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Using RV Consignment Companies To Your Advantage

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rv consignment companiesWondering how RV consignment companies can work to your advantage? Just think about one of the masters of leadership training, Dale Carnegie, and you’ll have a few clues. Carnegie once said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”

This is why the best RV consignment companies make an effort build relationships while learning as much as they can about their customers. They realize that it’s not just about making an RV sale today, but about understanding that people will go through different phases of life and have changing needs as time passes.

Top RV consignment companies will invite you to use them as long-term resource. In fact, there are several ways that you can work together with a pre-owned RV dealer to save yourself a great deal of time and hassle.

  • If you are going through a life changing event and need to sell your RV, you have a trusted professional working on your behalf to help you sell your unit as quickly as possible. This takes a great deal of pressure off of you since the RV consignment company will take care of answering calls, marketing, showing the unit, and negotiating the sale.
  • Do you have a specific RV model or floorplan that you are interested in, but aren’t in huge rush to buy? You can tap into the professional network of an RV consignment company, such as Easy Escapes RV, by providing them with a list of your desired floorplan or model and your purchasing time-frame. If they don’t have the specific make or floorplan available, they can do the research to find it.
  • If you have a positive experience with an RV consignment company or pre-owned RV dealer, share the details of that experience with your friends and family members. Many people aren’t even aware of the option to consign or don’t understand how it works. If you share your knowledge, they will be grateful when the time comes for them to buy or sell.
  • Ask for a referral from an RV professional if you want to find certain RV accessories or need to do some maintenance on your RV. Since companies like Easy Escapes RV employ professionals with years of experience in the RV industry, they can point you in the direction of other reputable professionals.

Now you know why it makes good sense to build a long-term relationship with an RV consignment company (and why they want to learn more about you). As companies and customers learn more about each other, everyone benefits. Consignment customers and buyers get the help they need, while RV consignment companies create long-term relationships. How can Easy Escapes RV help you or someone you know? Contact us in Naples, Florida at (239) 302-3789.

10 Family-Friendly Fishing Spots in Florida

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family friendly fishingFishing can be a fantastic way for families to spend quality time together while discovering Florida’s great outdoors. If you were lucky enough to grow up with a parent, grandparent or family member who introduced you to fishing, some of your favorite childhood memories probably include a red and white bobber and a bluegill. Florida is the ideal place to learn the art of angling because there are an abundance of family-friendly fishing spots.

Not sure exactly where to go? Just hop in your RV, car or truck and check out one of these Florida family-friendly fishing spots.

