One of my favorite things about living in Florida is that you can explore so many vacation destinations just a short drive away. Fort Myers is obviously an awesome place to visit, but there is also so much around it to see! I wanted to share thirty different ideas for day trips from Fort Myers for anyone interested in venturing outside of the area.
When we visited Fort Myers for a week, we took a few day trips that really opened our eyes to Southwest Florida. That barely scratched the surface as there are a variety of other towns and beaches to visit within a three hour drive. If you want to find out some more ideas for Fort Myers day trips, ranging from stunning natural wonders to charming coastal towns and cultural hotspots, then continue reading for plenty of options!
Days Trips from Fort Myers, Florida Less Than 1 Hour Away
To start off this post, here are seven day trips from Fort Myers that take less than an hour to drive to. If you are short on time, or prefer less driving for your day trip, these destinations will provide plenty to do just a short drive away. I will share tips for what to do, where to eat, and how to get there for each location below.
1. Lover’s Key State Park
- Distance: 22 miles (45-minute drive)
- Highlights: Beaches, Paddle Tours, Nature Walks, Wildlife Viewing
Lover’s Key State Park is one of my personal favorite beaches in South Florida and I definitely recommend taking the forty-five-minute drive to here if you can. There are three beautiful beaches to relax on with all the necessary facilities. There is also an off-leash dog beach just on the edge of the park that Kiwi loved!
If you want to do more than sunbathe, Lovers Key Adventures offers guided paddle tours through the estuary. This is an amazing opportunity to see manatees and the over forty bird species known to nest here. For those who prefer staying on land, there are also 7 miles of trails in the park to explore on foot or by bike.
Picnic tables and grills are accessible if you want to have a full beach day. I would be remiss not to recommend Big Hickory Waterfront Grille for lunch or dinner. This casual seafood restaurant is right on the water just ten minutes from Lover’s Key. A meal or drink here is the perfect way to finish off a beach day!
- Distance: 20 miles (40-minute drive)
- Highlights: Lighthouse, Nature Trails, Cycling, Beach
Less than an hour away from Fort Myers, Sanibel Island is a great place to spend the day. This small island is known for being a charming beach town with lots of opportunities for shelling and fishing. Rates for staying the night here have risen astronomically, but you can still enjoy a day here without the steep cost of renting a house for the week.
Start your day early at Sanibel Lighthouse Beach. There is plenty to learn about the history of Sanibel here, as well as a nature trail, fishing pier, and lots of pristine beaches. We spent a couple of hours walking around here on our day trip and found it to be an ideal introduction to the island.
For lunch, head to a beachy spot like Lazy Flamingo for seafood. There are a few kitschy restaurants like this that are perfect for a laid-back day.
After lunch, continue to enjoy the untouched nature of this island at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. There are over 245 kinds of birds here and you can either drive through yourself or take a 90-minute tram tour to learn all about it. Bike rentals are also available if you choose to pedal through it. And for those seeking more beach time, spend the rest of the day at Bowman’s Beach looking for shells and dolphins.
3. Cayo Costa State Park
- Distance: 20 miles (40-minute drive)
- Highlights: Boat Tour, Shelling, Snorkeling, Beach
For an island adventure fit for a mermaid, you can spend a day at the remote Cayo Costa. This state park is an island with 9 miles of beach and some of the most beautiful turquoise water imaginable! You can book a 3-hour or 6-hour day trip on Captiva Cruises and depart from Captiva Island.
This island is completely remote, so you have to bring your own lunch, beach chairs, and snorkels, but it is worth the trip! After the short boat ride, visitors can find some of the best snorkeling and shelling in the state and of course pristine white sand beaches. It’s a dreamy place to take a day trip from Fort Myers, especially if you have never been to the island before.
- Distance: 32 miles (1-hour drive)
- Highlights: Nature Viewing, Shelling, Beach, Island Fun
One other island worth visiting is Captiva Island, just north of Sanibel. Though you could do both Sanibel and Captiva in one day, there’s plenty to see on Captiva to spend a day here. Get there early (ideally before 9 AM) and get a parking spot at Alison Hagerup Beach so you have a convenient spot for the day.
