Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. I love seeing the world and taking a break from reality every now and then. Between school and work, it can get exhausting and I’m always looking forward to the next much-needed vacation. This month, I headed over to Marco Island!
Marco Island is a beautiful island right off the coast of Southwest Florida. It’s the biggest island in the chain of Ten Thousand Islands in the area and is home to just 16,000 residents. Marco Island is a gorgeous oasis that is connected to the mainland of Florida by two different bridges. As a Florida native, this little island is one of my favorite vacation spots to get away from the hustle and bustle feel of my hometown Miami which is just two hours away.
While being small (you can drive the entire island in just 15 minutes!), there is still so much to do and it is filled with family-friendly attractions and activities. Here’s the visitor’s guide to the 15 things to do while on Marco Island.
1. Tigertail Beach
Up first is the famous Tigertail Beach! My favorite spot on the whole island! This stunning white sandy beach is a popular spot to relax on the island. It stretches across the west coast of Marco Island with beautiful clear water and tons of watersport rentals perfect for the entire family. They offer paddleboard rentals, parasailing, kayaks, beach cabanas and chairs, and much more.
This beach is quiet and uncrowded which I LOVE. It’s not hard at all to find a place to settle down your towels and beach umbrella in this spot. We visit every summer and each and every time, Tigertail Beach does not disappoint!
There is parking across the street for the beach with a daily or hourly fee. The only downside to this public parking is that it’s a bit of a walk to the beach from it so be prepared for that. The walk is well worth the beautiful view you see once you get to Tigertail.
2. Marco Movies
Next is Marco Movies, a great spot for families! Marco Movies is a cute little 3-screen movie theater with casual at-your-seat dining. It’s a family-owned movie theater that shows all the latest movies that are released. The inside is filled with seats and tables so you can order your dinner while watching your movie.
Tickets for adults cost $12.50 and for children, senior citizens and the military, it’s $10 a pop. Their menu has a wide range of different foods to pick from. From quesadillas to pizzas and salads, there’s something on the menu for everyone.
You do have to get there early to be able to snag a good seat, but that’s expected with most movie theaters! Plus it’s the only movie theater on the entire island!
Hoot’s is a cute little diner in Marco Island. They serve breakfast and lunch and they have a second location in Naples, FL. They offer 4 different types of bread with their meals — all of which are fresh-baked daily on site! The diner is open from
The diner is open from 7am – 2pm seven days a week. This actually surprised me! They close pretty early so we decided to head over for breakfast. Hoot’s opens for dinner during the high season in Marco Island.
It. Was. AMAZING! The fresh-baked bread is delicious and the atmosphere is so friendly. Our waitress was very welcoming and you could tell that everyone knew each other there. It’s in a hidden location in a shopping center and we only found it because of Yelp!
Hoot’s is not expensive and the service is excellent. I highly recommend giving this little spot a try when you’re in the area!
4. Susie’s Diner
Susie’s Diner is another great spot to grab a bite to eat while exploring Marco Island. Whether you’re interested in breakfast or burger, Susie’s Diner has a variety of everything. We were seated very quickly when we came here and also received our food quickly as well. Their prices range between $11-$30 and they have pretty great service!
We were seated very quickly when we came here and also received our food quickly as well. Their prices range between $11-$30 and they have pretty great service!
5. Marco Golf and Garden
Another really fun spot here is the Marco Golf and Garden mini-golf place. This place is described as “a challenging miniature golf course in an award winning garden.” It’s Marco Island’s only mini-golf place on the entire island and it definitely is located in a beautiful garden!
The garden is very well kept and it has 18 holes. It costs $12 a person and is perfect for both kids and adults. The staff is extremely friendly and it has a wonderful atmosphere. It can get pretty hot out while mini-golfing so they do provide free mini water bottles which is a huge plus!
They also offer student and senior citizen discounts.
6. Doreen’s Cup of Joe
This was my favorite breakfast place on the entire island. No joke. Doreen’s Cup of Joe is a such a CUTE spot. We stopped by on our very last day for breakfast and we were shocked at how delicious everything was! The place is a light blue design with cute little vintage elements and the tables are a rustic wooden design. All the design elements were whimsical and very eclectic.
They have a huge selection of options and they serve breakfast all day. However, they’re only open Mon – Sun 7:30 AM – 2 PM, much like Hoot’s so you won’t be able to have dinner or a late lunch here.
But seriously this is best breakfast place in Marco Island. They try to use local ingredients whenever possible which is amazing! Doreen’s has unlimited Kana Coffee in Miami for $2.50 and all their breakfast dishes are made with Eggland’s Best Cage Free Brown Eggs.
This place was super busy with tourists, locals, and many families when we walked in but luckily we got seated very quickly. You have the option to sit inside or outside.The service was excellent and the entire atmosphere is very charming and quaint!
7. Joey’s Pizza
Enter Joey’s Pizza: the best pizza on the entire island.
This place is amazing. They serve Italian cuisine ranging from pizza, salads, sandwiches, pasta and much more. We always have the pizza every time we come here. The pizzas are huge and they are always delicious. They offer indoor and outdoor seating here and it is not too pricey.
The food is great and the service is wonderful, however, because the restaurant is open to the outdoors even if you sit inside you will find yourself shooing away mosquitos and getting bit. We had to ask to move tables because it was so bad. So make sure you’re sitting further inside the restaurant rather than close to the entrance. Other than that, everything was great and we had leftovers for days!
The crust on the pizza is crunchy and toasted and they have so many options for toppings. They also have the most delicious garlic knots I’ve ever tasted! They’re huge and can fill you up fast so depending on your party size, you don’t need to order too many. I highly recommend Joey’s, we will definitely be going back soon.
