Located on Estero Island in Lee County, Fort Myers Beach is one of the biggest drawcards in Southwest Florida. With beautiful beaches, lively local culture, some exciting parks, and preserves, you’ll never be left wanting along this lovely stretch of sand.
After crossing the Matanzas Bridge from Fort Myers, you’ll arrive at the barrier island. In each direction, you’ll have access to swimming, boating, fishing, and a myriad of dining options. With great year-round weather, Fort Myers Beach is always a happy and happening place to be. Its compact layout puts many fun attractions within walking distance.
Ready to plan the perfect Fort Myers Beach adventure? Get a head start with this complete Fort Myers Beach guide, including what to see and do and where to eat, drink, and stay.
What to see & do
Fort Myers Beach
If there’s one attraction that brings travelers to the Fort Myers area, it’s Fort Myers Beach. On one of the finest beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast, visitors will get to lounge on seven miles of sugar-sand beaches that roll softly towards the Gulf of Mexico.
The public beach, located on Estero Island 16 miles south of downtown Fort Myers, will call your name daily. Fort Myers Beach isn’t just a popular spot to sunbathe and enjoy a leisurely swim; it’s also known for its wide range of activities. After basking in enough sun to last through winter, join locals in kayaking along the Gulf Coast or soaring into the heavens while parasailing.
The water beyond the beach is a common place to spot dolphins. To increase your chances of seeing these majestic sea mammals book yourself onto one of the local eco-tours departing from the nearby marina.
If you’re a keen angler, head along to Fort Myers Beach Pier. Running 560 feet out to sea, the popular fishing pier is a perfect spot, not only to catch cobia and bluefish, but also to enjoy the beautiful nightly sunset. Afterward, enjoy a delicious seafood dinner and a drink at the PierSide Grill and Famous Blowfish Bar on Estero Blvd.
A block back from the fishing pier and Fort Myers Beach is the happening Times Square. Though not as dazzling as the New York iteration it’s named after, Times Square remains the heart of the local community and one of the top attractions in Fort Myers. Estero Island’s main pedestrianized district is packed with shopping, dining, and bars.
Since the 1980s, Times Square has been the go-to place in the beach community for locals to congregate and for travelers to enjoy a taste of the local culture. Day or night, there’s always something happening here.
Spot street performers painting Times Square with lively tunes and wander between surf shacks and local boutiques. End the evening dining on American pub grub and sipping beers at Pete’s Time Out on Estero Blvd.
The best time to come to Times Square is on Friday and Saturday night. Not only are the local bars pumping with live music, but the square comes alive for the family-friendly Sunset Celebration.
Lynn Hall Memorial Park
Between Times Square and Fort Myers Beach lies the beautiful Lynn Hall Memorial Park. The grassy waterfront space is the perfect alternative to lazing on the soft sands along the Gulf. At the park, you can finish your swim by relaxing on the grass and under the shady trees.
Lynn Hall Beach Park offers an array of beach amenities, including restrooms, showers, and local parking. For those who’ve brought along lunch, you’ll also have access to a picnic area and BBQ facilities.
A staple of the park is Ever Surf and Sail, where you can learn how to kitesurf. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, the instructors here will outfit you with everything you need for an epic kitesurfing adventure.
Fort Myers Beach Pier is officially a part of the beachfront park. Since the 1930s, the historic pier has been one of the best places to fish in Fort Myers Beach. Anglers with saltwater fishing licenses can cast out their reels here for free.
Bowditch Point Regional Park
On your Fort Myers Beach adventure, be sure to save time to explore Bowditch Point Regional Park. The park covers a gorgeous 17-acre section on Estero Island’s north end. Ten of the park’s acres form a natural preserve. Within it, you’ll discover casual walking paths and hiking trails that showcase the preserve’s natural beauty.
The trails at Bowditch Point Regional Park meander through coastal forests where migratory birds arrive in large numbers. From a wide-open viewpoint, hikers will be able to take in views of Estero Bay, Punta Rosa, and Sanibel Island.
Outside of the preserve lie a large public park that balances fun and nature. It’s home to a bathhouse and a colorful butterfly garden, along with a large picnic area and BBQs. Those with a saltwater license can also fish from the beach at Bowditch Point Park.
Matanzas Pass Preserve
After crossing the Matanzas Pass Bridge, continue south along the coastal road to reach the 60-mile Matanzas Pass Preserve. The wildlife sanctuary covers part of Estero Island, the bay, and continues to protect the many islands that dot the inlet.
Much of the preserve’s amenities, including the hiking trails, are restricted to Estero Island, with the marshland and mangroves available for a visit on a kayak or boat tour. The highlight of Matanzas Pass Preserve is the one-mile nature trail that brings you through the last oak hammock habitats on the island.
