Fort Myers Beach is a beautiful coastal town located on Estero Island, a long barrier island along Florida’s southwestern coastline and a destination that has it all for twin-centre holidays on the Gulf Coast: beaches, delectable food and plenty of sunshine.
The city of Fort Myers is further inland along the Caloosahatchee River and offers a little of everything, including historic charm and southern hospitality. Get out and explore its surrounding pristine beaches, tropical waterways and parks, as well as enjoying wonderful shopping and dining experiences for a laid-back Florida getaway.
Fort Myers Highlights
Fort Myers enjoys access to some of the best shoreline along Florida’s southwestern coast, including the picturesque barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva, and of course the ever-popular Fort Myers Beach. A rich culture infused with the arts, culinary style and warm southern hospitality makes Fort Myers a must-visit Gulf Coast destination.
Fort Myers embodies a compelling history dating back to when Native Americans first inhabited Florida’s southwest coast. More recently, the city was home to famous residents Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, while nowadays there are theatres, art and music walks and galleries to immerse yourselves in to see the delights this area has to offer.
Award-winning beaches hug the Gulf of Mexico coastline and barrier islands in the Fort Myers area, and their stunning natural beauty is what brings flocks of visitors – as well as kaleidoscopic marine life – to this part of Florida every year. Its white sands, gently rolling surf and out-of-this-world sunsets will make you think you’ve stepped right into a postcard!
Winding coastal waterways, free-flowing rivers, and expansive state parks make up much of the surrounding Fort Myers area along the Gulf Coast. There are hundreds of opportunities to explore, whether it’s swimming and diving, hopping in a kayak or canoe, or good old-fashioned walking – be one with nature any way you choose.
Fort Myers enjoys a mix of southern-style cuisine and mouth-watering seafood in its cafés and restaurants. Whether you dine casually by the ocean or book a table in one of the city’s fine dining establishments, you’ll be satisfied beyond measure with the flavours, fusions and flair that this extraordinary region offers.
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Our Fort Myers Favourites
Edison & Ford Winter Estates
The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is one of Fort Myers’ most popular attractions, offering a real insight into the rich history of the region and comprising the former winter residences of two iconic Americans: inventor Thomas Edison and industrialist and business magnate Henry Ford.
The complex boasts more than 20 acres of historical buildings and established gardens to walk around, including the Edison Botanical Research Laboratory and the museum with fascinating exhibits, galleries and thousands of artifacts depicting the lives and accomplishments of these extraordinary men.
Sanibel & Captiva Island
Fort Myers is the perfect stop-off point for exploring some of the Gulf Coast’s most beautiful barrier islands and waterways, including Sanibel and Captiva. Famed for their shelling, fishing and boating opportunities and of course their powder-white sand beaches, these little slices of heaven also boast fresh seafood, luxurious accommodations and glorious sunsets, making for blissful days away from the hustle and bustle.
Sanibel is a short drive from Fort Myers and is also known for its bird-watching pursuits, particularly at the J. N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge, a stunning 7,600-acre sanctuary for seeing hundreds of birds, reptiles, mammals and amphibians. Captiva Island is a little further north and features a wealth of water sports activities like snorkelling, diving, boat tours, kayaking and paddleboarding.
Fort Myers River District
Discover the charming Fort Myers River District neighbourhood in the city’s downtown area with its brick-paved roads, palm-lined avenues and striking historical architecture. Filled with boutique shops, gorgeous cafés and restaurants and an enriching culture, the area offers a vibrant yet relaxing spot to enjoy spending quality family time out and about.
There are heaps of events and live entertainment here including the ever-popular monthly Art Walk and Music Walk, held on the first and third Fridays of the month respectively. Wander the streets in and out of galleries to see local artists showcasing their works, then enjoy a series of fantastic live concerts in the streets or in lively bars for an electric atmosphere all day and night.
IMAG History & Science Center
Kids and grown-ups will love this educational yet super fun Fort Myers attraction, which comprises more than 60 interactive exhibits and a 3D theatre, offering a slightly different dimension to multi-centre holidays in Fort Myers. Wander round its tranquil aquariums and lagoons to see hourly demonstrations, twice-daily feedings, and take part in hands-on experiences with a wide variety of marine life like sea urchins, hermit crabs, sea stars, shrimp and stingrays.
