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Insider's Guide: Summer in Southwest Florida

The locals have the place to ourselves ... now what do we do?

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It’s summertime. We locals and semi-locals are feeling deliciously laid-back and ready for some leisure pursuits. But being insiders, we’ve been there and done that, right? Umm, perhaps not. Have you, perchance ... 

Sailed by the Light of the Moon?

The luxury sailing sloop Serenidad sails out of Rose Marina on Marco Island, slicing through the peaceful pink sunset-tinged waters with Capt. Richard at the helm. If you like your sailing yacht appointed with spit-polished wood and shining chrome—especially if you plan to propose by the light of a full moon—this sexy Beneteau 41 is a best bet. According to my almanac, this summer’s full moon dates are June 28, July 27, Aug. 26 and Sept. 24. svserenidad.com, 239-272-0939

Debunked the Big Bad Wolf Theory ?

Speaking of full moons, if you’ve never compared the howl of a dog with that of a wolf, the Shy Wolf Sanctuary is your go-to research station. If one starts, the others follow. It’s sure to raise the hair on the back of your neck. This sanctuary for abused and abandoned exotic animals (especially wolves and wolf-dogs) is not a tourist attraction but is open to visitors by appointment. There’s no admission for your hourlong tour, but trust me—you’ll fall in love with these sweet creatures that just want to be loved, and you’ll feel inspired to make a donation to this worthy 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. It’s popular, so book well in advance. shywolfsanctuary.org, (855) 749-9653

Slain a Dragon with a Purple Golf Ball?

You know you want to. We never really outgrow the guilty pleasure of whacking a neon-hued golf ball under the watchful eyes of fiberglass baboons and fearsome dragons, now do we? You’ve got your Golf Safari on the quirky Gulf side of Bonita Beach Road (golfsafariminigolf.com, 239-947-1377), and your Jungle Golf on San Carlos Boulevard near Fort Myers Beach (junglegolfminigolf.com, 239-466-9797). But, my personal fave is the after-dark “knight play” among the spooky mists, swinging rope bridge and empty—or ARE they?—suits of armor at Castle Golf near Lakes Park in Fort Myers (castle-golf.com, 239-489-1999).

Related: Quiz: How Local Are You?

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