Family-Friendly Fishing Spots

  1. Naples Pier, Naples. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, the Naples Pier is accessible at the West end of 12th Avenue South. Saltwater anglers of all skill levels will appreciate fishing fro the Naples Pier, particularly at sunset. Since this Naples fishing spot has restrooms, a shaded eating area, and concession stand, it meets our family-friendly criteria.
  1. John Yarbrough Linear Park, Fort Myers. Families can fish the Ten Mile Canal that runs alongside this Lee County Park. Just bring along a bucket of shiners or red wigglers and find out if the largemouth bass are hungry. When the bite slows down, you can relax under a shaded picnic pavilion or walk down the paved multi-use trail.
  1. Sanibel Island Causeway, Sanibel. Not only is the Sanibel Island Causeway one of the most stunning spots in Southwest Florida, it also provides great opportunities for saltwater fishing. Check the tide tables, buy a bucket of shrimp, and cast your bait out from the sandy shoreline to catch species such as spotted seatrout, snook, jack crevalle, and pompano.
  1. Webb Lake, Punta Gorda. Fish for largemouth bass or bluegill from the shore or shaded fishing pier at Webb Lake near Punta Gorda. Webb Lake is a man-made 395-acre lake located at the Babcock/Webb Wildlife Management Area in Charlotte County. There are plenty of covered picnic tables around the perimeter of the lake, and you’ll find restrooms near the Marl Ponds at the entrance of Babcock-Webb.
  1. Oscar Scherer State Park, Osprey. At Oscar Scherer State Park, you can go freshwater fishing on Lake Osprey or saltwater fishing from the creek banks, so take your pick. In addition to fishing, the park offers family-friendly opportunities for canoeing, swimming, picnicking, hiking, bicycling, camping and wildlife viewing.
  1. Turkey Lake, Orlando. Shoreline fishing at Turkey Lake is available anytime during park hours or 24 hours a day for those camping at Bill Frederick Park. At the park, you’ll have access to RV hookups, campsites, primitive cabins, a swimming pool, picnic pavilions and bathrooms, a playground, a Frisbee golf course and a “mock-up” of an old historic Florida farm. For boat loaner reservations or information on the park call Bill Frederick Park.
  1. Kissimmee State Park, Kissimmee. Take a kid fishing at one of the picturesque lakes (Lakes Kissimmee, Rosalie and Tiger) at Kissimmee State Park. This is one spot not to miss if you are in the Orlando-area due to the variety of species. Catch largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, chain pickerel or bluegill from the canal banks, from the marina, or from a boat. The marina includes accessible parking spaces, restrooms and a fishing area. When the family is ready for a break from the sunshine, take advantage of the large, shaded picnic area. Kissimmee State Park also has full-facility campsites, as well as a primitive camping facility.
  1. Suwannee River, Mayo. Campgrounds and motels are available in nearby Chiefland, Cross City and Old Town. Anglers of all ages can cast for largemouth bass in the river or in freshwater creeks. Besides, there is something very special about the Suwannee and its tributaries — they are home to the Suwannnee Bass. While this species is smaller than a largemouth bass, it has a very distinctive feature: red eyes. Redfish and speckled trout are found in grass beds at the mouth of the river as well.
  1. Kathryn Abbey Hannah Park Lake, Jacksonville. Explore the 60-acre freshwater lake at Kathryn Abbey Hannah Park or go saltwater fishing from the 1.5 miles of sandy shoreline. When the kids have had enough fishing and are ready to cool off, take them to the Kids Splash Park that is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. In addition to the family-friendly fishing spots at Kathryn Abbey Hannah Park, there are over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails for the family to take advantage of.
  1. Lake Osborne, Lake Worth. If you have plans to travel to Palm Beach County, don’t go without making a stop at Lake Osborne (365-acres) to wet a line. Much of this lake is surrounded by John Prince Park, so there is plenty of bank access for fishing. The park has a public boat ramp, fishing dock, picnic pavilions, a campground, and public restrooms.

Now that you know about 10 family-friendly fishing spots to visit in Florida, purchase your Florida fishing license, take your favorite anglers, your tackle box, and hit the road. If you’re ready to buy or upgrade an RV for your Florida outdoor adventures, call Easy Escapes RV at (239) 302-3789. Do you have any special family fishing photos or memories to share? Head over to our Facebook Page and share your experiences.

The Beginners Guide To RV Terminology

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rv terminologyYou’ve just returned home after attending a local RV show, but your head is still spinning after listening to all of the RV terminology being thrown around by salesmen throughout the past few hours. While you know you asked as many questions as you possibly could, it sure would be easier if someone created a mini online glossary of RV terms, right? Well, your wish is our command. Check out this list of some of the most used, but least understood, RV terms along with the definitions to match.

RV Terminology

Airbag: This term doesn’t mean the same thing when referencing an RV as it does when referring to a standard passenger vehicle. In RV terms, it refers to a shock absorber that is positioned at the forward and rear axles of a motorhome.

Axle Ratio: The final drive gear ratio created by the relationship between the ring and pinion gears and the rotation of the driveshaft. For example, on a vehicle with an axle ratio of 4.1:1, the driveshaft would have to rotate 4.1 times in order to rotate the drive wheels once.

Black Water: Waste from the on-board toilet that is flushed into a black water holding tank, typically located underneath the main floor of the RV.

Boondocking: RV camping without the benefit of electricity, fresh water, and waste utilities.

Box: On a Class A RV, this is the term used to refer to the living space from the chassis up.

Cabcover: The portion of a Class C RV that overlaps the top of the vehicle’s cab and usually contains a sleeping or storage unit.

