26 Best Things to Do in Marco Island, FL

Marco Island, FL

Welcome to my little slice of paradise!

The sun-soaked shores of Marco Island have been my home for years, and they've never lost their allure.

This tranquil, tropical haven off Florida's Gulf Coast is a jewel to be discovered, wrapped in the warm embrace of the sea.

Every morning, I find myself captivated by the breathtaking sunrise painting the sky with fiery hues, and every night, lulled into a peaceful sleep by the rhythmic lullaby of waves.

Discover the best things to do in Marco Island, Florida.

It's time for me to show you around and unravel the magic that makes this city a hidden gem.

About this article: This article was written by a local contributor based on their own experiences and those around them. While this list showcases some remarkable places, it's important to note that this is an opinion piece, and there are many other exceptional places to visit that are not featured here.
Our aim is not just to guide you to popular places but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city for yourself.

Admire the View from Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge

Aerial view of Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge
Paul Harrison / Shutterstock.com

There's a certain charm to the simplicity of the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge.

It doesn't boast lavish amenities, but it's our lifeline, the main access point to Marco Island.

Every time I drive over this bridge, I get a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding waters that never fails to take my breath away.

The bridge isn't just for commuting.

It's a beloved spot for fishing enthusiasts like myself.

Though it might not always deliver a bountiful catch, the thrill of casting a line into the azure waters and waiting for a bite is a joy in itself.

A word of advice, though; familiarize yourself with the Florida fishing laws before you start, just to stay on the safe side.

Another thing I love about this place is that it's dog-friendly.

My furry companion enjoys our little adventures on the sandy parking spots near the water.

Remember, though, there are no amenities for dogs, so it's important to come prepared and always clean up after your pet.

What's really reassuring is the sense of security. The local police patrol the area regularly, ensuring everyone's safety.

Remember, though, the Jolley Bridge is not just a picturesque spot for outdoor adventures.

It's also the gateway to Marco Island's wonders, like the beaches that are a treasure trove of beautiful seashells that my daughters adore finding.

Learn about Local Ecosystems with Eco Endeavors

Our little corner of paradise, Marco Island, offers many a treasure, and one of the best ways to discover them is aboard with the fantastic team at Eco Endeavors.

This isn't your ordinary boat tour, it's a genuine adventure into the heart of our local ecosystems!

The first time I embarked on a private tour, I was immediately put at ease by their welcoming demeanors and the extensive knowledge they shared.

They were eager to stop at every possible sighting, ensuring we saw an abundance of wildlife, including dolphins and manatees.

And it's not just about what you can spot in the water.

They took us to a remote island that proved to be an absolute paradise for shelling.

And trust me, there's something magical about combing the beach, finding unique shells while listening to the soothing sounds of the sea.

In addition, the Eco Endeavors team goes above and beyond in their service.

Their shuttle service from the meeting point to the docks is seamless.

This level of care for even the smaller details really makes the experience all the more enjoyable.

But perhaps my most memorable tour was the private sunset tour.

It was an evening of stunning beauty.

As the sun dipped low, casting a glow over the shelling islands off Marco Island, we were lucky enough to spot a manatee and even rescue a 60-pound grouper.

It was a magical experience that captivated even my group of lifelong local friends.

Feel the Thrill of Avi's Marco Island Jet Ski Tours

From the cool morning breeze to the setting sun, there's nothing quite like the thrill of gliding over azure waters with the help of Avi's Marco Island Jet Ski Tours.

For years, I've been taking part in these adrenaline-filled adventures that allow me to explore the beautiful Marco Island in a unique and exciting way.

Each tour is a 2.5-hour extravaganza, a half-hour more than any other tour on the island, providing an extra opportunity to explore the breathtaking mangrove islands.

Avi, our expert tour guide, always offers a wealth of knowledge about the island and its wildlife, making the tour both fun and educational.

It's a delight to follow him into the heart of the mangrove islands, a journey that no other jet ski tour on the island offers.

And, if you're lucky, you might even get a chance to see dolphins up close, just like I did!

It was exhilarating to run into hundreds of bonnet head sharks up the Black River.

The return journey offered a mesmerizing view of the fallen domes of Cape Romano and the chance to observe playful dolphins, including babies, interacting with an unusually low tide.

Over the years, the tours have only gotten better.

Discover the Past at Marco Island Historical Museum

Every time I walk through the doors of the Marco Island Historical Museum, I'm instantly transported back in time.

