Discover pure immersion in natural wonders and upscale amenities with this Paradise Coast itinerary.
You can do more than stroll and relax on the 48 kilometers of white-sand beaches along Southwest Florida’s Paradise Coast. In Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades, you’ll also learn about native ecosystems, enjoy shopping and dining, and discover the area’s rich history. Here’s how to spend five perfect days there.
Day 1: From North of Naples to Naples
Start the day hunting for sand dollars at Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park in Naples. While there, you may even spot a bottle-nosed dolphin swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. The park is an undeveloped barrier island known for its ranger-led programs on local wildlife including the burrowing gopher tortoise. Book a kayaking excursion to tour the paddling trails along the east side of the island. All that exploring works up an appetite, so head to the Turtle Club in Naples for dinner overlooking the white sands of The Vanderbilt Beach Resort.
Relaxing on the gorgeous shores of Barefoot Beach
Day 2: Hidden Gems and Local Favorites in Naples
Pick up souvenirs at the unique boutiques at the Mercato Shops (also home to restaurants, nightlife spots and a movie theater). Looking for eco-conscious home goods? Check out Cariloha Bamboo for ultra-soft clothing, bedding and more. Or, work up a sweat or buy workout gear at the CycleBar indoor cycling center. For a bit of education, head over to Palm Cottage, the city’s oldest house, where the Naples Historical Society offers tours about Naples’ earliest days. At Clam Pass Park, explore the flora and fauna along the boardwalk while watching locals fish at the pass. At sunset, don’t miss a trip to Naples Pier. Bring a picnic or have dinner at one of the many nearby restaurants to watch the sun dip below the horizon at this iconic spot.
A beautiful sunset from the Naples Pier
Day 3: Beach Parks and Shopping Frenzy in Naples
Kick off the day at amenity-packed Lowdermilk Beach. Rent a beach chair and relax under an umbrella while watching a volleyball match. The beach café serves sandwiches, ice cream and more. After logging some hours at the beach, explore Naples’ most famous promenades for world-class shopping, Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South. Both offer long stretches of quaint boutiques, sidewalk cafes and art galleries. Or, head to the Village on Venetian Bay for more than 45 shops and many restaurants, all along the waterfront. While there, stop for dinner at M Waterfront Grille, known for its seafood, steaks and house-made pasta.
Upscale shopping in colorful downtown Naples
Day 4: Marco Island and the Ten Thousand Islands
Just across the bridge to the south of Naples sits Marco Island, a barrier island known for its resort hotels, inland waterways and picturesque beaches. Be sure to visit the tidal lagoon at Tigertail Beach Park. Kids of all ages (and grown-ups, too) will delight at the butterfly garden, sand volleyball court, picnic areas and more. Rent paddleboards to cross the lagoon to the long stretch of white-sand beach for shelling and bird watching. Next, head to The Old Florida-style Marco Town Center Mall, which hosts weekly concerts at its gazebo and houses a selection of boutiques, restaurants and a brewpub. If you’re feeling adventurous, try kayaking or canoeing from Goodland to immerse yourself in the mangrove tunnels and estuaries of the Ten Thousand Islands. Hungry? Enjoy seafood and live music in a waterfront locale at Stan’s Idle Hour Restaurant.
Family fun at Tigertail Beach Park
Day 5: Explore the Everglades
Your fifth day is all about the famed “River of Grass.” Begin with an education about Everglades ecosystems at the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center, which features films, ranger talks and tours to spot indigenous wildlife like alligators and manatees. Go more in-depth to discover remarkable habitats on an eco-tour at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park or through a private tour agency such as Everglades Area Tours. See the area’s cypress tree stands, unique vegetation including wild orchids and wading birds such as the white Ibis. The small fishing village of Everglades City is where you’ll find City Seafood, which serves fresh seafood caught from its own boats and brought directly to the restaurant. Dine on a picnic table overlooking the Barron River and you just might spot a manatee.
Cruising on an airboat tour through the Everglades
Fly into Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), and rent a car for the 40-minute drive into downtown Naples. Ride-hailing services are also available. Naples is also about two hours by car from the international airports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.