Exploring Marco Island Beach with Kids

Our family loves visiting Marco Island, Florida. It is one of the best cities to visit while on a road trip in Florida. Since I was a kid, my family stayed in Marco Island beach for a week every summer. Now that we have kids of our own, we wanted to continue the tradition and stay in Marco Island at least once a year. Besides going into the ocean, there are many things to do when visiting Marco Island beach. Here are some of my favorite things to do when exploring Marco Island beach.

Marco Island Beach Tigertail

Getting to Marco Island

Marco Island Beach is located an hour from Fort Myers Airport and 2 hours from Miami International Airport or Fort Lauderdale Airport. I would recommend flying into the airport that is the cheapest, has the best schedule, and the one that has more things to do in the area. If you are interested in visiting more of the Gulf Coast of Florida, then Fort Myers is likely your best bet as it is the closest. However, if you are interested in adding a visit to Miami or even the Florida Keys, then the East Coast options would work better and since they are bigger airports, are likely cheaper.

Marco Island Beach: Things to Do

During your Marco Island beach vacation, there are numerous activities to enjoy. Be sure to pack your beach bag essentials for a fun day along the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Besides walking along the beach and enjoying the sand/water, Marco Island is one of the best beaches in Florida for shells. Shell hunting is a fun way to enjoy some time on the beach.

Since we are Florida residents and travel locally, we bring many “beach gear items” with us on our trips. While this may not be feasible for all families, one thing I do recommend is to head to a touristy beach shop and buy cheap boogie boards for the kids or sand toys. We did this when we visited the Outer Banks, and it was well worth it as we all got use out of them daily.

Marco Island beach kids water
Enjoying boogie boards on Marco Island Beach

Besides the beach, here are some ways you could explore Marco Island. Check out some of these activities:

Take a Day Trip

A day trip to another Gulf Coast beach or nearby city could be another activity to see more of Florida.

  • Naples is a quick 20 minute drive out of Marco Island and has plenty of restaurants, a small downtown area, and activities.
  • Fort Myers is about an hour away and is the “biggest city” in the area. Check out these visitor guides to explore some of the day trip options.
  • Sanibel Island is another option for a day trip. The drive is about 1h 30m and quite scenic as you get off the highway and cross the bridges to reach it.
  • Just a little further is Sarasota. From a marine laboratory and aquarium to sea cruises and beaches, Sarasota is a nice day trip option too. This one day itinerary in Sarasota shows you why this small city deserves a visit.
  • Right by Sarasota is Siesta Key. In addition to the beach and snorkeling, there are many other things to do in Siesta Key during a day trip.

Miromar Outlets

These outlets have it all! Whenever it rains in Marco Island (which is pretty common), we drive 45 minutes to Estero and go shopping. We often buy the kids their school shoes and clothes for the upcoming year here. Since the discounts are significant, we buy a lot! Besides the beach and food, we look forward to our annual visit to these outlets as well.

Outlet shopping

Go to the Marco Movies

While I normally do not think of the movies while on a beach vacation, this movie theater is small and a great activity if you’re spending a week and need something extra to do. Going to the movies is also a great rainy afternoon activity on your Marco Island beach trip.

Where to Stay in Marco Island Beach

The best part about a Marco Island beach vacation is that it is filled with as much fun or relaxation as you would like. The main street Collier Ave is broken up into a North and South and is lined with beachfront hotels. There are also apartment buildings across the street and beach side that are walkable to the beach as well as vacation rental options. If you’re new to Airbnb, click here to get up to $40 off your first booking. While each provides its pros and cons, here are some of the places I have stayed personally on Marco Island Beach.

Marriott Crystal Shores

This is our favorite place to stay and one of the best family friendly hotels in Marco Island! It has 3 different pools, a water slide, and plenty of family friendly activities on site. They have a giant chessboard, ping pong table, billiards, foosball table, ladder toss and corn hole available for families to enjoy. Since it’s a Marriott Vacation Club, they only have 2-3 bedroom villas available for rent – most with waterfront balcony views. Read why this is my pick for the best family resort in Marco Island.

Marco Beach Ocean Resort

This is another great option for families as well in Marco Island beach. We stayed here for a few years and enjoyed the balcony views, beachfront access, and pool. The rooms were a good size as was the pool. We enjoyed our stay here and the staff was very pleasant.

JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort

If you stay at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, you may not want to leave. While a stay here is a bit pricey for a hotel room, there is a lot to do that makes it worth its value. First off, most, if not all rooms have a private balcony. The water sports rental is right on the beach, and the beach chair and umbrella are included in your resort fee. There are also 10 different restaurants on site! There are even 3 pools, so you could enjoy a change of scenery even while enjoying the resort.

Kids will love that the JW has a game room with mini golf and an arcade. We spent a good amount of time here at night. As the sun was going down, there was a small fire show that the kids loved on the beach right before sunset. Marco Island sunsets are pretty special. It is something you should make sure to see each night you are there..

JW Marriott marco island beach
Photo Courtesy of: Marriott

Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort and Spa

Our stay at the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort and Spa was wonderful. I particularly liked that the boardwalk was short, so it was less walking to get to the beach. We stayed in a standard room and had no issues whatsoever. While we did not use the spa, my sister did and she loved it. My only concern with this hotel is that the pool is not as large as other hotels which means that it can get crowded.

Hilton Marco Island

To look at rates for other Marco Island hotels, click here.

Marco Island Beach: Where to Eat

Marco Island beach and the Naples area are filled with some delicious food options; however, I highly recommend buying groceries when you arrive from Publix or using a grocery delivery service. You will save a lot of money on certain meals if you make your own breakfast or even buy snacks and water. Our family always enjoys going out to dinner though, especially on vacation. Here are my favorite places to eat in Marco Island:


They only offer take out. These are among the best ribs you will ever eat! They offer a la carte items, but we always opt for family packs that include side items like baked beans and coleslaw. Highly recommend this place!

Joey’s Pizza

We always take out or get delivery from this place. Their pizza and pasta dishes are delicious. They are quick and deliver right to your room.

Doreen’s Cup of Joe

Our favorite breakfast place…this is a must do! Delicious egg dishes, pancakes and my favorite – crunchy french toast! They are open for lunch too, but I have never been. Please eat here!

CJ’s on the Bay

This was a nice place to eat out. If you can get an outdoor table by the water, it is worth the view. This restaurant has great fish and plenty of other options for non seafood eaters.

Stilts Bar and Grill

This is the restaurant on the Marriott Crystal Shores property. We often will order appetizers or have lunch brought to the pool deck from here. They have delicious options and happy hour specials starting at 2pm.

Pelican Bend

We love this restaurant. It is a small “mom and pop” place that is technically just outside of Marco Island. It is about a 10-15 minute drive, but it’s one we look forward to all year. Our “go to” meal is a sautéed roughy fish (white fish with garlic and butter and lightly fried) that comes with a wedge salad covered in a homemade garlic dressing!

Bottom Line: Why You Should Visit Marco Island Beach

Marco Island beach makes for a great family beach vacation. It is the perfect place to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sun and water. While it can get busy at times, Marco Island beach is a family favorite we continue to return to time and time again. If you are visiting for the first time to a Florida beach, don’t forget to pack hats, sun shirts, sunscreen for the unforgiving Florida sun. The heat and humidity can be tough on those who are not used to it. So, be prepared to re-apply often and don’t stay out in the sun for too long.

Marco Island Beach family
Marco Island Beach Vacation

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