By Joanna Mazewski, Taking the Kids Correspondent
It’s been several weeks since we’ve been back from our trip to Marco Island and Naples, which just happen to be two of Southwest Florida’s premiere destinations. I still wake up in the morning thinking about our unforgettable hotel room view of the Gulf of Mexico, reminiscent of the Caribbean turquoise waters. My two children acting as Citizen Scientists during our Dolphin Explorer cruise, a wonderful eco-education activity that allows passengers to take part in an on-going study of local bottlenose dolphins. And of course, the sand beneath my feet so fine that is also stays cool no matter how hot the temperature gets throughout the day.
Florida’s Paradise Coast is by far the perfect family getaway for those looking to slow down the pace and enjoy what the Sunshine State really has to offer. No hot days spent wandering around crowded theme parks. No ridiculously long lines. No rollercoasters or character meet-and-greets. During our stay in Marco Island, we actually had the opportunity to bond as a family, play on the beach and snuggle in bed after a long day in the sun. In other words, it was the perfect family vacation.
If you plan to visit the Paradise Coast, the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort is a must. Newly renovated and with close access to Naples, this world-class resort is situated right on the beach, with unforgettable views of the Gulf of Mexico. The property also features a new Spa by JW, endless recreation options, several different dining options and of course, two large swimming pools. Our family loved having the option of swimming underneath the waterfalls of the hotel’s main pool or paddle boarding and sailing on the beach.
The best part of Southwest Florida is that you can take advantage of the area’s countless options for family-friendly and fun activities. Sure, you have top-ranked beaches at your fingertips, but there are also plenty of different ways you can immerse in nature. One way is with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Located in Naples and right across from the Naples Zoo, guests get connected to conservation through hands-on interactive experiences in the Dalton Discover Center, or on their famous electric boat tours and in Little Explorer Play Zone area. The Naples Zoo next door is also a great way to spend an afternoon discovering new exhibits and getting up close and personal with lions, giraffes, monkeys, pythons, and bears.
And let’s not forget the local culinary flavors, too. Quinn’s On The Beach, located inside the JW Marriott offers Caribbean-style seafood specialties, steaks, sandwiches and fun tropical drinks for the entire family. Local favorite Pinchers (with several different locations throughout the western coast of Florida) is a family-friendly local seafood-shack chain known for its crab dishes, fried fish and other shore delicacies and favorites.
I might be spending my days dreaming of the sun, sand and surf of Florida’s Paradise Coast, but at least I can take comfort in knowing that some of my family’s best memories are locked and embedded thanks to the incredible time we spent there. And who is to say that we won’t be going back? After all, I can hear the beaches calling my name from over here. * Wink *
Know Before You Go:
JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, 400 S. Collier Blvd, Marco Island, Fl 34145, (239) 394-2511
Conservancy of Southwest Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples, FL 34102, (239) 262-0304