As George Buckley was a connoisseur of the under $5 bottle of wine (circa 1980), I collect cheap places to stay. It's not as easy as it sounds, because the lodging can't be totally dirt bag or atmospherically depressing. For example, the $35/night motel rooms on Georgia's Route 17 are out. Here's where the under-$100 connoisseur recently stayed on vacation in the Florida Everglades' Ten Thousand Islands:
1. Not the Ivey House. Although they're great folks and favorites of Fodor's and Trip Advisor, the $99 room with shared bath is coffin-sized.
3. Yes, really, the Everglades City Motel. Like the other outdoor lovers who booked the place solid, we had heard by word of mouth about the large, totally rehabbed $99 rooms equipped with refrigerators and microwaves, and a fleet of complementary bikes perfect for riding around town and out to Chokoloskee. There was even a very unmotel-like outdoor grill for the family cookout.
This thumbnail of the local grocery store illustrates the food situation in Everglades City. The ambiance is Old Florida backwater but the larder is chips 'n' beer. We ate better and cheaper by bringing in our own groceries.
For in the rough dining on the water, go here. City Seafood fries beautifully, prices reasonably and uses fresh everything. A basket of farm-raised Georgia gator and local frogs legs (the Miccosukee Indians have the only commercial frogging licenses) cost under $10. Not to worry, they have fish, burgers and soft shell crabs, too.
What to do in the Glades? Start here.