Suggestions for how to spend a couple of vacation days in SW Florida?
March 4, 2009 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Suggestions for how to spend a couple of vacation days in SW Florida?

My SO and I are flying to Fort Meyers next Wednesday. We have a business conference to attend near there beginning on Saturday.

Looking on suggestions for a relaxing way to spend Thur/Fri/Sat AM . . . we're not opposed to a roadtrip, though neither of us has much of desire to go to Miami/South Beach and we have zero interest in Orlando. So . . .

> Would the Keys be a worthwhile option? (Or would it be pointless given the brief time?)
> Are there any exceptional small towns/beaches/resorts on the Gulf coast that spring to mind?
> If we decide to just stay put in the Naples area, what's that like? Just a bunch of retirees? Any outstanding places to stay/not be missed?
posted by donovan to Travel & Transportation around Florida (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My immediate thought is Sanibel and Captiva, a pair of barrier islands next to Fort Myers. They're delightfully un-built, and if you're into nature, they're great to explore with bikes or kayaks.
posted by cmyk at 3:44 PM on March 4, 2009

Off the Ft. Myers coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, sit two little islands or keys, Sanibel and Captiva. When I was last there about 20 years ago, they hadn't yet lost the simple charms of the undiscovered getaway. That's subject to change, as most Florida property has succumbed to the tourist trap in the past decade or so. The islands have been a bird sanctuary through most of the past century, attracting many of the exotic water fowl common to the southern wetlands. The beaches are nice, the fishing and boating superb, but that isn't why I'm writing this. I wanted to tell you about an eccentric little restaurant on Captiva Island called The Bubble Room.

The Bubble Room is Florida's most outrageous and award-winning restaurant - a delicious holiday from the ordinary. The decor is unlike anything you have experienced - unless you normally dine where Christmas, nostalgia, antique shops and Hollywood are all rolled into one. This fascinating American-cuisine restaurant is composed of eye-catching memorabilia from the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's. Toy trains, twinkling colored lights and more than 2,000 movie stills and glossies of stage and screen legends greet diners curious to see Captiva's famed restaurant.

Servers are aptly titled "Bubble Scouts," and sport zany hats and khaki uniforms covered in crazy buttons. Outside, the colorful decor of the three-story Bubble Room building makes you smile even before you enter. Once inside, you'll find a 7-foot Mickey Mouse from a 1930 Disney float, an old "Santa's Workshop" from a Macy's department store window, and a toy train that circumnavigates the entire innards of the building. While the food is quite good, the simple joy of "being there" is why I remember The Bubble Room to this day.
posted by netbros at 3:52 PM on March 4, 2009

drive about a hour north to Nokomis(just north of Venice) great beaches & the jettys are the best place to hang out & relax there is. small mom & pop motels on the beach.
posted by patnok at 5:29 PM on March 4, 2009

A friend and I recently made the trip up to Naples from Miami (2 Hour Drive) and stayed some days just to relax... (we are in our 20's)

Not much to do in Naples but we did walk the beach for some time and visited the Naples Pier; one little place that we found to be really nice to have breakfast and just sit outside with a nice view was the 5th Avenue Coffee Company; that entire avenue is a great place to stroll and relax.

Michelbob's BBQ was a good place for BBQ just East of the airport; we got these tips and reviews from tripadvisor before heading out...

Other than that there are other local attractions that we didn't do like Segway Tours, museums, zoo's, and such... but plan to next time...

We traveled up to Ft. Myers (about a 45 min drive) and we were glad we were staying in Naples... Everything in Ft. Myers looked run down and deserted... It might just have been the route we took... (I-75 up to the airport) but we didn't stay long...

I would advise against the Keys just because of the wasted drive time to get down there... You can alwways look into little cruises that go down there from Naples... Key West Express is one I have heard of that used to operate in Miami, but it looks like they are only operating in the West coast now...
posted by MrBCID at 7:53 PM on March 4, 2009

You might be able to take the Key west express from marco island. That would be a great day trip. (or over night)
posted by patnok at 6:28 AM on March 5, 2009

++ Sanibel/Captiva
++ Key West Express for a day trip (you used to be able to take this right from Ft. Myers)
++ Naples shopping areas (5th ave)

Other possibilities that require a couple hours driving:

Culture: Drive north to Sarasota and visit the Ringling Museum -- one of the premier art museums of the South, it also features John Ringling's home which you can tour. Looks like something out of the Great Gatsby.

Nature: Head South on 41 as it cuts across the Everglades and stop at Everglades National Park. Take the guided tram tour and walk among huge alligators. A tremendous experience.
posted by dzot at 6:50 AM on March 5, 2009

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