It's fascinating to trace the region's history from the time of the indigenous Native American tribes to the rapid development of modern life.

The detailed exhibits are absolutely riveting, each telling a unique story about our island's past.

The staff's passion for history is contagious.

I remember the first time I stepped foot in the museum, they greeted me with warm smiles and shared a brief synopsis of what to expect.

Then, they encouraged me to explore and uncover the stories on my own.

This self-guided journey has always been a highlight of my visits.

Each exhibit is meticulously put together, providing an in-depth exploration of the island's history.

From the ancient Calusa tribes to the modern developers who transformed Marco Island, every chapter of our history is laid out for us to experience.

A visit to Marco Island Historical Museum wouldn't be complete without stopping by the gift shop.

It's stocked with an array of unique souvenirs, each one a piece of Marco Island's history that you can take home.

While entry to the museum is free, a modest donation of $5 is suggested.

Trust me when I say it's a small price to pay for the wealth of knowledge and appreciation you'll gain for this beautiful island we call home.

Play Ball Games at Mackle Park

I'll let you in on a secret.

Every time I need a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life on Marco Island, I find solace in Mackle Park.

The greenery, the serene lake, and multiple activity areas make it a little oasis for me and my family.

Nothing beats going for a peaceful stroll around the park after a long day.

And if you're up for some fun, the park has a multitude of options.

The basketball court and sand volleyball court are my personal favorites.

They're always well-maintained, just like the rest of the park.

One can also try their hand at shuffleboard and bocce.

The dog park is a blessing for my furry friend.

It's an amazing, dedicated space where our pets can roam freely and safely.

Indeed, Mackle Park is a haven for all ages, especially for kids.

The children's playground, complete with a splash area and multiple play sections, is a hit with my little ones.

They can spend the entire day there, completely safe and more than entertained.

For those interested in indoor games, there's a game room too.

Plenty of parking and shaded areas make a day out at Mackle Park hassle-free and relaxing. And did I mention the cleanliness?

Kudos to the maintenance team for keeping the park spotless.

Soak Up Sun at Residents' Beach

Aerial view of Residents' Beach
Paul Harrison / Shutterstock.com

There's something extraordinary about Residents' Beach.

As a resident, it's my go-to spot whenever I need to unwind.

It's a gorgeous, expansive stretch of sand that is interrupted only by the ever-rolling waves of the ocean.

I often find myself thinking about how it would be if it was open to the public.

It's such a stunning place that it feels a bit unfair to keep it all to ourselves.

But hey, I don't make the rules.

Residents' Beach is always immaculately groomed, with white, sandy stretches that tickle your toes as you walk along the shore.

The beach's natural beauty makes it a photographer's paradise, especially around sunset.

The sight of the sun melting into the horizon is truly breath-taking, and I must have taken hundreds of pictures of it over the years.

One of the best parts of living here is the sense of community.

I've met so many friendly, genuine people on the beach over the years.

There was this one incredibly kind couple who even invited some tourists to join them one afternoon.

These small acts of kindness are what make this place truly special.

Indulge in French Cuisines at Bistro Soleil

You know those kind of evenings that stay with you forever?

The ones filled with laughter, delicious food, and memorable moments?

Well, one such evening was when I decided to dine at Bistro Soleil.

Nestled in the historic Olde Marco Inn, this oceanside gem is a must-visit for any food lover, especially if you're a fan of classic French cuisine.

Upon entering, my first impression was of a quaint, dimly-lit venue, which gave a cozy and intimate feel.

It was like stepping into a charming French bistro right in the heart of Marco Island.

The ambiance was further enhanced by the live music playing softly in the background, creating a truly romantic atmosphere.

The service was attentive and personable, making us feel instantly welcomed. But let's talk about the best part - the food.

Their French Onion Soup and Steak Frites were an absolute delight.

The soup was rich and hearty, and the steak was cooked to perfection, accompanied by the most delicious fries.

My significant other couldn’t stop raving about the Shrimp Risotto, which was well-deserved.

Bistro Soleil's dessert was the real show-stopper though.

Despite being a common choice, their Chocolate Molten Cake was unlike anything we had ever tasted before.

This was no ordinary dessert, it was an experience - one that I would highly recommend to any chocolate lover.

Now, no evening is complete without a little entertainment.

After dinner, we headed to the Piano Bar for a couple of drinks.

