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Six family-friendly staycation ideas for Southwest Florida

Pierside GrillSouthwest Florida is a vacation destination for millions of tourists each year. 

The weather, the beaches, the attractions… we have it all! 

However, you don’t have to be from out-of-state to enjoy the region’s offerings. From Marco Island and Naples through Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel, Southwest Florida is a vacation playground. We can enjoy it, too! 

As summer approaches, many Southwest Florida families are looking to maximize their fun in the sun without maxing out their credit cards. When you unwind locally, you’re also supporting your community. For every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $68 will stay within the community. That keeps our community’s economy running strong over the summer. 

Taking hints from tourists, below are six family-friendly staycation ideas to consider in 2021: 

Dine and drink like a tourist 

Southwest Florida has an ample selection of independent eateries and a growing culinary scene. Many local restaurants feature items growncaught or made right here in Southwest Florida: 

  • The Island Cow: Known for its “udderly” great American-style food and fun, The Island Cow’s menu is as extensive as its cow puns. The recipient of numerous “best breakfast” and “best lunch” honors, the restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating in a tropical environment. 
  • PierSide Grill: Location, location, location. Situated adjacent to the pier in Fort Myers Beach’s Times Square, PierSide offers incredible sunset views and an even more incredible menu. You can’t go wrong with any item on the menu, but the fresh grouper and surf n’ turf dinner are tourist favorites. 
  • Matanzas on the Bay: Adjacent to the Matanzas Inn, the waterfront restaurant serves freshly caught seafood, Fort Myers Beach’s best pizza and an old Florida ambiance. Petey’s Upper Deck, a sports bar on the second floor, features sweeping views of Estero Bay and live entertainment. 
  • Fort Myers Brewing Co.The region’s first microbrewery, Fort Myers Brewing Co. carries a signature line of flagship beers, seasonal brews and small batch specialties. Its ales, pilsners and IPAs have won numerous state and national awards. The brewery also is home to a vibrant food truck and live music scene. 

Shop like a tourist 

Southwest Florida is a community of small businesses, each with a unique history. There are certain businesses that tourists flock to, as well as those that are off-the-beaten-path. Consider these three businesses to purchase gifts for yourself as well as your friends and family: 

  • Norman Love Confections: Award-winning chocolatier Norman Love has been creating his handcrafted artisanal chocolates in Southwest Florida since 2001. His ultra-premium chocolates are regarded as among the best in America and offered featured in travel and lifestyle magazines. Norman Love Confections has chocolate salons in Fort Myers, Estero, Naples and Sarasota, as well as a pastry shop and café at Whole Foods in Fort Myers. 
  • Sunshine Ace Hardware: In addition to hardware, paint and grills, Sunshine Ace offers an expanded selection of gifts for him and her. Distinct gift departments at Bonita Springs and Naples stores include scented candles, picture frames, artwork, tchotchkes, windchimes, baskets, pottery, novelty items and more. Stores also carry fishing gear and clothing to spend a day on the water. 
  • Mark Loren Designs: Renowned jeweler Mark Loren uses exquisite raw materials, fine gems and sentimental keepsakes to create custom jewelry that’s not only unique to you, but distinctive from pieces you’ll find anywhere else. For clients who enjoy the finer things in life, unlock your imagination with a one-of-a-kind piece that combines your personal style with superior craftsmanship. 

Relax like a tourist 

The whole point of a vacation is to relax, right? Consider these two boutiques to relieve stress: 

  • Sanibel Day Spa: Escape, relax and restore. The salon and spa offers traditional and contemporary treatments designed to restore balance to the mind, body and spirit. Treatments include massages, facials, nail services, salon services and more. The spa’s serene atmosphere is inspired by the island sanctuary it calls home. 
  • Advanced Aesthetic Solutions: Look and feel your best with traditional spa services like facials, microdermabrasion, dermaplaning, microneedling, LED light therapy and eyelash extensions. Minimally invasive, non-surgical procedures include Botox, body contouring, hair removal and dermal fillers. 

Fly like a tourist 

Southwest Florida’s beaches, parks and preserves are beautiful from the ground. You should see them from above. Check out this option for a bird’s-eye view: 

  • Elite Jets: The private charter company flies affluent business and leisure travels on luxury jets across North, Central and South American, as well as the Caribbean. However, its Bell 407 transports passengers on sightseeing excursions above the Florida Everglades, Big Cypress National Preserve and Rookery Bay. Elite Jets’ signature excursion is its “Escape to Useppa Island” tour to Southwest Florida’s most exclusive private island.  

Cruise like a tourist 

Southwest Florida is surrounded by water: the Gulf of Mexico, Caloosahatchee River, Charlotte Harbor and numerous bays, canals, inlets and lakes. There is nothing like a day at sea to make a staycation feel like a true vacation:  

  • Captiva Cruises: With two 45-foot motorized catamarans, one 40-foot sailing catamaran and the 65-foot Lady Chadwick, Captiva Cruises has a variety of daily cruises that depart from Captiva Island. Guests can choose from dolphinwildlife, sunset or island destination cruises to Cabbage Key, Useppa Island, Cayo Costa State Park, Boca Grande and Pine Island. Coast Guard-certified captains double as tour guides considered experts in local history and wildlife. 
  • Hoke Fishing Charters: Southwest Florida’s best fishing charter offers a “No Fish, No Pay” policy guaranteeing passengers will have a fish picture to share on social media. Hoke offers half-day and full-day tours to Charlotte Harbor, Boca Grande and Sanibel, Captiva and Pine islands. Boat options include a 21-foot Custom Intruder and 21-foot Aquasport. 

Explore like a tourist 

Dozens of state and national parks, preserves and refuges run up and down Southwest Florida. Despite the region’s growth, there are still ample opportunities to “get away from it all” without leaving two. These two options transport visitors back in time: 

  • Shangri-La Springs: The historic boutique hotel, full-service spa and organic restaurant is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2021A popular destination for weddings and special events, the property offers garden tours, produce markets and yoga classes  
  • Ding Darling National Wildlife RefugeCovering more than 6,400 acres, the refuge consists of mangrove forest, submerged seagrass beds, cordgrass marshes and hardwood hammocks. The refuge contains multiple walking and hiking trails, and is a natural habitat for more than 245 species of birds. 

Priority Marketing has served small businesses in Southwest Florida since 1992. If you want to attract tourists – both out-of-staters and local staycationers – give us a call today at 239-267-2638 or send an email to info@PriorityMarketing.com. 

READ MORE: Marketing will heat up small businesses in summer 2021 

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