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10 Best Things to Do in Fort Myers Florida | A First Timer’s Guide

Some of the best things to do in Florida are in Fort Myers, Florida. When most people think of Florida, they likely envision beautiful white sandy beaches, palm trees swaying in the breeze, and perfectly manicured golf courses. Of course, you also can’t forget about the spring breakers and retirees.

10 Best Things to Do in Fort Myers Florida | A First Timer’s Guide

While much of them ring true for the entire state, if you’re heading to Fort Myers, you’ll also be able to accent these clichés with collecting sand dollars, fantastic birdwatching, and breathtaking sunsets. Isn’t about time you made those daydreams come true?

Fort Myers Beach is a popular destination for visitors eager to engage in watersports such as kayaking and parasailing—or for anyone looking to just relax on a soft sand beach. | Fort Myers Florida | Best Things to Do and See

Do You Need a Car in Fort Myers?

The Fort Myers area is fairly vast so plan on bringing your car or renting one when arriving at the airport. We’ve recently been using Discover Cars to find amazing deals on rental cars.

Having a vehicle will make the trip much more convenient and enjoyable for you. You’ll also be able to see and do more things and trust us, there are tons of things to see and do around Fort Myers.

Where to Stay

These are the best places to stay in and around Fort Myers sorted by price.

Budget: Dolphin Inn (near the beach) or Best Western Inn and Suites (outdoor pool and gym)
Nearly Budget: Crowne Plaza Hotel (tropical outdoor heated pool)
Mid-Range: Gulfview Manor Resort (heated outdoor pool) or Harbour House at the Inn (waterfront)
Luxury: GullWing Beach Resort (condominium-style property beachfront)
Specialty: Angler’s Inn (fishing, kayaking, or canoeing)

What to Do | Excursions & Day Trips

Below are the most popular excursions and day trips.

  1. Sunset Sail
  2. Dolphin Tiki Cruise around Fort Myers Beach
  3. Fort Myers Beach Haunted Pub Crawl
  4. Fishing Charters – Fort Myers Beach / Estero Bay
  5. Dolphin Eco Scenic Cruise
  6. Guided Kayak Tour-Mangrove Estuary
  7. 300 Foot Parasailing Adventure in Fort Myers
  8. Private Tour – Everglades Adventure Day Trip from Fort Myers/Naples Area

10 Best Things to Do in Fort Myers

If you’re looking for a quiet, classy vacation spot, then Fort Myers is for you. In Fort Myers, the craziness that you’d come across in Fort Lauderdale and Miami is replaced by a classy “old Florida” feeling and with family-friendly beaches.

The natural areas and state parks are second to none. There are dozens of nature and wildlife preserves sprinkled throughout the area. Most of the coastline is preserved land. Therefore, many beachgoers flock to Fort Myers Beach or one of the outlying islands.

The charming downtown and numerous attractions make it the perfect vacation destination. Below are the 10 best things to do in Fort Myers, Florida.

1. Relax on the Beach

U.S. News Travel Recognizes Sanibel Island’s Bowman’s Beach in the Top 10 Best Beaches in the world. It’s also a world-class birding and shelling destination.

The laidback beaches of Fort Myers are some of the most stunning in the world. When you include nearby Sanibel Island, there are over 50 miles of beaches and a wide array of water sports and activities—there’s something for everyone. The best place to start your trip is at Bowman’s Beach on Sanibel Island.

2. Enjoy a Sunset on the Gulf

The sunsets right over the water right in front of you, and no matter where you are you’re pretty much guaranteed to see one of the most stunning sunsets on the planet.

Trust us, if you haven’t seen the big orange ball sink into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, then you’re missing out. The dramatic colors in the sky bouncing off the clouds and water will make you feel like you’re having some sort of spiritual experience, guaranteed.

There is an endless number of beaches that face west, so grab a bottle of wine and a blanket and head out. One of our favorites is Turner Beach on Captiva Island. Afterward, head over to Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille where you’ll dine on fresh seafood in a fun atmosphere!

3. Get Wild With Nature

There are very few places in the US where nature and a large metropolitan area cohabitate so harmoniously. From just about anywhere along the coast you’ll have the opportunity to admire birds flocking across the sea and dolphins jumping in the water.

If you’d like to increase the odds a bit, book a wildlife tour with a reputable operator. We suggest Sunset and Dolphin Cruise around Fort Myers Beach or a Guided Kayak Tour-Mangrove Estuary—it’s guaranteed to supply you with the wildlife adventure of a lifetime. Get ready to spot manatees, bottle-nosed dolphins, exotic birds, and go shelling.

The J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is home to 51 types of reptiles and amphibians, 32 mammal species, more than 230 species of birds.

Don’t forget to visit the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge where you can go on a “safari.” The most common sightings include shorebirds and waterbirds, alligators, raccoons, marsh rabbits, and even the occasional bobcat. The refuge is closed on Fridays so plan accordingly.

4. Get Your Shell On

As you tour the soft sandy beaches you’ll most likely feel like you’re walking on eggshells. Don’t be nervous. That crunching sound is seashells. Shell-lovers pilgrimage to Sanibel Island’s Gulf Coast because it’s considered the best shelling spot in North America.