The melodious tunes, combined with the friendly chatter of fellow patrons, made it the perfect ending to a truly incredible evening.

Have an Early Morning Dip at Marco Island South Public Beach

A spectacular sunrise on the unspoiled white sands of Marco Island South Public Beach sets the tone for my day.

I've always been captivated by the natural beauty this place offers, making it my go-to spot for some early morning solitude.

Here, the water is as clear as glass, warm to the touch, and a glistening shade of blue that rivals the brightest skies.

There's always a sense of tranquility that settles in as the waves gently caress the shore.

The palm-shaded and hedge-lined pathway leading to the beach adds to the charm, making it feel like a hidden treasure.

One of the things I look forward to the most at Marco Island South Public Beach is the low tide, revealing a sandbar that you can swim to.

It's also when you stand a chance to spot a dolphin or two, a sight that never fails to inspire awe.

If you're a shell enthusiast like me, you'd be thrilled to know that the beach is a treasure trove of fun shells, making it an amateur conchologist's dream.

The view of buildings along the shoreline under the sun's golden glow gives the beach a unique, picturesque scenery, making it the perfect backdrop for those Instagram-worthy shots.

Gaze at Local Works at The Marco Island Center for the Arts

I can't help but feel a swell of pride when I step into the Marco Island Center for the Arts.

The vibrancy of the local talent on display is simply breathtaking.

It is not just an art center; it's a cultural hub, a celebration of creativity, and a testament to the rich artistic fabric of our community here on Marco Island.

One of the first thingMarco Island Center for the Artss that captivate you upon walking in is the diverse range of artworks.

From oil paintings and acrylic masterpieces that capture the essence of our island to intriguing photography and evocative film, it is a visual feast that leaves you awestruck.

There is also an array of clay sculptures that showcase the tactile beauty of art in its most physical form.

What's more, every month, the center organizes new exhibits and artist receptions.

These events are a great way to meet the creators behind the art and get a closer look at their creative process.

I still fondly remember the time when the 2nd Tuesday shows were a regular thing. I am eagerly looking forward to their comeback.

Marco Island Center for the Arts also offers a plethora of classes for art enthusiasts of all ages.

Whether it's a family looking to spend some quality time together, an adult seeking a creative outlet, or a kid nurturing an interest in art, there's something for everyone.

I have personally taken a few of these classes, and they have significantly enhanced my artistic skills.

The center also hosts a store where you can buy the works of these local artists.

It's a great way to support the local art scene and bring a piece of Marco Island to your home.

And the best part? There's no entrance fee.

You can explore and soak in all the creativity without worrying about your wallet.

Discover the City's History with Marco Island Historical Society

There's just something enchanting about diving into the rich history of your own backyard.

Recently, I found myself spending a delightful afternoon at the Marco Island Historical Society, immersing myself in the stories of the past that shaped the environment I've come to love.

Nestled comfortably amidst the lush Florida plant life, the museum is a charming little place that captures your attention the minute you step on its grounds.

The inviting exterior gives way to a captivating interior, with every corner of the museum telling a tale about the original settlers and the evolution of modern Marco Island.

The Marco Cat, one of its star attractions, is as endearing as it's intriguing.

One of the things I particularly enjoy about Marco Island Historical Society is the way it beautifully incorporates the outdoors.

The grounds outside are a must-visit, showcasing a gorgeous array of local plant life and an authentic old Indian hut. It's almost like taking a step back in time.

The best part?

Admission is by donation, making it an accessible and affordable way to delve into the annals of Marco Island.

Pamper Yourself at JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort

Every so often, I find myself drawn to the serenity of a beach, the luxury of a high-end resort, or the thrill of an exciting golf game.

Luckily for me, all of these are wonderfully combined at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort.

I am fortunate that this resort is just a stone's throw away from my home.

There's just something about this place that is inexplicably captivating.

Maybe it's the sheer elegance of the resort, or perhaps it's the breathtaking beachfront, which is always immaculately maintained.

I am particularly fond of the golf course that boasts two impressive full 18-hole rounds.

The pool area offers a refreshing retreat from the Florida heat, and the world-class spa ensures you can indulge in a bit of pampering.

One thing I relish during my numerous visits is the gastronomic journey at the twelve different restaurants available on-site.

The variety of cuisines serves to satisfy even the most discerning palate.

For a more casual experience, I often find myself at 10K Alley.

Despite some criticism about the service, I've always had a rather enjoyable time there, playing arcade games and catching up with friends over drinks.

