Exploring Southwest Florida Inland Cities: Immokalee and Ave Maria

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Whereas Southwest Florida’s seashore cities obtain all of the accolades, two small cities supply an ideal day journey from Marco Island, Naples, Ft. Myers, and factors in between. Every is as totally different from the opposite as they may very well be. Listed here are one of the best issues to do in Immokalee and one of the best issues to do in Ave Maria.

Issues to See and Do in Immokalee

That means “My House” in Miccosukee, this hard-working tomato farm combines the outdated with the brand new however in a city that’s unattractive at first sight. As an alternative, the individuals are what give Immokalee its attractiveness. 

Immokalee is positioned roughly an hour from Naples, simply over an hour from Marco Island. It’s just below an hour from Fort Myers. The accessibility makes it a perfect day journey from all well-liked places in Southwest Florida.

yellow building outside of Seminole Casino in Immokalee, FL

Court docket Girl Luck on the Seminole On line casino and Lodge

506 S. First Avenue

Followers of video games of luck may have a subject day on this 24-hour facility. Whether or not you like card video games, enjoying new and basic slot machines (there are over 1400 to select from!), you’re certain to seek out one thing to maintain your curiosity – simply tempo your self! 

Not a gambler? Take pleasure in one of many many stay acts from headlining artists from comics to musicians. Or attempt a scrumptious deal with at one of many 4 on-site consuming amenities, from espresso outlets to advantageous eating.

wooden building - Immokalee Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch

Study Native Historical past on the Immokalee Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch

1215 Roberts Avenue W.

Relationship again to the earliest settlers, the Calusa Indians, then the Seminoles, the realm was identified for its hunters and trappers earlier than settlers introduced cattle ranching to the positioning. The museum is now a part of the Collier County Museums and options the longest-running ranch in Southwest Florida. The power belongs to the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations. 

Lake Trafford

6001 Lake Trafford Highway

The biggest pure lake in Collier County hosts amenities for teams of all ages to get pleasure from. Go to the Lake Trafford Marina to get pleasure from an airboat trip the place you’re virtually assured to see alligators. There are many fishing alternatives, as effectively. Birdwatchers ought to deliver their binoculars. Photographers will stroll away with fabulous nature photographs.

walking trail among palm plants at Pepper Ranch Preserve

Pepper Ranch Protect

6315 Pepper Highway

If you happen to’re searching for a spot to camp, mountain bike, hike, or horseback trip, then Pepper Ranch Protect is a perfect spot. Open at numerous occasions all year long in the course of the non-hunting season, the protect is the proper solution to get out into nature. Designed to guard the aquifer and panther conservation, you’ll want a day go from the guests middle earlier than embarking in your exploration.

CREW sign for Corkscrew Marsh

Discover the CREW Marsh Trails

The Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (“CREW”) Land & Belief preserves the most important watershed in Southwest Florida. CREW presents a number of mountaineering trails all through the realm in addition to searching areas. If you happen to’d prefer to be taught extra concerning the significance of this watershed, schedule a guided stroll the place you’re certain to identify each animals and flowers that an untrained eye may simply miss.

PRO TIP: Schedule a full-moon hike for an incredible, distinctive expertise!

Florida road with panther crossing sign

Go to the Florida Panther Nationwide Wildlife Refuge

12085 SR 29 South

A simple cease off Alligator Alley (I-75), this refuge is tasked with preserving the state animal – the panther, an endangered species. Two mountaineering trails are open daily throughout daytime and are free to the general public. Whereas hardly ever seen, the web site particulars what to do should you encounter a panther in your path. Entry the tracks from some extent a few quarter of a mile north of the intersection of I-75 and SR 29. An Open Home is held yearly on the third Saturday of March, Save the Florida Panther Day, throughout which guests can entry areas normally closed to the general public.

fruits and vegetables on display at Immokalee Farmers Market

Purchase Tomatoes (and Extra!) on the Immokalee State Farmer’s Market

424 New Market Highway E.

Recognizing the significance of farming to the native space, the State Farmer’s Market is a chance for native suppliers to showcase produce, each regionally grown and introduced in. Every vendor has its stall providing barely totally different choices. Please word that the city has two farmer’s markets, however that is the one which stays open year-round. 

PRO TIP: Stroll round as soon as earlier than selecting who has one of the best worth or choices.

Really feel the Velocity on the Immokalee Regional Raceway

205 Airpark Boulevard

Followers of drag racing can really feel the motion at this regional raceway. An entry price of $20 permits guests to see the check and tune going down on Friday nights in preparation for Saturday and Sunday races.

