things to do in fort meyers beach

What to Do in Fort Myers Beach: Stroll Along its White Beaches and Visit Attractions

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Warning: Due to Hurricane Ian, some information in this article may be out of date

If you are planning a trip along the west coast of Florida, you will most certainly visit the city of Fort Myers, an essential stop on any itinerary in these parts. However, the city does not directly overlook the sea, although the coast is not far away, and is separated from the open sea by a lagoon area and a series of long, narrow islands known as “barrier islands”. On one of these, Estero Island lies the seaside town of Fort Myers Beach, which can be considered as the capital’s main beach.

Why should a tourist stop at Fort Myers Beach? First of all to take a relaxing break on the beach during a visit to the city, but also because the town is very pleasant and full of entertainment, ranging from water sports to a floating casino! Let’s discover the best things to do in Fort Myers Beach.

If on the other hand, you are still undecided on where to go to the beach in the Sunshine State, read our article on the best beaches in Florida!

How to get there and when to visit

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As mentioned above, Fort Myers Beach is located on Estero Island, an island that is connected to the mainland by San Carlo Boulevard. This road includes two bridges that connect the coast to St. Charles Island and then to Estero Island. The most convenient way to get there is by car, but it’s not the only one: county buses also come here. You can find the bus schedule on the official website.

There are two aspects to take into account when deciding when it is best to go to Fort Myers Beach. The first one is the weather: we suggest you read our article dedicated to the Florida climate, but we can anticipate that in this area the best months are the winter months when it is usually quite easy to find a warm dry climate. The second aspect is the events that you can take part in on the island that can make your vacation even more interesting.

Starting with culinary events, the Shrimp Festival has been held in March for over 60 years. This is not only a great opportunity to taste the delicious shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico cooked in a thousand ways, but to see a beauty contest and a very long parade of over two miles. Autumn, on the other hand, begins with the Beach Pirate Festival, which transforms Estero Island into a pirate island every October.

Themed events, naval battles, concerts, and more enliven the Historic Seaport District during the event. One of the most heartfelt annual events is the Beach Sand Sculpting Championship: ten days during which the sand on the beach becomes the raw material for a grand sculpting competition. This artistic event by the sea is held every November and both amateurs and professionals participate, so it’s easy to see real works of art made of sand. In December, the Christmas Boat Parade lights up the port of Matanzas and the canals of the island with a fantastic parade of festively-decorated boats covered in lights.

What to see in Fort Myers Beach

Fort Myers Beach and its surroundings offer visitors much more than just the beach. Not only is the shoreline one of the best in the area for water sports and various other activities, but both in the town and all around, there is no shortage of cultural and natural attractions. The heart of the city is Time Square, the pedestrian area full of restaurants, stores, and entertainment for the evening. Always lively and colorful, it is the ideal starting point for a visit to Fort Myers Beach. But let’s see what you can see and do on the whole island during your stay here.

One curious feature, if we consider that we are on a small island, is that there is a large number of religious buildings belonging to different religious denominations. From an architectural point of view, the two that deserve most attention are the Catholic Church of the Ascension (6025 Estero Blvd.) and the Beach Baptist Church (130 Connecticut St.). Then there’s the Episcopal Church Saint Raphael (5601 Williams Dr.), The Beach United Methodist Church (155 Bay Rd.), the Presbyterian Chapel by the Sea (100 Chapel St.), and the St. Pete’s Lutheran Church (3751 Estero Blvd.).

Natural Areas

fort myers beach top attractions

We start at the northern end of Estero Island, where we find Bowditch Point Park. This is a green area that occupies the northern tip of the island, with walking paths among the trees and the beach all around. Among other things, the tables and the presence of equipped barbecues allows you to cook your dinner outside in the shade of palm trees. The parking lot located near the entrance to the area is not free, but it is the only place to park in this area.

In the center of the island, facing the inland coast, there is a large protected natural reserve, the Matanzas Pass Preserve. Miles of paths wind among the mangroves and several information signs help the visitor to understand the natural characteristics of this area. It is easy to spot various species of animals and on the official website, you can find both the map of the paths and the timetables and the conditions of access to the reserve.

Fishing Pier

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Lynn Hall Beach Park is another small park, overlooking the outer coast of the island, the one overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. It is located more or less across from where San Carlos Boulevard arrives on the island and is therefore easily accessible. A picnic area and a play area for the kids make it a perfect place for downtime while visiting Fort Myers Beach.

The highlight of this place is the Fishing Pier, the pier beloved by local fishermen, at the foot of which the Sunset Celebration takes place every weekend. At sunset, bands and musicians perform on the beach as the sun slowly sets beyond the waters of the sea.

The Mound House

Near the border of the natural area of Matanzas, in the evocative natural setting that characterizes Estero Bay, we come across a house museum, which reproduces the architectural style of the 20s. Here we find one floor with furniture from the early twentieth century, while another floor is dedicated to the Underground Archaeological Museum, where we delve into the history of the Calusa Indians and when they lived in this part of Florida. You can see tools, crafts from the past, and indigenous artwork.