However, what truly sets the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort apart is the panoramic views from the rooms.

The sight of the sun setting over the expansive ocean horizon is simply mesmerizing, a spectacle that never fails to make me fall in love with the place even more.

Although I'm lucky enough to live in Marco Island, it's still a treat to book a room in the newer Lanai section of the hotel.

The advanced amenities and the top-notch service provide a fantastic staycation experience without having to leave the island.

Buy Local Produce from Marco Island Farmer's Market

Fresh produce at Marco Island Farmer's Market
Christin Lola / Shutterstock.com

Every Wednesday, my day starts with a delightful visit to Marco Island Farmer's Market, one of the biggest farmer's markets I've experienced. With a plentiful array of vendors, it's a joy to explore.

Located within a picturesque park, the market manages to blend into the beauty of the surroundings seamlessly.

Parking might be a slight challenge, but arriving early or later in the day can secure you a spot.

Trust me, it's worth it.

Once you walk in, you're greeted by a variety of fresh produce - from juicy strawberries to delightfully sweet pineapples that cost merely $4.

The passionate vendors also offer an amazing selection of cheeses, breads, freshly baked goods, and prepared foods. I often grab a smoothie on the go or indulge in a hearty lunch featuring mouth-watering options like rice and beans or BBQ ribs.

Marco Island Farmer's Market also has a vibrant arts and crafts section, where local artisans showcase their beautifully crafted jewelry and other handmade items.

My personal favorite is the New York bagel stand - the bagels are a treat to the senses.

If you're in the mood to relax, you can loaf around under the tent with tables and chairs and even enjoy live music.

For those visiting with kids, there's a playground attached to the market.

Go Shell-Picking at the Public Beach Access

There's nothing like the familiar sound of waves crashing and the sight of the crystal-clear waters of our local beach.

I'm talking about the Public Beach Access on our beloved Marco Island.

Unlike the mid-Atlantic beaches, the water here is so clear that you can almost see your reflection on the surface.

It's a refreshing sight that never fails to mesmerize me.

The walk to the beach is short, and the best part is that it's not usually crowded. This means that you can take your time, breathe in the salty sea air, and enjoy the peaceful ambiance.

The locals here are always friendly and filled with island charm.

We have a unique vibe that you won't find anywhere else. And what better place to experience it than the best beach on the island?

The sand at Public Beach Access is as white as sugar and scattered with a treasure trove of shells, perfect for a relaxing beach walk.

During the summer, the water temperature tends to range between 85 to 90 degrees, making the beach the ideal place to cool off and enjoy the sunshine.

For a memorable experience, make sure to stay until the evening.

The sunsets here are absolutely stunning and round off a fantastic day at the beach.

The sky explodes with vibrant colors that are reflected on the calm water's surface.

It's a sight you won't ever forget.

Stroll Your Fido Walk through Canine Cove Dog Park

Oh, how I love spending time at the Canine Cove Dog Park, it's as if it's our very own doggy paradise right here on the Island!

The park is an ample space split into two sides, perfect for accommodating dogs of all sizes.

You don't see that everywhere, trust me, I've been to a few that try to squeeze all dogs into one area, but not at Canine Cove!

The park is well-equipped with trash bins and dog clean-up stations, although it could use a few more toys and play equipment for our furry friends.

But hey, it's not all bad, there's this cute little container tied to the fence with a few toys inside.

If you're a newcomer, don't be shy.

We might stick to our familiar groups, but we're a friendly bunch.

And trust me, your dog will have a blast with our local pups.

Remember, like any dog park, it's all about keeping an eye on your canine and making sure they're comfortable with the energy around them.

Don't worry though, if it gets a bit too crowded or if some dogs are overly excited, there's always the option of taking a relaxing walk around the nearby pond.

The path is wonderful for a peaceful walk, jog, or even a bike ride with your pup.

Practice Your Swing at Marco Golf and Garden

Just another sunny Saturday in my neighborhood, I decided to take my nine-year-old daughter to Marco Golf and Garden for her birthday.

Oh, what a day we had!

Their miniature golf course is quite the marvel, not too challenging for the little ones, yet tricky enough to keep us adults on our toes.

It's more than just a golf course, it's a nature's playground that unfolds with every step.

As we meandered through the verdant course, the stunning garden landscapes and cascading waterfalls truly captured our hearts.

The sheer variety of the garden environment had us in awe and that's where this place shines.

