Southwest Florida

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 10-11, 2018

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. 17-18, 2018

Cortez Fishing Festival celebrates its maritime roots: Feb. 17-18, 2018

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

Five favorite places to paddleboard in Tampa Bay area

Five favorite places to paddleboard in Tampa Bay area

For paddle boarding, it would be hard to find a better destination than Tampa Bay. In addition to beaches and bays, you can paddle amid mangrove islands, in tannic rivers with alligators and, within a two hour drive, one of the most spectacular clear spring runs in Florida.

Stone crabs from Triad Seafood, Everglades City

Stone crabs in Everglades City: Historic fishing town is recovering from hurricane

Stone crab season starts Oct. 15 and it has never been more critical for Everglades City, a small, isolated fishing village, where stone crabs are an important part of the economy. Everglades City was flooded with an 8-to-10-foot storm surge during Hurricane Irma and more than 100 homes in the town with a population just over 400 were destroyed.

Naples fest Oct. 27-29 kicks off stone crab season

Naples fest Oct. 27-29 kicks off stone crab season

This Gulf Coast community’s annual Stone Crab Festival marks the beginning of Florida’s stone crab season while showing off the city’s historic center and bayfront attractions. Let’s get crackin’.