Description - Southwest Florida is a bird watchers haven. Resident and migrating birds may be viewed from a number of locations. In particular, over 300 species of birds reside at the "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. In addition, Babcock / Webb Wildlife Management Area is home to the red-cockaded woodpeckers, whooping cranes, American bald eagles, and crested carcara. From the barrier islands of Captiva and Sanibel over to Miami and Naples, the scenic road entitled Tamiamia Trail offer sights of South Florida's agricultural lands, grazing fields, fruit orchards and commercial fishing waters. The 125-acre Mound Key State Archaeological Site offers sites of ancient Indian artifacts. Local festivals include the International Hemingway Festival, Turtle Walks, Old Tyme Holiday Festival, Seafood Festival, and more. The Caloosahatchee River bisects the northern area of this region while Big Cypress National Preserve comprises a quarter of the lower landmass.
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- Stretching from Lake Okeechobee over to the Gulf of Mexico, running south to Everglades City and encompassing Big Cypress National Preserve, Southwest Travel Region is nicknamed "Wonderland for Wildlife." The area has more than a million acres of nature sanctuaries dedicated to the preservation of fragile habitats.
Everglades National Park rests immediately below this region, with Everglades City offering an entrance point and visitor center for the National Park. Due east is the home of the state's largest panther population, Big Cypress Swamp. It also houses the trailhead for Florida's National Scenic Trail. Visitors will be enthralled at the beautiful winter mansions of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Local museums feature early settlements including the Calusa Indians and a religious sect from the 1890s. Southwest Travel Region is home to nearly a dozen state parks, preserves and historic sites. National lands include several wildlife refuges, and Big Cypress National Preserve.
Recreation - Year-round outdoor recreation abounds in this fabulously gorgeous East Coast destination. The Gulf's barrier islands remain a favorite wintertime playground for northern residents. Sport fishing and golfing are two favorites. A world-class bass tournament is held each year in Lake Okeechobee. Bird-watching is virtually unsurpassed. Migratory populations abound at the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors will find miles of pristine white beaches with miles of fabulous beach combing opportunities. Usual treasures include cockle and fighting conch. Tours of the Edison and Ford winter estates are always favorite pastimes. The Museum of the Everglades lies within the region offering the colorful and ongoing saga of Florida's largest national park. Several historic sites offer exhibits of pioneer and Indian settlements. Water sports are endless ranging from surf fishing to deep-sea excursions, and wind surfing to snorkeling. Camping is enjoyed at Cayo Costa State Park amid a pine and palmetto habitat while hiking trails abound at the wildlife sanctuaries, within the state parks, through the wildlife refuges and along the sandy shores of the Gulf of Mexico.
Climate - The climate in southern Florida is subtropical, with mild winters and hot, wet summers. It is not unusual for temperatures to exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit with averages reaching above 83 degrees Fahrenheit (above 29 Celsius). Winters are mild and dry with temperatures averaging above 64 degrees Fahrenheit (above 18 Celsius). Yearly precipitation for the southwest area is more than 56 inches. Lightweight clothing for hot temperatures is suggested. Long sleeves, pants, sturdy shoes and bug repellent are recommended if hiking.
The Southwest Travel Region covers the area west of Lake Okeechobee over to the Gulf of Mexico, running south to Everglades City and encompassing Big Cypress National Preserve.