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35 Fun Things to Do in Marco Island, Florida While on Vacation

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September 11, 2022

Are you looking for a list of the best, and most fun things to do in Marco Island, Florida?

As one of the top vacation destinations along Florida’s Gulf Coast, I’ve got you covered with an insider’s guide on the best things to do in Marco Island for your next family trip!

On Marco, you’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches in North America that feature soft, white-sand, and emerald-colored water.

Plus, from boating, shelling, kayaking, and MORE, you’ll have plenty to do to keep you busy during your Marco Island family vacation!

With personal photos galore, we’ve searched the web and truly feel that this is the best guide of things to do in Marco Island that you’ll find – and we can’t wait to share it with you!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. For more info, see disclosure.

Discover the best things to do in Marco Island, Florida from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Marco Island, Florida

Where is Marco Island?

Marco Island is a small island located on the southwest side of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. It is linked only to the mainland by bridges.

The nearest cities are Naples, Florida (18 miles north), and Everglades City, Florida (31 miles south).

Marco Island is the largest of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands; a cluster of islands comprising the second largest mangrove forest in the world.

Known by most as a tropical paradise, Marco is home to resort hotels, beaches, marinas, golf courses, and a network of inland waterways.

With a permanent population of 16,000 residents, and a peak winter season population of 40,000, Marco Island features six miles of beach and over 100 miles of waterways within its 24 square miles.

Additional planning tip: The closest airport to Marco Island is the Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) located in Fort Myers, FL.

RSW is 47 miles north of Marco and the driving time is around 55 minutes.

Here is a list of additional airports located close to Marco Island, Florida.

It’s best to rent a car when visiting Marco Island as not many Marco Island attractions are within walking distance of one another.

The Gulf of Mexico in Marco Island, Florida
The Gulf of Mexico

When to Visit Marco Island

Though Marco Island is a great place to be enjoyed year-round, the best time to visit Marco is during the months of March to May.

From early March to late May, daytime temperatures range in the mid-80s (perfect beach weather!), and this is also the season when you’ll enjoy moderate crowds and fair prices.

Another popular time to visit Marco Island is during the winter months of December to February.

During the winter months, you can expect clear skies and average temps in the mid-70s (perfect for golf!).

It is during the winter months that you’ll experience peak crowds and price hikes, however.

For those looking to get away during the summer months, Marco offers the same great attractions but with high humidity and temperatures in the high 80s and 90s.

In order to make these months more tolerable, it is important to understand how to stay cool in the Florida heat as it is quite intense.

Additional planning tip: Be mindful that Florida’s hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak of the season being the first week of September.

If anything, expect sporadic rainfall during these months.

*Be sure to consult our Florida Packing List that includes what to pack for all types of weather in Marco Island!

Family photo in Marco Island, Florida
Beach access to South Marco Beach

Fun Things to Do in Marco Island

Marco Island, FL is one of our favorite family vacation spots!

Did you know that over 2 million tourists visit there each year?

Visitors flock to Marco to enjoy its beautiful beaches, sophisticated resort area, and laid-back vibe.

Other highlights include delicious dining options, watersports, marine life sightings, and other outdoor adventure opportunities.

Let’s take a close look at the best things to do in Marco Island so that you don’t miss anything during your upcoming vacation there!

One of the best things to do in Marco Island is to visit Tigertail Beach Park!
Tigertail Beach Park

1. Visit Tigertail Beach Park

Chances are that if you’re heading to Marco Island, you’ll be wanting to hit up the beach at some point.

If your hotel, resort, or condo isn’t located directly on a beach, you’ll need to check out our list of public beaches in Marco Island that you’ll be able to visit during your stay.

As one of the best public beaches on Marco, Tigertail Beach Park is a must-do!

Tigertail Beach Park is incredibly unique in that it is home to 2 very different swimming areas (the ocean and a lagoon), a bird-watching tower, tidal pools, and paddle boat, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, and beach bike rentals.

Other amenities include beach chair rentals, a picnic area with tables and grills, a playground, and clean and easy-to-find restroom facilities.

Tigertail Beach Tips

The only downside to visiting Tigertail Beach Park is that you need to walk almost half of a mile to get to the water’s edge by way of 2 different options.

The first, more adventurous option is to wade through the lagoon that is right next to the parking area.

The depth of the lagoon ranges from ankle deep to about a grown adult’s waist.

The lagoon is about 50 yards wide at high tide, however, is by far, a much shorter path to get to the beach.

The second option is to avoid getting wet by walking around the lagoon which is at minimum, a 15-minute walk from the parking lot to the ocean.

This is obviously the better choice for those with strollers, wheelchairs, or beach carts.

Once arriving at the water you’ll be greeted by a large, pristine, white-sandy beach that is loved by both kids and adults!