Curb Weight: The weight of an RV unit without fresh or waste water in the holding tanks, but including automotive fluids such as fuel, oil, and radiator coolant.

Diesel Pusher: The term for a motorhome or RV with a diesel engine mounted in the rear of the vehicle.

DW: Abbreviation for dry weight, which refers to the manufacturer’s listing of the approximate weight of the RV without supplies, water, fuel or passengers.

Exhaust Brakes: Diesel engines have poor compression slowing due to the fact that the air inlet to the engine is wide open at all times (there is no butterfly valve as is found in gasoline engines). To get around this problem, some manufacturers supply diesel exhaust brakes that consist of a heavy-duty butterfly valve mounted immediately following the turbo charger in the exhaust system. When actuated, the butterfly is closed to almost completely block the path of the exhaust gases. This forces the engine to act like a large air compressor and provides substantial braking action.

Fiver: Another term for a fifth wheel.

GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating): The manufacturer’s rating for the maximum allowable weight that an axle is designed to carry.

Hula Skirt: Term for a dirt skirt accessory that aids in protection from debris thrown from an RV’s rear wheels to the vehicles directly behind them, or being towed behind them. This dirt skirt is usually the length of the rear bumper and resembles a shorter version of a Hawaiian hula skirt. Aloha!

Payload Capacity: The maximum allowable weight that can be placed in or on a vehicle — including cargo, passengers, fluids and Fifth-wheel or conventional hitch loads.

Self-contained: An RV that doesn’t need any external connections in order to provide short-term cooking, showering, and heating functions.

Toe: When referring to wheel alignment, this RV term pertains to the measure of whether the front of the wheels (looking down from the top) are closer (toe-in) or farther (toe-out) than the back of the wheels.

Widebody: RV designs that stretch from the traditional 96-inch body width to 100 or 102 inches.

Hopefully you have a better understanding of RV terminology after reviewing this list. Are there any other strange or unusual RV terms you’ve heard lately? If so, what are they? Share your questions and comments on our Easy Escapes RV Facebook Page.

Tailgating Recipes: Game Day Nachos

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tailgating recipes nachosSay what you want, among all of the tailgating recipes out there, nachos are always a sure-fire hit with football fans. Is it the endless combinations of meat, cheeses, and toppings that are so hard to resist? The fact that they are easy to transport and reheat is another bonus on game day. Whatever the reasons, nachos are the one finger food you need to have on hand prior to kick-off. Short on time? No worries, this recipe uses only simple ingredients and takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups corn tortilla chips
  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 can (4.5 ounces) chopped green chilies, drained
  • 1 oz. taco seasoning mix
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 medium green onions, sliced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups finely shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a 15x10x1-inch pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Spread half of the tortilla chips evenly on your pan and set aside.
  1. In an 8-inch nonstick skillet, cook beef over medium heat. Stir occasionally, until beef is brown. Drain meat. Stir in taco seasoning mix, minced garlic and green chiles. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until beef is thoroughly cooked and seasoning is thoroughly combined.
  1. Arrange half of beef mixture on tortilla chips. Layer with half of the other toppings. Repeat layers ending with cheese on top. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cheese is melted. Add additional fresh toppings, such as sour cream or guacamole, if desired.
  1. Serve up to your favorite football fans. Chances are pretty good that these nachos will become one of your most requested tailgating recipes.

If, by chance, your nachos don’t get gobbled up before they cool off, you can reheat them on a cookie sheet in the oven at 275°F. Although you might be tempted to take a shortcut by using microwave, don’t do it — you’ll end up with soggy nachos.

Serving size: 8

Total time: 25 min

Free Things To Do In Miami, Florida

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free things to do in miamiWhile Miami is most often associated with luxury hotels and posh restaurants, don’t let this energetic city intimidate you. There are plenty of ways to explore Miami regardless of budget considerations. Whether you want to go fishing from the shore of a state beach or take a self-guided Art Deco tour, you’ll never be at a loss for things to do. What’s even better is that some of them don’t even require you to dig out your wallet. Check out these free things to do in Miami, Florida.

