Southwest Florida

Every twist in Shell Creek brought a new gorgeous view.

Shell Creek: The prettiest kayak trail you’ve never heard of

This little creek should be famous. Its magnificent tree canopy and unspoiled Old Florida feel offer kayakers great natural beauty and wildlife, all in an easy, accessible day paddle.

Near the north end of the beach at Lovers Key State Park, Fort Myers Beach. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Lovers Key State Park: Great beach plus kayaking, manatees & birds

It’s not the best known destination in southwest Florida, but there are a lot reasons that make Lovers Key State Park so lovable: A 2.5 mile beach lined with natural vegetation that is perfect for beachcombing and bird watching, and mangrove-lined waterways that are draws for both manatees and kayakers.

Sandbar off Jewel Key (Photo by Angie Chestnut)

Ten Thousand Islands: Ride the tide through Indian Key Pass

EVERGLADES CITY — Whitewater paddling in the Everglades? Well, almost. The tides move in and out of the Ten Thousand Islands so quickly, the water rushes and ripples through the passes, so you need to catch the current going in the right direction if you want to make headway.

Coral bean plant blooming at Collier-Seminole State Park near Naples

Collier-Seminole Park: Kayak trail, camping near Naples

In the wild and watery world of southwest Florida, Collier-Seminole State Park near Naples draws people who love the natural Florida for camping, hiking and paddling. It’s also home to the 1924 Bay City Walking Dredge, and how often do you get to visit a “National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark”?

Author's husband Jack takes a break.

Pinellas Trail: Scenic window to another world

Once a CSX rail line, the Pinellas Trail is a smoothly paved linear park and multi-use trail that extends 38.2 miles from downtown St. Petersburg north to Tarpon Springs.

Sanibel, Florida

What makes Sanibel special – and 9 ways to experience it

The folks in Sanibel got it right — they preserved a place of rare beauty. Here are nine ways to make the most of what makes Sanibel so special — from the most isolated beaches to famous whole wheat granola pancakes.

Biking Sanibel Island: Bicycle trails take you to all the best spots

Biking Sanibel Island: Bicycle trails take you to all the best spots

Sanibel is more famous for its beaches and seashells, but it’s a great place to explore by bike. With more than 25 miles of bicycle trails, Sanibel’s hidden beaches, pioneer cemetery and quiet shady neighborhoods open up to you.

Photo Contest Winner: Caitlyn Loves Kayaking

2013 Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival: Nov. 1-3 on Sanibel Causeway

The 2013 Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival is a like an on-the-water convention for kayakers. It spotlights the Calusa Blueway Paddling trail, a 190-mile marked saltwater kayak trail along Florida’s Gulf Coast. If you want to attend, now’s time to make your plans.