30 Things to Do in Fort Myers FL
If you’re planning a Southwest Florida vacation, you may be looking for things to do in Fort Myers FL. Fort Myers offers a lot of things for families, including one of our favorite places in Florida to see manatees.
Before we get to the list of things to do in Fort Myers FL, let’s talk about how you will get around once you’re in Fort Myers. First, unless you drive yourself, you’ll need a rental car! If you decide to rent a car during your Florida vacation, I recommend renting a car from Discount USA Car Rental.
Discount USA Car Rental offers the lowest rates through all the major companies, and you don’t pay anything you pick up your car. You can pick it up at the Fort Myers airport or any nearby airport you choose.
Fun Facts about Fort Myers
Before we get into the things to do in Fort Myers FL, let’s discuss a few fun facts.
- Thomas Edison lived in Fort Myers part-time (more about this below!)
- Fort Myers is one of the best places for shelling in Florida
- The Pirate Gasparilla considered Pine Island Sound his primary home base for many years
- The sport of tarpon fishing is said to have originated in Fort Myers
Things to do in Fort Myers FL
Fort Myers is located in Southwest Florida and the county seat of Lee County. It’s a smaller city with just under 100,000 residents. However, the city of Cape Coral is nearby, as well as the islands of Sanibel and Captiva.
Fort Myers is known as the “City of Palms” and is a quickly growing city located about halfway between Tampa and Miami. It’s a great place for visitors as there are plenty of things to do in Fort Myers FL, but it’s far less busy than cities such has Orlando, Tampa, or Miami.
Here are 30 things to do in Fort Myers, in no particular order. You aren’t far from Naples, so make sure to check out unique things to do in Naples Florida when you’re finished here.
Spend the Day at Fort Myers Beach
Fort Myers Beach is one of the best beaches in the area. Unfortunately, it can also be the most crowded. The best time to arrive is early morning for a prime spot on the sand. Your time here can be spent swimming, kayaking, and parasailing over the Gulf of Mexico.
This sandy beach goes all the way from Lovers Key State Park to Bowditch Point Park.
When you tire of the sand, head to Times Square; this little shopping area has plenty of souvenir stores and places to eat. You may even spot street performers trying to entertain the crowds.
If your family loves fishing, go to the Fort Myers Beach Pier. Fishing off the pier is one of the most popular things to do.
Hike Through the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
There are almost 8 miles of hiking paths at this preserve in Fort Myers. Some of those paths can be used for horseback riding. Keep that in mind so that you can look out for horses.
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is full of oak hammocks, cypress swamps, and pine flatwoods. It is an excellent place to go hiking or even go for a run. Unfortunately, this is a dog-free area. So, if you have a dog, you must leave them at home or at your hotel.
It is important to note that there are no bathrooms along the trails. There are also no benches if you need a break.
Go Shopping at the River District Farmers’ Market
The Fort Myers River District is a fun place to spend a morning or afternoon. The farmers’ market there is a beautiful place to purchase local goods. You will find all sorts of fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and cheese.
You can even grab a snack or sandwich from a few vendors.
Explore the Edison and Ford Winter Estates
History lovers will enjoy wandering around the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers. These estates are right next to each other.
Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb. Henry Ford invented the automobile. This is one of the best places to learn about those things and their other inventions.
You can see the grand winter homes, research laboratories, and a museum filled with artifacts. You will find the museum at the visitor center.
You can do all this during self-guided tours or guided tours. Make sure you take the time to check out the botanical garden. Thomas Edison planted the trees in the garden.
Visit Manatee Park
It is best to visit Manatee Park during the winter months. The manatees love the warm water in the canal. If you’ve been around for long you know that hanging out near manatees is one of our favorite things to do.
In fact, we have a blog post with the 12 best places to see manatees in Florida, and yes, Manatee Park made the list!
You can stand on any of the observation decks to see the manatees. However, if you want to see them from a different perspective, rent a kayak! That way, you can paddle out to see the manatees up close. Kayaking with manatees is a wonderful and unique experience that everyone should try at least once.
This is one of my favorite photos of the Florida Travel with Kids-kids at Manatee Park many years ago!
Watch the Red Sox During Spring Training
The Boston Red Sox head to downtown Fort Myers every spring for a bit of spring training. They play at JetBlue Park. There is a replica of the Green Monster at this ballpark.
If your family can’t get enough of baseball, you can also check out the Minnesota Twins. They play at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.
Baseball fans who aren’t in Fort Myers during spring training can still catch a ball game. The Fort Myers Miracle are the minor league affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. They play their regular season at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.
Have Fun at Lakes Regional Park
Lakes Regional Park has everything a family needs for a day of fun! This is a great place to walk the paths, go fishing in the lake, and eat lunch in the picnic areas. There is also a small splash pad for those hot Florida days.
The Railroad Museum of Southwest Florida is also inside Lakes Regional Park. The kids will love the train rides that are offered every day.