Self-Guided Miami Art Deco Tours

Pastel-colored buildings that reflect this unique 1950’s architectural style, known as Art Deco, put Miami on the covers of magazines and in motion pictures. Guided tours are available for under $30 through the Miami Design Preservation League, or you can take free self-guided Art Deco tour. Allow at least two hours for the self-guided tour since there are close to 20 stops that may draw you in for a closer look.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Take a short drive over the Rickenbacker Causeway from the city to visit Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Located on the tip of Key Biscayne, you’ll find this beach to be a slightly quieter and more scenic alternative to most of Miami’s more popular beaches. Take advantage of the walking and bicycle trails that wind through native Florida vegetation, or cast out a line from the seawall along Biscayne Bay. This state park also offers family-friendly amenities such as restrooms, picnic tables, food concessions and shower facilities. There is a fee for parking, but since the beach is less than 10 miles from downtown Miami, you can also ride a bike over for the day.

Wynwood Art Walk

The most popular Miami-area art walk takes place on the second Saturday of the month in the Wynwood Arts District. Galleries are open for public visits and local boutiques offer late hours. You’ll find colorful murals painted on the sides of former warehouses, inspirational messages adorning the sidewalks, and even the crosswalks in Wynwood reflect the area’s artistic talent. Just be sure not to miss Wynwood Walls before you end your evening.

Outdoor Yoga

Need to stretch your legs after a long drive? Stop at Bayfront Park in Downtown Miami every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday for a free outdoor yoga class. If Coconut Grove is closer for you, head to a free class on Saturday mornings at Kennedy Park or on Wednesday and Saturday evenings at Margaret Pace Park. If you’re near South Beach, the Mondrian has a free class on Sunday mornings that comes along with a beautiful view of the bay. Don’t forget to bring a bottle of water and your own mat!

Now that you know about some free things to do in Miami, check your calendar and make plans to experience it first-hand. Miami is just a two-hour drive from Easy Escapes RV in Naples, Florida.

What To Know About Winter RV Shows

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winter rv showsWinter RV shows can provide a good opportunity for you to get acquainted with various RV makes, models, and features all in one location. However, you’ll also need to keep in mind that RV shows are often bustling with people, so plan to attend on a weekday and arrive when the show opens. This way, you can talk to the dealers without being rushed and have a chance to take a thorough look at any models you might be interested in.

The Florida RV SuperShow, for example, takes place in January every year and runs from a Tuesday through a Sunday, so plan to attend prior to the weekend if you can. In addition to attending winter RV shows on weekdays and arriving early, there are a few other tips you may want to keep in mind.

Tips For Attending Winter RV Shows

  • Always do your homework BEFORE you go. The more informed you are about pricing and features, the better your chances at getting a good deal. Realize that depreciation will be a factor with any new RV purchase, so think about setting a realistic budget that includes plenty of room for maintenance and storage (if needed). If a new RV seems a bit out of your price range, or if you are brand new to RVing, maybe a pre-owned RV would be more sensible. You won’t be losing as much to depreciation and you can “test” the RV waters before taking the leap with a brand new model.
  • Never feel pressured make a quick decision. Shows can be very helpful in terms of becoming familiar with the newest options that are available, but you should never feel pressured into buying on the spot. You should always make sure that the unit you are considering will fit your lifestyle, fit your budget, that it makes sense for the length of trips you intend to take, and that you’ve considered where you will store it.
  • If you are a current RV owner who wants to upgrade to a new model, know that consignment is a good option if you want to sell your current RV quickly without the hassle of listings, phone inquiries, and showings. Consignment companies or pre-owned dealers, such as Easy Escapes RV, have the professional expertise and marketing know-how needed to sell your current RV in short amount of time so that you can be in a newer model before you know it.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the dealers plenty of questions. In fact, it’s a good idea to write down any questions that come to mind before you go to a winter RV show. You can also check online to view a show directory or exhibitor floor plan before you go. Doing this will help you stay focused on your goals while ensuring that you see the models you want to see without becoming distracted.
  • Check for attendance discounts. Many RV shows offer online coupons or discounts. Always check the show website and either print off or save a copy of the coupon your mobile phone.