The grove was created in the 1970s and became open to the public 15 years later. After lacing up your hiking boots, venture along the trail to discover one of the rarest habitats in Florida. You’ll uncover an important population of native birds that makes it a popular section along the Great Florida Birding Trail.
Matanzas Pass Preserve also has a paddle craft launch that allows you to explore the rest of the park or embark on the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail.
Located on the other side of San Carlos Bay, Sanibel Island is part one of a fantastic day trip from Fort Myers Beach. Sanibel Island is one of the best shelling destinations in the United States, with Bowman’s Beach being a particular favorite. Without a hotel in sight, Bowman’s is a natural haven with a brilliant array of shells that shimmer under the Florida sun.
Another one of the must-visit attractions on Sanibel Island is the Sanibel Lighthouse. The historic structure was one of the original lighthouses built along the Gulf Coast. It was constructed shortly after the Civil War and has a rather unique design with its iron frame.
Although you can’t climb the 127 steps to the top, the grounds around the lighthouse are fun to explore along with the surrounding Lighthouse Beach Park.
Step two on your day trip from Fort Myers Beach is Captiva Island. After visiting the lighthouse and exploring Sanibel’s Historic District, cross the bridge over Blind Pass to arrive at Captiva Island.
The island takes the tranquility of Sanibel to another level. With even fewer developments, it’s easy to find yourself enveloped in stunning nature. The island is home to some of the best beaches around Fort Myers, including Turner and Captiva beaches. Break out the snorkel gear and get exploring along the exquisite coastline.
To venture even further, embark on a boat tour to spot frolicking dolphins and manatees or visit Cabbage Key, a remote paradise with a restaurant only accessible via boat. If you’re still hungry, try the amazing burgers at The Muck Duck before shelling on the beach at sunset.
Where to eat & drink
After a day swimming in the Gulf of Mexico or exploring the local parks and preserves, you will have worked up quite the appetite. Thankfully, Fort Myers Beach serves up delicious eats while ensuring your dining experience comes with a magnificent view.
On Estero Blvd., you’ll find several of Fort Myers Beach’s most popular restaurants. Start your day off with espresso and Belgian waffles at the Tuckaway Cafe. It’s a fantastic primer for a day of relaxing on the sandy beaches.
Looking for some evening dining options? One of the most memorable in Fort Myers Beach is the Salty Crab Bar & Grill. Settle in for a beachfront dinner and drink specials, with the sand between your toes.
Just down the road from the Salty Crab Bar & Grill is The Whale. The popular restaurant & bar offers live music, a great happy hour, and fresh seafood all within a colorful beachfront building.
Or to enjoy a more upscale meal, walk a little further east on Estero Blvd to Coste Island Cuisine. The waterfront restaurant is famed for having some of the freshest seafood and most innovative cocktails in Fort Myers Beach along with an extensive wine list.
For classic American pub food and live music, head to Nervous Nellie’s. Facing the Matanzas Pass Bridge, you’ll have superb views of Matanzas Harbor, with boats coming and going.
On the other side of the bridge is Matanzas on the Bay. Indulge in seafood and mouthwatering pizza with views of Estero Bay from the patio.
A brief walk away is the Smokin Oyster Brewery. Come here for nightly live music, ice-cold beer on tap, and fantastic burgers.
Continue walking towards Fort Myers Beach to find the Sunset Beach Tropical Grill and the Playmore Tiki Bar and the PierSide Grill and Famous Blowfish Bar.
Both waterfront restaurants are popular local institutions and great places to watch the sunset over dinner and tropical drinks. A third sunset dining & drinking option is Shucker’s at the Gulfshore and The Cottage Bar.
For dinner options on the mainland and around Fishermans Wharf consider the unforgettable crab cakes at Dixie Fish Co., island mojitos and seafood paella at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, or fish tacos at Parrot Key Caribbean Grill.
Where to stay
A block back from the beach, Hideaway Village is a great way to enjoy a beach vacation on a budget. Each room comes with a fridge, microwave, and coffee facilities, plus a spacious seating area. There’s an on-site heated pool, bike rentals, and BBQ grills.
In under sixty seconds, you can walk from Diamond Head Resort to the white sands of Fort Myers Beach. The all-suite accommodation features a full kitchenette, private balcony, and gorgeous sea views. Take part in on-site activities, dine at the restaurant, or head to the fishing pier.
Looking over the Gulf of Mexico, the Best Western Plus Beach Resort provides a luxurious experience in the heart of Fort Myers Beach. Each room comes with modern decor and full kitchenettes. Downstairs, you’ll find an outdoor swimming pool and BBQ facilities, and you’ll be steps from the beach.