Inside the museum, you will see railroad artifacts like rail tracks, a brass bell, and ticket punches.
Depending on when you visit, you may discover special events at this park in Fort Myers.
Visit JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Nature lovers will enjoy spending time in this natural habitat on Sanibel Island. This is one of the best wildlife refuges in southwest Florida.
Make sure to check out the best things to do in Sanibel and Captiva.
When the Darling National Wildlife Refuge first opened, it was to conserve the mangrove forests on Sanibel. Now, it is also a refuge for many migrating birds.
The best time to visit this refuge is between November and April. Arriving during low tide is the best time to see the most wildlife.
If you do visit during the summer, take bug spray. The mosquitos, and other bugs, are everywhere!
Have Fun at the IMAG History and Science Center
There are too many interactive exhibits to count at the IMAG History and Science Center in Fort Myers. The kids will have fun learning about space, technology, marine animals, and the state’s history.
One of the best things to do there is interact with the live animals in the touch tanks.
Explore the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium
Out of all the nature preserves in southwest Florida, the Calusa Nature Center is usually at the top of everyone’s list. Local wildlife that can be seen here includes alligators, owls, hawks, and bald eagles.
Visit the Mound House
The Mound House is actually the William H. Case House. It is one of Fort Myer’s hidden gems.
This house is now a museum. Inside, your family will learn all about the Calusa Tribe. There is an archeological dig site here as well.
This is the oldest building on Estero Island. Surprisingly, it survived Hurricane Ian.
Visit the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
The Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge is just outside the Fort Myers area. Visiting here is the best way to learn more about the Florida panthers.
Photo is property of Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.
You may not be able to spot the panthers out on the refuge grounds. But you will see a couple in the panther habitat exhibit.
I recommend taking a guided tour so you learn the most during your visit.
Walk Along McGregor Boulevard
McGregor Boulevard is lined with palm trees. All those trees were imported by Thomas Edison and his wife, Mina.
This long stretch of road shares lots of history. Walking along, you will see historic buildings, botanical gardens, and restaurants.
You may not be able to walk along all 14 miles of this road. However, the few miles you do walk along will share so much of the city’s story.
Relax at Bunche Beach
One of the best sandy beaches, when you want to escape the crowds is Bunche Beach. Mangrove forests and salt flats surround this beach. The natural environment is perfect for swimming, paddle boarding, and kayaking. You may even spot flamingos during your visit.
Take a Ride on The Murder Mystery Dinner Train
Quality time can be spent with older kids while riding the Murder Mystery Dinner Train. This is a unique experience the whole family will love!
The train ride is 40 miles. During the ride, you get to be a part of the staged murder mystery. All you need to do is help decipher the clues to determine who is guilty of murder.
Plus, you get a five-course meal during the ride.
They are always rotating the themes on this train. So there is an excellent chance it will be different every time you ride.
Go Shopping at the Fleamasters Flea Market
One of the top things to do in Fort Myers is shopping at the Fleamasters Flea Market. This is the perfect place to get a little retail therapy during your vacation in Florida.
There are more than 900 shops squeezed into the 400,000 square feet of space. Add in the 20 food stalls, and you could be there for a while.
This flea market is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. You need to plan your visit accordingly if you want to find some great bargains.
You can listen to live music on the stage between your shopping adventures.
Visit John Yarbrough Linear Park
There are lots of parks in Lee County. One of the best is John Yarbrough Linear Park. This is an excellent spot for birdwatching, hiking, and picnicking.
You may even spot a bald eagle, heron, or alligator during your visit.
Grab a Drink at the Fort Myers Brewing Company
There are quite a few breweries in Fort Myers. Fort Myers Brewing Company is one of the largest.
After a long day of exploring the city center or the surrounding area, you will love grabbing a drink here. The entire family can participate during game nights. Plus, you can all get your favorites from the food trucks.
Relax at Lovers Key State Park
Yes, I know I mentioned this park above. But visiting this park may be at the top of your list of favorite things to do in Fort Myers.
You can easily access the beach at this park via a short walk. This is one of the best beaches for searching for seashells. At least if you don’t want to drive out to Sanibel and Captiva Island.
There is a dog park at the southern end of this park. So, feel free to take your furry friend along for the ride! We love dog-friendly activities here at Florida Travel with Kids! Florida, in general, is very dog-friendly, so keep that in mind when planning your vacation. You may be able to bring your dog along!
Relax at Port Sanibel Marina
Another one of the hidden gems in Fort Myers is the Port Sanibel Marina. Visiting this area will give you a glimpse into what old Florida was like. There is a lighthouse and mangrove and palm trees at this marina.
The water at this port is perfect for water sports. And it is one of the best places to watch the sunset.
Check Out Burroughs Home and Gardens
The Burroughs Home and Gardens is considered a national historic landmark. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
If your family wants to participate in educational programs, a living history tour of this home should be at the top of your list. It may not be one of the best fun things to do in Florida. However, it is a great way to learn about this popular family.