Winter RV shows can be valuable opportunities to learn more about the RV lifestyle. Just make sure that the time you spend there, and the decision you make are truly decisions that you’ll feel good about in the long-term. If you are interested in consigning your current RV before purchasing a new RV, contact Easy Escapes RV in Naples, FL at (239) 302-3789.

3 Types Of People Who Love The RV Lifestyle

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buy an rvDid you know that RV sales and deliveries are soaring toward an all-time high? It’s true. The RV industry is planning to build on the momentum by focusing on three groups of consumers who are attracted to the RV lifestyle.

Combined, this group of potential RV owners represents 40% of U.S. households. These groups were identified as part of a recent Go RVing Communications Planning Study conducted by Nielsen. This study has provided new data about the demographics of prospective and current RV buyers.

Active Family Adventurers

This group has children who significantly influence leisure trip decisions. Active Family Adventurers are also the most likely to have rented or owned an RV, to have visited an RV dealership, and to read RV and travel publications and websites. Of the three segments, this one contains the highest percentage of Gen Xers and African Americans.

Nature Lovers

Nature Lovers are likely to have tent camped or rented a cabin at some point in the past two years. They enjoy visiting locations with natural beauty, seeking out lesser-known destinations, and finding opportunities for outdoor sports or recreation. This group is younger, and uses travel-related apps on their smart phones or computers.

Kid-Free Adult Adventurers

Kid-Free Adult Adventurers relish trips that offer learning opportunities, romantic getaways, exploring lesser-known destinations, visiting family, spending time in nature and attending sporting events. For this group, it’s about the freedom and convenience of RVing, including the ability to travel with pets, with a focus on entry-level RV options with lower costs and features.

Consumer Views on RVing

Consumers in all three of these groups have favorable views toward the RV lifestyle. Just like current RV owners, they like to take road trips and see RVing as a convenient way to explore the country, participate in outdoor activities, and spend time with family and friends.

Here are additional statistics regarding RV owners and consumer views:

  • In terms of current RV owners, the study found that they love their RVs and the RV lifestyle. When asked about their overall RV experience with their RVs, 88% ranked it as good, very good or excellent, and the majority said that their expectations of RV ownership were either met or exceeded.
  • One-third of current owners are repeat buyers, with the conventional travel trailer being the most commonly owned type of RV among those surveyed. RV owners take an average of five trips per year in their RV, primarily to go camping at a variety of destinations.
  • In terms of what RV owners look for when making an RV purchase, comfort and cost top the list of important factors. Since only 20% of RV buyers surveyed bought the same brand, there’s an opportunity for manufactures to build stronger brand equity.

If you’ve been thinking about buying an RV or motorhome, call Easy Escapes RV in Naples, Florida at (239) 302-3789. Find out how a pre-owned RV can save you thousands of dollars while offering you the opportunity to experience the RV lifestyle.

How Soccer Teaches Us About Teamwork

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soccerIf you measure the popularity of a sport by number of fans, soccer has a clear lead with an estimated 3.5 billion fans. Maybe you’ve never given it much thought, but there are good reasons why this sport has earned the top spot worldwide — it’s all about teamwork and bringing people together.

  1. Year-round consistency equals success. Players and fans are committed beyond just one season. Soccer is the sport played most consistently around the world. It’s a sport that is not sectioned off or dominated by one particular country. In addition, for the majority of top team players, it’s a year-round sport. Many professional players participate in a league season, a league cup, a club championship and international games.
  1. It’s possible to bring the entire world together. The FIFA World Cup happens to be the most widely viewed sports event. Close to 715 million people watched the 2006 final match in Germany, while the 2010 South Africa event was broadcast to 204 countries on 245 different channels.
  1. Respect and trust your team. Coaches are required find the best roles for each player while keeping the entire team motivated. Coaches often have different approaches, but the best ones always earn a high level of respect from the team, and it shows on the field.
  1. Everyone can win. Soccer is one sport where agility and speed are more important than size or build. While it’s true that soccer players need to be in top shape, the size of their body is much less a factor than it is in football or basketball. Don’t judge a book by its cover when playing soccer; even smaller players stand a strong chance of excelling on the field.
  1. Stay fluid and go with the flow. Soccer is the only sport where the clock runs regardless of any issues. There are no commercial breaks other than on the 15-minute halftime, and any time that may have been wasted during the game is added on at the end of every half. Teamwork means tackling challenges and staying fluid.
  1. Let your passion guide you. The FIFA World Cup and the Euro Cup are just two examples of tournaments that mean a great deal to the teams playing, but also to the countries that are represented. During international tournaments, you’ll notice the flags from various countries that represent a passion and love of the sport.
  1. Welcome diversity. It doesn’t matter if you are a 6 year-old girl or a 60 year-old man, you can still play. You can find organized leagues for every age group, facilities with nets all over the world, and fans waiting to watch. According to a FIFA survey, there are over 270 million people playing soccer regularly around the world. No other sport in the world rivals soccer’s popularity because anybody can play and relate to it.