The captivating STEMLab offers loads of interactional experiences like science shows in a classroom-style setting, a hurricane simulator and a huge programme of events and activities day and night for kids to engage and fall in love with science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Fort Myers Beach
This immensely popular beach is layered with sugary-fine white sands that gradually slope into the translucent waters of the Gulf of Mexico, enticing travellers from the world over to play, swim and lounge for days, even weeks on end.
Fort Myers Beach itself sits on Estero Island, a seven-mile-long barrier island off the southwestern coastline, which offers an abundance of water sports opportunities like parasailing and kayaking, as well as eco tours and boat charters to spot dolphins and a vast array of local marine life nearby.
Bowditch Point Park
Comprising almost the entire northern tip of Fort Myers Beach, the stunning 17-acre Bowditch Point Park features beach and swimming access from the livelier Gulf side and the back bay, which has gentle waters perfect for when the little ones want to paddle. If you’re keen to explore the area, take off on one of its walking trails and enjoy the excellent bay views. Afterwards, settle down in the picnic area with tables and grills available on a first come, first serve basis and provide a great base for a fun-filled family day out.
As a designated site along the Great Florida Birding Trail, this attractive beach park is a popular spot for seeing a variety of local wildlife on Fort Myers twin-centre holidays, where 10 of its expansive acres rest amid a beautiful conservation area.
San Carlos Bay – Bunche Beach Reserve
Boasting unparalleled Gulf Coast sunsets, Bunche Beach Reserve in San Carlos Bay is a natural tidal wetlands area and active ecosystem, with an expansive stretch of golden sands, mangrove forests and salt flats that entice birdwatchers and keen anglers alike.
Utilise its long boardwalk, viewing and fishing piers to glimpse into Florida’s past to see what it was like before the introduction of exotic plants and wildlife to the area. Located near to the Sanibel Causeway, this popular beach also offers great swimming as well as paddleboarding and kayaking opportunities, with rentals available.
Lovers Key State Park
Home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the region, Lovers Key State Park is a collection of gorgeous barrier islands and is just a short 45-minute drive from Fort Myers city. As its name suggests, Lovers Key has become one of the top spots for a romantic trip, playing host to many spectacular oceanfront weddings.
Its white-sand beaches and lush mangroves have been preserved beautifully, offering a place to unwind in a hammock, paddle in its crisp, clear waters and enjoy some sun-soaked time on your Fort Myers multi-centre holidays. If you fancy a little more action, jump in a kayak and discover its tranquil canals and lagoons, which are preferred grazing areas for manatees and a wide variety of shorebirds.
Little Hickory Island Beach Park
Nestled on a small island in Bonita Springs, this attractive beach park offers seclusion and serenity for twin-centre holidays on the Gulf Coast. Its beautiful white sands beckon to be played on, while the clear, aquamarine-tinged waters provide a gentle surf that’s safe and fun for kids to splash around in – keep a lookout for sand dollars in the shallows too!
There are multiple access points to the beach, which features picnic tables, restrooms and a pavilion serving cold drinks, so you can really make a day of it at Little Hickory Island. Shelling is also a popular pastime here and if you’re up for a walk, go exploring and try to find the ‘secret beach’ with the best shells in the area!
Gulf Coast Town Center
Gulf Coast Town Center is more than just a shopping mall. This is a must-visit Fort Myers destination that is perfect for a casual day or evening out for the whole family, with over 100 retail stores, heaps of entertainment and more than a dozen places to grab a drink and a bite to eat.
Peruse iconic department stores like Dicks Sporting Goods and Bass Pro Shops, as well as shopping for homeware, fashion, make-up and accessories. Fancy watching a movie? Head to the Regal Cinema and see the latest blockbuster, then challenge your family at Gametime, an all-in-one arcade, restaurant and sports bar sure to delight everyone for hours on end!
The Franklin Shops
This unusual but immensely popular shopping hotspot is set within a beautiful art deco-inspired building in the historic district in downtown Fort Myers. Once an old hardware store, this eclectic emporium is now a two-storey shopping haven selling everything including jewellery, arts and crafts, clothing, home furnishings, beauty and accessories across almost 100 locally owned businesses.
