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The antithesis of the Atlantic coast, the Gulf coast operates on a much quieter, more relaxed pace. Everything that Miami is, places like Naples and Marco Island are not. However, they are only a couple hours’ drive apart, so the climate and beach mentality are shared between South Florida and Southwest Florida. This guide profiles the roads of Marco Island, the northernmost of the Ten Thousand Islands chain that sit offshore from Collier and Monroe Counties in Southwest Florida. Marco is the last outpost before reaching the vast Everglades wilderness. A vacation destination and retiree haven, Marco and Naples became wealthy over the years as more retirees moved to the region. However, with the ongoing growth, the relaxed pace accelerated somewhat over the ensuing time period.
Marco Island was developed starting in the 1960s. It was aggressively marketed to retirees in the northern part of the United States planning to relocate in the tropical climate of Florida. As a result, prospective residents plotted the location of their dream houses for their retirement, and they moved to the island in droves. Originally, the entire island was to be developed, but environmental restrictions prevented complete development of Marco Island. Impacts were nonetheless present on Marco Island with man-made canals crisscrossing the island, ensuring that each home has boat access to reach the Marco River and Gulf of Mexico. The roads on the island conform to a typical suburban feel, with cul-de-sacs and ranch-style houses with a Florida appeal. Canals flow in between the roads.
The Deltona Corporation spear-headed the development and construction of the island, with continued efforts beyond the initial build out. With the demand for beach front property, condominiums arose on the island, especially against the Gulf of Mexico. These high rises are sometimes owner occupied, but they are frequently rented out on a weekly or monthly basis to vacationers, locally known as “snowbirds.” The busiest tourist season is between Christmas and Easter, which includes the various college spring break periods.
Nearby Naples has equally grown at an amazing rate through the years. Similar to other mid-size cities, city leaders have wrestled with determining what kind of city they wanted Naples to be. As such, Naples ranges from the extremely high end to the mid-range, with expansion outside the city of golf course developments, condominiums, and large estates. The bulk of the best shopping regionally may be found in Naples, and the walkable downtown features several boutiques and specialty shops.