Want to feel like you’re taking a trip down to Old Florida? Head over to Southwest Florida and visit Lee County’s beautiful Matlacha, where you’ll find this vacationer’s dream secret gem!
Matlacha Island is a quaint fishing village full of life and charm. The town is lined with bright-colored cottages, several nice art galleries, animated storefronts, and vibrantly decorated streets. Only a half-hour away from the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metropolitan area, this small island is home to some of the best fishing in the state, delicious food, and the most welcoming people.
Ready for a peaceful getaway in paradise? Plan your dream trip to Matlacha, FL, with our guide to the best places to eat, drink, and stay!
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Things to do in Matlacha, FL
Leoma Lovegrove Gallery And Garden
Love checking out local art? Head on over to the Leoma Lovegrove Gallery And Garden. Found on Pine Island Rd, this popular Matlacha destination attracts locals from the island as well as tourists from afar. Leoma Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens, named after its owner, is a favorite among local artists and visitors looking to check out the colorful and exciting artwork.
Lovegrove is a well-respected artist with much of her work hanging on the walls of well-known and decorated institutions. The White House is home to her expressionism and impressionism paintings, while her portrait of Jimmy Carter hangs in Atlanta’s Presidential Library.
She now focuses her talents on her Matlacha art gallery where art lovers and casual visitors can come to admire her work.
In addition to the artwork, visitors can also enjoy the gallery itself as a form of artistic expression. The gardens, patios, walls, and building front are all decorated in bright and vibrant colors, making the entire gallery a part of the experience.
Matlacha Community Park
A family outing at Matlacha Community Park is the perfect day trip offering a variety of useful and fun amenities that the entire family can enjoy. Here you’ll find charcoal grills, picnic tables, and pavilions for the perfect family feast.
You can also use the park’s basketball courts, fitness stations, pickleball courts, and playgrounds to get the family moving.
If fun in the water is more down your alley, head over to the Matlacha Community Park’s brand new fishing pier. It features a paddle craft landing and launch area, a dock, and most importantly, the perfect spot to cast a line!
Gulf Coast Kayak
Outdoor lovers and nature enthusiasts should check out Gulf Coast Kayaking for some of the best water activities in the area. Here you can explore the beautiful and peaceful coastal waters of the Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve.
Gulf Coast Kayak offers a large selection of kayaks including sit-in and sit-on kayaks, fishing kayaks, single and tandem kayaks, as well as paddleboards.
In business since 1992, Gulf Coast Kayaking offers great service with friendly staff who make sure all their customers are comfortable and prepared for their time on the water.
Once you’re off, enjoy fishing from your kayak, taking in the surrounding nature, or simply enjoy riding down the serene waters of Matlacha, admiring the beautiful sunset.
Matlacha Pass Bridge
The Matlacha Pass Bridge is a local favorite, known for its active waters when it comes to fishing. A popular destination for Pine Island locals and visitors from Cape Coral, it’s earned the moniker, “The World’s Fishingest Bridge”. You’re sure to walk away with an impressive catch at this legendary site.
Cast your line out into the waters of the Pine Island Sound from the Matlacha Bridge and you might catch snapper, cobia, trout, or even tarpon! These areas are also famous for their awesome snook fishing! Relax with your fishing rod in hand and catch the beautiful sunset over the ocean waters on the horizon.
Bat House Park
Bat House Park is a small park on Pine Island Rd near the Matlacha Pass Bridge that overlooks the water. This makes it the perfect spot to fish or simply enjoy the incredible views.
Although fishing, relaxing or having fun at the park are great reasons to visit, the bat house is the star of the show. Here you will find Brazilian Free-Tailed Bats and plenty of informational signs that will teach you fascinating facts about the bats, keeping you intrigued for hours.
When you visit, be mindful of the park’s limited parking, so get there early or find other nearby entrances. Visit right before the park closes at dusk to take advantage of the bat viewing!
Wild Child Art Gallery
Operating for a little over two decades, Peggy McTeague’s Wild Child Art Gallery attracts both art enthusiasts and casual onlookers. Wild Child is a contemporary gallery that showcases McTeague’s work along with the art of over 100 artists from around Florida.