If you’re interested in purchasing a slice of local talent, The Franklin Shops is the perfect place to do your shopping on Fort Myers twin-centre holidays.
Promenade at Bonita Bay
This tranquil, open-air shopping centre boasts a range of high-end stores, individual boutiques, art galleries and delightful restaurants within its small yet beautifully laid-out complex. Walk along the meandering fountains and pools, palm tree-lined avenues and in and out of its quaint shops, feeling the balmy Florida breeze on your skin.
The Center Bar provides an ambient, elegant setting for an evening cocktail once you’ve finished shopping, and with regular live entertainment throughout the week, it’s a wonderful spot to relax and unwind amid the gentle buzz of locals and tourists. For a fine dining experience, visit Roy’s Restaurant and sit down to eat Pacific Island-inspired cuisine and an accompanying award-winning wine list.
Voted one of the top retail spots in southwest Florida and located about 20 minutes south of Fort Myers towards Bonita Springs, Miromar Outlets offers the very best in discount shopping. With over 140 designer and big-name outlets, as well as lots of international dining options, this award-winning mall offers an eye-popping 70% off retail prices.
All your outlet shopping dreams will come true here, where you can walk amid an open-air setting with benches, old-style streetlights and palm trees lining the mall’s walkways. Serene fountains and beautiful terracotta-coloured buildings give it a Mediterranean feel – alongside the top-notch weather – making Miromar Outlets a wonderful place for a relaxing afternoon.
Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail
One of Florida’s premier nature activities, this 190-mile-long paddling canoe and kayaking trail winds serenely through coastal backwaters and rivers, with numerous secluded bays and beaches to discover along the way. Attracting both first-time paddlers and experienced kayakers of all ages, the Great Calusa Blueway invites anyone and everyone to explore its abundant wildlife, which includes shorebirds, crustaceans and even dolphins and manatees!
Conditions vary from the Gulf of Mexico’s open waters to eerie mangrove creeks and the gorgeous bays of the barrier islands. There are more than 80 hotspots to explore along the way, including Picnic Bay on San Carlos Island to pitch up and unwind, or the tranquil Tarpon Bay within the J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
Lee County Manatee Park
Where else to witness graceful sea cows than at the blissful Manatee Park? This unique natural area is located surprisingly just a few miles away from downtown Fort Myers off Highway 80, providing a great spot to see these amazing creatures – and one of Florida’s most loved marine mammals – up close in a non-captive environment.
Head here between December and March when the manatees flock to the park’s Gulf of Mexico waterways, because just like humans, they prefer to be warm and comfortable. With picnic shelters, a butterfly garden, playgrounds and viewing platforms, the park offers a family-friendly day of fun and an opportunity to hang out with some of Florida’s most popular residents.
Caloosahatchee Regional Park
As well as seafaring activities in the Fort Myers area, there are also opportunities for land-based fun like hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, particularly in the beautiful Caloosahatchee Regional Park. Explore its wheelchair-accessible shaded pathways and trails, pack up a picnic and settle down for a day immersed in nature on your Fort Myers twin-centre holidays.
Paddle craft launch areas and kayak rentals are available for traversing the river, which flows out towards the Hickey Creek Mitigation Park, another top hotspot for birders and hikers. Parking at Caloosahatchee Regional Park is just $1 per hour or $5 for the whole day, making it an affordable option for a few hours to escape the hubbub of the city and larger tourist sites.
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
Dive into this 3,400-acre ecosystem which envelops an elevated yet fully accessible boardwalk trail spanning one mile along. The trail winds through lush wetlands and rolling uplands amid a vast array of wildlife that you can observe and admire en route. Depending on when you visit, the terrain of the slough – pronounced ‘slew’ –changes with the wet and dry seasons and offers different things to see throughout the year. Look out for alligators, wading birds, turtles, otters, which inhabit the preserve year-round.
There are observation decks along the trail, as well as picnic areas, an amphitheatre and a butterfly garden within the preserve, plus free 90-minute guided tours if you fancy learning a little more about the area while you walk.