Picture this: you're putting your way through a lush, vibrant garden with a waterfall backdrop, doesn't it sound like a dream?

Well, that's Marco Golf and Garden for you.

Not only does the place have a dreamy setting, but it is also meticulously maintained.

The course, the grounds, even the restrooms, everything was clean and well-kept. I must say, free water bottles at every nook were a lifesaver in the Florida heat!

Catch a Ball Game at Winterberry Park

You would think living on an island in Florida is all about the beach, right? But for me, it's all about Winterberry Park.

This small park has become my go-to spot for relaxation and fun.

It's not just a park, it's a hub of activities, where I often find myself getting lost in the beauty of the place and the camaraderie of the community.

It’s tucked right in the heart of Marco Island, making it easily accessible.

And it's not just for us locals, the park has proven to be a favorite for visiting school groups and families, too.

I've seen many a bus drive in, filled with excited kids ready to play a game of baseball on the park's field.

One time, I even joined a school group for an impromptu baseball game - talk about community spirit!

But Winterberry Park isn't all bats and balls.

It has a serene side, too.

Winterberry Park is just a short walk away from a charming bridge, where you can enjoy fishing or just sit back and take in the views.

I fancy myself as an amateur angler from time to time, and this spot has never disappointed me.

Spot the Wildlife at Tigertail Beach

Daytime in Tigertail Beach in Marco Island
Paul Harrison / Shutterstock.com

When you live in paradise, every day feels like a vacation.

Among the many gems of Marco Island, Tigertail Beach is one that truly stands out.

Imagine a white-sand beach, a tidal lagoon, and the spectacle of nature all in one place.

This is the kind of beauty that's worth cherishing, and as someone who has been fortunate enough to call this place home, I feel obliged to give you an insider's scoop on how to make the most of your visit.

For a start, the best way to reach the beach is by crossing the lagoon.

Don't let the water deter you. Slip into your water shoes or flip-flops, and you'll be just fine.

However, be mindful of the tides.

For a hassle-free lagoon crossing, it's best to choose a time when the tide is low or falling.

You see, I've learned that timing your visit is key to unlocking the best experiences at Tigertail Beach.

The place is a wildlife haven that comes alive in the early morning or late afternoon.

I've strolled down the beach at these hours, spotting a wide variety of shorebirds, even bunnies, and raccoons.

And if you're lucky, you may spot an iguana or two, basking in the sun.

Boardwalk leading to Tigertail Beach's bird observation tower
SunflowerMomma / Shutterstock.com

For those of you interested in shell picking, here's a tip. Come two hours before low tide, but not earlier.

I've collected an impressive assortment of shells over time, especially the fighting conch.

The farther you walk down the beach, towards the Marco Pass, the more shells you'll find.

Now, if you're ready to soak up the sun, I'd recommend taking the long dirt road to the left after you enter the parking lot.

This path will directly lead you to the beach, saving you a half-mile walk around the lagoon.

Trust me, the sight of the sunset and the unique shells scattered around are worth every step.

Did you know that the lagoon wasn't always there?

It was formed after Hurricane Wilma in 2005, and the narrow strip of sand shaped like a tiger’s tail, which separates the Gulf of Mexico and the lagoon, was pushed inland.

The tiger, it seems, grew a longer tail after the hurricane.

This transformation is a fascinating testament to the ever-changing nature of our coastlines and just one of the many wonders that make Tigertail Beach such a remarkable place.

Beach umbrella cabanas on the sands of Tigertail Beach
SunflowerMomma / Shutterstock.com

Play Tennis at Marco Island Racquet Center

Every day, the floodlights of the Marco Island Racquet Center come alive, creating a vibrant hub for tennis and pickleball enthusiasts in our community.

As soon as the clock strikes four, I often find myself racing to the courts.

The energy is palpable, our shoes squeaking against the turf and the rhythmic bounce of the ball filling the air.

After a long day, there's nothing quite like the friendly pick-up pickleball games that are organized.

Strangers and friends alike mix and match for a rotation of doubles matches, seeing who can outwit the other with a deftly placed shot.

I've always found it to be a fantastic opportunity to meet new people, with everyone always eager to welcome newcomers into the fold.

And if you're lucky enough to stay after hours, Marco Island Racquet Center offers free play at the courts from 4-6 pm daily.

There's something magical about playing under the Marco Island night sky, the lights illuminating the courts as the stars twinkle overhead.