Additional planning tips: Parking is $8 per vehicle and there are 210 paid parking spaces available.

*Find our list (with shopping links!) of the best beach bags for moms to help carry and store your entire family’s beach gear!

Unique things to do in Marco Island - go shelling!
Hunting for seashells on Marco Island

2. Go Shelling!

Marco Island is known as one of the absolute best places to find shells in Florida!

All along the coast of Marco Island, you can collect everything from common sand dollars to rare finds such as Junonia shells and Alphabet Cones.

While the waves here aren’t as powerful as they are in other popular shelling areas, there is still a decent amount of water movement which helps to keep the shelling interesting.

The best place to find shells on Marco Island is at Tigertail Beach (you’ll find piles and piles here!), Keewaydin Island (more on this place later!), or on the sand bars around Kice Island and Dickman’s point (that can only be accessed by watercraft).

Additional planning tip: If you’re interested in the idea of collecting sea shells while in Marco Island, there are a few things to remember to pack that will help make the experience a lot more fun and enjoyable.

Here are the items on our beach packing list that we always bring when we are hoping to find shells:

  • A fine mesh sea shell bag for each member of your family. These perfect-sized bags store shells and allow the sand and water to drain through (kids LOVE these!)
  • A small sand shovel for digging
  • A small beach net: Carrying a net will allow you to scoop up shells that roll in with the waves
Read on for the best things to do in Marco Island, Florida from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Our Marco Island sunset cruise!

3. Enjoy a Sunset Cruise

The perfect place to enjoy the sunset on Marco Island is by boat.

On Marco Island, you can find an array of boat tours that offer sunset cruises as well as other guided tours throughout the surrounding area.

One of the most popular options is the Marco Island Princess which offers an amazing 2-hour sunset cruise complete with a fabulous 2-entree dinner buffet!

Other options for a sunset cruise on Marco Island include Banyan Charters and Paradise Cycle Boat Cruises.

4. Go to Keewaydin Island

You would be missing out if you visited Marco Island and didn’t venture to Keewaydin Island – a secluded getaway only accessible by boat.

Without a private boat or watercraft rental, most people access Keewaydin Island via the Hemingway Water Shuttle that departs from Rose Marina in Marco Island.

The boat ride is pet-friendly (as is the beach) and takes about 30-40 minutes each way.

Once on the island, you’ll enjoy its beautiful white sandy beaches as well as activities such as shelling, walking, picnicking, swimming, and fishing.

There are numerous boats, including food and drink vendors, that pull up to the beach for the day to service its visitors.

Of note, however, is that there are no bathroom facilities on the island, so do plan accordingly.

Additional planning tip: Daily shuttle space requires a per-person fee and space is limited. Be sure to reserve your spot well in advance!

*Plan and price a Shelling Cruise to Keewaydin Island here!

Unique things to do in Marco Island - go kayaking!
Kayaking in Marco Island

5. Kayak the Ten Thousand Islands

Just one of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, Marco Island is surrounded by many much smaller barrier islands that run from Lostman’s River to Cape Romano.

For one of the most amazing day trips, consider exploring the area by kayak.

In my opinion, it’s the best way to see the islands and is definitely one of the best things to do in Marco Island overall.

You can enjoy serene waters, sneak up on local wildlife, and find the tiniest, most remote beaches to call your own for the day.

Many companies offer kayaking tours throughout the islands, but you can also rent kayaks and explore by yourself.

Just make sure to be prepared and don’t get lost!

Fun things to do on Marco Island, visit the Cape Romano Dome House!
Cape Romano Dome House

6. Photograph the Cape Romano Dome House

Update: Sadly, the Camp Romano Dome House was destroyed by Hurricane Ian. Now, just the concrete top of one of the dome homes can be seen at low tide.

One of the most popular things to do on Marco Island is to visit and photograph the Cape Romano Dome House.

Part of the Ten Thousand Islands preserves, Cape Romano Dome House is an abandoned house consisting of six dome-shaped modules hovering over the water on stilts.

Built in 1982, the home is surrounded by water and is, therefore, only accessible by boat or watercraft. (Many local boat tours include driving by Cape Romano in their tour!)

Though going into the structures is not advised, people visit here to learn of its history, take Instagram-worthy photos of the domes, as well as view the hundred of migratory birds that live there.

*Plan and price a Cape Romano Shelling and Sightseeing Tour here!

7. Dine & Drink At a Tiki Bar

One of the most fun things to do in Marco Island for adults is to hit up a tiki bar and enjoy happy hour!

The laid-back Marco Island atmosphere is perfect for kicking off your shoes while you sip on a delicious pina colada, margarita, or daiquiri.