We all know that teamwork isn’t just about soccer though. No matter how each of us leads our daily lives, we are all part of a team. Families come together as teams, our friends are part of our personal team, and co-workers are on our office team. Thanks to soccer for reminding us how to be awesome, both on and off the field.

Why Easy Escapes RV? Read These Testimonials

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easy escapes rvWe don’t like to toot our own horn very much — pun intended. After all, we’re busy helping people buy and sell pre-owned RVs all across the state of Florida. We’d much rather focus on what we do best, and let our satisfied customers speak for us.

Why Are Testimonials Important?

Before we share a few Easy Escapes RV testimonials, you should know why personal testimonials are so important in the first place. These are the three main reasons we genuinely appreciate feedback from those we’ve worked with.

  • They help build trust. Whether customers are raving about the amount of money they saved on a pre-owned RV or about the service, they’re telling people first and foremost that they had a positive experience with your company.
  • Testimonials are candid and unbiased accounts of the level of service that has been provided.
  • Testimonials have the power to convince very discriminating customers that your service made a difference in someone’s life — and that you can help them as well.

Testimonials From Our Customers

If you’re wondering why Easy Escapes RV might be a good choice if you want to buy or sell a motorhome, keep on reading. These are testimonials that have come straight from our customers. At Easy Escapes RV, we are grateful for the feedback that we receive because it helps us figure out what we are doing right and where we can improve.

  • “Frank and James of Easy Escapes RV provided outstanding service and made by buying experience superb. They took care of everything from picking me up at the airport, making sure the Thor Siesta 29GB was perfect for me, titling the vehicle, and ensuring I know how to operate all the RV systems.” (Mike D.)
  • “I would like to thank Jim and Frank for doing such a great job selling my motor home. I would advise anyone who wants to sell to give Easy Escapes RV a call. They are honest, and hard working and get the job done. Many thanks!” (Cindy L.)
  • “Frank and Jim were more than helpful with the sale of my 2008 Essex. They helped arrange the paper work and were always in touch.” (Mary O.)
  • “Just so the social network world knows — you guys went over and above our expectations! Thank you so much! It was a great experience working with you!” (Deb H.)

Contact us at (239) 302-3789 to find out how we can help you sell your current RV, or purchase a pre-owned RV that fits your budget and lifestyle. Again, don’t take our word for it; trust the words of our previous customers.

 

Free Things To Do In Naples, Marco Island And Everglades City

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naples, marco island, and everglades cityFree Things to do in Southwest Florida

brought to you by Easy Escapes RV Consignment and Sales Naples, FL

Naples, Marco Island and Everglades City are all part of Southwest Florida’s Paradise Coast. Each of these areas offers a variety of free, one-of-a-kind experiences for residents as well as visitors. You can experience thrilling outdoor adventures in the Everglades, find inspiration in the cultural scene, or stroll along the white sandy Gulf beaches.

