Planning a vacation in Southwest Florida? Dig into all of the best things to do in Fort Myers. From its pristine beaches to culinary adventures to its pleasant weather, Fort Myers is a fantastic U.S. travel destination all year round.
Famed for its spring break hijinks, Fort Myers takes full advantage of its Florida Gulf Coast location. Every year, beach bums succumb to the seaside charms of Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island. In the city itself, foodies can explore one of Southwest Florida’s finest food & craft beer scenes. Among the top tourist attractions in Fort Myers, interesting historical sites and lovely nature parks also await.
Ready to plan out what to do in one of Florida’s most famous beach cities? Get started with this guide to the best places to visit in Fort Myers, Florida!
Must-see places to visit in Fort Myers, FL
Fort Myers Beach
Located on a small barrier island, Fort Myers Beach is famed for its beautiful white sands and sweeping Gulf views. Hit up its shores to relax in the pristine ocean waters. Fort Myers Beach is also a wonderful destination to enjoy a variety of water sports like parasailing, kayaking, and boating.
Alongside Daytona Beach and Panama City Beach, Fort Myers Beach isn’t just one of the most popular Fort Myers beaches; it’s one of the most famous spring break destinations in the United States. Although this stretch of coastline can get a little rowdy during the spring peak, it’s surprisingly family-friendly most of the year.
Visiting Fort Myers Beach with young kids? Scoot over the Matanzas Pass Bridge to San Carlos Island to visit the Ostego Bay Foundation Marine Science Center. Children will love the small museum’s interactive marine life exhibits and a touch tank.
If you need some beach supplies, pop into Times Square. Located on Estero Blvd near Fort Myers Beach Pier, Times Square is Estero Island’s main town square. It offers a lively atmosphere and is packed with a mix of small boutiques, souvenir shops, restaurants, and nightlife options.
Revel in outdoor dining while enjoying live entertainment by its street performers. Times Square and the nearby fishing pier are also among the most popular places to go in Fort Myers Beach to watch sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico.
If you’re visiting from May to October, keep your eyes peeled for nesting sea turtles: The area is one of the most famous spots in the country for tourists to check them out!
For its shelling beaches and wildlife refuges, Sanibel Island is one of the coolest places to see in Fort Myers, Florida. The barrier island is home to the Sanibel Historical Village and museums like the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. You’ll also find theaters and many non-profit organizations focusing on nature conservation.
Need some seaside pleasures? Plop down on Bowman’s Beach. Peaceful and quiet, the beach charms with its majestic calm waters. Wash away your fatigue and stress by strolling along the shoreline, sunbathing, swimming, kayaking, and collecting shells in its shallow, warm water.
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One of the top-rated Sanibel Island beaches, Bowman’s Beach also offers opportunities to bond and catch up with friends and family. Amenities include group picnic areas well-equipped with barbecue grills, trails, showers, and restrooms. The beach is open year-round from 7 am to 7 pm.
Already chilled out on Fort Myers Beach? Save time to explore the rest of Estero Island. Outside its main beach town, the barrier island is home to white-sand beaches and cool attractions for history lovers.
Nature lovers should slink up to the island’s north to check out the natural beauty of Matanzas Pass Preserve. The 60-acre wildlife sanctuary features a one-mile nature trail ripe with beautiful flora and fauna. Lace up your hiking shoes to wind through its mangrove forests and a bayside oak hammock. Keep on the lookout for a plethora of bird species, like roseate spoonbills and great egrets chirping away in their native habitats.
For a real adventure, grab your kayak and paddle over to Mound Key Archaeological State Park. Located east of Estero Island, this reserve centers around the ruins of an old Spanish fort and Native American shell mounds. Paddling around this oasis, part of the Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail, keep on the lookout for sea animals like manatees and dolphins. Or take to the 3/4-mile hiking trail to explore the interesting grounds featuring a number of shell mounds left by the Calusa.
