Things to Do in Fort Myers
A far cry from the busy beaches of Miami or Fort Lauderdale, this 7-mile (11-kilometer) expanse of pristine Florida coastline has managed to preserve its sleepy charm. Beachgoers can enjoy the sprawling sky and white sand dunes of the Gulf Coast, all while staying in a nearby resort town that offers a relaxed vibe and upscale amenities.
Step back into old Florida, and explore the estates of two of the United States’ most prominent men. Registered as National Historic sites, the buildings and beautifully landscaped lawns of the Edison and Ford Winter Estates tell stories of early Florida as well as the lives and times of the inventors.
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve—commonly just called Rookery Bay Reserve—is a mangrove estuary in Naples, Florida. It is an important ecological area as it is one of the last undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. Rookery Bay Reserve covers 110,000 acres and is home to over 150 wildlife species. People are able to visit certain sections of Rookery Bay Reserve on guided tours.
During a boat tour, you’ll board a six-person boat that takes you slowly through the reserve. Your guide will point out animal species you come across, which may include birds, deer, raccoons, tortoises and even bottle-nosed dolphins. Another way to tour the reserve is on a guided kayak excursion where you’ll be taken through backwater bays within the mangrove forest. Just like with the boat tour you’ll get the chance to learn about the animals and vegetation you see from a knowledgeable guide.
Before or after your guided tour, visit Rookery Bay Reserve’s Environmental Learning Center. You’ll learn more about the reserve through hands-on exhibits, a large onsite aquarium and films in its auditorium.
A noncaptive, natural refuge for the endangered Florida manatee, Fort Myers’ Manatee Park is one of the top places in the area to spot the aquatic mammal. You’ll also find walking paths, kayak and canoe rentals, playgrounds, and more.
Few places show off the biodiversity of Florida’s waterways better than Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve. Here, 3,500 acres (1,416 hectares) of prime Florida wetland and upland ecosystems—created as rainwater drains into Estero Bay—provide a habitat for alligators, wading birds, wild pigs, otters, butterflies, and other native fauna.
Spend the day surrounded by wildlife one of the best spots for bird-watching in Florida. This 6,300-acre (2,550-hectare) refuge, which occupies a third of Sanibel Island, includes a wildlife drive, tram tour, picnic spots, and a scavenger hunt. The wetland swamp is also part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States.
From roller coasters and bumper boats to miniature golf, Zoomers amusement park in Fort Myers is a prime destination for family-friendly fun. Enjoy a variety of outdoor rides and indoor games, including air hockey and video games. Guests can pay as they go or opt for an all-access pass.
Walk back in time at the Burroughs Home & Gardens, a 1901 Georgian Colonial Revival mansion and one of the oldest homes in Fort Myers, Florida. Sprawling 6,000 square feet along the riverfront, the historic property features bay and stained glass windows, grand winding staircase, a widow’s walk, water features, and a spacious veranda.
The magnificent abundance of Florida’s wildlife need not be hard to find. Within the beachy and sunlit corridors of Fort Myers lie the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium, and it’s here that you’ll be able to escape the trappings of the modern industrial era and revert back to blissful nature. Walk one of several boarded walkways and take in the pine and cypress swamp or venture in to the conservancy and approach bald eagles, rare owls, wild skunks, domesticated pythons and more. The attached planetarium is always exploring the skies and holds showings daily. An added bonus are the planetarium’s live reptile and mammal presentations (including alligator and snake feedings) as part of the daily show.
IMAG History and Science Center teems with interactive fun and gives both youngsters and their parents a chance to participate in hands-on demonstrations about the wonders of nature. Feel the power of a hurricane, run through a rainstorm, observe rays and sharks, or be a weather forecaster for the day in this family-friendly museum.
More Things to Do in Fort Myers
Lakes Park, also known asLakes Regional Park, is an ideal spot for getting a healthy dose of exercise and fresh air in Fort Myers, Florida. Located on the bay with more than 150 acres (61 hectares) of man-made lakes, this park offers birdwatching, a miniature railroad, playgrounds, gardens, and 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) of trails for hiking and biking.
Sanibel Island is a tropical retreat known for its quiet shores and its warm, shallow water. Beach goers can enjoy local seafood restaurants, swaying palm trees, and an abundance of sea shells, while nature lovers flock to the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge to see alligators, herons, and other wildlife.
Nature and history meet and come alive in the Southwest Florida Museum of History. Starting with the area’s first Paleolithic settlers (think 12-foot giant sloth), come see in vivid detail how the southwest Florida region was once covered in swamp and dominated by terrible dinosaurs only to make way for tenacious settlers and modern railroads. Housed in a former Atlantic Coastline Railroad depot, the Southwest Florida Museum of History is a fun way to take a trip back in time—giving visitors a historical perspective on this beautiful south Florida city.
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