Getting Oriented in the Lower Gulf Coast

The Lower Gulf Coast of Florida, as its name suggests, occupies a stretch of coastline along southernmost west 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 and Fort Lauderdale. 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 and Vicinity. Don't miss the Edison & Ford Winter Estates along royal palm–lined McGregor Boulevard. For museums, theater, and art, the up-and-coming downtown River District rules.
  • The Coastal Islands. Shells and wildlife refuges bring nature lovers to Sanibel and Captiva islands. Fort Myers Beach is known for its lively clubs and shrimp fleet. For true seclusion, head to the area's unbridged island beaches.
  • Naples and Vicinity. Some of the region's best shopping and dining take up residence in historic buildings trimmed with blossoms and street sculptures in Old Naples. Hit Marco Island for the boating lifestyle and funky fishing-village character.

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