Fort Myers is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Florida. Known as the gateway to South Florida, this bustling city offers plenty of activities and warm weather all year round for snowbirds and tourists alike.
Whether you’re planning a family getaway or an escape from the winter cold with a group of friends, you’ll want to know the best things to do in Fort Myers. We here at Road Affair have done the heavy lifting and carefully created a list of the top attractions in the area, including the best beaches, parks, and museums. Start scrolling to plan the ultimate vacation to Fort Myers!
See the Wildlife at Manatee Park
Have you ever wanted to kayak with manatees? Well, Manatee Park is the place to do it!
This is the perfect Fort Myers attraction for outdoor enthusiasts. You can wander the many walking trails past Orange River, where you might spot some wild manatees. Kayak rentals are also available for anyone who wants to get up close and personal with these doggos of the sea! Seriously, they’re a lot like dogs – manatees are actually quite safe to be around and tend to be very friendly with humans.
The park also features a beautiful butterfly sanctuary, a gift shop, a kayak launch, a playground, and restrooms. Unfortunately for trail walkers, no dogs are allowed in the park (unless you count the manatees!).
Spend a Day at Lovers Key State Park
A trip to Florida is incomplete without a visit to the beach, and we’re positive you’ll enjoy the soft white sands and crystal-clear waters of Lovers Key State Park.
There’s so much to do in this park that you’ll definitely want to give it a full day. The secluded main beach is only accessible via the boardwalk, after a tram takes you most of the way. It’s a bit of a walk, so consider bringing a wagon if you have coolers and beach chairs. If you want to bring your furry friends along, head to the other beach area, Bonita Beach Dog Park. To join the fun on the water, you can rent a Jet Ski or fishing charter in the park.
There are a few hiking trails in the park that wind through the canals and are great for bird-watching. After a day in the sun, you can enjoy a bite to eat or a cocktail at Flippers on the Bay.
Hit the Waves and Bars at Fort Myers Beach
Another popular beach here, unsurprisingly, is Fort Myers Beach! This sandy oasis is lined with beach bars and restaurants boasting live music and cold beer, definitely making for one of the best things to do in Fort Myers.
This is the perfect spot for water sports such as ocean swimming, parasailing, and Jet-Skiing. If you don’t feel like getting wet, you can enjoy a game of beach volleyball or just relax on the sand. You can try your luck at catching cobia or bluefish at the Fort Myers Fishing Pier, which is also a great place to watch for dolphins or enjoy the sunset.
Plenty of public events take place here, including the Fort Myers Lions Club Shrimp Festival and the Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival. Keep an eye on the city’s events webpage to see what’s going on while you’re in the area.
Step Back in Time at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates
The most famous snowbirds to visit Fort Myers include Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, who both owned winter estates in the area. Today, you can explore the winter homes of these famous inventors.
Ford and Edison became fast friends while working together at the Edison Illuminating Co. in Detroit in the late 19th century, prompting the Ford family to visit Edison at his Fort Myers estate. Not long after that, Ford purchased the estate next door. The two inventors encouraged and challenged each other, forming a lifelong friendship.
Located on the Caloosahatchee River, these neighboring estates are now a museum that features 21 acres of lush botanical gardens and historic buildings. The museum displays plenty of inventions and other highlights from both men’s careers. For instance, you can explore the Edison Botanic Research Laboratory to see how the inventor researched a replacement for foreign rubber.
Edison’s home, Seminole Lodge, is still in pristine condition and furnished with the original furniture. The house features a swimming pool, a study, a guesthouse, and a caretaker’s home. Ford’s home, The Mangoes, is also a beautiful property, with its Craftsman architectural style. This museum is an absolute must-see in Fort Myers.
Discover Interactive Exhibits at the IMAG History & Science Center
If you’re wondering what to do in Fort Myers on a rainy day, the IMAG History & Science Center is the place to go!
This large museum features interesting and interactive exhibits for visitors of all ages, including stingray and koi fish feedings, live science shows, and the Integrated Augmented Reality Sandbox. In the TV Studio simulation, you can even use the green screen to create your own weather report, which is a fun activity for kids.
The museum is open every day except Tuesdays. You can purchase tickets here.
Explore the Beaches and Museums on Sanibel Island
Just a 40-minute drive from the downtown area is Sanibel Island, a great place to explore for a day.
The island has plenty of less crowded beaches where you can enjoy a swim, such as Gulfside City Park Beach and Bowman’s Beach. At Lighthouse Beach Park, you can explore the old lighthouse, go fishing off of the pier, take a swim, or enjoy a picnic. You can also head to Sanibel Historical Museum and Village to learn about pioneer life, or make your way to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum to learn more about seashells and let the kids enjoy hands-on activities.
If you want to dive into nature, consider booking an eco-tour of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge with Tarpon Bay Explorers. The company offers kayak trail tours, boat cruises to see the nature and sea life, and guided tram tours.
