Drive 335.4 miles • 6 hours, 53 minutes
Do you prefer perfectly manicured lawns or wild mangrove swamps? Take your pick between the two on this wild tour of Southern Florida.
1. Port Charlotte
Starting Point • Nature, Outdoor Recreation
On Florida’s Gulf Coast, Port Charlotte boasts more than 165 miles of waterways and mile after golden mile of beautiful shoreline. Every conceivable wet-and-wild recreational activity is on the menu, including fishing, boating, sailing, kayaking and jet skis. Stump Pass Beach State Park, 24 miles southwest of Port Charlotte, draws nature lovers to its impressive wildlife inventory, containing bald eagles, osprey, egrets and herons.
Riverside RV Resort & Campground – Port Charlotte, FL – (800) 795-9733
Sun N Shade RV Resort – Punta Gorda, FL – (941) 639-5388
2. Fort Myers
29.3 miles, 52 minutes • Food, History, Shopping
Fort Myers serves up a variety of dining and shopping options, but visitors should make a beeline to a pair of lavish homes, replete with period furnishings, on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River. Thomas Edison built his winter escape here in 1885, and Edison’s close friend Henry Ford constructed his adjacent bungalow in 1916. The main gallery of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates offers exhibits on Edison’s pioneering role in the development of the telegraph, telephone and x-ray machine. Also on display: the custom-made Model T car given to Edison by Ford.
Red Coconut RV Park – Fort Myers Beach, FL – (888) 262-6226
42.8 miles, 58 minutes • Entertainment, History
Southwest Florida’s most refined city, Naples inspires snowbirds with its lavish beachfront mansions, preened fairways, and a grand selection of boutiques and restaurants. The newer sections of Naples still exude historic charm, thanks to Ohio manufacturer Henry B. Watkins, Sr., who developed an environmentally conscious city plan in 1946. The Naples Historical Society conducts one-mile walking tours along historic Third Street South and through Old Naples, where the Briggs, the DuPonts and the Haldemans (the city’s founders) resided.
40.3 miles, 1 hour, 5 minutes • Nature, Outdoor Recreation
Few places can lay claim to such a wild and fertile setting as the former trading town of Chokoloskee. The area forms the base for fly-fishing forays, as well as bird watching and kayaking tours through the mangrove jungles of the Everglades. Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge forms part of the largest expanses of mangrove forest in the United States. It’s a sanctuary for diverse native wildlife, including several endangered species of turtles and birds.
5. Key West
Drive 223 miles, 4 hours, 29 minutes • Entertainment, Food, History, Quirky
From the Florida mainland, drive southwest on the Overseas Highway to Key West, a subtropical island known for its historic mansions, palm-tree-lined streets and vibrant local culture. Located closer to Havana than Miami, the 7.4-square-mile island feels like a separate country, with customs and celebrations found nowhere else. The fantastic sunsets are reason enough to visit. Find out what enticed Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and Jimmy Buffet to stay here.