Wondering what you can do on Marco Island? Whether you want to hit the beach, shop ’til you drop, or explore the stunning surroundings, you’ll find so many fun things to do on Marco Island.
On the glittering Gulf of Mexico, just a stone’s throw from Naples, Marco Island Florida has long been a hotspot for travelers. It boasts miles of white-sand beaches, fantastic restaurants and shops, and the lush Florida Everglades right on its doorstep.
We’ve rounded up our top recommendations for making the most of this incredible place including the best attractions, activities, and places to stay.
- Beaches and parks
- Shopping and spas
- Fun and entertainment
- Day trips and tours
- Sports and activities
- Restaurants and nightlife
- History and culture
- Where to stay
Beaches and parks
Collect shells with the kids
One of the prettiest stretches of coastline in the US, South Marco Beach is a must on any list of things to in Marco Island. Its soft white sand and clear warm water make it perfect for long beach days, whether you want to kick back on a deck chair, go wildlife spotting along the sand dunes or gather the kids for an afternoon of seashell collecting. When it’s time to refuel, head to one of the cafés, restaurants, and bars that line the coast.
Sail to a nature preserve
There are a lot of incredible places to visit around Marco Island Florida, including the Keewaydin Island nature preserve. Popular with beachgoers and boaters alike, it’s just a short boat ride from Marco’s northern tip. Here you will find beautiful scenery and soft sandy beaches where you can enjoy swimming, shelling, fishing, or just relaxing. Expect to spot all manner of local wildlife like shorebirds, iguanas, turtles, dolphins, and manatees. The island often has food and drinks for sale from local vendors, or you can pack your own cooler. Hemingway Water Shuttle runs regular services from Rose Marina to Keewaydin Beach.
Buy a burger from a food boat
If you’re spending the day at Keewaydin Island, you can cook up a feast at the designated picnic and BBQ areas, or stop by one of the many ‘food boats’ that dock on the shoreline, serving ice cream, burgers, beers, and soft drinks straight from the boat. If you don’t have cash, most vendors will accept credit cards.
Sunbathe on a pristine beach
One of the most popular beaches in Marco Island Florida, Tigertail Beach has wide swathes of sand and a range of great facilities including changing rooms, BBQ grills, a snack bar, a kid’s playground, and water sports outlets that rent kayaks, SUP boards, and other beach gear. This well-maintained part of the beach faces onto a vast saltwater lagoon which is shallow enough for kids to safely swim and splash around.
Marco Island’s fringe and surrounding Ten Thousand Islands are mostly made up of lush mangrove forests and estuaries. Avid adventurers can embark on a guided kayak to find out more about one of the most unique ecosystems on the planet. Tours take you deep into the backcountry through beautiful backwaters and mangrove tunnels. As you paddle, look out for the local wildlife such as native tree crabs, huge conch shells, osprey, heron, dolphins, and more. There is a wide range of tours available including fishing tours, birding-watching tours, sunset outings, or fun custom trips.
If you’re looking for shopping in Marco Island, you’ll find a multitude of shops, malls, and outlets that go way beyond selling just beachwear. Head downtown for the main shopping plazas including a good variety of large malls and smaller boutique stores. Downtown also has some fantastic spas, as well as a good selection of restaurants, bars, and nightlife venues.
Hit the malls
Shopping enthusiasts will have no trouble finding treasures at Marco Island’s many malls. The region offers everything, from outlet malls with amazing discounts, to shops and boutiques filled with handcrafted gifts and souvenirs. Marco Walk Plaza is one of the best-known shopping malls, packed with shops, restaurants, a beauty parlor, and a movie theatre. For a more upscale vibe head to the Esplanade Shoppes district where you’ll find an Italian-style shopping village consisting of designer boutiques, fine-dining restaurants, and the scenic Esplanade Marina.
