The Naples Pier is a popular spot for vacationers and fishermen. It features restrooms, a concession stand with a covered eating area and beach supplies. Fishing from the pier doesn’t require a license. CONTRIBUTED BY ERIK HOLMBERG
Photo: For the AJC
Photo: For the AJC

A weekend in Naples-Marco Island-Everglades City, Fla.

Weekend in Naples-Marco Island-Everglades City, Fla., one of three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.

Trip tips: The landmark Naples Pier, erected in 1888, is a popular fishing and dolphin-spotting destination. Hit the beaches and calm waters of Clam Pass Park and Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park.

Sundowner celebrations start early in Naples and the city is quiet by 9 p.m. Find happy hour specials on drinks and appetizers at this guide: www.thenewnaples.com/guide/happy-hour.

Marco Island is a 15-minute drive south of Naples, and the Everglades are a 30-minute drive.

Marco Island is noted for shelling. Everglades City is a base from which to visit seven of the major parks, preserves and refuge lands in the Everglades: Everglades National Park, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Collier Seminole State Park, Picayune Strand State Forest and Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.

Getting there: Nonstop Delta flights to Fort Myers start from $225 round-trip during sale periods. It’s a 45-minute drive south to Naples.

BUDGET

Stay: The Sea Shell Motel (from $109) is a 20-minute walk to the beach and a 12-minute walk to Tin City. 82 Ninth St. S., Naples. 239-262-5129, www.beachdirectory.com/seashellmotel. Consider Airbnb.com for centrally located and affordable Key West cottage-style accommodations with tin roofs to RV rentals with locations to explore the Everglades. Rates from $70 a night. www.airbnb.com.

Eat: Take in the laid-back Florida vibe at Pinchers Crab Shack in Tin City. Oysters, clams, shrimp or wings are 70 cents from 3-6 p.m. along with 2-for-1 domestic drafts and house margaritas. 1200 Fifth Ave. S., Naples. 239-434-6616, www.pinchersusa.com.

Experience: The original Tin City of Naples of the 1920s was the heart of the fishing industry. Seven of the buildings became colorful eateries and shops in the 1970s. Today these colorful tin-roof shacks house over 40 boutiques specializing in antiques and handmade crafts, two waterfront restaurants, a history show room and boating adventure companies. 1200 Fifth Ave. S., Naples. 239-262-4200, www.tin-city.com.

With an area of over 230 square miles, Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands is one of the world’s largest mangrove swamps. Much of its initial area was reduced by development, which led to mangrove conservation laws. Florida mangroves are home to 181 bird species, including the roseate spoonbill. CONTRIBUTED BY WWW.AUDUBON.ORG
Photo: For the AJC

MODERATE

Stay: Marco Island Lakeside Inn features one- and two-bedroom suites and studio suites — each with a full kitchen or kitchenette. The inn is located a mile from island beaches. On site are a heated pool, barbecues, bike rentals and laundry facilities. From $199 including complimentary pool towels, beach chairs, fishing rods and umbrellas. 155 First Ave., Marco Island. 239-394-1161, www.marcoislandlakeside.com.

Eat: Two stops worth a drive: The Rod and Gun Club has hosted Presidents Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, and Ernest Hemingway. Pop in for a burger ($13) or a fresh seafood platter ($20). Located along the Barron River in Everglades City, about 45 minutes from Naples. 200 Riverside Drive. 239-695-2101, www.everglades-rodandgunclub.com. Located just off a Marco Island access bridge, find the party at Stan’s Idle Hour in Goodland. This waterfront seafood restaurant (to $25) has frequent live music, and hosts the hugely popular Goodland Mullet Festival, Jan. 28, 2017. 221 Goodland Drive, www.stansidlehour.net.

Experience: Ten Thousand Islands are named for the thousands of remote mangrove islands off Florida’s southwest coast. Discover this vast labyrinth of channels on a narrated 90-minute boat tour. Learn about the islands’ unique environment while watching for manatees, bald eagles, roseate spoonbills, osprey and dolphins. $31.80 adults; $15.90 ages 5-12. 815 Oyster Bar Lane, Everglades City. 239-695-2591, www.evergladesnationalparkboattoursgulfcoast.com.

Everglades National Park offers paddling opportunities to explore the natural beauty of this park through freshwater marsh, mangrove forests and tunnels, and the open waters of Florida Bay. CONTRIBUTED BY WWW.NPS.GOV
Photo: For the AJC

SPLURGE

Stay: The AAA Four-Diamond Marco Beach Ocean Resort offers one- and two-bedroom suites with private balcony or terrace, living room with queen sleeper sofa, a king master bedroom with full master bath with separate tub and shower and a fully equipped kitchen. Rates from $369. On site are resort dining, a spa, fitness center, pool, hot tub, rooftop gardens on 4 miles of white sand beach. Guests are served cool smoothies on the beach and at the pool each day at 3 p.m. 480 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Beach. 239-393-1453, www.marcoresort.com.

Eat: For special celebrations, visit romantic Verdi’s American Bistro. Signature specialties include New Zealand Rack of Lamb and Crispy Duck. Entrees, $18-$39. 241 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island. 239-394-5533, www.verdisbistro.com. For lighter fare, check out a recently open local secret, Mermaid Blues, for Spanish tapas (small plates from $10). 174 Royal Palm Drive, Shops of Olde Marco, Marco Island. 239-970-0434, www.mermaidblues.com.

Experience: See parts of the Everglades accessible only by kayak on a backcountry tour. Explore mangrove tunnels, grass prairies, and hardwood hammocks on a leisurely paddle for beginners and experienced paddlers. The four-hour tours are private, so schedule a pre-sunrise or sunset tour with single or tandem kayaks. $99 adults; $60 ages 7-17; 6 and under free with an adult. Everglades City, 239-260-4577, http://tourtheglades.com.

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Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.

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