The "Paradise Coast" in southwest Florida -- sometimes called Florida's "last paradise"-- includes Marco Island, the town of Naples (about two hours from Miami by car), and western areas of the Everglades. Beyond Marco Island (one of the Ten Thousand Islands) are nearly 100 miles of islands and estuaries that will never be developed, including the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge and state and national parks. A great area for exploring nature, and also home to resorts with all the amenities.
This beachfront resort has twenty acres and a location on a three-mile long white-sand beach. A shuttle takes guests to a sister property, the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, three miles away. The Ritz-Carlton, Naples has Nature's Wonder kids programs, and the Golf Resort has kids programs also. Beach activities include kayaking and sailing on hobie cats or catamarans.
Sounds like a great opportunity to see dolphins alive in their natural world: passengers on the Dolphin Explorer act as “Citizen Scientists” assisting dolphin researchers with spotting dolphins for the "10,000 Islands Dolphins Project". This project is a long-term study of the distribution and behavior of bottlenose dolphins in Southwest Florida.
This National Park is an utterly unique ecosystem, a "river of grass" that is the largest sub-tropical wilderness in the continental U.S. (and also the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles live in the same habitat.) Take time to explore the nature trails.
Marco Island is the largest of the Ten Thousand Islands, located at the southern tip of the Paradise Coast, 15 miles south of Naples, and just north of the Gulf Coast entrance to Everglades National Park. The island has Gulf beaches on one side and mangrove estuaries on the other. Beaches offer great shelling. The island has resorts and other lodging, and tour operators offer short boat trips to pristine beaches.
Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort
This resort has a tropical style, a prime spot on three miles of white sand beach, kids club, complimentary family activites, kiddie pool and playground, a spa and a championship golf course.
Lots of fun awaits kids at this museum, which could be a cool air-conditioned respite on a hot day.
The Official Visitor Information Site for Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades has information on where to stay, fun things to do, and more. For instance: walk a two-mile boardwalk in the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, take an airboat or a Everglades National Park boat tour, take a sunset cruise from Marco Island.
From About.com's Guide for Florida Travel: "The southwest coast of Florida features one eccentric beach enclave after another. Roaming through the region's coastal villages and small barrier islands, wayside wanderers will find pirate hideouts, unusual pioneer settlements and famous winter retreats."