Paradise Found in the Sunshine State: Marco Island, Florida

My favorite town in Florida is a sleepy little beach town called Marco Island. Marco Island is about 45 minutes from the Fort Meyers airport, 10 minutes from Naples, and an exciting 2 hour drive through Alligator Alley from Miami. Although it is near Naples, Marco Island is more relaxed and laid back, and the perfect “beach bum” town.

 

Marco Island: Paradise Found
Marco Island: Paradise Found

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We go to Marco Island almost every year because Toyota’s Tri-State Dealers Meetings are typically here every February or March. Everyone with Toyota stays at the beautiful Marco Marriott. It’s luxurious, but still very airy and beachy at the same time. Even before their stunning renovations, I always loved it because they offer so many things from an arcade for kids, multiple pools and pool/beachside restaurants, a beautiful beach, as well as the best water activity opportunities from parasailing to jet-skiing to kayaking and snorkeling.

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Marco Island is a great family oriented island as well. One of my absolute favorite things to do in Marco is to visit the Marco Movies. The Marco Movie theater is across from the Marriott, and serves hamburgers and other diner like foods while you watch your movie at a table and half-circle booths. It’s so much fun! I actually had one of my first group dates here wayyyy back in the day (because after so many Toyota trips, the children of the dealers make a lot of friends from all over. The first time I went to Hawaii when I was 8 I made great friends with girls from places like Kansas to Minnesota. It’s a great way to make new friends!) We saw “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days,” in case you were wondering, and seeing that movie always brings me back to that!

Image Courtesy of: http://www.marcomovies.com/
Image Courtesy of: http://www.marcomovies.com/

Coral Cay Mini Golf is a great and classic outdoor activity for when you’re looking for something to do after dinner. A great way to explore a town is being a teenager with a group of other teens, looking for something to do while your parents are in the “adults only” Toyota dinners. Don’t worry, they do have children’s only events during these, but once you hit 12 or 13, you’re a little old for them!

Image Courtesy of: http://coralcaygolf.com/
Image Courtesy of: http://coralcaygolf.com/

The last time I was in Marco, I went with my parents to the Toyota TDA Meetings. We also explored the cities of Naples and Miami while we were there because we had rented a car from the Fort Meyers Airport and we figured, we’re so close, why not?! Naples is, of course, a beautiful and high-end town. We went to Naples one evening to walk around the town, pop into a few stores along the city center, and have dinner at a fabulous tapas restaurant, called (of course, because I studied abroad in Barcelona,) Cafe Barcelona! Loved it. Best sangria ever, and a really great restaurant serving you authentic Spanish tapas. My least favorite thing is when people try to pass off any type of food as “authentic.” The hummus phase irritates me since I’m half Lebanese, and it drives me crazy that some people think the manufactured fake hummus is good! Gosh! That’s my rant for the day. Moving right along, the shops along the main part of Naples are great as well. We stopped into a fun “luxury” dog store, which sold things like blinged out collars and beautiful doggy strollers.

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One of the other days we were in Marco, we drove to Miami since we had never seen “Alligator Alley,” or Miami. I loved both. We saw so many alligators driving through this highway, as well as some awesomely authentic deep south airboat tours. I don’t know why we didn’t do one of those! Maybe this March when we are there we can try one. Miami was beautiful, vibrant, and full of life. We walked around the city and the beach, and had lunch at one of the sidewalk cafes. Overall, it was a perfect day.

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What I love about the Marriott, as I said before, is the fact that they have so many outdoor and indoor activities to offer guests. As a perk from Toyota, they give you one complimentary spa service if you don’t go golfing with the group. Luckily, we aren’t golf people, and even more luckily, I am the only one in my family who loves massages. Therefore, yours truly got a free massage at the beyond tranquil and gorgeous spa. Their spa offers free access to the hot and cold pools (the cold one is something like 50 degrees! I didn’t take a dip in that!) They also have a sauna, spa shop, salon and private swimming pool. Heaven! As for outdoor activities, they have everything anyone from the more reserved to the adrenaline junkie could want. I’ve rented jet skis before, and gone kayaking, and a friend of mine has gone parasailing through the hotel before and I have to say, I think I might try that next! If you don’t feel like flying through the ocean or in the air, they have kayaks that you can rent, as well as snorkels, sailing, dolphin watches, and fun activities for kids as well.

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Finally, another thing you must do while you are in Marco, is to visit the Esplanade Shoppes. The airy/outdoor center offers everything from boutiques and gift shops, cafes, ice cream stores, art galleries, bars and lounges, as well as one of my favorite restaurants: Tara Steak and Lobster House. Tara is a restaurant that, in good weather, is all open and airy and looks out at the harbor to all of the sail boats and yachts. It’s a nicer restaurant than what we normally frequent on the island, but it has the most delicious seafood you’ll ever have. Probably because Marco Island is, well, on the water! When you’re done there, head over to Coldstone Creamery when you’re done and walk along the docks to look at all of the boats.

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I hope I’ve sold you on your next Spring Break vacation. It’s truly a beautiful town and hotel, great for families and people of all ages, and a little more off the grid than your typical spring break destinations. Make sure to collect sea shells, they have some of the best ones! I still have two mason jars full of sea shells that I collected when I was younger sitting on my windowsill in my apartment πŸ™‚

My Seashells from Marco Island
My Seashells from Marco Island

 

 

 

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