Start off your morning with a relaxing walk on the beach looking for shells. After an hour or so, head into town to explore. The first stop to make is Jensen’s Marina, where manatees love to hang out. They tend to be here most of the year, and if you are lucky, you will see baby manatees!
From there, check out the touristy shops like the Island Store or art and jewelry at Jungle Drums Gallery. Then, for lunch head to the Mucky Duck for beachside views and sandwiches or authentic Mexican food at Cantina Captiva. Afterward, you can walk off all that food back to the beach and spend the rest of the day relaxing on one of the prettiest Florida islands.
5. Koreshan State Park
- Distance: 15 miles (30-minute drive)
- Highlights: Pioneer Homes, Kayak Tour, Coconut Point Shopping Center
One of the most fascinating day trips from Fort Myers Beach is a visit to Koreshan State Park. Located thirty minutes away in Estero, this park offers eleven pioneer homes to explore and learn about the religious sect that lived here. This group definitely had an eccentric way of living, but it is a cool place to walk around and see live oaks. Dogs are allowed too!
We spent an hour and a half walking around and then took a kayaking tour. You can paddle three miles to Estero Bay and view all sorts of nature along the way. If the weather is cool, the Estero River Scrub is also a nice place to go for a hike.
I recommend heading to the Bonita Springs Coconut Point shopping center for lunch. Though it has a lot of basic mall offerings, the town center is a beautiful place to walk around and there is lots of outdoor dining. I love El Nido Modern Mexican or Lehne Burger.
- Distance: 43 miles (50-minute drive)
- Highlights: Nature Sightings, Downtown, Museum, Garden, Zoo, Scenic Cruise
If you want to drive a little south, Naples makes for a stunning day trip from Fort Myers. This relaxed beach town has both natural beauty and cultural attractions to enjoy. I recommend starting the day at my favorite place-The Naples Pier! This is an amazing place to spot dolphins, take pictures and even go fishing.
This puts you right near the vibrant downtown area of Naples. Stroll along the charming streets lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and quaint cafes. After a little sightseeing, get lunch at one of the nearby Naples restaurants. My favorites are Jane’s Cafe on 3rd and the Cafe on 5th.
Next, decide if you rather spend some time indoors or outdoors. If you’re an art enthusiast, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Naples Museum of Art. With its impressive collection of contemporary and modern art, this museum offers a visual feast for the eyes.
For nature lovers, a visit to the Naples Botanical Garden is a must. Take a leisurely stroll through the different themed gardens, such as the Brazilian Garden or the Asian Garden, and embrace the serenity of nature. Families with kids may prefer the Naples Zoo, although you can easily spend the whole day here.
As the day winds down, make your way to the Naples City Dock for a scenic sunset cruise. Witnessing the sky painted in shades of orange and pink as the sun dips below the horizon is a truly magical experience that everyone should do in Naples! You can grab dinner by the dock after or end your day trip on the high note of a sunset.
Fort Myers Day Trips that Take One to Two Hours to Get To
Next up are destinations for a day trip from Fort Myers that take less than two hours to get to. Though you will want to plan for a two-hour plus roundtrip drive, sometimes it’s great to venture beyond your comfort zone and explore the hidden gems of Florida. Here are seven suggestions for relatively close Fort Myers day trips.
7. Marco Island
- Distance: 57 miles (1-hour drive)
- Highlights: South Beach, Dockside Dining, Dolphin Tours, History Museum
Probably my favorite South Florida day trip destinations are Marco Island. This is a one-hour drive away, and much of the drive is scenic. Here, the main thing to do is to experience a different beach and soak up the island vibes.
When we did our day trip to Marco Island, we started at South Beach, which had plenty of accessible parking. Then we spent a few hours soaking up the sun and saw lots of dolphins offshore. You can also find dolphin boat rides here. Tigertail Beach is the other popular beach, but depending on the tides, it can be a hike to get a beach spot.
We got lunch at the JW Mariott and then walked around the resort. However, they often do not let non-resort guests in during peak season. Other lunch options include Mango’s Dockside Bistro, CJ’s On the Bay, and Doreen’s Cup of Joe. If you have had enough beach time, you can explore the Marco Island Historical Museum, hike Otter Mound Preserve, or taste craft beer at Marco Island Brewery. No matter what, there are many ways to have a fun day trip on this laid-back island.