Take the Family to Gator Mike’s Family Fun Park
Are you looking for a fun thing to do in Fort Myers with the family? Gator Mike’s Family Fun Park has you covered.
Less than a 15-minute drive from downtown Fort Myers, this amusement center offers awesome activities for the whole family. For example, you can get competitive with a go-kart race or play a round of mini golf. Teens will love the paintball course, and the whole family can learn how to throw axes. Other attractions include an arcade, a zip line and ropes course, climbing walls, and a virtual reality experience.
Experience Nature at the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
If you’re on the hunt for free things to do in Fort Myers, why not dive into nature at this incredible 3,500-acre nature preserve?
The Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve boasts lush nature areas with 1.2 miles of boardwalk trails, an interpretive center, and a 6-mile slough that allows wildlife to travel safely within the Fort Myers area. In case you want to learn more about the area’s ecosystems and animals, the park offers daily guided walking tours. This is a great way to spend a relaxing afternoon in nature, but unfortunately, no dogs are allowed.
Kayak Through the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve
Another fantastic nature preserve in Fort Myers is the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve. You can enjoy 365 acres of pristine scenery here – and maybe even spot some crabs or iguanas from one of the park’s viewpoint piers.
Apart from walking the serene trails, you can rent kayaks to explore the mangroves and waterways on your own. Kayak rentals are available every weekend from November to May. You can also find a unique monument to American veterans here.
Channel Your Inner Jack Sparrow at Wicked Dolphin Rum Distillery
When Jack Sparrow said, “Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate,” we like to think he was talking about the liquid gold of rum. If you’re of a similar mind, Wicked Dolphin Rum Distillery is a fantastic place to visit in Fort Myers.
On an hourlong tour of the distillery, you’ll get to taste the rum and learn how the company makes this delicious liquor. While the tour is free, it’s best to book your spot in advance on the distillery’s website.
Tours are available Thursday through Sunday. Even if you aren’t in town on those days or don’t fancy a tour, we still recommend stopping in to try the RumShine and cocktails!
Roam Among the Wildlife at the Wonder Gardens
If you’re sightseeing in Fort Myers and the surrounding areas, make your way down to Bonita Springs to see the Wonder Gardens.
This stunning botanical garden is also a rehabilitation sanctuary for the friendly resident birds and animals. You can even sign up for an animal experience to feed sulcata tortoises and lorikeets or get a photo with American alligators. End the day at the Robert & Karin Moe Tea House with a treat and a refreshing drink.
Ride the Mini-Train at the Railroad Museum
A great attraction for train enthusiasts and families looking for activities in Fort Myers, the Railroad Museum of South Florida boasts an array of model trains, a train simulator, and plenty of information on the history of railroads in the state and across the country.
Perhaps the best part of this unique museum is the miniature train that takes you on a 15-minute ride through Lakes Regional Park past miniature buildings and finishes at a snack bar. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekends.
Go on a Boat Tour
Seeing as Fort Myers is a coastal city, it would be a shame if you didn’t get out on the water at least once during your vacation!
You have several great options for cruises in the Fort Myers area, but we recommend Adventures in Paradise, which offers a wide variety of top-rated boat tours. Hop aboard one of its shelling tours to enjoy an afternoon of snorkeling, collecting seashells, and watching dolphins frolic in the water. If you crave the thrill of sea fishing, consider chartering a private boat or joining the backwater fishing tour.
Another way to get out on the water is to rent a boat and explore the coast on your own. Moss Marina at Fort Myers Beach offers an array of rental boats, such as pontoons and bowriders, so you can take your own private cruise.
Go Fishing or Boating at Lakes Regional Park
This freshwater lake and its accompanying park offer fun activities for visitors of all ages.
Those who have a hankering for fishing will find plenty of spots to catch bass. In case you want to explore, you can find electric boats, kayaks, paddle boats, swan pedal boats, and various surreys and bikes at Wheel Fun Rentals in the park. If you’re traveling with little ones, head to the playground or beat the heat at the splash pad. Other amenities include biking and walking paths, restrooms, fitness stations, and sand volleyball courts.
Catch a Show at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre
Do you need an idea for a cute date night or a unique dinner setting? Consider booking a ticket to one of the shows at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre!
This lunch and dinner theater serves up some pretty good grub, along with fantastic Broadway-style shows. It has three different stages and dining areas showcasing Broadway shows, off-Broadway shows, and shows for kids. The children’s shows are especially captivating, as the actors stay on stage afterward to answer questions from the audience.
You might come for the performance, but the meal is the showstopper here. You can choose a buffet-style or plated meal, both with three courses. The food is so good that you’ll be glad the recipes are up on the theater’s website!
Whether you’re on a family holiday or a romantic getaway, you won’t want to miss these fantastic tourist attractions in Fort Myers. You’ll just have to see how many of them you can pack into your itinerary!
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