September 9, 2021
We know that to many, a trip to Florida means busy schedules and minimal downtime. The beauty of Marco Island is the ability to enjoy your Florida vacation while avoiding the tourist traps and “go, go, go” mentality found in other regions of the state.
With that said, some aspects of the traditional Florida vacation are worth investing some of your vacation into, with our favorite being the Everglades. With over 1 million acres of wetland, the Everglades are a singularly gorgeous natural feature that many have never seen. Diverse wildlife make the Everglades home, from alligators to egrets and everything in between. Most tours will invite guests to enjoy the landscape from an airboat – an experience unlike anything else. So, though it’s about an hour from our home in Marco, this is a day trip worth taking.
An hour’s drive is doable, but in case you want to break it up, here are a few stops along the way there and back from one of the best rated Everglades tours!
The Lakeside Eatery
This yummy lunch spot describes their style as “trendy food with a healthy twist.” Less than 3 minutes from our hotel, this is the perfect spot to start your drive! Hop in the car, and kick your day off with a delicious and healthy lunch. Menu options range from avocado toast to a classic Rachel with sliced turkey breast, cheddar cheese, coleslaw, topped with thousand island dressing and served on toasted marble rye. You can also create your own salad or bowl, and enjoy a cookie at the end of your meal!
Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk
After about a 30 minute drive, you’ll come across Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk. In Naples, this park in the Fakahatchee Strand is home to tons of gorgeous plants and wildlife with a boardwalk for the ideal stroll through it all. You’ll find placards with information, making this the perfect warmup for the Everglades tour you’re about to go on!
What makes this tour so special is: the guides educate guests not only on the ecology and history of the Everglades but also of the Miccosukee people who inhabited the wetlands. You will tour the breathtaking environment, and venture “out into the ancestral homelands of the Miccosukee people.” Because of the cultural importance here, these tours take place on protected land and only tribal families are allowed to access and give tours of this land, which makes the Buffalo Tiger tours incredibly special as a guest.
Big Cypress Oasis Visitor Center
A nice wind-down from the airboat ride is a casual stroll through the visitor center on your drive home! An easy stop on your way back to Marco Island (with full-service restrooms), where you’ll enjoy a more casual view of the wildlife. One Google review puts it like this: “After seeing a few gators from the car, we were hoping for a place to get out and be able to see them (from a safe distance!). This oasis was our next turn-off and perfect timing. Nice to be able to see the gators from well above them. Easy to observe, even for the faint of heart such as myself.”
Sweet Annie’s Ice Cream
There’s no better way to end a road trip than with a scoop (or two) of ice cream! Locals and visitors alike rave about the ice cream here, with an abundance of flavors, and milkshakes to die for! In addition to frozen treats, Sweet Annie’s gives an old-school Americana feel with retro candies, checkered floors, lots of soda flavors, and a “classic” parlor vibe! A few minutes from Marco Island Lakeside Inn, this charming spot is the best way to finish your long day trip full of environmental and cultural excursions before heading back for a rest in your room.
Of course, there are a million ways to plan your day trip to the Everglades – we just hope this guide helps give you ideas and inspiration when you plan your own! Be sure to chat with our local staff as they’re more than happy to help you plan! Even if you skip all the in-between stuff, an airboat ride in the Everglades is an unforgettable experience that is worth the drive if you have the time. Let us know if you end up going on a trip like this!
About Beachtree Properties
Beachtree Properties specializes in personalized guest stays at several leisure vacation destinations across the United States, including Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Molokai, Hawaii, Marco Island, Florida, and Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The collection of inns and small hotels provides travelers unique experiences. Our management values local character recognizes the individuality of each property and ensures well-appointed accommodations, quality amenities and friendly staff in convenient locations and relaxed atmospheres.