You can cross the beach off your list of things to see in Collier County, but don’t let the summer rains get the best of your excitement. Whether you’re an area native or a visitor to these parts, it doesn’t hurt to learn some of the local history.
The Collier County Museums are open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with locations in Naples, Everglades City, Immokalee and Marco Island. The museums showcase the work of local artists, as well as information and artifacts that date back to the early settlers and the Seminole and Calusa tribes that lived here. The Naples Depot museum, included in the family of Collier museums, can be found in the original railway station that saw the first railroads roll into Naples in the 1920s.
For something more contemporary, try the Revs Institute, a museum and research facility celebrating automotive history. Open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., it offers a broad collection of rare cars and scholarly documents marking the milestones of the auto industry.
Address: Collier Museum at Government Center: 3331 Tamiami Trail E., Naples
Museum of the Everglades: 105 Broadway Ave. W., Everglades City
Immokalee Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch: 1215 Roberts Ave. W., Immokalee
Naples Depot Museum: 1051 5th Ave. S., Naples
Marco Island Historical Museum: 180 S Heathwood Drive, Marco Island
Revs Institute: 2500 S. Horseshoe Drive, Naples
Price: Collier County Museums: Free; Revs Institute: $17.
Tin City is a quaint Collier County relic with a historic backbone. In the early 1900s, this stretch of tin-roofed buildings served as Naples’ economic hub, due to its prime location along the Gordon River. The town’s fishing industry blossomed here, and it became the main port for clam shelling, oyster shucking and boat maintenance. It hasn’t lost its maritime feel, as the original tin-roofed buildings are now an arcade hall of unique beachy souvenir and trinket shops along with seafood restaurants. The Mon“Key” Bread Factory is a hidden gem here. In an atmosphere that resembles a tropical beach bungalow, the little family-owned dessert shop bakes their renowned Mon“Key” Buntz, a combination cinnamon roll and sticky bun, in a variety of flavors.
Address: 1200 5th Ave. S., Naples
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday.
When you’ve had your fill of history (or Mon“Key” Buntz), head over to the Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt. The Galleria is an outdoor mall, but don’t fret—overhangs shield the sidewalks from the sun and the rain. Find retailers like Zazou and True Fashionistas or stop into Vino’s Picasso, a paint studio run by local artists that allows you to bring in your own wine or beer during an instructed paint party. Even if you’re artistically incompetent, you will still walk out with a masterpiece. The instructors will help you navigate the canvas, all while you enjoy a drink that you brought from home or purchased from their wine bar. Vino’s Picasso provides all the materials and even has an art gallery that features local artists. Make sure you RSVP—that’s their only requirement.
Address: The Galleria, 2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples
Vino’s Picasso, 2367 Vanderbilt Beach Road #805, Naples
Price: Fees at Vino’s Picasso start at $36 per person for a two-hour painting session.
Hours: Vino’s Picasso: 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m, Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday. Closed Tuesday.
You might have to work your brain a little on rainy days here. But, trust us, it’s worth it.
Lee County is home to several escape rooms, where you and a group of friends or family solve puzzles and find clues to break out of a locked room. You’re able to choose from a variety of different themes, such as a prison cell, abandoned house, a throne room, a bank and more. You only have an hour, but with a strong team and good collaboration, you might just solve the case. You can go to Escape Tactics and Escape Room Adventures in Fort Myers, or Brainstorm Escape Room in Bonita Springs.
Address: Escape Tactics: 1528 Carson St., Fort Myers
Hours: 3:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday; 3 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Saturday. Closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Price: $22 per person; prices vary for private rooms.
Address: Escape Room Adventures: 12995 S. Cleveland Ave. #217, Fort Myers
Hours: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Sunday.
Price: $29.95 per person.
Address: Brainstorm Escape Room: 24850 Old 41 Road #11, Bonita Springs
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 12:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sunday.
Price: $27.70 per person.
The cousin of the escape rooms, Just One of Those Dayz Rage Room, is much less calm and stealthy. This is your chance to unleash your wild side (and any anger you might be harboring). With a protective body suit donned, you’ll be given your choice of a baseball bat, rubber mallet, golf club or an ax handle and you can bust up the joint.
Address: 39 Mildred Drive, Fort Myers
Hours: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday; 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. ,Thursday; 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., Friday; 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Price: $15-$125, depending on package and times.
If the idea of your little ones smashing things with baseball bats freaks you out, the IMAG History and Science Center offers several exhibits that include hands-on interaction with living sea life, space science exploration and a Hall of History, which educates you on the long-gone primitive magic of Southwest Florida.
Address: 2000 Cranford Ave., Fort Myers
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; 12 to 5 p.m., Sunday. Closed Monday.
Price: $10 for children, $14 for adults.
And, if you’d ultimately like to do some shopping, Coconut Point is a massive Mediterranean-style outdoor mall (with overhangs, of course) in Estero with an assortment of both discount and upscale restaurants, retail and service shops. A movie theater and a SuperTarget make it a one-stop shop for everything you might need.
Address: 23106 Fashion Drive, Estero
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 12 to 6 p.m., Sunday.
If it continues to rain into the night, the Murder Mystery Dinner Train is an exciting alternative to a standard movie theater. You board the train at Colonial Station in Fort Myers and travel the Southwest Florida rail line for three and half hours. Your ticket cost covers a five-course meal that you can enjoy as a live murder mystery show is performed for you in the dining car. Passengers are provided a clue sheet and encouraged to try and solve the mystery themselves. Tap into your inner Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys to see if you can solve the case.
Address: 2805 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers
Hours: Train departs 6:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 5:30 p.m., Sunday.
Price: $79.95 per person; $84.95 per person on Saturday.