Have an Early Morning Stroll at Marco Island Veterans' Park

I must say, the morning walks at Marco Island Veterans' Park have become my favorite part of the day, my sacred ritual.

I've seen it transform from a construction site last year into the beautiful green space it is today.

It’s been a joy to watch the newly planted vegetation take root and bloom, the place is now teeming with life.

The park has become a hub of activity, especially on Wednesdays when the Farmers Market comes to town.

It's an amazing sight to see the local community come together, the air filled with the aroma of fresh produce and the sound of friendly chatter.

The new band shell at Marco Island Veterans' Park has been a great addition too, sometimes I enjoy the live performances from the bands playing at the amphitheater while sitting on the bench swings.

For families, the park offers a playground, making it an ideal spot for picnics.

Personally, I find the memorial at the park quite moving, a wonderful tribute to the veterans.

No matter how many times I pass it on my walks, it never fails to give me a sense of peace and gratitude.

Come aboard Key West Express

It's not every day you get to experience the thrill of riding a ferry from San Marco to Key West, and that's exactly what makes my hometown such a unique place.

Key West Express provides this fantastic journey that I've been privileged to take on a few occasions.

The first time I boarded the ferry, I was struck by the friendly and accommodating crew.

They make the three-hour voyage a joy rather than a chore.

If you're not a fan of the great outdoors, you might prefer to fly or drive to Key West.

But for me, there's nothing quite like the beauty of the open water.

The travel schedule is well-structured, which gives you plenty of time to plan your day.

The voyage from San Marco to Key West can be a little long, so I'd recommend bringing along a book or some other form of entertainment.

The vessel is well-stocked with food and drink options to satiate your hunger and quench your thirst during the journey.

From mini sliders to pizza and muffins, there's plenty to choose from.

The morning ride on Key West Express is especially exhilarating, and if you time it right, you can catch the glorious sunset on your return trip.

The upper deck at the back is open, offering a range of seating options depending on how much breeze you prefer.

Do note that the departure times are strictly adhered to, so make sure you're not late.

Discover a Bygone Era at Otter Mound Preserve

Every now and then, I love wandering along the peaceful walking trail of the Otter Mound Preserve.

Ensconced in the heart of a picturesque neighborhood, this small yet charming waterfront preserve offers a unique experience of tranquility amidst a historic tropical hardwood hammock.

Although Otter Mound Preserve is not expansive, the sheer beauty of the preserve more than makes up for its size.

The trail itself wouldn't take more than 10 minutes to walk around, yet the abundance of native trees and the occasional sight of a few birds never fail to set my heart at ease.

It's like taking a tiny step back from the hustles of daily life.

One of the most intriguing parts of the preserve is the remnants of the walls built by the Otter family.

While some parts appear to be damaged, possibly by a hurricane, they bear testimony to the rich history of the place.

It's a sight that always fills me with wonder.

Discover Indigenous History at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

I've always considered myself fortunate to live near Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Gazing at the multitude of shells lining the shoreline, I feel a sense of peace washing over me.

Be warned, though, the shells can be sharp, so I always make sure to wear a good pair of shoes.

This area also happens to be a nesting ground for the Black Skimmer, and it's a sight to behold when you tread carefully, trust me!

If you're a history enthusiast, there's a small museum with exhibits about the indigenous people who once called this beautiful area their home.

And if you're anything like me, who finds fascination in ocean life, they have a small touch tank and other exhibits that are sure to pique your interest.

Like most nature lovers, hiking is my favorite pastime.

The trails at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve are absolutely breathtaking, each one promising a unique experience.

If you're planning a visit, I'd recommend setting aside ample time to fully enjoy what the place has to offer.

Just a word of advice, if you find yourself here closer to closing hours, make sure to ask for a pass for the next day.

The staff here is incredibly accommodating, and they wouldn't want you to miss out on the hiking trails, which are the park's main attraction.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Admire the Vistas as You Walk through Briggs Boardwalk

Walkway of the Briggs Boardwalk
Paul Harrison / Shutterstock.com

Evenings at Briggs Boardwalk are a vision of tranquility and a feast for nature enthusiasts.

I always find myself gravitating towards the boardwalk as the sun begins to set, excited to immerse myself in the natural beauty of the area.

The boardwalk winds around the preserve area, offering a unique opportunity to connect with nature amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The gopher tortoises lead a seemingly harmonious existence here, often seen ambling along the road.