Edison & Ford Winter Estates
Need to add a historic site to your Fort Myers itinerary? Head over to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates. Located minutes from Downtown Fort Myers on McGregor Boulevard, the estate comprises the historic winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. It’s perched upon the banks of the Caloosahatchee River.
The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is home to a historical museum and a 21-acre botanical garden set in the shadows of towering palm trees. Feast your eyes as you admire the beautiful architecture of its historical buildings and the tranquil gardens. The lovely gardens feature thousands of varieties of plants.
Be sure to also save time for the Botanical Laboratory and the Edison Ford Museum. The museum features over 15,000 square feet of space, showcasing inventions from two of the most famous innovators and entrepreneurs in the world. Among the most interesting artifacts are several antique cars, including Edison’s 1916 Model T Ford, and Edison’s phonograph.
Done checking out Sanibel Island? Cross over Blind Pass to Captiva Island. Like Sanibel, the island charms visitors with its outdoor activities and beautiful Florida Gulf Coast beaches.
Gear up to enjoy biking, sailing, bird-watching, and other more adventurous water activities like kiteboarding, windsurfing, or jet skiing. Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of surprises wandering around Captiva Island. Keep your eyes peeled for giant frogs or tiny starfish squatting on one of the best Captiva Island beaches.
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Need a bite to eat after your island beach adventure? Wake up your inner child in The Bubble Room. The multi-themed restaurant features kitschy decor, including toys from the 1930s and 1940s and Christmas ornaments. Enjoy classic American fare while perking up your ears to music from the 1920s to the 1940s.
JetBlue Park at Fenway South
Baseball enthusiasts will surely love popping into JetBlue Park at Fenway South. Located just north of Southwest Florida International Airport, the stadium is the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox.
JetBlue Park is modeled after Fenway Park. It’s built to the same dimensions and features a remarkable replica of the Green Monster. Like the original Green Monster, JetBlue Park’s wall has a manual scoreboard with the same 1934 vintage unit used for decades at Fenway Park. You’ll also find other authentic Bostonian touches like the Triangle, Pesky’s Pole, and Lone Red Seat.
If you time your visit with the MLB pre-season, carve out time in your schedule to catch some Boston Red Sox spring training games at JetBlue Park.
Nothing on the schedule? Also, check to see if any games are playing at nearby Hammond Stadium, the spring training ground for the Minnesota Twins.
Lakes Regional Park
Located 20 minutes south of downtown, Lakes Regional Park is a fantastic day trip from Fort Myers. The popular park surrounds a beautiful freshwater lake. It teems with superb recreational activities for the whole family, including a water park, paved trails, and a playground.
At Lakes Park, you can rent bikes, surreys, and paddle boats at Wheel Fun Rentals. Enjoy the scenery on your outdoor adventure as you drift away from your daily stresses. When you get tired, grab snacks and refreshments at Whistle Stop Ice Cream Shop. Besides its homemade ice cream and sundaes, the small eatery serves pizza, burgers, and nachos.
Lakes Regional Park is also a paradise for bird lovers. During nesting season, over a thousand birds descend upon the park. Pack a pair of binoculars to catch a closer glimpse.
Seasonal free guided walks around Lakes Park are also offered. Dress appropriately, and don’t forget your sunscreen and hat for a worry-free walk in the hot Florida sun.
Throughout the year, you can also catch many cultural and music festivals here. Lakes Park also hosts a seasonal Farmer’s Market on Friday mornings.
Straddling the Orange River northeast of the city center, Manatee Park offers an interesting break from the usual Fort Myers sightseeing activities. Thanks to its majestic manatees, the beautiful park is one of the top points of interest in the region for nature lovers, with something fun for everyone in the family.
Manatee Park centers upon—you guessed it!—their manatee population. The manatees are especially active between November and March. In the clear shallow water, you’ll be able to see these gentle marine mammals in their entirety.
Popular activities at the park for visitors of all ages include kayaking or canoeing to explore the waters. At Manatee Park, you’ll also spot a visitor center and gift shops where you can buy cute manatee-inspired souvenirs.