Check Out the Shells at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum
Only one museum is completely dedicated to shells and mollusks in the United States. That museum is this one in Fort Myers.
The exhibits are all filled with fascinating creatures. Your family can see shells from all over the world. It will take you a couple of hours to wander through all 34 exhibits.
Search for Shells on Captiva Island
Searching for seashells is one of the best free things to do in Fort Myers. Heading out to the barrier island of Captiva is one of the best things you can do when you want to find shells. There are more than 250 different types of seashells on Captiva Island.
Please keep in mind that Sanibel and Captiva were heavily affected by Hurricane Ivan in 2022. The islands are getting everything put back together, but I recommend checking for updated information before heading to the islands.
Visit the World’s Largest Shell Factory
The World’s Largest Shell Factory has been around for more than 80 years now. Of course, it has expanded during that time. But you can find so much more than shells at this Fort Myers attraction.
When your family is finished looking at the shells, there is much more to see. You can wander through the butterfly garden, ride on the zipline, or feed the animals in the animal park.
There is also a gift shop for purchasing souvenirs.
Take a Boat Tour to See Dolphins and Manatees
A boat tour is a great way to spot manatees and dolphins up close. There are quite a few boat tour options in Fort Myers. Choose the one that offers exactly what your family wants to see while out on the water.
Head Out on a Boat to Watch the Sunset
Another excellent option for a boat tour is a sunset cruise. There is something magical about watching the sun go down over the sparkling water of the Gulf of Mexico.
We recommend a sunset sail with Copacetic Sailing.
Play a Round at the Verandah Golf Club
There are plenty of golf courses in Fort Myers and nearby Cape Coral. However, one of the best golf courses is Verandah Golf Club.
There are two golf courses here. Whispering Oaks is the most challenging. Old Orange is slightly easier.
Paddle Along the Calusa Blueway
The Calusa Blueway is a paddling trail. This trail is 190 miles long. It now includes the banks of the Caloosahatchee River.
The chances of you paddling the entire length is slim. But you can see a few fantastic spots in the area you paddle through.
The shallow water means kids of all ages can join you on this adventure. Your fun can begin in Lovers Key State Park, Bowditch Point, or Riverside Park.
Explore Cayo Costa State Park
Cayo Costa State Park is located on Cayo Costa and is directly south of Boca Grande. You’ve probably heard us talk about Boca Grand if you’ve been around for a while; it’s one of our favorite beaches in Southwest Florida!
Your family will need to catch a ferry to reach this state park in southwest Florida. Your family can catch the ferry at Jensen’s Marina. The state park is approximately 12 miles west of Cape Coral.
Since this state park is remote, you won’t find crowds at the beach during your visit. This is a great spot to spend the day relaxing away from any crowds.
Cayo Costa State Park is a great place for swimming, shelling, and fishing. The island is about seven miles long and an incredible oasis filled with natural vegetation and a sense of complete remoteness. All while only being a few miles from Fort Myers!
Eat a Little Ice Cream at Love Boat Ice Cream
Love Boat Ice Cream has multiple locations in Fort Myers. You can easily visit their shop in the downtown area. Or you can venture over to one of their other shops.
Eating ice cream is one of the most popular activities on a hot day in Fort Myers. This ice cream shop offers seasonal flavors along with all those classic flavors you love.
Some of their seasonal flavors include pumpkin ginger, cocoa caliente, peppermint, and eggnog.
Enjoy the Water at SunSplash
SunSplash is a water park located in Cape Coral. So, naturally, the kids will want to spend the entire day at this water park. But, you won’t mind, because it will tire them out and they will sleep well at night. Plus, it’s a great option on a hot day, and we all know that Florida has plenty of those!
Part of your day can be spent at the drop slide or at pirate’s cove. Try to convince the kids to enjoy a little downtime on the main stream river tube ride.
Things to do in Fort Myers FL
I hope you enjoyed this list of things to do in Fort Myers FL. Do you have any favorite things to do in Fort Myers that didn’t make the list? If so, let me know in the comments.
More of the best things to do in Southwest Florida:
If you enjoyed this list of things to do in Fort Myers FL, you might also enjoy some of our other content with things to do in southwest Florida. Did you know that southwest Florida has some of the best beaches in North America? That said, Southwest Florida is so much more than just beaches, so check out some of the other things to do nearby.
- The Ultimate List of Florida Birds
- The 28 best places to eat in Naples
- The 20 best beaches in Tampa
- The Ultimate List of Florida Lighthouses
- The best place to find sharks teeth in Florida
- The 20 Best Shelling Beaches in Florida
- Dinosaur World Florida Review | Is Dinosaur World in Lakeland, FL worth visiting?
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Florida Travel with Kids was started by a family who loves to travel the state of Florida with kids! This site will help you explore the fun state of Florida and all of the kid-friendly activities you’ll find here.
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