival. But the real reason to go is to revel in a last corner of small town America in Florida — beauty pageants, high school bands, armadillo races and a rodeo.

Fort Myers Beach shrimp boat by Albert Heaps via Flickr

Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival, March 9-10, 2019

This isn’t frozen shrimp or imported shrimp or farmed shrimp. The huge boiling pots at the Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival are filled with fresh, right-off-the-boat Gulf pink shrimp. Members of the Lions Club have perfected the cooking technique over 50 years of Shrimp Festivals.

Cortez Fishing Festival celebrates its maritime roots: Feb. 16-17, 2019

Cortez Fishing Festival celebrates its maritime roots: Feb. 16-17, 2019

This tiny fishing village wedged between Bradenton and Anna Marie Island celebrates its rich heritage as a commercial fishing hub.