Shelling has become so popular here that the “Sanibel Stoop” is the latest dance move. OK, maybe not. However, it is the bent-at-the-waist stance that most shellers use to retrieve a seashell. Want to find the best shells? Then you better learn from a professional on a Shelling Tour.

People come from all over the world to go shelling on Sanibel Island. Thanks to the water currents, the availability of shells are constantly updating. Photo courtesy of sanibel-captiva.org,

If you become obsessed with the “Sanibel Stoop,” then you may be interested in visiting the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum where you can learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the shells you’ve been collecting on the beach. Please keep in mind that it’s illegal to take live shells so be careful.

5. Shut Up and Fish

The best time to go offshore fishing down here is from March through June when the tarpon is migrating. Tarpon may be sighted from the shoreline near Boca Grande Pass, but the odds of catching one of them from the sand is pretty slim.

Instead, you may want to head out with Beeline Fishing Charters where you’ll have the chance for anything from sharks to snappers.

Tarpon fishing put Pine Island and Boca Grande on the map. Matlach and Fort Myers, as well as the islands of Captiva and Sanibel, all, serve as amazing base camps for tarpon anglers.

Inshore fishing is pretty much great all year-round. Popular species include redfish, catch snook, spotted seatrout, jack crevalle, sheepshead, mangrove snapper, and various other species. The best locations for inshore fishing are usually around mangrove-lined shorelines, open flats, bridges, beaches, docks, piers, and the many passes and inlets leading to the Gulf of Mexico.

6. Get Up Close and Personal with Nature

The west coast may have the Pacific coast trail but down here in Florida, they have the Great Calusa Blueway. This paddling trail is about 190-miles long. The marked route guides kayaks and canoes from Bonita Springs up to the Caloosahatchee River. Along the way, you’ll pass all kinds of flora and fauna, including manatees. 

The Estero River is about 6.5-miles long and flows from east to west, emptying into Estero Bay, an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico.

The highlight of your trip will probably be visiting the Mound Key Archaeological State Park. This island is only accessible by kayak or private boat. This site was once the capital city of the Calusa Indian tribe, the first Jesuit mission in the New World, the site of a Spanish Fort, and the first Jesuit mission in the New World.

What? You didn’t bring a kayak with you on the plane? No problem. Connect with Estero River Outfitter to rent a SUP, kayak, or canoe. There are dozens of great day trip routes. Head over to the Great Calusa Blueway website to download free maps.

7. Tour Historic Homes

Did you know that the Edison & Ford Winter Estates are among the 10 most visited historic homes in the US? Highlights of the tour include demonstrations using the equipment in Edison’s research lab, behind-the-scenes views of the estate buildings, and horticultural tours of the gardens.

Two of the most creative innovators in American history—Henry Ford and Thomas Edison—spent their winters in Fort Myers. They built two magnificent homes on a premier piece of real estate along the Caloosahatchee River.

The Edison and Ford Winter Estates contain a historical museum and a 21-acre botanical garden on the adjacent sites of the winter homes. Lovers of history will enjoy the VIP Private Historic and Nature Tour of Fort Myers.

8. Start and Finish Your Day in Style

Start your day at a coffee roastery where you’ll be treated to beans that were properly roasted. Our top choices are The Grind and Bennet’s Fresh Roast. Did I mention that Bennet’s also sells hand-cut from-scratch donuts? Or, celebrate your adventurous day at a micro-brewery over a pint. We recommend “No.3 Craft Brews & Beer Bar.”

Each Bennett’s Donut takes about two hours to make. They’re mixed from scratch with their own family’s recipe, then hand-cut and cooked with tons of love.

9. Escape to the Islands

If the Fort Myers area seems a bit too busy, try heading out to the islands to escape it all. On Cabbage Key, Gasparilla, or North Captiva you’ll probably end up seeing more golf carts than cars. It’s all about enjoying life on these islands.

Paradise awaits you at Cayo Costa State Park, with nine miles of untouched beaches accessible only by boat. | Fort Myers Florida | Best Things to Do and See

Adventurous travelers will head to Cayo Costa and the Cayo Costa State Park where you can rent one of the many small rustic wooden cabins. The cozy cabins are only steps from one of the most spectacular beaches in the US and are surrounded by native vegetation. Hopefully, you’re not afraid of snakes.

10. The Umpire Strikes Back

Consider yourself very lucky if you make it to Fort Myers during the springtime. The Minnesota Twins play in Hammond Stadium at Lee County Sports Complex and the Boston Red Sox play at JetBlue Park, just a few miles away.

Terry Park Ballfield is listed as a National Historic Site. The park is named after the family who donated the land in the 1920s. | Fort Myers Florida | Best Things to Do and See

Baseball fans will enjoy a visit to Terry Park Ball Field. Hall of Famers Jimmy Foxx, Bob Feller, Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Roberto Clemente are just a few of the great players that have graced the Terry Park Field. Make sure to check their events calendar to see who’s in the lineup.

Have you visited the Fort Myers region? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.

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