Relax at a spa
Relax and unwind in some of the most luxurious spas in Marco Island Florida. The Salon and Spa Botanica is located downtown and offers a full range of spa and salon treatments including massages, nail services, hair styling, waxing, and electrolysis. Also worth a visit is Rick’s Island Salon & Day Spa where you can get pampered from your head to your toes.
Enjoy an in-villa massage
If you don’t fancy heading out, why not enjoy a massage in the comfort of your Marco Island vacation home? Book your stay with us and we can arrange any added extras you need. Whether you want in-villa spa treatments or even the services of a private chef – just let us know! Most of our Marco Island villas have private pools, hot tubs, and waterfront views – pure bliss!
Stock up in Naples
If you’re happy to head slightly further afield for shopping, the buzzing city of Naples is just a short drive away. Naples is home to myriad shopping spots including the downtown Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South shopping districts, as well as Tin City, the Coastland Center, Waterside Shops, and the Village on Venetian Bay – to name just a few!
Bag a bargain
For the best outlet shopping, check out Bealls Outlet or the Orange Grove Mall both in Marco Island, or the Naples Outlet Collection over in Naples. These malls include dozens of discount stores selling clothing, shoes, homeware and travel accessories.
Visit a farmers’ market
The Farmers’ Market in Marco Island is one of the largest open markets in Southwest Florida. Running from November through April, it takes place at Veteran’s Community Park on Wednesday mornings from 7 am. You can stock up on a variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, and meats, plus homemade sauces, jams, and baked items. Also on sale are locally produced arts and crafts.
Fun and entertainment
Catch a movie at the mall
After a busy day of shopping, why not end it with a movie at the mall? Located at the Marco Walk Plaza, Marco Movies is a quirky theater where you can catch a movie whilst enjoying tasty American eats. One of the top-rated things to do in Marco Island at night, this 3-screen theater is open every evening and screens a variety of first-release movies.
Play a game of mini golf
A popular spot with guests of all ages, Marco Golf and Gardens is a great place to head for a fun-filled day. There’s an 18-hole miniature golf course built around beautifully landscaped gardens complete with cool water features and footbridges. There are free drinks along the course, and when you’re done playing you can drop your ball into a special competition box for the chance to win another game – for free!
Escape from a prison cell
Are you up for a challenge? Then you should pit your wits against the Xtreme Escape Game. Located in the heart of Marco Island, it invites guests to try and escape from specially-designed escape rooms. Solving riddles and clues along the way, your team will have 60 minutes to escape from rooms like Lost in the Everglades, City Morgue, or Death Row. Games are available for groups of up to 8 people – players under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
Day trips and tours
Go alligator spotting
Alligators are everywhere in Florida, but the best place to see them living in the wild is at the Everglades National Park. You can easily access the Everglades from Marco Island, with a number of tour operators offering alligator-spotting safaris around its lakes, swamps, and canals. Most tours include rides both on the water and on land, a trip to the visitor’s center, and a photo opportunity with an alligator.
Explore an abandoned dome house
Most boat tours include a stop-off at a private island for shelling and fishing, plus a ride around the famous Cape Romano Dome House on Caxambas Island.
Design your own adventure
With so many amazing things to do in Marco Island it can be tricky deciding between them, so why not combine a few activities into your very own adventure? Adventure Paddle Tours offers custom tours of the Ten Thousand Islands and the Everglades with options to combine whale and dolphin spotting, birdwatching shelling, photography, and water sports.
Ride on a Waverunner
With so many surrounding islands and waterways to explore, it’s no wonder that water activities are some of the most popular things to do in Marco Island Florida. A water scooter is a great way of getting around, and you can rent these from most water sports providers in the region.
Tee off at a top golf resort
Regarded as one of the best golf clubs in Marco Island, the Lely Resort Country Club is home to 2 public courses designed by golfing legends Robert Trent Jones and Lee Trevino. The courses offer 36 holes of championship golf, there’s also an impressive 54,000 sq ft driving range with 7 target greens, 2 practice greens, and 1 chipping green. The courses are served by a 25,000 sq ft clubhouse with a full-service bar. Other amenities include a fully-stocked pro shop, a restaurant, club rentals, and golf carts equipped with GPS navigation.