The Mound House is open year-round, but during the months of May through December, it operates on a reduced schedule. You can check the official website for updated hours and ticket prices. You can also participate in guided walking or kayaking tours of the bay here. Kayaking through the mangroves is certainly one of the best ways to fully explore and appreciate the beauty of this area.

Ostego Bay Marine Science Center

If you’re traveling with children, check out the Ostego Bay Marine Science Center. For more than thirty years, this center has been providing visitors with a marine science experience through interactive exhibits, aquariums, touch tanks, and themed displays. One of the most interesting things is undoubtedly feeding time: the opportunity to see marine specimens come out to eat.

But even touching a stingray or watching sea turtle eggs hatch are experiences not to be missed, as they fascinate the little ones but also their parents. The official website has all the details on schedules and prices

Water sports and other activities

Salty Sam’s Pirate Cruise

There are various ways to have fun during your stay on Estero Island. Starting with attractions for the little ones. Salty Sam’s Pirate Cruise (2500 Main St.): an interactive show on board the Pieces of Eight: a pirate ship that is a replica of an ancient Spanish galleon. Visitors can play pirates in a fun and dynamic way.

Moving on to the sea and water sports, here you can rent kayaks, jet skis and sailboats, but also experience paragliding over the sea or maybe go swimming with dolphins. The place to go for all these activities is Holiday Water Sports (200 Estero Blvd.).

Water Paragliding

Boat party

Jungle Golf

Finally, what better way to enjoy a warm evening outdoors than a game of miniature golf? Jungle Golf (17710 San Carlos Blvd.) is a miniature golf course nestled in a tropical setting with trees and streams, a waterfall, and a lagoon area.

Lovers Key State Park

best beaches around fort myers

Connected to Estero Island by a bridge, to the south, is the vast natural area of Lovers Key State Park, one of the places where Florida is able to surprise you with the beauty of its unspoiled nature. This lagoon area where mangroves reign supreme is the habitat of West Indian manatees, among the rarest and most peculiar cetaceans, but also of bottle-nosed dolphins, turtles, and numerous species of birds. Bald eagles, ibises, and blue herons are just some of the birds that can be seen among the tropical trees of this network of islands.

A 1.8 mile long beach is perfect for enjoying the tranquility of a day at the beach or even a romantic sunset. You can rent canoes and kayaks, but also bicycles to visit the natural park. There are several paths that cross the forest on these islets and bikes are a valid substitute for feet, allowing you to move around faster and discover more of the reserve.

Where to eat in Fort Myers Beach

If you’re not just passing through Fort Myers Beach, but are staying for dinner, you may want some suggestions on where you can grab a bite to eat. Let’s start from the waterfront, where you can go to The Salty Crab & Grill (1154 Estero Blvd.) for a beach-front dinner while the sun is setting. The restaurant offers mainly American cuisine and often also evening entertainment. Also on the waterfront, even with its own private beach, Fresh Catch Bistro (3040 Estero Blvd.) is a restaurant that specializes in seafood, but also offers different dishes.

Live music, BBQ fish, and Angus burgers: at The Beached Whale (1249 Estero Blvd.) you’ll find a wide variety of dishes, a pleasant outdoor dining area, and happy hour on weekday afternoons. On San Carlos Island, the one you cross to get to Estero Island, a good place is Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grill (708 Fishermans Wharf), which offers a varied cuisine but above all has a really nice location that looks directly over the bay.

Where to stay in Fort Myers Beach

Like all the islands close to the coast in this area, it can be difficult to find a place to sleep at competitive prices, so if you are passing through and looking to save money, look at our advice on where to stay in Fort Myers, or otherwise look for accommodations on the mainland.

Find hotels on the mainland near Ft.Myers Beach

That said, Fort Myers Beach does have various accommodations: both hotels and residences or apartments suitable for stays of several days. Here are some suggestions.

  • GullWing Beach Resort. One of the main resorts on the island is a short walk from the beach, which is reached by a beautiful wooden walkway. You’ll find a swimming pool, gym, tennis courts and plenty of amenities to make the most of your stay.
  • Tiki On The Beach. This three-star hotel is not overtaxing your wallet, but still offering all the essential services. It has a private beach and can be a good alternative to higher-quality hotels.
  • Manatee Bay Inn. A very nice B&B. It does not look out onto the beach, but has a nice pool. This is also a good alternative to not spend exorbitant amounts of money, but enjoy a good stay.
  • Lovers Key Beach Club. Thinking of spending a few days here? This residence located on the island of Lovers Key is a perfect choice to be a stone’s throw from one of the best beaches in the area and have the beauty of the natural park at your fingertips, while still being close to the services of the city.

Find all hotels in Fort Myers Beach

andrea cuminatto
Andrea Cuminatto

Journalist and traveler. I love seeing new places, but more than anything, I love to meet those who live there.

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