These days, the best time of day is after dark. Afternoon showers have cooled off the hazy heat and local residents, at least the ones who haven’t fled north, get a brief respite. But what to do? Southwest Florida offers a variety of activities once the sun goes down; it’s just a matter of knowing where to look.
The Corkscrew Swamp Night Walks are a popular way to get acquainted with nocturnal wildlife. Small groups take guided tours of the sanctuary along its boardwalk. Nighttime is when the owls, insects and other swamp creatures tend to speak up, so expect to see and hear a totally different side of the swamp. Make sure you plan your tour well in advance; groups are limited. So, spots tend to fill up fast (corkscrew.audubon.org). The Naples Botanical Garden also keeps its doors open late for weekly events in-season; Sunset Wednesdays keep the gates open until 8 p.m. so guests can enjoy the early evening with dining deals at the Fogg Cafe (naplesgarden.org).
If sunsets are your thing, plenty of cruises offer early evening trips, such as the Pure Florida sunset cruise that drifts along Gordon Bay in Naples (purefl.com) or the Sunset Dolphin and Wildlife Cruise by Adventures in Paradise off Sanibel (adventureinparadiseinc.com). For an even more intimate evening on the water, try a kayak tour. The Rookery Bay Sunset Tour by Adventure Paddle Tours (adventurepaddletours.com) is a four-mile paddle that ends with a glorious sunset in the distance.
Of course, Southwest Florida has plenty of nightlife activities, but for a unique dining experience, try the Full Moon Chef’s Dinners at the Catch of the Pelican at Naples Grande Beach Resort. Timed to coincide with each month’s full moon, these private, outdoor events each have a unique, multi-course dinner. As with many of these nighttime events, tickets sell quickly, so plan ahead (naplesgrande.com).