Best Escape - 2010
Just a two-hour drive from South Florida, Everglades City would be a one-horse town if it had a horse. But the preferred vehicle of locomotion here requires a paddle, not spurs. This "city" — made up of a couple of small hotels, a few restaurants, and a hell of a lot of water — doesn't resemble a city in anything but name. It's essentially a launching-off point from the world as we know it: Step off dry land and float along on aquatic highways winding among the 10,000 islands the place is famous for — hummocks of oyster shell, coral, and mangrove with names like Rabbit Key, Osprey Nest, and Sandfly Pass. Adventurous kayakers can download a GPS map and get semi-lost for days; the less intrepid might settle for a leisurely half- or full-day guided paddle courtesy of Everglades Adventures (with a stop for lunch), which also leads moonlight, fishing, and naturalist tours. But even committed landlubbers feel pleasantly estranged here: sipping a gin and tonic over the antique pool table at the Rod and Gun Club, diving into a bowl of stone crab claws and plates of grouper fingers at City Seafood, or pondering what's in the spice mix that fires up Camellia Street Grill's deep-fried corn on the cob. Whatever's got you tied up in knots these days, you'll find easy instructions here for slipping free of your bondage.