If you live in South Florida, you know we mark the passage of time differently.
How do we know it’s spring?
We welcome these signs: Sea grape leaves turn brilliant orange and the yellow tabebuia trees bloom with spectacular golden displays.
We’re always sad about these: Hurricane season starts and stone crab season ends.
May 15 is your last chance to enjoy fresh stone crabs, that lobster-like delicacy harvested fresh from South Florida waters, until season re-opens Oct. 15.
You can get stone crabs in seafood markets and restaurants. Some people splurge for dinner at the iconic and historic Joe’s Stone Crab on Miami Beach.
Florida Rambler likes to make a day trip to Everglades City, a small fishing outpost where civilization ends and the Everglades begin, about 35 miles south of Naples.
Dozens of stone-crab fishermen are based on its Barron River, and so are several informal, unpretentious seafood restaurants.
Even here, where stone crabs arrive off the boat, they’re not cheap. You can expect to spent at least $25 for a stone crab dinner and as much $45 for jumbo size. (Price varies throughout the season based on supply.)
We like the well-regarded Triad Seafood, 401 School Drive West, or City Seafood, 702 Begonia St.,
Here’s more about visiting Everglades City and enjoying its stone crabs.
If you want to make an Everglades City trek and get some stone crabs before season ends, we recommend you head south and cross the state via the Tamiami Trail. The western stretch is a scenic road through the Everglades with several opportunities to stop and explore. Here’s a guide to the driving the Tamiami Trail. (If you drive one way on the Tamiami Trail, you can then taker a faster return via Alligator Alley. Your drive is about two hours each way.)
The tiny town of Everglades City is worth exploring a bit. Several historic buildings have been preserved, including the Everglades City Rod and Gun Club and the historic Smallwood Store on Chokoloskee. (One of our favorite, off-the-beaten-track stops.)
If you take the whole weekend, you also can make a stop at one of the two entrances to the Everglades National Park — Shark Valley or Everglades National Park Gulf Coast Visitor Center, a good place to take boat tours into the Ten Thousand Island NWR and get information about kayaking and hiking in the area.
– Bonnie Gross