8. Audubon Corkscrew Sanctuary
- Distance: 47 miles (1-hour drive)
- Highlights: Nature Walk, Bird Viewing, Wildlife Tours, Local Dining
For a convenient day trip from Fort Myers that is all about the great outdoors, the Audubon Corkscrew Sanctuary is about an hour away. This preserve is home to alligators, deer, otters, turtles, and a variety of birds. The highlight is the 2.25-mile boardwalk that visitors can expect to spend an hour or so perusing and taking pictures.
In addition to the boardwalk, the visitors center has many educational exhibits that will appeal to all ages. Tours and forest bathing meditations are occasionally offered as well.
While in this area of Naples, Florida you can also check out the Bird Gardens of Naples which is home to many exotic birds. You can take a two-hour tour and even hold a macaw! To end the day trip, I recommend getting lunch or dinner in North Naples. Naples Coastal Kitchen or Joey D’s Italian restaurant are my top picks.
9. Everglades City
- Distance: 83 miles (80-minute drive)
- Highlights: Airboat Rides, Hiking, Paddling, and Local Dining
Located at the bottom of Southwest Florida, Everglades City is the gateway to the Florida Everglades. It was historically a settlement of the Seminole Indians, but they were driven from the area in the mid-1800s. Since then, this area has primarily been an agricultural community, but in recent years, there has been an increase in eco-tourism in the area.
Since you cannot take an airboat ride in Everglades National Park, this is a good spot for taking one. Captain Jack’s has an airboat and swamp buggy combo tour perfect for seeing alligators and other wildlife. I recommend starting with the tour in the morning and then taking the drive down to HavAnnA Café for a Cuban lunch.
Later, spend some more time in nature at nearby Big Cypress National Preserve. The Nathaniel P. Reed Visitor Center is a short drive away and has a boardwalk perfect for wildlife viewing, including manatees. From here, the Big Cypress Institute offers walking, biking, canoeing, and birding tours. Most are two hours and under the shade of trees, so it makes for an educational and active afternoon day trip activity.
10. The Everglades Gulf Coast Visitors Center
- Distance: 84 miles (80-minute drive)
- Highlights: Boat Tour, Kayak and Canoe Rentals, Ranger
If you would like to visit an Everglades National Park entrance, the closest option is the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. There are nine different habitats found here and a vast amount of biodiversity, including many endemic species. This section of the park is more aquatic-focused than the east coast side. There are many activities to do, including a boat tour, and kayak and canoe rentals and tours.
The Ten Thousand Islands tour is the most popular option. This 90-minute excursion provides both views and information about the park. Dolphin and manatee sightings are frequent, so be sure to bring a camera! With this tour being only ninety minutes, I recommend starting your day with it and then exploring the Visitor Center. Next, have a picnic lunch and then rent a kayak or canoe to explore the mangroves. If that does not appeal to you, be on the lookout for special ranger-led events that occur frequently. This could be anything from a free fishing lesson to an introduction to birding.
11. Fakahatchee Strand Preserve
- Distance: 86 miles (2-hour drive)
- Highlights: Nature Tours, Paddling, Hiking, Scenic Drives
Nature lovers should prioritize a day trip out to Fakahatchee Strand Preserve, the largest state park in Florida! Here you can find a larger variety of plant and animal species than anywhere else in the continental United States. There is so much to do and see and if you pack a picnic lunch, you can spend the whole day!
If you visit between November and April, Friends of Fakahatchee offers a variety of tours. These include naturalist guides and biologist-led swamp tours. These tours are four hours long and cost $105 per person, so a more casual visitor will probably prefer the tram tour for $30 per person.
I prefer starting the day off with some sort of adventure, whether it be a guided tour or your own experience canoeing or kayaking (Bring Your Own Boat) in the East River and Jones Grade Lakes. After a break for lunch, head to the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk and marvel at nature from above. Lastly, end your day trip from Naples with the Janes Memorial Scenic Drive and look for alligators and birds. If you are looking for dinner after, this is another great opportunity to stop in Everglades City and try a seafood spot like City Seafood or Camelia Street Grill.
- Distance: 77 miles (80-minute drive)
- Highlights: History and Art Museums, Shopping, and Dining, Gardens
For a gulf coast destination filled with history and culture. Sarasota is an hour or so north of Fort Myers. This city is known for being the winter home of the Ringling Brothers and now has a fantastic museum celebrating this piece of American history, as well as many art museums.