Here you’ll not only find paintings, but jewelry pieces, canvas art, and more. With several “Best Art Gallery in Matlacha” awards to its name, Wild Child’s prolific selection will keep you intrigued and busy all day.
While enjoying the experience of viewing the unique and beautiful pieces in the art gallery, you’ll also learn about the process of purchasing art. This is an often overlooked aspect of artisan galleries, but an interesting and educational one. After a visit here, this is sure to be a favorite gallery!
Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve
Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve is the body of water between mainland Cape Coral and Pine Island. The preserve is a beautiful area known for its abundant wildlife and natural habitats.
The waterway winds and turns between the island and mainland, creating a curving pass, perfect for popular activities.
When visiting the Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve, you can birdwatch, fish, and kayak down its peaceful waters, surrounded by the beautiful greenery overhead.
The preserve is home to mangrove swamps, sponge beds, mollusk reefs, and seagrass beds. You can also enjoy hiking trails that provide great access to the aquatic preserve.
Where to eat & drink
No trip to Matlacha is complete without trying its fresh take on seafood. The choice of restaurants are all great, so picking just one of the many beach bars or waterfront eateries might prove to be tricky!
While you’re getting ready to start your day, make a quick pit stop at Perfect Cup, to find the best coffee and teas. This specialty shop prides itself on roasting and grinding their own beans, originating from all over the world.
You can sample all of their different in-house blends using the self-service bar’s bottomless cup. Don’t forget to pick up breakfast while visiting: Perfect Cup is known for its omelets, muffins, pancakes, and most of all, their tasty scones!
For a laid-back and quirky atmosphere with live entertainment, plan an evening at Old Fish House Marina. You can be safe in the knowledge that your seafood platter is not only locally sourced but fresh as Old Fish catches their fish daily from their very own docks and serves them right up!
If you’ve had your fill of seafood while on the island, head over to Miceli’s Restaurant, a premier waterfront Italian dining experience. Be sure to check out their live music schedule ahead of time so you can plan around one of your favorite local bands. Try the spinach artichoke appetizer, served in a perfectly baked homemade bread bowl!
Want to try a local favorite? Head over to Yucatan Waterfront Bar & Grill for outdoor dining with a view. With a vast selection of cocktails, a huge menu, and live music, Yucatan is perfect for a family dinner. The atmosphere is lively and known for its bright colors, so get ready for good eats, lots of laughs, and great fun. Before heading out, don’t forget to visit their fun gift shop!
Located right on the water, every table at Hooked Island Grill offers incredible views overlooking the water. Specializing in fresh seafood and pasta, this laid-back waterfront eatery is one of the island’s can’t-miss spots. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the coconut and almond encrusted unicorn fish–you won’t regret it!
With a slightly different atmosphere, Blue Dog Bar & Grill is located right off the mangroves, offering an alternative, but breathtaking view of nature. Priding itself on the quality of its food, Blue Dog Restaurant sources all their ingredients locally in the Gulf Coast area, specifically from Pine Island and Southwest Florida establishments. So, your fresh fish and craft beers all come from local fishermen and local breweries. They even source their delicious steak from local farmers!
After a long day fishing or kayaking the blue waters of Matlacha, a cold beer at Bert’s Bar & Grill is the perfect way to end the evening. Bert’s has a charm that makes you feel like you’re in an old fishing village without a care in the world. With outdoor seating, friendly staff, and tasty bites, Bert’s is perfect for a lazy afternoon after a long day of fun on Matlacha Island.
Where to stay
Looking to stay in Matlacha on a budget? Look no further than the Angler’s Inn. The motel offers simple, yet comfortable, rooms with a separate seating area and kitchenette. The property sits directly on the water, featuring a sun terrace with sea views.
For a little more space, book yourself into one of the delightful rooms at the Matlacha Cove Inn. The newly-renovated rooms are spacious, each offering guests a patio to relax. Select units also feature a balcony with sea views.
Want a home away from home? The holiday home rentals at Matlacha Tiny Village will hit the spot. Accommodations here vary from smaller mobile home units to two-bedroom houses & chalets. At the property, guests will also enjoy BBQ facilities, a garden, and a patio with river views.