Thirty years ago, Barbara and Kevin McLaughlin drove over the bridge to Gasparilla Island. As they explored the quiet streets and beautiful beaches of Boca Grande, a tiny village in the middle of this narrow barrier island, they fell instantly in love with the low-key, Old Florida way of life. That first visit turned into annual vacations at the historic Gasparilla Inn & Club and eventually, they bought a mid-century rambler on a quiet street. 


Along the way, Kevin found a perfect spot for a J. McLaughlin store on Park Avenue, in between artist Gail Cleveland’s Smart Studio, a gallery founded by her mother, artist Wini Smart, and Temptation Restaurant, a.k.a “The Temp,” which serves crab Rangoon dip, potato-chip crusted Key West hogfish, chargrilled veal chops and other specialties.


Barbara’s parents live in Naples but because of the quarantine, the family hadn’t seen each other in over  a year. But, as soon as everyone got their vaccinations, Barbara began planning a family reunion on Boca Grande. In between learning the fine art of pickleball, measuring the cousins, checking on her Meyer lemon trees and meeting friends and neighbors at Art After Dark at J. McLaughlin, Barbara somehow found time to catch up on her beachside reading. 


Barbara's Favorite Boca Grande Spots & Things To Do

Stopping by The Inn Bakery for coffee and donut holes—and cinnamon buns, if the baker is so inclined!


Playing pickleball with friends at the beach club



Shopping for ice cream sandwiches, authentic, Maine-style lobster rolls and fun gifts at Newlin’s Down East Shop, a delightful gourmet market owned by Kim Newlin. Barbara’s mask is from the J.McLaughlin Everglades Collection.



Boating to Useppa Island with an alfresco lunch and a game of chess at the Club.



Catching up over coffee and cookies at The Gasparilla Inn, recently updated in kicky Old Florida style by Palm Beach-based decorators Celerie Kemble and Mimi Maddock McMakin.


Experiencing Art After Dark, a fabulous outdoor event featuring the work of Boca Grande artist Patricia Christakos. Hosted by J.McLaughlin, the evening benefitted Care Charlotte County, a non-profit that helps survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and other violent crimes.


The McLaughlin's Golf Cart

Beachside Reading

The Boca Grande Coloring Book


Gail Cleveland's Coloring Book

Cousins playing chess on Useppa

Jim and Anita Johnson with Hugh and Madeline


Measuring cousins