A Sarasota from Fort Myers day trip should start at the Ringling Museum where visitors can explore the circus museum, the Museum of Art, the Ca d’Zan Mansion, and the Bayfront Gardens. You could spend a full day checking out each part, but I recommend focusing on two and then grabbing lunch after.
My recommendation for where to get lunch is St. Armands Circle. Here you can find all sorts of excellent Sarasota restaurants, including my favorites, Venezia and Shore. This is also a fun place for shopping and waterfront views.
End the day here with some nature, either at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens or at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. The botanical gardens here are some of the best in Florida and the Mote aquarium is one of the best places to see sea turtles on the gulf! Young and old can appreciate the unique things of Florida with a day in Sarasota.
13. Siesta Key
- Distance: 75 miles (80-minute drive)
- Highlights: Beaches, Water Sports, and Live Music
Another beach town brimming with charm that is perfect for a Fort Lauderdale day trip is Siesta Key. About an hour and a half north, this is one of the best places for a day of fun in the sun. The beaches here are absolutely gorgeous and you could easily spend the whole day relaxing at one.
A morning start at the beach is ideal, with plenty of time to try an activity. I recommend snorkeling, renting a beach cruiser, or going parasailing. There are of course tons of kayak and paddleboard tours available too.
For lunch, venture to Siesta Key Village and enjoy the kitschy shops. Come lunchtime, you do not have to worry about being sandy, as everyone is a beach bum here! Grab a meal at a chill eatery like Island House Tap & Grill or the Hub Baja Grill.
After, adults can spend a few hours jamming to the live music at Siesta Key Oyster Bar, whereas families will want to get some dessert from Big Olaf Creamery. If you still have time later that evening, you can take a sunset cruise or electric bike beach tour to soak in the magical views.
Day Trips from Fort Myers that are 2+ Hours Away
Lastly, I want to highlight all the unique Florida day trips that are two hours away from Fort Myers. This can definitely make for a long day, but so many of the destinations are worthwhile. Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or beach enthusiast, these day trips will satisfy your wanderlust and make for unforgettable memories.
14. Shark Valley
- Distance: 120 miles (2-hour drive)
- Highlights: Tram Tour or Bike Tour, Nature Trails
Just a two-hour drive east of Fort Myers, you can check out Shark Valley, my favorite Everglades entrance. This one offers a tram tour around Shark Valley which is an unmatched experience. We learned so much about the Everglades on this two-hour tour and loved getting to climb up to the Observation Tower for an amazing view.
I recommend booking an earlier tour and getting here first thing. There are a few trails to wander around and plenty of alligators to photograph or just marvel at if you get there early. Afterward, you can eat a picnic lunch or visit one of the Everglades City restaurants on the way back.
To make your Everglades experience a full day, there are also some nearby places for an airboat tour. Everglades Safari Park is the best way to experience it, with its own jungle trail and shows, in addition to the airboat rides. End the night with dinner in Coconut Grove before heading back to Fort Myers.
15. South Beach
- Distance: 160 miles (2.5-hour drive)
- Highlights: Art Deco Tour, Beach, Foodie Spots, Pool Parties
South Beach is pretty synonymous with Florida, so if you haven’t been here, this is a great day trip option. I recommend starting your day here with café con leche and a nice breakfast sandwich on Cuban bread before embarking on an art deco tour. You can take a self-guided tour of the iconic architecture or a paid one to learn even more about the history of the area.
Next, spend some time at the beach at South Pointe Park and get in some people-watching. If you feel like partying, there are plenty of pool parties to join with an entry fee. Lastly, end the day at one of the many renowned local restaurants. Whether you want a Michelin star spot or a casual post-beach meal, there is so much amazing food to indulge in on South Beach.
- Distance: 155 miles (2.5-hour drive)
- Highlights: Street Art, Photo-Ops, Live Music, Foodie Spots
Another iconic Miami destination that you can take a day trip from Fort Myers to is Wynwood. This is a popular neighborhood known for its street art. There are so many colorful murals here and you could spend all day viewing and photographing them.