Farmers Market Restaurant
This charming restaurant has been in operation since 1952 and is the longest-serving eatery in Lee County, dishing up incredible southern-style food in a welcoming and casual setting. Open all day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a special monthly Sunday brunch, the restaurant’s hearty meals include Florida classics such as succulent fried chicken wings, smoked BBQ ribs and biscuits and gravy.
Contrary to the confusing name, biscuits and gravy is in fact a savoury breakfast dish comprising ‘biscuits’ of soft dough, smothered in a white sauce ‘gravy’, which is made of beef or pork sausage drippings, milk and flour – a must-try comfort food in the south!
For a more romantic culinary experience, make a dinner reservation at The Veranda, which is situated in the heart of historic downtown Fort Myers. This charming fine dining restaurant transports guests to a bygone era in its two turn-of-the-century buildings, offering an award-winning menu of southern-influenced cuisine along with an impressive wine list, while attentive and friendly staff add to the restaurant’s elegance.
Savour the flavours of the ‘Chicken Orleans’, a chicken breast crowned with local bay shrimp, arugula and a Cajun-infused beurre blanc, or perhaps go for the ‘Southern Sampler’, a hearty portion of fresh fish, Gulf shrimp and sea scallops with prosciutto cream fettuccine – whatever you eat, you will be thoroughly satisfied here.
Wisteria Tea Room
If you’re hankering for a taste of good old Blighty, the Wisteria Tea Room is the place to be. Set within a small but charmingly remodelled bungalow in the Fort Myers’ Downtown River District, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into someone’s home. The cafe serves up impressive trays of sandwiches, soups, savoury quiches, sweet treats and delicious scones laced with Chantilly cream, and of course a wide-ranging tea collection including herbal teas, chai lattes and fruity favourites.
It’s a great little place for events and parties as well as a popular Saturday brunch. You don’t have to be a lady who lunches to visit this quaint café – but you do need to make a reservation ahead of time!
Breweries in Fort Myers
Fort Myers is quickly gaining traction as a place to visit for its local craft breweries, offering unique IPAs, stouts and ales to rival even the biggest and best in the country. The Fort Myers Brewing Company is the city’s first – opening in 2012 – and boasts more than 25 beers on tap, a rotating schedule of food trucks on-site every day and live music four nights per week for an exuberant atmosphere.
Coastal Dayz Brewery is a similarly popular joint with laid-back vibes and a great community spirit, located just one block from the Caloosahatchee River. Its whimsical ‘Tap It Tuezday’ tradition presents a new, limited batch brew each week, keeping the tastes fresh and exciting every time you visit!
Fort Myers FAQs
Fort Myers FAQs
Fort Myers FAQs
Between December and April is considered the best time to visit Fort Myers, the crowds do surge during the Spring Break period in March but aside from that, the weather is warm and dry and perfect for beachgoing. Hurricane season hits between June to September and bear in mind that during the summer there is likely to be daily afternoon rain, and it will feel very hot and humid. The autumn shoulder season in October and November brings pleasant, drier weather again, and thankfully more affordable prices too.
Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) is only half an hour’s drive from Fort Myers Beach and about 20 minutes from the city of Fort Myers, with frequent domestic and international flights from the UK available (both London and Manchester options).
Hiring a car anywhere in Florida is highly recommended, especially for multi-centre holidays when you are travelling sometimes long distances between destinations. Fort Myers Beach and its adjacent islands are all easily accessible via connecting highways, although bear in mind that traffic can be a factor, particularly during peak travel periods. Enjoy the freedom of hiring your own car and being able to explore at your own pace.
Fort Myers Beach is set in the southwest corner of Florida and works well with all its Gulf Coast neighbours such as Naples and Marco Island to the south, and St. Petersburg, Tampa and Clearwater to the north. While Orlando is about 4 hours’ drive away in Central Florida, an itinerary that includes theme parks and picture-perfect beaches is always a winner in our eyes!
Perhaps tag your Fort Myers twin-centre holiday with a stint in one of America’s iconic cities like New York or Washington, D.C. for a taste of both worlds?
Fort Myers’ recovery efforts after the devastating Hurricane Ian in 2022 have been phenomenal, showing testament to the people who live there and an ongoing commitment to bringing this beautiful destination back to life. However, there may be some facilities and amenities that are still being rebuilt and we advise researching attractions before you visit to see what features are open and still closed.