5 Most Charming Small Towns on Florida’s Paradise Coast

Florida is the best destination for year-round mild weather and picturesque coastlines, like the Paradise Coast. These towns are brimming with attractions surrounded by white-sand beaches and canals that lead to natural ocean destinations ideal for more adventurous explorations.

Ave Maria

Ave Maria Oratory in Ave Maria, Florida
Ave Maria Oratory in Ave Maria, Florida.

Ave Maria is a charming newer planned community along the Paradise Coast. It is quickly filling up with natural sights amongst all the latest developments. The ideal small townscape features a prominent character with a college vibe from their own Ave Maria University. The bustling downtown area features streets worth strolling through and is home to a variety of shops, excellent restaurants, and many exciting attractions.

Ave Maria is known as “A Great Kind of Small Town,” with many exclusive services and events throughout the year along the bustling streets. Programming includes the renowned Winter Festival each January, the Blues Brews & BBQ Festival in February, as well as the popular Margarita & Taco Festival in March.

The city draws fleets of visitors each year to see what the vibrant community is all about. Most events are free and feature live music. There are also beloved arts and crafts festivals, seasonal farmers’ markets, and trolley tours that offer a comprehensive look at everything Ave Maria has in store.

everglades city

Old Collier County Courthouse in use as the City Hall of Everglades City, Florida
Old Collier County Courthouse in use as the City Hall of Everglades City, Florida.

Everglades City is located near the natural paradise of Chokoloskee Island, with its distinctive ancient Southwest Florida vibe. The small urban landscape is home to many museums while serving as a launching point for boat explorations of the naturally powerful Everglades Wilderness Waterway.

You can also cruise along the Paradise Coast Blueway through the coastal mangrove estuary and the sprawling Ten Thousand Islands. The city is a destination for all unforgiving adventures where no natural wonder is off the table.

There’s Everglades National Park, Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Big Cypress National Preserve for hiking. Nature lovers will rejoice at wildlife sightings at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Picayune Strand State Forest, Collier-Seminole State Park and the fabulous Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park.

In town, the “Stone Crab Capital of the World” comes with rustic seafood houses and restaurants with mouth-watering claws during stone crab season, from mid-autumn to mid-May. Everglades City is the quintessence of small-town atmosphere, but there’s an endless list of wet and dry adventures to tick off the bucket list.

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Immokalee

Immokalee Plinth Public Plaza in Immokalee, Florida
Immokalee Plinth Public Plaza in Immokalee, Florida. Image Credit: Declan M Martin, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This small town with an endless list of attractions is surprisingly affordable to settle down and live in. It has a downtown area worth wandering around and the Immokalee Market offers quality produce at competitive prices. The lake is one of the best freshwater bodies in the state for scenery and fishing. The Seminole Casino Immokalee is brimming with fun activities for adults in the 75,000 square feet of gambling and networking.

There are plenty of easy-going pastimes like produce stands and authentic Mexican restaurants for home-cooked meals to keep you full and satisfied. Outdoor recreation and attractions include visiting Lake Trafford, the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and the Pepper Ranch Preserve, while the Pioneer Museum and Roberts Ranch draw entire families.

Anglers flock to Lake Trafford to catch prime bass in the region that has recently undergone successful environmental restoration. There are many unique events such as the Immokalee Cattle Drive & Jamboree in March, the Immokalee Harvest Festival in April, along with the beautiful Sunflower Festival in October. There are also famous full moon walks with the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed Land & Water Trust, along with the Christmas Around the World Parade in December.

Immokalee was previously occupied by a few ancient Calusa Indian tribes, who called the town in their native Seminole language “my home.” Collier County’s largest inland community is a thriving agricultural industry that has drawn hunters, trappers, cowboys and missionaries to the rural environment since the early 1800s. The city is surrounded by large farms that supply much of the United States with fresh produce grown from November through April.

frame island

Aerial view of Marco Island, Florida
Aerial view of Marco Island, Florida.

Marco Island is famous for having the most beautiful beaches in the world. The true paradise for nature lovers is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and the mangrove-lined estuaries of the Ten Thousand Islands. The city is an ideal base for unlimited explorations through the meandering canal. There are sea excursions in the area, or you can take a “self-propelled” boat trip to where the waves and the heart take. The beautiful island location offers a delightful contrast in character between a sophisticated resort town and a modern fishing village. There are plenty of water houses and rentals for Instagram-worthy seaside shots and atmospheric stays. It’s a great place to both live and vacation for the views.

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The area is home to an abundance of seafood in the wide waters for anglers and excellent local restaurants serving fresh fish to order. The Goodland and Isles of Capri communities in the city boast the best waterside restaurants, along with beachfront hotels and vacation rentals everywhere.

The beachfront paradise on the Gulf Coast also acts as a base for Everglades National Park, the ultimate getaway for domestic tourists and locals in the area. The white sand beaches surrounded by turquoise waters have endless activities that will leave no one bored or unperturbed. The city is also south of historic Naples with wonderful architecture and a city center worthy of wonders for a panoramic day tour.

Naples

Aerial view of Naples, Florida
Aerial view of Naples, Florida.

Naples is Florida’s Paradise Coast mega-hub for entertainment, culture, shopping and fine dining. The city boasts hundreds of dining establishments, including award-winning and waterfront restaurants. The beaches are wonderful at any time of the day, from lounging in the morning to refreshing swims in the afternoon and evening walks along the coast. The city has a tropical landscape with picturesque streets and avenues to stroll through the outdoor cafes, boutiques and art galleries. Naples promises to satisfy any taste for activity and adventure with an array of attractions, with the tourism sector notably geared towards attractions and cultural events.

There is never a dull moment in Naples with various themed museums, events and concerts throughout the year. It is an elegant community to live and visit, with a sophisticated downtown area that excels in arts and culture. The city is surrounded by stunning white sand beaches known for their spectacular sunsets.

You’ll also find world-class golf courses and ample fishing, boating, and water sports. Naples is Florida’s premier Paradise Coast metropolitan area with an upscale and intimate small-town feel. Naples Beach features the picturesque Naples Pier for scenic fishing, endless water views, and colorful sunsets over the gulf.

This list of charming towns offers the region’s newer, lesser-known communities and mega-hubs to satisfy any taste while traveling along the picturesque Paradise Coast. It’s no wonder the aptly named shoreline comprises a heavenly escape that promises a lifetime of memories.

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