Have a wild tube ride
Whether you want a calm cruise or a wild ride, a private tubing trip is a fun way to spend a day out on the water. Breakwater Adventures operates trips for groups of up to 6 participants on a boat/tube combination ride. Passengers can fine-tune the level of adventure with hand signals, and there are frequent switches for multiple turns and rider combinations.
Backcountry fishing is one of the most popular things to do in Marco Island, and fishing enthusiasts reel in plenty of local fish including snook, tarpon, redfish, trout, pompano, and many other species. Experienced guides are readily available for fishing excursions from Marco Island, and include backcountry-flats fishing and deep-sea charters in the Gulf of Mexico for grouper, kingfish, and snapper.
Learn to waterski
If you fancy your hand at wakeboarding, waterskiing, or even kneeboarding, you can book lessons from any number of watersports providers. Prices are around $200 for groups of up to 6 students, which includes all equipment and instruction.
Restaurants and nightlife
Dine in a castaway setting
You can sip a cocktail beachside and take in sweeping ocean views at Quinn’s on the Beach Marco Island. Known for its inventive island food and quirky ‘castaway’ vibe, this popular restaurant and bar is a must-visit on your vacation to-do list. It’s open for lunch and dinner every day, and there’s a live entertainment show every night.
Treat your sweetheart to a romantic meal
Marco Prime Steak & Seafood is one of Marco’s more sophisticated restaurants. It serves up an haute-cuisine version of the classic-American steakhouse with hints of French, Italian, and Asian influences. This family-run restaurant has a warm welcoming atmosphere and is an ideal choice if you’re looking for romantic things to do in Marco Island.
Head to a brewery
The Marco Island Brewery isn’t a typical full-scale brewery but it does offer a great selection of house brews including Tigertail Red Ale, Pelican Pilsner, and The Rock IPA. There’s a great selection of other beers too with more than 40 different varieties from all over the world.
Watch the game at a sports bar
History and culture
Visit a free museum
You can find out everything you need to know about Marco’s fascinating past at The Marco Island Historical Museum. There are lively displays and recreated village scenes based on Southwest Florida’s Calusa Indians, with artifacts including the famous Key Marco Cat, a half-human, half-panther figure thought to have religious significance. You can learn about Marco’s early pioneer roots as a fishing village and pineapple plantation. You can also find out more about the island’s explosive growth in the 1960s. The museum is located on Heathwood Drive and entry is free.
Explore an old pineapple plantation
Captain Horr’s Pineapple Plantation is the former vacation home of Captain John Horr, a Civil War veteran who established a pineapple plantation on the south side of Marco Island. The plantation was built in 1877 however all that remains of the house are a few of the 12-inch-thick walls which are made of shells and mortar. There isn’t a huge amount to see, but you’ll probably spot a few gopher tortoises standing guard around the property and the trip is well worth it if you’re looking for interesting things to do in Marco Island.
Hang out at an arts center
The Marco Island Center for the Arts hosts regular art exhibits, crafts fairs, workshops, and music events that are open to visitors of all ages. The venue is open from Monday to Friday (not counting special events) and is home to a gift shop that sells fantastic local artworks and souvenirs.
How to book a stay in Marco Island
Need help finding the perfect place to stay on Marco Island? Contact our friendly team of local experts today. Alternatively, follow our simple online booking process and you can secure your Marco Island vacation home instantly without any phone calls or fuss. It’s easy to check availability, get a quote, and book instantly online.
When you book your vacation rental with Top Villas, excellent service comes as standard. You’ll be allocated a dedicated personal guest experience manager who can take care of everything, from booking airport transfers to arranging car hire, tee times, a private chef, and more. Once you arrive, your locally-based manager will assist you throughout your stay.