Southwest Florida's subdued charm can easily be missed for more glamorous, better-known destinations. But those who persist in their search for an off-the-beaten-path resort will get their ample share of natural beauty and tranquility once they discover Florida's Southwest. From Charlotte County in the north to Lee and Collier counties in the south, the region offers “The Unspoiled Florida”.
Hotels and resorts in Southwest Florida are as varied as the clientele they draw, ranging from upscale beach resorts with comprehensive sports facilities to national hotel chains, condominiums, bed and breakfasts and smaller, reasonably priced hotels. Additionally, many area properties cater to the high-end market. Off-season, hotel rates can be 30 to 60 percent lower, and high-value packages are often available.
Southwest Florida has a large percentage of protected land housing a variety of endemic flora and fauna, making nature-related activities a prime attraction. Babcock Wilderness Adventures in North Fort Myers offers swamp buggy rides through Telegraph Cypress Swamp to see alligators, panthers, snakes and exotic birds. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Bonita Springs has two miles of nature trails through the nation's largest virgin bald cypress forest. At Sanibel Island's J.N. -Ding- Darling National Wildlife Refuge, nature lovers choose a canoe tour, a narrated tram ride or walking trails to explore the 5000 acre preserve. Twenty-five miles east of Naples, Everglades National Park, the country's third largest national park, is the place to spot alligators, deer, great egrets and other wildlife.
Southwest Florida has outstanding beaches, some rated among the best in the United States for scenic beauty as well as shelling. Fishing and boating are other favorite pastimes in the region. Tarpon fishing originated in Lee County's Useppa and Pine Islands, where anglers still congregate for top sportfishing action. Annual average temperatures of about 74 degrees contribute to making Southwest Florida an ideal sports destination. A total of 95 golf courses - more holes per capital than anywhere else in the country - make it a true golf mecca.
In addition to sports and nature sites, Southwest Florida has plenty of attractions such as the Ford and Edison Winter Homes in Fort Myers, the Fort Myers Historical Museums, the 23-acre Sun Splash Family Waterpark in Cape Coral, or Naples' Collier Automotive Museum.
Southwest Florida Regional Airport in Fort Myers is served by most major domestic carriers and some international charters. Charlotte County Airport and Naples Municipal Airport provide additional local service. The region is easily accessible by highway via I-75 from north and south, and recently expanded Alligator Alley from east to west. Local trolleys in Fort Myers, Naples and Sanibel Island offer narrated sightseeing as well as a convenient transportation option.