Every encounter with them feels like a rare privilege, a glimpse into the life of a species that has been around for millions of years.

On certain blissful days, I've even spotted juvenile eagles soaring high in the sky, their imposing wingspan casting a spectacular silhouette against the twilight hues.

Of course, birdwatchers would be remiss to leave their binoculars at home - the halfway point of the walk is an excellent spot to pause and observe the avian life around.

Even though the wildlife spotting opportunities vary with the seasons, the boardwalk's appeal transcends all times of the year.

It offers a pleasant short walk, with the whole loop measuring about half a mile, perfect for a lazy evening stroll or an invigorating morning jog.

Briggs Boardwalk is peppered with benches, ideal for a quick rest or simply to sit and soak in the surroundings.

At the center, a ramp leads to an overlook, presenting a panoramic view of the preserve that never ceases to amaze me.

One of the hallmarks of Briggs Boardwalk is its cleanliness.

There’s even a very clean port-a-let along the way, a thoughtful addition that ensures you can enjoy the walk without any worries.

Go on a Paddling Adventure at Capri Paddlecraft Park

You wouldn't believe it, but right in the midst of San Marco's concrete jungle, there's this hidden gem known as Capri Paddlecraft Park.

I love it there.

The park offers a remote paddling launch site that opens up a world of shallow mangroves teeming with life.

It's simply a paradise for any wildlife enthusiast.

I've had the privilege of sighting diverse wildlife species in their natural habitat.

Indeed, it's an experience like no other.

And for those into fishing, you're in for a treat.

I remember my first time fishing at Capri Paddlecraft Park.

I caught a couple of baby catfish, which were released back into the water after the catch. It was such a thrilling experience.

The parking fee might seem a little steep at $10, along with a $5 per paddle craft fee.

But trust me, considering the experience and the wealth of knowledge you get, it's totally worth it.

In fact, I'm planning to go back for another trip tomorrow!

Go Kayaking at MarGood Harbor Park

I've always found solace amidst the whispering leaves and glistening waters of MarGood Harbor Park.

Nestled in my quaint hometown of Goodland, Florida, this 2.67-acre park is a hidden gem, offering a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

With a kayak strapped on my truck, my weekends often start at the park's secluded launch, tucked away from the prying eyes of visitors.

The calm waters beckon, serving as a quiet retreat for paddling enthusiasts like me.

The launch is free, unlike the crowded boat ramp down the road, making it a beloved spot for us locals.

The park is a hive of activity, brimming with paths meandering through lush greenery, a playground that resonates with children's laughter, and a volleyball court where impromptu matches are a common sight.

On lazy afternoons, you can find me engrossed in a spirited game of horseshoes or bocce ball, the latter being a favorite amongst the senior residents.

Tucked next to the playground is a pavilion with picnic tables, where I often enjoy a hearty meal.

The nearby museum, open from January to April, offers a glimpse into our rich local history.

It may not be grand, but it is a source of pride and inspiration for residents, reminding us of our roots.

As the day winds down, the lighted path leading over to the Little Bar calls my name.

The ambiance is cozy, the food delicious, and the company heartwarming.

It's the perfect end to a day spent immersed in the gentle beauty of MarGood Harbor Park.

Discovering Natural Wonders with Dreamlander Tours

What a remarkable day it was when I decided to embark on a journey with Dreamlander Tours!

Right from the moment of booking, everything was a breeze.

I was quite impressed by the affordability of the package, especially considering the extraordinary experiences that were promised.

And boy, did Dreamlander Tours deliver!

The guide's knowledge of the local wildlife, history, and water in the area was impressive.

And let's not forget about the fun parts: fishing on the beach, exploring the open ocean, and swimming on a private island—it felt like a dream!

The highlight of the trip, however, was the shelling trip to a private island.

It was a delight to see my children's faces light up as they discovered unique shells and sand dollars.

Final Thoughts

Having lived here for many years, I can truly say that Marco Island, Florida's charm is not just about its white sand beaches and endless ocean views.

It's about the history, art, and culture that you can discover at venues such as the Marco Island Historical Museum and the Marco Island Center for the Arts.

It's about the delight of finding fresh produce at the Marco Island Farmer's Market and the tranquility of a paddle through Capri Paddlecraft Park.

And, of course, it's about those special spots which you can only discover through local adventure companies like Eco Endeavors and Avi's Marco Island Jet Ski Tours.

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