Check out Kane Tiki Bar & Grill located in the JW Marriott, Dolphin Tiki Bar & Grill on the Marco River, and our personal favorite, Snook Inn (be sure to try the Grouper Sandwich!).

Along with amazing food and cocktails, Snook Inn features water views, shaded outdoor seating, live music, and a gift shop.

8. Shop at the Esplanade

Located in Smokehouse Bay on Marco Island you’ll find the Esplanade Shoppes, Residences, and Marina.

This Italian-style village has upscale shops, small specialty stores, fine-dining restaurants, and an ice cream shop!

It’s a great place to spend a couple of hours shopping, walking along the waterfront, and watching the activity at the marina found here.

Marco Golf & Garden, a Marco Island outdoor actibity
Marco Golf and Garden

9. Go Mini Golfing

For some good ol’ family fun, go mini golfing on Marco Island!

Marco Golf and Garden is an 18-hole miniature golf course that offers complimentary bottled water and has soda and ice cream available for purchase.

Though there are no giant obstacles at Marco Golf and Garden, each of the greens are pristinely kept.

Additional planning tip: There are only 3 regular golf courses on Marco Island and all of them are private.

10. Look for Sea Turtles

Sea turtle season on Marco Island lasts from the months of May through October.

From May to early August, an average of 80 female sea turtles make their way onto the shore to lay eggs and nest.

Just 60 days after the nests are laid, baby turtles will emerge and make their way to the ocean.

(Hatchlings generally are emerging from early July through the end of October each year. )

While it is exciting to see the baby sea turtles on the beaches of Marco Island, visitors must understand that sea turtles are an endangered species and that they must be viewed from afar.

11. Get a Treat at Sweet Annie’s Ice Cream

Sweet Annie’s Ice Cream parlor is an absolute must-do on Marco!

This popular ice cream parlor is located in the center of the island and is a favorite for both locals and visitors alike!

Along with 49 flavors of premium ice cream, there’s a candy shop, gift shop, and plenty of indoor seating.

Of note is that the ice cream shop does not open until 12 PM daily and you should always expect a line to order.

Marco Island activities; swimming at South Marco Beach
The beautiful water at South Marco Beach

12. Explore South Marco Beach

South Marco Beach is another popular option for sand and sun lovers.

Ideal for families, it has shallow and clean water and firm sand for jogging or even bike rides.

South Marco isn’t as popular as Tigertail Beach, however, as there are no amenities so you have to bring your own chairs, umbrellas, drinks, and snacks.

The parking lot (plus restroom facilities) is located across the street from the beach on Swallow Avenue, just a short walk across South Collier Boulevard.

All of the beach access points have free foot-washing stations and child-size life jackets available to be borrowed during your time at the beach.

There are 70 paid parking spaces available.

13. Stay at a World-Class Resort

Visit here for discounted prices and a full list of Marco Island accommodations.

If your budget allows, however, I personally recommend that you stay at a beachfront resort on Marco Island.

Staying directly on the beach has so many advantages including not having to drive for beach access, and being able to see the amazing Marco sunsets directly from your hotel.

Our absolute favorite Marco Island hotels that we recommend time and time again include:

14. Check out Marco Island Restaurants

Some of the best restaurants on Marco Island Include:

  • The Oyster Society: Local seafood and daily raw bar specials, as well as live music on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
  • DaVinci’s: Homemade Italian food and wood-fired pizza in a family-friendly atmosphere.
  • Marco Prime: A classic American steakhouse with modern cuisine and an extensive wine list.
  • Joey’s Pizza & Pasta House: A family-owned and operated Marco Island staple; calzones, stromboli, pasta, and homemade desserts.
  • Nacho Mama’s: Located in Marco Walk Plaza; best margaritas and Tex Mex on the island!
  • LeeBee Fish: A secret favorite on Marco Island serving freshly caught fish!

If you’re for some additional options nearby, check our list of the best restaurants in Naples, Florida!

15. Catch a Free Ride

There are two free rides services on Marco Island that can pick you up from your hotel and drop you off at the beach, the golf course, or shopping centers.

Both the Crabby Caddie and The Wave ride services (provided by Rock Rentals) offer free rides, however, their drivers happily accept tips.

Paid Uber services are also available on Marco Island.

16. Go to the Marco Island Seafood and Music Festival

If you visit Marco Island in March, be sure to catch the island’s local seafood and music festival.

The festival began in 2008 and has quickly become one of the most anticipated events of the year.

Now, around 10,000 people visit the festival every year, as it’s conveniently held during Florida’s peak tourism season.

In addition to live music, you can enjoy some of the best fresh seafood in the state, including Marco’s world-famous stone crab and “Pink Gold” jumbo shrimp.

Marco Walk Plaza is one of the best things to do on Marco Island!
Marco Walk Plaza

17. Go to Marco Walk Plaza

Marco Walk Plaza is a dining and entertainment center that features several shops and restaurants, an ice cream and gelato shop, and the 3-screen Marco Movies movie theater.

