Fort Myers, Florida is a historic city that is home to plenty of things to see and do. Whether you’re traveling here for business or pleasure, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. This community has been developed over the course of centuries and today it features plenty of historical attractions, museums, landmarks, and more.
Known as the City of Palms, Fort Myers has something to see and do for just about everyone. In Fort Myers, you’ll find many ways to enjoy the outdoors. From beaches and parks, to gardens and wildlife refuges — there’s something for everyone.
Here are 19 things to do in Fort Myers, FL that you and your crew will love.
**Please note that this article was written prior to Hurricane Ian. We have not been back to understand what is opened and what has changed, so please contact the Tourism Department for more up-to-date information.
FORT MYERS RIVER DISTRICT
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Downtown Fort Myers, better known as The River District, is one of the best places in the city for entertainment and nightlife. Right on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River, this district offers beautiful strolls under well-lit streets lined with Royal Palms.
There’s an Art Walk every first Friday and you’ll find some of the city’s best festivals here throughout the year, too. There are plenty of dining options in the downtown area and you can even learn a lot about the city by taking an excursion with True Tours.
EDISON AND FORD WINTER ESTATES
Rated among the top museums in the state, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates will take you back to a different era of America, offering acres of botanical gardens, a museum, gift shops, a laboratory, and even the homes of Ford and Edison, which are regularly open for tours. The laboratory showcases their work and research related to trying to reduce the country’s dependence on rubber, and has earned the site a designation as a National Historic Chemical Landmark.
FORT MYERS BEACH
Fort Myers Beach is the perfect place to enjoy white, sandy beaches and fun watersports. The islands of Captiva and Sanibel are located just off the coast of Fort Myers Beach.
Located on a little barrier island just 7 miles long, Fort Myers Beach features wide beaches and beautiful views. Go on a dolphin tour on a waverunner, or enjoy a chartered fishing trip. Try your hand at parasailing or kayaking while you’re here.
In addition to all the fun in the sun, you’ll find amazing dining, shopping, bars, and resorts here as well. This is where “the beach scene” is in the city, and it’s a great way to kick back and relax while enjoying all of that beautiful Florida sunshine.
SIX MILE CYPRESS SLOUGH PRESERVE
The Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is more than 11 miles long, despite its name! The preserve offers 3,500 acres of wetlands, and is located just minutes off I-75.
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is a great place to walk around and explore the wildlife of the state. You’ll also find a butterfly garden and a boardwalk that you can use to explore.
This area was designated as a preserve in 1970, and it has been attracting visitors ever since. Admission and parking are free.
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Rated as one of the prettiest islands in the state, Captiva Island off the coast of Fort Myers offers a totally unique vibe that’s focused on enjoying the beautiful outdoors. You’ll find top-quality beaches, pristine waters for scuba diving and swimming, and more. It’s even home to Bowman’s Beach, which is rated as one of Florida’s best dog beaches.
You can enjoy plenty of nature walks, historical tours, and other things to see here. Plus, stop by the Bubble Room for a totally unique dining experience in a year-round Christmas Wonderland, Florida style.
At JetBlue Park, you’ll find the Boston Red Sox during spring training, as the field is modeled after their own Fenway Park. There’s even a 37-foot Big Green Monster out in left field.
Spring training is one of the most popular attractions in Fort Myers, and there are several different parks and stadiums around the area where all kinds of teams practice. You can also catch the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium in the CenturyLink Sports Complex.
Once spring training ends, this stadium becomes a great place for some minor league baseball enjoyment. Events are held throughout the year here, too.
If you want to enjoy the beach with the wildlife instead of the tourists, Bunche Beach is the place to be. There are 718 acres of land that include salt flats, mangrove forests, and sandy beaches that overlook Sanibel Island and nearby Fort Myers Beach.
You can rent paddle boards and kayaks, and you’ll even find plenty of natural wildlife just handing around. Visit the inlet to hunt for shells and check out all the different birds that come to the area.
Whether you’re looking for a beach day or a fun adventure with nature, you’ll find plenty to enjoy at this local beach just minutes from downtown Fort Myers.
LEE COUNTY MANATEE PARK
Lee County’s Manatee Park is one of the best destinations in the state for those who want to see wild manatees in action. This warm water refuge is a natural environment for manatees, and the gentle giants aren’t captive, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spot them in their comfort zone. There is an opportunity to swim with the manatees, but visitors will need to avoid the areas that are marked “No Entry.”
If you want to stay dry, consider renting a canoe or kayak and see the manatees that way. You’ll also enjoy checking out the butterfly gardens and other gardens around the property. While the park itself is free, there’s a fee for parking of $2 per hour.
FLORIDA PANTHER NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
The Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge is a good way to see panthers in their natural habitat. These are a subspecies of the puma and they are dangerous predators.
This refuge is a federally conserved land, and there are wetlands and dry habitats, and there’s even a research facility that’s focused on helping increase Florida panther rates in the wild.
It’s also among the best places to see wild alligators in the state, and it’s open year-round with free admission.
KORESHAN STATE HISTORIC PARK
Cyrus Reed Teed settled in Florida and attempted to build a “New Jerusalem” based on his religion of Koreshanity. The entire colony believed that the universe was somehow existing inside a giant, hollow sphere. This park is home to 11 restored buildings and you can learn so much about life from a century ago in this unique settlement.
There are guided tours twice a day and there’s even a café open January through March. Boating, camping, hiking trails, fishing, picnicking, and paddling are also popular here. There’s beautiful scenery and plenty to see while enjoying the Florida sunshine.
