South Florida

Just Add Land: South Florida

Venture further to one of South Florida’s road trip–worthy hotspots.

By Sharon Kenny

When sailing from two of the world’s busiest cruise ports — PortMiami and Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades — vacationers often choose to stick around before or after their cruise to explore these amazing cities. But if it’s your second trip back, or if extra time allows, venture a bit further and explore a side of the Sunshine State that’s within an easy two-hour drive from your ship — but a world away.

A quick drive west to Naples, south to the Florida Keys, or north to Palm Beach will extend your cruise vacation in a no-fuss way. And while all of South Florida is blessed with great year-round temperatures, gorgeous palm trees, and fabulous beaches, that’s about all these three destinations have in common.

Generally speaking, the east coast of Florida is more developed and bustling, the west coast is quieter and greener with great hotels and restaurants, and the Keys are the most laid back of all. In a week you could get a taste of all three, or choose one area to concentrate on for a glorious couple of days.

Naples: Quaint Sophistication

Each year more and more people are discovering what the fuss is all about across the Everglades in Naples, one of the prettiest small towns in America with a unique mix of international sophistication and authentic Florida charm.

Even the beaches are different. While Miami boasts wide and wavy ocean beaches, the beaches on the west coast face the Gulf of Mexico and are calmer, narrower, and with significantly warmer water, especially in the summer when locals call it “the biggest hot tub in the world.” The beaches are also less crowded, and it’s not uncommon to be the only person for as far as you can see.

Naples has become the entertainment center for the southwest coast of Florida, featuring hundreds of restaurants, live music venues, shopping, and theaters. There are many ways to experience Naples from the water as well. Get out on that beautiful calm sea in your own rental boat, or board a larger tour boat such as the elegant Naples Princess for a sunset dinner cruise on the Gulf of Mexico.
While it may seem like a vast wilderness, there are a number of protected sites throughout the Everglades that offer low-impact kayaking, canoeing, and wildlife viewing. For example, Rookery Bay is a protected subtropical mangrove forest estuary, and Corkscrew Swamp is….

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Photo: Discover The Palm Beaches

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