Southwest Florida

Fort Myers Beach has a broad beach with powdery sand and popular fishing pier. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Fort Myers Beach: Old school beach town, on the cusp of change

With a beautiful beach, free pier, beach-side restaurants and a lively downtown, this is a classic beach town. It’s frozen in time while it awaits redevelopment.

We spotted dolphin in Estero Bay three times on our kayak trip to Mound Key State Archaeological Park. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Mound Key: Kayak to archaeological park, once center of its world

A fascinating kayak destination: Mound Key Archaeological State Park, an uninhabited island accessible only by boat near Fort Myers Beach. The ceremonial center of the Calusa people, Mound Key is one of a kind and is surrounding by waters full of wildlife.

Kayaking the Alafia River near Tampa

Alafia River: Kayaking through tame rapids a half hour from Tampa

This cypress-lined Alafia river has an unusual feature for Florida: Rocky shoals that create fun rapids to kayak. It’s near hiking trails, springs and a very nice paddling trail at Little Manatee River State Park.

An antique train trestle on the Little Manatee River is a good place for a lunch break. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Little Manatee River near Tampa: Great for kayakers, hikers & campers

Just 45 minute from Tampa/St. Pete, the beautiful river, state park and region is a natural haven that can keep you busy exploring for days. There’s an outfitter to make trip-planning easy, plus it offers cabins and camping.

Cortez: Charming fishing village, perfect place for classic seafood shack

Cortez: Charming fishing village, perfect place for classic seafood shack

This authentic fishing village near Bradenton is the perfect place to find classic Florida seafood shacks — open air, casual with the freshest fish.

One of the original campgrounds, Old Prairie, at Myakka River State Park.

Best Camping Near Tampa Bay: 9 choice campgrounds

We’ve selected nine public campgrounds near Tampa Bay for their scenic beauty, low prices and prime opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking and canoeing. We think you’ll like these choices.

5 ways to explore Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands

5 ways to explore Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands

Vast and remote, the Ten Thousand Islands off Florida’s southwest coast seems challenging to visit, a labyrinth of twisting channels through thousands of remote mangrove islands.

Bedman Creek, a tributary of the Caloosahatchee River near Alva. (Photo: David Blasco)

Along Caloosahatchee River: Kayak trails, rustic scenery & small towns

Between Lake Okeechobee and Fort Myers, a stretch of the Caloosahatchee River offers a taste of Old Florida — small towns, rivers ideal for kayaking and good public campgrounds.

Fort Myers Bunche Beach: Heaven for birders, kayakers

Fort Myers Bunche Beach: Heaven for birders, kayakers

People and birds alike enjoy the beautiful beaches and sandbars plus the pristine mangrove creeks at Bunche Beach. There are several routes for kayakers or it’s a great place for just combing the beach and enjoying the wildlife.

Curious manatee at Manatee Park, Fort Myers, on the Orange River, Feb. 14, 2015

Manatee Park & the Orange River: Fort Myers kayak trail ideal for winter day

When it’s chilly, you can see dozens of manatees at this free park. Even without manatees, the Orange River is a beautiful kayak trail through Old Florida scenery.

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve: Free, wild & five minutes off I-75

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve: Free, wild & five minutes off I-75

Next time you travel Florida’s west coast on I-75, take a five minutes detour in Fort Myers to discover a magnificent slice of old Florida – a 1.2 mile boardwalk through an unspoiled cypress swamp called Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve.

Cortez Fishing Festival celebrates its maritime roots: Feb. 18-19

Cortez Fishing Festival celebrates its maritime roots: Feb. 18-19

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

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