Southwest Florida



Activities and attractions for Southwest Florida travelers.


Southwest Florida generally refers to and  includes the counties and cities or major population centers shown in the page center. This geographic area is principally famous for its outlying barrier islands and the beautiful gulf beaches which lure millions of tourists to the local shorelines each year. It is home to some of the elitist destination cities of the world such as Naples, Sarasota, Siesta Key, Boca Grande and Sanibel Island. Fabulous shopping can be found, as well as the rich and famous, at St. Armands Circle in Lido Key and Naples 5th Avenue.


Long known as a "laid back" and minimally developed area, the close of the 20th century saw huge increases to the population of Southwest Florida. Several inland cities had been annually placed on the top 10 list of US cities in terms of population growth for the last decade and even earlier, a trend that continues into the 21 century. It seems that, in paraphrasing Thomas A. Edison, one of Southwest Florida's most famous wintertime residents, ninety-million people really did find out about Southwest Florida.

Visitors to this area of Florida might be more interested in Nature and naturalist pursuits. State, city and county parks abound in the area and many accommodate overnight camping, RV's and cabin stays. Boating, kayaking and canoeing are also popular at the parks and wildlife refuges as well as trail biking and hiking. Birding in Southwest Florida is extremely popular with "those in the know" and fantastic opportunities for study, viewing or picture sessions exist at many areas including the Venice Rookery, Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge and  Corkscrew Swamp.


Historic districts and landmarks can be found in all counties. Cities famous for their cultural refinements and museums include Naples and Sarasota. Nightlife can be found in all major cities including theatre, seasonal ballet and symphony. Exquisite dining opportunities exist from many five-star restaurants and excellent seafood can be found all along the coast. Some inland areas have fledgling wineries and invite the public to tour and enjoy Florida wines.


The area has many host cities for Baseball's  Major League Spring Training and many more cities that have hometown Minor League Baseball teams. Many other sports, including hockey and soccer are represented at the professional and amateur level. Every county has a plethora of public and private golf courses, many of which are associated with and/or built on the grounds of condo and resort communities. The fundamentals of golf as well as advanced training can be found at many courses, delivered by current and former professionals.


Boaters and fishermen seem to be in water nirvana here. Several internationally recognized fishing tournaments are held in the area each year as well as many, many minor competitions. Southwest Florida has a large amount of gulf frontage, back bay, river and canal accesses and because of this, a high percentage of the area's residents own watercraft of some sort. Some cities even host Christmas Boating Parades during the season.


A large number of islands exist just off of the mainland. Many have bridges to them but most are bridgeless and can only be accessed by plane or boat. Sanibel Island and Siesta Key come to mind as more famous isles of tourism but Palm Island, Useppa Island and Cabbage Key (where Jimmy Buffet did not write his famous song, "Cheeseburger in Paradise") are well known locally for boating excursions, food and relaxing vacation stays.


For further information on each city in Southwest Florida, Please click on the underlined, linked city name in the directory listing.


Manatee County

Year 2000 population: 264,002.

Major cities, population or tourist centers include:

Anna Maria
Bradenton Beach
Holmes Beach

Some of the more familiar islands included in Manatee County are:

Anna Maria Island

Longboat Key


Sarasota County

Year 2000 population: 325,957.

Major cities, population or tourist centers include:

Lido Key

Longboat Key
North Port


Siesta Key

Some of the more familiar islands included in Sarasota County are:

Bird Key

Casey Key

Lido Key

Longboat Key

Siesta Key


Charlotte County

Year 2000 population: 141,627.

Major cities, population or tourist centers include:


Port Charlotte

Punta Gorda


Some of the more familiar islands included in Charlotte County are:

Don Pedro Island

Gasparilla Island

Little Gasparilla Island

Manasota Key

Palm Island


Lee County

Year 2000 population: 440,888.

Major cities, population or tourist centers include:



Boca Grande

Bonita Beach

Bonita Springs

Cape Coral


Fort Myers

Fort Myers Beach

Lehigh Acres


North Ft. Myers


St. James City

Some of the more familiar islands included in Lee County are:

Cabbage Key

Captiva Island

Estero Island

Gasparilla Island

Lover's Key
Matlacha Island

North Captiva Island

Pine Island
Sanibel Island
Useppa Island


Collier County

Year 2000 population: 251,377.

Major cities, population or tourist centers include:

Everglades City

Marco Island


Some of the more familiar islands included in Collier County are:

10,000 Islands


Marco Island



View at Delnor-Wiggins State Park - Naples, Florida

Delnor Wiggins State Park





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