Miss the change of seasons? Here’s fall in South Florida: Fields of wild sunflowers bloom in Florida every autumn, and a preserve near Immokalee is the best place to view them. The preserve opens for this occasion on Oct. 11, 13, 14, 15, 2023. You must reserve ahead.
Southwest Florida is known for some of the best beaches in Florida, wildlife and birds, gateway to the Everglades and the Ten Thousand Islands and other outdoor getaways.
Here are some of our favorite places to begin your exploration of the area. Each of these stories contains links to places to kayak, hike, bicycle and fascinating historic sites.
- Everglades City, a historic fishing village known for its stone crabs
- Marco Island, a beach resort close to the Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands
- Naples, a good basecamp for exploration of nature-rich region
- Fort Myers Beach, an Old Florida beach town
- Sanibel, an unspoiled island where seashells litter the beach.
- Punta Gorda, natural beauty and historic charm
- Venice, Mediterranean-influenced city with old world charm
The following are recent stories about Southwest Florida.
There are six fabulous beaches of Venice FL, including one set aside for canines. But the big attraction is ancient shark’s teeth that wash ashore in the surf.
Myakka is one of the oldest and biggest state parks, a great place for seeing wildlife, from huge gators to flocks of birds in winter. Go here for its log cabins, appealing camp sites, excellent kayaking, extensive hiking and good bike trails. It’s also a good spot for nature neophytes, who enjoy the airboat ride and canopy walk.
The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, an Audubon Society preserve, takes you on a hike via boardwalk with good wildlife viewing and exquisite scenery. In summer, you might get a peak at the rare ghost orchid blooming.
There’s a good reason Boca Grande is a favorite among the rich and famous: It’s beautiful, unspoiled and preserves the charm of Old Florida. The good news: It makes a satisfying daytrip, especially on a bike.
Some sections of the 2.5 mile beach remain closed. Otherwise, the park is open every day from 8 a.m. until sunset.
Florida’s celebrity in the orchid world — the ghost orchid — is blooming at the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, attracting orchid fans who want to spot this rare variety.
The annual July 4 Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim is a happening not a race. Participants cross the 1.5-mile wide Peace River every which way — some kayak, some swim, some float. For Floridians, where July 4th is always hot and steamy, it seems like a perfect holiday tradition.
Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park has reopened eight months after Hurricane Ian’s 10- foot storm surge blasted it. It has superb white sand and clear water.
Lake Placid has quite a few stories to tell, and they are told in murals. On the walls of 50 buildings. All over town.
Wind direction plays a role in red tide’s impact on Southwest Florida beaches.
Cabbage Key is reachable only by boat. It’s popular as a lunch-cruise destination. But stay overnight in the inn or cabins to discover its true charms. On our visit, we also found it’s a great base for exploring by kayak.
You’ll discover a natural world without traffic and crowds when you’re kayaking Deer Prairie Creek in North Port. This tributary of the Myakka River is quiet, off-the-beaten track and not widely known outside its neighboring area.
The Naples Botanical Garden has bounced back beautifully from Hurricane Ian, as has much of the Naples area. The garden is ever-changing and stunning. Go discover its beauty.
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.
This tiny fishing village wedged between Bradenton and Anna Marie Island celebrates its rich heritage as a commercial fishing hub.