If art is your passion, there’s lots to see and it’s all within easy walking distance. The tiny island has 6 art galleries: Bert’s Pine Bay Gallery, Frills (featuring bead and other craft jewelry), Island Visions (colorful Floridian paintings and prints), Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens (wide array of eccentric pieces, from paintings to painted furniture), Trader’s Hitching Post (Native American art and jewelry) and WildChild Art Gallery (serious to whimsical, beach scenes to wildlife and sea life motifs).
Although small, Matlacha has a surprising number of excellent choices for those who like to combine fine art with fine dining.
If you are looking for a unique dining experience, Sandy Hook Fish and Rib House offers one of the best views in Matlacha. From their casual, nautical-themed dining room, you can enjoy dolphins playing, fish jumping and birds of a feather sticking together while feasting on locally-caught seafood, lobster shipped in daily from the Florida Keys, babyback ribs and succulent Prime Rib.
The view is equally breathtaking from Bert’s Bar and Grill on the eastern side of the Matlacha Pass Bridge. At Bert’s, guests can choose between canopy-shaded outdoor seating alongside the docks that extend into a bay that spills into Matlacha Pass, or the air-conditioned indoor dining room. While there are lots of shrimp, oysters and other seafood selections on the menu, the fare at Bert’s gravitates toward burgers and deli items, including Reubens and Philly Steaks. Bert’s is a Matlacha staple, dating back to the 1930s, when it was built as a “sweet shoppe,” with the hotel being added in 1941. Bert’s Bar has gone through several transformations, from the original “Mother’s” to Tri Dilly Inn in the ’70s and finally to Bert’s Bar.
For art lovers who prefer Italian, Matlacha offers Miceli’s. The Miceli family originated in Palermo, Sicily. The family immigrated to the United States in the early 70′s and opened a successful bakery in Connecticut. They shifted to the restaurant business after nearly 15 years, first in East Hartford, Connecticut, and 12 successful years later in West Virginia, where their children took control of the business. Six years ago, they brought Miceli’s to Matlacha, where it’s been a love affair ever since.
Gulf Coast Kayaks operates rentals and tours from a phone booth-sized shack on the water west of the bridge. A new full-service outfitter, Backwater Outfitters of Cape Coral, has opened up a shop on the main drag.
Viking Marina rents boats and several bait and tackle shops can outfit both the amateur or more serious fisherman or woman with everything they need for a fun-filled day on the water