FLEAMASTERS FLEA MARKET
For those who love a good bargain as much as they love hunting for it, Fleamasters Flea Market is worth a visit while you’re in Fort Myers. This market is home to 900 shops and 400,000 square feet of exploration, haggling, and finding deals. This destination has even been featured on the Travel Channel because it’s so popular.
The shops are constantly changing and evolving, and you can easily spend a whole day exploring this great place.
Hidden gems await anyone who’s willing to take an adventurous walk through the Fleamasters Flea Market. If you really want to see it all and make sure you don’t miss a thing, consider making this a two-day stop.
PORT SANIBEL MARINA
Port Sanibel Marina is a marina that features not only a place to dock your boat, but offers a place to take cruises and tours, and is home to the delicious Lighthouse Restaurant.
This part of the region is considered to be very “Old Florida,” offering palm trees and lush landscaping, along with an iconic lighthouse. There’s a natural boardwalk that wanders through mangrove trees and there are even areas for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and more.
You’ll be able to commune with nature and enjoy a slice of old Florida lifestyles. There are parks, restaurants, and even live music and other events throughout the year.
Located in the heart of Estero Island, Times Square is not the same beacon of a destination as the notorious one in New York City. However, it does offer a great place to unwind and enjoy the city after a long day of sightseeing or hanging at the beach.
Times Square is located in the downtown area of Fort Myers Beach. There are unique stores, an art gallery, top-rated restaurants, and even street performers that will keep you engaged.
On the weekends, you’ll find food trucks and live music as part of their Sunset Celebrations.
BURROUGHS HOME AND GARDENS
Once home to Nelson Burroughs, this property features impressive Georgian Revival-style designs and impressive 11-foot ceilings. The home is also filled with plenty of beautiful artifacts and antiques, and also the site of the first grotto fed from an artesian well to be built in the city.
A reflecting pool and beautiful flowers show off a beautiful secret garden.
This destination offers tours on an appointment-only basis and it can be a great way to see what the old money of Florida looked like.
FLORIDA NATIVE BUTTERFLY SOCIETY
If you head to Gardner’s Park, you’ll find the Florida Native Butterfly Society. This 3,600 sq. ft. conservatory was originally constructed to be part of the green initiatives of the city. Now, there’s an education facility that performs research and hosts programs to improve butterfly populations around the world.
The space is full of hand-raised butterflies and plenty of cocoons, and guests are asked to merely observe, not interact with, them.
BAILEY-MATTHEWS SHELL MUSEUM
Another of the best museums in the state, the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum is actually the only one of its kind in the entire United States. You’ll find this museum on Sanibel Island (which we’ll talk more about next).
The museum showcases all kinds of shells and the animals who create them, and you can learn all about the diversity of the shells and wildlife in the area. There’s even an aquarium gallery that features live conches and two touch pools, which allow visitors to get an up close, personal interaction.
Located just an hour away from the city of Fort Myers, you’ll find beautiful Sanibel Island. Home to beautiful beaches and fun attractions, visiting here is a must-do when visiting Fort Myers.
On the eastern tip of Sanibel Island, you can learn all about the history of the area. Visit the Sanibel Lighthouse, which was among the first built on the Gulf Coast. Although you can’t go inside, it’s beautiful to see.
Sanibel Island is home to relaxing beaches, great dining, fishing, boating, and more.
Read More: 45+ LEISURELY THINGS TO DO ON SANIBEL ISLAND (beyond shelling)
LAKES REGIONAL PARK
Lakes Regional Park is among one of Fort Myers’s most popular parks. It features 279 acres of gardens and scenic landscapes, along with lakes covering 158 acres. There are splash pads, grills, sand volleyball courts, walking paths, and more. There’s even a Children’s Garden and a playground for kids to enjoy.
One of the best attractions at this park is the Railroad Museum of Southwest Florida, which showcases the history of the railroad in the area. Visitors can take a miniature train ride through a 100-foot tunnel, trestle bridge, and mini villages that are reminiscent of 1950s Southwest Florida.
LOVERS KEY STATE PARK
Found on the southern tip of Estero Island on Fort Myers Beach is Lovers Key State Park.
This state park used to be only accessible by boat, and consists of four barrier islands that have always been regarded as a romantic getaway. There are sugary sand beaches, mangrove forests, and plenty of opportunities to spot dolphins and manatees. Plus, there are campsites available and two full miles of beachfront.
Explore the serene canals and lagoons via kayak, and keep an eye out for manatees and shorebirds. Relax on the beach, enjoy a picnic, go on a bike ride, or take a hike on one of the trails found here.
There’s also a store where you’ll find canoe, kayak, and bike rentals, along with snacks, drinks, and essentials.
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MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO FLORIDA
- YOUR FLORIDA VACATION
- CAPE CORAL: 21 Things To Do In Cape Coral For Fun In The Sun
- DESTIN RESORTS: 6 Fantastic Destin Florida Resorts Perfect For Fun In The Sun
- FLORIDA BEACHES: 17 Best Florida Beaches for Families To Relax and Unwind
- FLORIDA’S WEST COAST: 23+ Memorable Stops For A Perfect West Coast of Florida Trip
- FLORIDA KEYS: 3 State Parks & 1 Dreamy National Park You Can’t Miss
WHERE TO STAY IN FORT MYERS
Ft Myers Beach Option. Diamond Head Beach Resort is right on the beach, with lots of family-friendly amenities like a beachfront pool. Visit Chloës restaurant for some fresh seafood or the poolside service at Cabañas Beach Bar & Grille.
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