When most of the Northern states are still blanketed in winter snow, Southwest Florida offers a welcome change of scenery—and temperature. If you aren’t trying to escape the cold, the Sunshine State is also known for its emerald-green and blue water and white sand beaches.

Saying there is a lot to do if you’re considering Southwest Florida vacations for your family is an understatement. The Gulf Coast of Florida features a variety of different types of shops and restaurants. It’s also home to the Everglades, a somewhat prehistoric-looking tropical jungle. Explore the scenery or see if you can spot a wild alligator. There’s never a shortage of things to do in Southwest Florida.

Make Memorable Moments

Stay at a beach resort so you always have access to the shore. Take a stroll with the kiddos, go shelling with your grandparents or try a fun water activity like kayaking or paddleboarding with your loved ones. Southwest Florida also has some of the best sunsets in the country. In fact, people are known to gather at the end of the Naples Pier to watch the sunset. They even clap when it’s over.

Which Slice of Paradise is Right for your Family Vacation?

If you’re looking for Southwest Florida vacations for families, there are a variety of family-friendly rental properties available in Naples, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Captiva and Sanibel Islands. Most homes or condo units come equipped with full kitchens and swimming pools. Some units even have access to private beaches and the Gulf of Mexico. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the top vacation destinations for families in Southwest Florida to help you make your decision on which area is best for your upcoming family escape.

Southwest Florida Vacations for Families: Choosing your Location is the Hardest Part

You may not really know where Naples, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Captiva and Sanibel Islands are right now unless you’re looking at a map. But once you visit the Gulf Coast, we won’t blame you if you and the kids want to come back again every year. This part of the state is a gem and a Southwest Florida vacation for your family is an excellent choice if you want to unwind. It offers a laid back lifestyle and things to do for the entire family, from small children to senior grandparents.
Southwest Florida vacations for families


Out of all of these cities, Naples is the furthest South and right across the state from Fort Lauderdale. If you like high-end dining and delicious and fresh seafood, downtown Naples is where you want to be. Third Street South offers some boutique shops, but it’s better known for its upscale restaurants. Fifth Avenue South also features a plethora of restaurants, but there are more casual and low-key options as well. If you’re here for the shopping, Fifth Avenue is definitely where you want to be. Beautiful beaches are only about a 10-minute drive from downtown and the Florida Everglades is about an hour South if you and the kiddos want to go on an airboat ride to try and spot an alligator.
The Naples Pier is about 10 minutes away from downtown Naples on 12th Avenue South. The pier has a place to get snacks and drinks in the middle of it and volleyball courts on either side. However, its best feature is the sunset. The timing of the sunset varies from month-to-month and especially during daylight savings time. Make sure you visit the pier to see it at least once. You may even see the rumored “Green Flash.” This happens when the sun dips just below the horizon and is reflected by the blue water of the Gulf of Mexico. A green flash of light appears and surrounds the sun for a brief moment. They’re very rare, and if you get a chance to see one, you’ll never forget it!

Fort Myers

Fort Myers is about an hour North of Naples and is also home to one of the most popular beach destinations for families, Fort Myers Beach. It boasts more tropical-themed shops and it’s dotted with colorful bungalows that will make you feel like you’re in the Caribbean.
Downtown Fort Myers is also a popular destination. It features blocks of historic buildings and it’s right on the Caloosahatchee River. Check out one of the art walks, music walks, classic car shows or any of the themed festivals hosted in the city’s center every weekend. You can even visit the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates.
Southwest Florida vacations for families

Bonita Springs

Bonita Springs, or Bonita as locals call it, is in between Naples and Fort Myers. If you can’t decide which area you like best, this is the perfect choice. One of the most appealing draws to Bonita Springs is its no fuss lifestyle.
Historic downtown Bonita Springs is small, but charming. It features one of the best breakfast and brunch spots in the area, the Survey Cafe. You can also find authentic Mexican tacos about a block away. In between the two sits Everglades Wonder Gardens, an 82-year-old attraction that features breathtaking gardens, alligators, flamingos and other exotic animals. This is something you won’t want to miss. It’s such a beloved landmark in the community; a few years ago, a group of local residents formed a non-profit organization to purchase the property and save it from commercial development.

Sanibel and Captiva Islands

Sanibel and Captiva Islands are about an hour and a half North of Naples. Once you get into Sanibel, Captiva is about a 20 or 30-minute drive away. Sanibel and Captiva are some of our most exclusive options, and there’s a reason for that. Both islands are dotted with true Florida-style homes. Their homes are tucked away and surrounded by Florida’s natural beauty. They come in all colors of the rainbow and they all have unique personalities. This is where you go if you really want to relax.
Sanibel and Captiva are also both known for their local restaurants. If you have a chance, don’t miss out on Captiva’s Bubble Room. It’s one of the quirkiest places in Southwest Florida. There’s also the Captiva Course, a nine-hole golf course that features a relaxing ocean view. Known as the shelling capital of the world, many people visit these islands for their one-of-a-kind Florida seashells. Since Sanibel has an atypical east-west orientation, the north-flowing Gulf Stream waters deposit a treasure trove of seashells onto the beach every day. You never know what you’ll be able to find.
Southwest Florida vacations for families

Southwest Florida Vacations for Families: Each Area Has A Lot to Offer

You really can’t go wrong with any of these Southwest Florida family vacation locations. They all offer something for everyone; it just depends on what you want to do while you’re here. Will it be a bungalow on Fort Myers Beach or Sanibel or Captiva Island? Perhaps you want a laidback vacation in Bonita Springs, or you’re tempted by Naples’s high-end eateries and fancy boutiques. The possibilities are endless.

Come for a week, or a month and connect with Royal Shell today to book a Sanibel vacation rental. Who knows, maybe you’ll stay for a lifetime. If you love Southwest Florida so much, try our vacation home rental tips for families to learn more. If that’s something you’re considering, let us know! Whether you’re thinking about buying or renting, any of our agents will be more than happy to show you around and take you around to see our beautiful Southwest Florida homes. If you’re thinking about selling your home and perhaps looking to be closer to the beach or have more space, we know Southwest Florida like the backs of our hands. Helping people find their dream home or vacation rental is what we do best.