Getting Oriented in Southwest Florida

Southwest Florida, as its name suggests, occupies a stretch of coastline along the lower west coast of Florida, bordered by the Gulf of Mexico. It lies south of Tampa and Sarasota, directly on the other side of the state from West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. In between the two coasts stretch heartland agricultural areas and Everglades wilderness. The region encompasses the major resort towns of Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel Island, Naples, and Marco Island, along with a medley of suburban communities and smaller islands.

  • Fort Myers. Don't miss the Edison and Ford Winter Estates along royal palm–lined McGregor Boulevard. For museums, theater, and art, the up-and-coming downtown River District rules.
  • Cape Coral, North Fort Myers, and Pine Island.Hop on a buggie for a wildlife adventure and explore a variety of colorful communities.
  • Fort Myers Beach.For true seclusion head to this area's unbridged island beaches dappled with quaint cottages.
  • Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Shells and wildlife refuges bring nature lovers to Sanibel and Captiva Islands.
  • Gasparilla Island (Boca Grande).Fish for tarpon, enjoy the secluded beaches, or photograph the lighthouse on Boca Grande.
  • Cabbage Key. Take a boat ride to this small island where Jimmy Buffett is said to have been inspired to write "Cheeseburger in Paradise."
  • Estero/Bonita Springs.Visit gardens, state historic sites, outlet malls, or catch an event at the arena.
  • Naples. Some of the region's best shopping and restaurants take up residence in historic buildings trimmed with blossoms and street sculptures in Old Naples.
  • Marco Island. Hit Marco Island for the boating lifestyle and funky fishing-village character.

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