A baby American Alligator rests on a wooden log in the Florida marsh. This photo was taken near the Gulf Coast of Florida, at Corkscrew Swamp Wildlife Sanctuary.
A child American Alligator rests on a wood log within the Florida marsh at Audubon Corkscrew Swam Sanctuary.

Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

375 Sanctuary Highway W., Naples

Although it has a Naples tackle, this Sanctuary is extra precisely positioned in Immokalee. The boardwalks permit guests to discover the western Everglades with out disturbing the setting. This middle is dwelling to the Ghost Orchid, found in 2007. 

PRO TIP: Convey binoculars to identify the Ghost Orchid because it blooms in a bald cypress tree about 100 toes from the boardwalk and 50 toes up.

Issues to See and Do in Ave Maria

Outside of Ave Maria Oratory in Florida

Funded by a beneficiant $250 million donation from Tom Monaghan, Domino’s Pizza founder, Ave Maria is an distinctive extension of Naples. Based in 2005 round a deliberate faculty city, the complete city consists of a well-designed city middle, Catholic faculty, and subdivisions by numerous dwelling builders. 

Ave Maria is positioned roughly an hour away from Marco Island and Ft. Myers and half-hour from Naples. Due to the proximity to those three main areas, Ave Maria makes for an ideal day-trip vacation spot from Naples, Marco Island, and Ft. Myers. Virtually all occasions begin from the Ave Maria City Middle, so park your automotive and reap the benefits of this simply walkable college city.

buildings in downtown Ave Maria FL

Stroll the Ave Maria City Middle

Annunciation Circle

Over 30 shops, eating places, and companies kind the City Middle. On Saturday mornings, a neighborhood farmers’ market options merchandise and companies surrounding the Ave Maria Oratory on the City Middle’s inexperienced areas. Residences and condos are constructed over the outlets, furthering the simply walkable city idea. 

inside of Ave Maria Oratory with metal crossbeams

Mirror on the Ave Maria Oratory

Ave Maria Boulevard

The centerpiece of the city, the Ave Maria Oratory, opened in 2007. The 100-ft. excessive metal construction is predicated on a hand-drawn picture by Tom Monahan, a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright and his structure. The entrance facade is fabricated from marble and options the Annunciation when the Archangel Gabriel declares himself to Mary.

Whereas the structure is uncommon for a Catholic church, it’ll attraction to Frank Lloyd Wright fans and is sensible in an space liable to hurricanes.

freeze over entry way to Ave Maria Oratory

Take a Free Trolley Tour

Departing from City Middle, this 45-minute guided tour contains many info concerning the city and architectural particulars of the oratory. Name 239-352-3903 for up-to-date schedules and reservations (that are extremely really helpful).

mosaic of Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II at the Ave Maria museum

Go to the Mom Theresa Museum

5050 Ave Maria Boulevard (Thomas and Selby Prince Constructing)

Positioned at Ave Maria College, a small liberal arts Catholic faculty, this museum is devoted to inspiring others to pursue love and repair, simply as Mom Theresa did throughout her lifetime. Shows embody mementos from her life, resembling handwritten notes and unique publications from her funeral, Beatification, and Canonization.

Trip a Bike (or Hike) the Trails on John Paul II Boulevard

Contemplating that the city was designed with walkability in thoughts, all you’ll want to get round is a motorbike. Convey your personal since there aren’t any bike leases on the town. The excellent news is that you may simply discover a bike rack.

golf ball on edge of hole at sunrise

Play Golf on Panther Run Golf Membership

6005 Anthem Parkway

This extremely rated Golf Digest 18-hole championship golf course needs to be performed. Whereas you should buy a membership, you too can pay-as-you-play as one of many few public golf programs within the higher Naples space. 

Day Journey Suggestions for Immokalee and Ave Maria

As a result of each Immokalee and Ave Maria are comparatively small, they will simply be seen throughout a mixed day journey from whichever location you might be in Southwest Florida. Ave Maria is nearer to Naples and Marco Island, whereas Immokalee is nearer to Fort Myers. However the two cities are about quarter-hour from one another, and each are value exploring.

Do you get pleasure from visiting small cities? What are you interested by seeing?

These extra Southwest Florida posts may curiosity you:

Blissful travels,
Annick, The Widespread Traveler

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SW Florida's inland towns of Immokalee and Ave Maria are worth a day trip | The Common Traveler shares what to see in each town and what to expect during your visit.

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