We love hanging out here in the evening as there is a lively courtyard with fountains and many tourists who simply head there to hang out and relax.

18. Visit the Marco Island Historical Museum

Are you a history buff?

If so, you’re in luck!

As one of the best free things to do in Marco Island, a visit to the Marco Island Historical Museum will not disappoint.

Here, you can learn about early life on the island and the history of the Calusa Indians, as well as discover how Marco Island became developed.

The museum has rare artifacts from the late 19th century, including the Key Marco Cat, one of the best samples of Pre-Columbian Art. T

This famous artifact is currently on loan from the Smithsonian through 2026, along with many other priceless works.

19. Stroll Around Otter Mound Preserve

Nestled in a residential area of Marco Island, the Otter Mound Preserve is the perfect place for nature lovers who don’t want to stray too far from the city.

While a tiny 2.45 acres, it’s a great place to stop and have a nice stroll while enjoying the native gumbo-limbo trees, butterflies, and birds.

20. Relax at Frank E. Mackle Park

Right as you cross onto the island you’ll find Mackle Park.

By no means a large park, it still offers a nice green space within the area for walking your dog or going for a run.

There is also a large children’s playground structure here as well as recreational games such as volleyball and shuffleboard courts.

21. Visit Marco Island Center for the Arts

One of the best things to do in Marco Island when it rains is to stop by the Marco Island Center for the Arts.

With free admission, you can enjoy exhibitions by local artists.

They also hold classes and workshops for kids and adults on many different creative outlets.

Sometimes, they even offer fun events such as wine tastings, guest speakers, live music, and more.

Unique Things to Do on Marco Island

If you’re looking for some extra Marco Island activities, here are some of the more unique things to do on Marco Island that we think you’ll love:

  • Do a beer tasting at Marco Island Brewery (41 beers on tap!).
  • Get a to-go charcuterie cone at Island Cheese Company.
  • Go on KoolCat Eco Tour and cruise the 10,000 Islands on board their unique 2-seater Craigcat boats.
  • Rent an electric scooter car, surrey bike, electric bike, or golf cart from Scootertown.
  • Get a freshly made Maryland Crab Cake from Mister Crab Cakes.
  • Buy freshly caught fish to take home and cook from LeeBee Fish Market.
  • Shop at Marco Islands boutiques: Beach Daisy, blu Boutique, La Scaroa, and OMG! That’s Chic.
  • Go to Thursday night karaoke at The Speak Easy.
  • Book an evening pub crawl through Rock Rentals.
  • Shop til’ you drop at Marco Town Center Mall (home to Beachworks, Orea Blu, and Sandpiper Clothiers).
  • Reserve a luxury yacht cruise on The Entertainer (Sunday brunch cruises, sightseeing cruises, and dinner cruises available).
  • Visit the Environmental Learning Center and its 2,300-gallon aquarium at the Rookery Bay Research Reserve.
Florida Everglades Airboat Tour
Florida Everglades airboat tour

Things to Do Near Marco Island, FL

If you’re vacationing on Marco Island, I highly suggest that you visit both Naples, Florida and Everglades City (two nearby destinations).

We’ve compiled an entire 6-day Naples, Florida itinerary along with the best things to do in Naples that you should absolutely check out!

(The distance from Naples to Marco Island is 18 miles.)

Here’s a note about the Florida Everglades:

Everglades National Park

Marco Island may not be Everglades City, but Marco is truly one of the best places to stay if you want to visit the famous Florida Everglades.

Located along the southwest tip of Florida on the Gulf Coast, Everglades National Park covers 1.5 million acres of wetlands that are home to hundreds of animal species and plants.

Keep your eye out for alligators by hopping on an Everglades airboat tour and exploring the remote wilderness.

You can also explore the park via car along Route 41.  

Conclusion

Hopefully, you’ve found plenty of things to keep you busy during your stay on Marco Island!

Be sure to check out some of my other guides for family-friendly Florida vacation spots.

A few of our favorite Florida itineraries include:

*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*

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Read here for our insider tips on the absolute best things to do in Marco Island, Florida!  #Floridavacations #MarcoIslandactivities
Read here for our insider tips on the absolute best things to do in Marco Island, Florida!  #Floridavacations #MarcoIslandactivities
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Hi, I'm Jen - founder of the award-winning travel blog, Travel With A Plan! I help families plan fun & fulfilling family vacations by sharing our exact itineraries and "best things to do" lists to popular US vacation spots. Take the stress out of planning a family vacation by using our detailed destination guides and ultra-convenient packing lists to help you travel better. We'll show you how hassle-free family travel is possible - when you travel with a plan!

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