If seafood’s your thing, then you will love Pincher’s. It just opened up last year and serves fresh seafood served in a fun, down-to-earth atmosphere. It looks like an old seafood shack on the inside with vibrant colors and designs. Plus it’s in a perfect location right near Marco Movies!
We had amazing service. When we arrived, we were seated immediately and were told all the specials. We were very impressed with the food and the happy hour 2 for 1 special. We really enjoyed our stop here and wish we had a Pincher’s back in Miami!
Their motto is “you can’t fake fresh” and I definitely got that feel from this place. The food was great and the fries are AWESOME!
9. Nacho Mama’s
Here’s where the nightlife is at pretty much — Nacho Mama’s. Nacho Mama’s is a family owned restaurant serving Tex-Mex and American food since 1998. It’s located in the same plaza as Pincher’s, Marco Movies, and Dolce Mare!
There’s inside and outdoor seating available plus live music. This is one of the very few places to eat on the island that is actually open late. It’s open from 11:00 am – 2:00 am on the weekends and until 1:00 am on the weekdays. The food is so good here. Order the nachos. You will not regret it!
Nacho Mama’s is one of the best Mexican restaurants I’ve ever been to and it’s a great spot if you’re looking for a late night bite to eat on the island. Not much is open late here and we randomly stumbled upon this hangout when looking for something that actually WAS open late!
10. Dolce Mare
Number 10 is Dolce Mare. It’s a nice little gelato shop in the plaza with many artisan flavors to choose from. They also offer other handmade confections and chocolates which makes this spot super sweet!
Dolce Mare also has cute gifts and souvenirs as well as comfy outdoor seating. Stop by here for the gelato or if ice cream’s more your style, head over to the family friendly Beebe’s Ice Cream just across the plaza.
11. The Esplanade Shoppes and Marina
The Esplanade Shoppes and Marina is a great place to get your shop on and check out the amazing boutiques and restaurants in the area. The shops are located in a coastal Italian-style village filled with upscale boutiques and luxury waterfront residences on the island.
The shops can be a very pricey here but it’s a fun place to window shop and get a glimpse of the beautiful boats in the marina. We love walking around here by the water on a nice afternoon. And if you’re lucky you might spot some wildlife in the waters!
There’s a gorgeous fountain at the front of the shops and the restaurants here have outdoor seating right on the waterfront for a relaxing, tropical dinner!
12. Marco Island Center for the Arts
The Marco Island Center for the Arts is the art league on the island. It’s a beautiful museum with amazing statues out front and the inside is filled with art from local artists on the island. From oil pastels, photography, and acrylics paintings, there is so much to see at this art museum.
There’s two stories to the building and it has a gift shop and clay guild on the first floor. The Center for the Arts was impressive. I love admiring art, especially from local artists! The league offers young and family programs to educate the community on art and give the residents a place to express themselves with their imagination.
The league is also home to the art of the world-renowned artist Leo Schimanszky. His pieces can be found hung up on the walls or in the gift shop. You can also purchase his art from here as well.
On the second floor, there is a beautiful photo gallery by R. Clark Lindberg. He is a well-recognized photographer in Marco Island who is known for his portraiture and natural photos of Southwest Florida.
We had the pleasure of meeting this talented photographer and got to speak with him one on one about his photographs. His work is absolutely stunning and his slideshow of his photos is mesmerizing and relaxing.
If you visit the art league, definitely stop by his gallery at the end of the hall on the second floor!
13. Marco Island Historical Museum
Next is the Marco Island Historical Museum. This museum shows the in’s and out’s of Marco Island’s history and its famous Key Marco Cat. The museum explores Southwest Florida’s Calusa Indians and the artifacts from their civilization. They recreate the Indian villages and showcase exhibits that trace their settlement.
They recently created a new exhibit for the museum called “What’s Old is Not Forgotten.” It is made up entirely of images captured by local photographers of Collier County. One of the images is of the 19th century Horr Plantation House on Marco Island.
The Marco Island Historical Museum is such an interesting place to visit to learn all about the history of this little island and how it began!
14. The Shops of Olde Marco
The Shops of Olde Marco are colorful little shops hidden behind the Inn of Marco Island. There are several restaurants, boutiques, a hair salon, and art galleries. It is very lively during high season and on Thursday evenings they host Paint, Wine & Dine parties!
During the low season, some shops are completely closed and others just close early so it can get pretty quiet. Either way, it’s a pretty sight to look at! Depending on what time of year you decide to visit, it can be a calm and relaxing place to take a stroll or a busy, fun hangout!
15. CJ’s on the Bay
Last but not least is CJ’s on the Bay. This restaurant can be found right at the heart of the Esplanade Shoppes. It has both indoor seating and a large outdoor gazebo bar that overlooks the waters of Southwest Florida. CJ’s has a Daily Happy Hour from 4 – 7 pm and daily drink specials.
They offer a wide variety of salads, hot and cold appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, pizza, pasta and seafood entrees. They take reservations for the indoor and outdoor seating, but the gazebo bar is open and does not accept reservations. It is one of the more upscale restaurants on the island and it very lively during the high season.
It is a great place to grab a drink and relax by the water. They also have a kids menu so it is great for families as well!
And that’s about it for the top 15 places to visit while in Marco Island!
If you’re interested in heading over the Marco Island this summer, you will not regret it! It’s the perfect spot to get away from it all. Whether you’re a young couple or a growing family, there is something to do for everyone on the island.
These are just 15 things to do while you’re there, but there are so many more hidden gems to see there that you’ll just have to go and explore to see for yourself!
Have you ever visited Marco Island before?