  1. Free Things To Do in Naples Beach, FL. You can walk or ride your bike to any one of the many free access points to Naples Beach throughout the downtown Naples area. If you go by car, you have to feed the parking meters, so why not walk or ride and get some exercise while you enjoy the beach views?
  1. Free Things To Do in Naples Pier, FL. Visit the historic Naples Pier, which is open for fishing, people watching and sunset viewing. There is a concession stand in case you want to purchase snacks, refreshments or bait, but admission to the pier itself is free.
  1. Shelling. Beautiful seashells are yours for the taking along the public beaches of Naples and Marco Island. You can even hitch a boat ride and search for pristine, untouched shells on nearby deserted barrier island beaches. Just be sure to return all shells with live animals, as well as all live sand dollars, to the Gulf of Mexico. The taking of live shells is prohibited (and against the law).
  1. Art Shows. Naples hosts several free art shows, including the Art in the Park arts and crafts show that takes place the first Saturday of the month between November and April. You’ll find art festivals in the downtown area as well, including the prestigious Naples National Art Festival, which takes place every February.
  1. Concerts. Enjoy regular free entertainment at Cambier Park in downtown Naples, including the Naples Concert Band, Family Movie Nights and more. Free concerts are scheduled throughout the year. You can take in a free performance from the Naples Daily News Jazz Band, Naples Concert Band, Gulf Coast Big Band or numerous other performing groups.
  1. Art Galleries. Explore the free art galleries at the von Liebig Art Center in downtown Naples and at the Marco Island Center for the Arts. The von Liebig also has an extensive arts library that is available for browsing by the public. Members of the Naples Art Association enjoy free lending privileges.
  1. Collier County Museums. Entrance is free at all four Collier County Museum locations, including the Collier County Museum in Naples, the Naples Depot Museum, the Museum of the Everglades in Everglades City and the Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch in Immokalee (by appointment only). These museums provide an opportunity to learn about the history, culture and heritage of the Naples, Marco Island and Everglades City area.
  1. Naples Zoo. After you buy an annual membership to Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, you can visit as often as you like with no entrance fee. Families can enjoy viewing exotic animals, such as tigers and zebras, while surrounded by exotic plants of a historic tropical garden. Plus, anyone can stop to shop at the Naples Zoo gift shop without having to purchase a zoo ticket.
  1. Cypress Bend Boardwalk. View ancient cypress trees, orchids, alligators, eagle’s nests, and other natural wonders along the free .8-mile Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk in Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park on the Tamiami Trail just east of Naples.
  1. Nation’s Smallest Post Office. Get a postmark for your postcards or letters from the Ochopee Post Office. The nation’s smallest post office is located on the Tamiami Trail in the Everglades just east of Wooten’s, an airboat, swamp buggy and animal park attraction.
  1. Bike Everglades City. Bring your bicycle and enjoy a scenic ride through Everglades City past stone crab and fish markets and historic buildings, or through downtown Naples’ beautifully landscaped neighborhoods. If you don’t have your own bicycle, bikes are also available for hire, and guided bicycle tours (for a fee) of downtown Naples and the Everglades are available through Naples Bicycle Tours.
  1. Everglades National Park. Visit Everglades National Park Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades City, it’s the only one of the three official park entrances with no admission fee. The park protects and provides an important habitat for rare and endangered wildlife, such as the manatee, American crocodile, and Florida panther.
  1. Free Film Showings. View a free film on the unique environment and wildlife of Big Cypress National Preserve at the Oasis Visitor Center on the Tamiami Trail.
  1. Swamp Walks. Take part in free ranger-led swamp walks, or canoe and bicycle trips, during the winter season at Big Cypress National Preserve near Everglades City. Be sure to call ahead for reservations. Reservations are accepted up to 14 days in advance between 9 AM and 4 PM.
  1. Scenic Drives. Keep an eye out for black bear, Florida panther, deer, birds, butterflies, raccoon and other wildlife while taking a scenic drive along Janes Scenic Drive, Turner River Road and Loop Road near Everglades City.
  1. Kayak Down Turner River. Launch your canoe or kayak on the Turner River in Big Cypress National Preserve and paddle along the cypress-lined river into the mangrove forests of the Everglades. There is a free parking and launch area for paddlers.

Whether you plan on exploring Southwest Florida for a few days, or for a few months, you can find free activities that will appeal to everyone in the family. For more information on the Paradise Coast of Naples, Marco Island and Everglades City, visit www.ParadiseCoast.com or call 1-800-688-3600.

 

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