Florida Getaways of the Day
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Everglades City: Rod and Gun Club( Sun-Sentinel file photo )
This historic landmark in remote Everglades City dates back to the late 1800s, even before railroad magnate and banker Barron Collier purchased almost all of southwest Florida in the 1920s. He operated the Rod and Gun Club as a private club, hosting dignitaries and several U.S. presidents for hunting, fishing and boating during the winter season. The club is open to the public today. The accommodations are modest, but the seafood dining on the porch is the real reason for your visit.
Everglades City is rich in history - much of it quite notorious - and it is the Gateway to the Ten Thousand Islands area of Everglades National Park. Just down the road from the Rod and Gun Club, you can launch your kayak or canoe at the Everglades National Park ranger station for a day trip down the Barron River. Be sure to do it on an outgoing tide, as the currents are swift and difficult to navigate. Spend a few hours on a remote island beach where the river meets the gulf, then catch a ride on the incoming tide. Or just paddle amongst the islands of the backcountry, but keep your bearings at all times and bring a map. It's very, very easy to get lost among these islands.
If you're walking or biking, keep going past the ranger station to Chokoluskee Island, where you can visit the Smallwood Store (built in 1917), now a museum but once the center of trade for the islands.
-- Bob Rountree