Like Lakes Regional Park, you can also partake in a free guided walk at Manatee Park. Educational activities like Manatee Bingo add a little intrigue for families traveling with kids, too.
Be sure to check out the park’s beautiful butterfly garden for a fun off-water activity. If you’re feeling peckish, pack a lunch or snacks and fuel up at the park’s picnic facilities.
Bowditch Point Park
Open year-round from sunrise to half an hour after sunset, Bowditch Point Park is one of the must-see tourist attractions in Fort Myers. The 10-acre preserve features walking & hiking trails, butterfly gardens, and benches to admire the area’s serene charm.
Get a glimpse of the impressive views of Estero Bay and admire birds while you walk through the trails. Like other Fort Myers parks, free guided walks are also offered. Park rangers will help you understand how important the Florida Gulf barrier islands are in protecting the mainland.
If you’ve got a saltwater fishing license, you can also go fishing from the shore. At Bowditch Point, you’ll also find several amenities like shaded picnic areas, BBQ grills, and a day boat dock.
Fort Myers River District
Need a break from all the recreational activities? Recharge in the Fort Myers River District. With low-profile buildings built in the 1920s, this historic district is not a typical Southwest Florida attraction. With its recent revitalization, the area now teems with trendy restaurants, bars, and art installations.
Start your River District visit on First Street, stopping into one of its bars and eateries for a lunch or dinner party. Grab inspired cocktails at Ford’s Garage or appetizers & drinks at Los Cabos Cantina & Tequila Bar.
Whether you’re looking to enjoy authentic Florida dishes or global cuisine, the streets of the River District have you covered. Excellent dinners await at the woodsy The Lodge or Firestone Grille. If you’re looking for a little after-dinner dancing, hit up the clubs of Patio de Leon.
And there’s more to the Fort Myers River District than nibbling on food. Tour the historic district to indulge in its art galleries, live music venues, and boutique shopping options.
The River District also hosts a barrage of special events for locals and tourists alike, including a regular art walk, music walk, and farmers market. If you’re lucky, you might even join the local crowds to catch one of its annual events, like the Celtic Festival, ArtFest, and the Edison Festival of Light.
Lovers Key State Park
Traveling with your special someone? Lovers Key State Park should be near the top of your list of what to see in Fort Myers. The park is the perfect romantic escape for couples roaming around Southwest Florida.
Lovers Key State Park is famed for its lovely Gulf Coast beach. Once accessible only by boat, the serene beach is still one of the most beautiful beaches around Fort Myers.
Explore the island park along its boardwalk, keeping on the lookout for wildlife like manatees, dolphins, and eagles. If you’re looking for more outdoor fun, the park also allows back-bay fishing, fly fishing, and light tackle fishing.
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One of the largest barrier islands near Fort Myers, Cayo Costa shelters unique vegetation and amazing beaches. Wildlife abounds, too, with manatees, dolphins, and birds awaiting your visit.
For most visitors, Cayo Costa Beach is the barrier island’s top attraction. Hit the sandy shores to swim or snorkel. Or just lay down a towel to enjoy the sun and relax in the shade for a picnic.
At Cayo Costa State Park, you’ll find trails that crisscross the island. They’re ideal for both hiking and off-road biking. Saltwater anglers can also fish on their boat or in the surf. Learn about the island’s ecology and history in an amphitheater that provides educational programs.
Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve
Located in Cape Coral, Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve is one of the top Fort Myers points of interest for outdoor adventurers. The wetland preserve sprawls along the western banks of the Caloosahatchee River. At 365 acres, it’s the second-largest green space in the Cape Coral area.
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Most travelers focus their visit to the refuge on the 1.25-mile nature trail. Winding through the wetlands, the boardwalk trail is a wonderful place to catch some of Southwest Florida’s native wildlife in action. Keep on the lookout for eagles, herons, ibis, and raccoons.
To explore the waterways and mangroves, there’s a seasonal kayak rental shack. It’s open every weekend between November and May.
Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium
Looking for fun activities the whole family—kids and adults alike—will love? Slip over to the Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium. Sitting upon 105 acres, the center offers an array of memorable experiences for guests.
The Calusa Nature Center’s natural history museum immerses visitors in Southwest Florida’s blissful nature. At its informative exhibits, you’ll learn all about the region’s distinctive wildlife and plants. You may even get to catch live animal demonstrations for a more hands-on learning experience.
Once you’ve brushed up on your knowledge, venture outside to traipse through the center’s blissful nature trails. You’ll also want to save time to check out some new colorful winged friends at Butterfly House and injured birds of prey—including eagles, hawks, and owls—at the Raptor Aviary.
Calusa Nature Center is also home to the region’s only planetarium. Updated in 2020, the planetarium screens fun & educational shows at 12:15 and 2:15 daily. Admission to the planetarium shows is included in the ticket price.
Located in the River District, the Butterfly Estates is one of the city’s most delightful places to visit for nature lovers. The highlight of this popular attraction is its 3,600-square-foot butterfly conservatory, with its free-roaming monarchs, peacock butterflies, and swallowtails.
Run by the Florida Butterfly Society, the Butterfly Estates is also home to a Nature Interpretive Center. One of the most popular things to do in Fort Myers is to visit the center to learn all about the butterflies’ evolution from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to fully-formed butterfly.
Once you’ve admired the winged creatures, waterfalls, and exotic plant life, pop into The Shops at The Butterfly Estates. Pick up some souvenirs or fuel up with a meal at the Gathering Place or ZCrepes Café before continuing your sightseeing journey through one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods.
Florida Repertory Theatre
Located in the heart of historic Downtown Fort Myers, the Florida Repertory Theatre is a must-visit for arts & culture buffs passing through the area. Established in 1998, the South Florida theater company has delighted crowds with hundreds of musicals, comedies, and dramas over its lifetime. Its performances have even been hailed by the Wall Street Journal as “As Good as Broadway”!
Even if you don’t have time to catch a performance at the Florida Repertory Theatre, try to sneak a peak at the venue’s Historic Arcade Theatre. Originally built in 1915 by Harvie and Gilmer Heitman, the 393-seat Arcade Theatre charms architecture buffs with its distinctive Art Deco architectural style.
For tickets and to see upcoming productions, check out the official events calendar here.
Everglades Day Safari
No visit to South Florida is complete without checking out the world-famous Florida Everglades. And there’s no better way to do it while in Fort Myers than with an Everglades Day Safari! On this popular activity, visitors will spend an entire day exploring this unique environment under the guise of a knowledgeable naturalist tour guide.
You’ll start your Everglades Day Safari with an early-morning ride to the heart of the Everglades. Explore its natural treasures on a walk through the cypress swamp forests. Keep on the lookout for animals like raccoons, turtles, alligators, and a variety of bird species, with everything from owls to woodpeckers fluttering around.
Before eating lunch, enjoy a scenic boat cruise through the 10,000 Islands mangrove estuary. As you marvel at the landscape, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and manatees.
End your day tour with a fun airboat ride through the swamps and marshes of the Western Everglades. The area is famed for its abundance of alligators; in fact, there’s a higher density of alligators here than anywhere else in the world!
Recommended places to stay for sightseeing
For most travelers, the best places to stay in Fort Myers are around Fort Myers Beach on Estero Island. If you want to spend time exploring the city’s culinary scene and culture, staying at one of the hotels & around Downtown Fort Myers is a fantastic option, too.
Located five minutes from the beach, this motel offers excellent value for your visit. Cool down in the outdoor pool or soak away your stresses in the hot tub.
Perched on the beach, this all-suite resort is a great option for a self-catering stay. Cook in your own meal in your kitchenette or enjoy fresh seafood and cocktails by the pool with views over the beachfront.
For downtown luxury, look no further than this luxurious city center property. Treat yourself with perks like an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, and an on-site restaurant & bar.