Again, either a paid or self-guided tour is a great start to a day in Wynwood. While touring, there are a variety of places to shop or dine at. Make sure to get a famous dessert like the Salty Donuts, Salt & Straw ice cream, a Taiyaki cone, or an ice cream paleta. I also love visiting the Miami breweries here like J. Wakefield and finding a place with a live DJ to relax at.
17. Little Havana
- Distance: 155 miles (2.5-hour drive)
- Highlights: Foodie Tour, Culture and History, Live Music, Street Art
One of the many foodie destinations to take a day trip to is Little Havana. This is the part of Miami that many Cuban refugees fled to in the 1960s. because of this, it has become a neighborhood full of culture and history to experience.
We took the Little Havana food tour here and thought it was the ideal way to spend the day. You get to learn all about how the residents carved out their little niche in Miami and what Cuban traditions are still celebrated here. I highly recommend Miami Culinary Tours for getting the full experience.
Regardless of what you do in Little Havana, make sure to get a Cuban sandwich and a mojito! This is the best place to get them in all of Florida. You can always combine your time here with Wynwood or South Beach for an even fuller day trip, or just take your time exploring Little Havana.
18. Coral Gables
- Distance: 155 miles (2.5-hour drive)
- Highlights: Museum and Gardens, Swimming, Shopping and Dining
Though it is a quieter part of Miami, Coral Gables is still one of the best Fort Myers day trips to take. There is a lot of history to see here, starting with the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. I could spend a full day here alone perusing the Gilded Age estate and its equally gorgeous gardens.
Most people will probably spend around two to three hours here and then I recommend heading to Miracle Mile for lunch. This is a popular destination to eat and shop in Coral Gables. There are so many delicious restaurants here, but my favorites are Threefold Café, Graziano’s Market, and Bay 13 Brewing.
If you want to cool off after lunch, the Venetian Pool is another can’t-miss Coral Gables attraction. This pool was built in a coral rock quarry and is open to the public for swimming. Between the waterfalls, lookout towers, and grottos, it is a pool like no other. And for those who rather not get wet, there is also the Lowe Art Museum or the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden to finish out your Coral Gables Day trip.
19. Fort Lauderdale
- Distance: 140 miles (2-hour drive)
- Highlights: Canal Tour, Foodie Spots, Gardens, Museums, Beach
Just a little over two hours away, Fort Lauderdale is another Florida city worth visiting. There is a network of canals around Las Olas Boulevard making it appear like a mini-Venice. I recommend starting your day trip here with a paddle tour, specifically this one with Mr. Beaches, the paddleboarding corgi!
After seeing the city from the water, check out one of the waterfront Fort Lauderdale restaurants for lunch. Or if it’s raining, I love the Sistrunk Marketplace food hall where you can indulge in all sorts of cuisines.
An afternoon spent in Fort Lauderdale is best spent at museums. The Museum of Discovery and Science, the NSU Art Museum, and the Antique Car Museum are all educational and entertaining afternoon activities. End the day trip here with a walk on the beach or a sunset meal at a rooftop bar for the best views!
20. Bonnet House Museum and Gardens
- Distance: 140 miles (2-hour drive)
- Highlights: Gardens, Historic Home, Artwork, Nature Trails
For another unique Fort Lauderdale experience, the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens offers the best bang for your buck! You can easily spend half a day in and around this estate or stretch it even further if you bring a picnic.
The Museum and Gardens do not open until 11 AM, so start your day trip at the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. This land was purchased to be a part of the Bonnet House Estate but was later donated back as public land. I recommend taking a leisurely walk and then relaxing on the beach or going for a paddleboard session through the mangroves.
Once the Museum and Gardens open, head next door and start exploring this historic home. You can watch the short video to learn some history and then tour the elaborate rooms. Be sure to admire the impressive art collection, which showcases works by renowned artists such as Frederic Clay Bartlett and Evelyn Fortune Bartlett.
21. West Palm Beach
- Distance: 125 miles (2.5-hour drive)
- Highlights: Downtown, Attractions, Shopping, and Beaches
Just north of Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach is one of the best places on the east coast to see a unique side of Florida. It is a mecca for art and culture, with so many museums, restaurants, and shops all around the city center.
There’s so much to do here, but art enthusiasts should start with either the Norton Museum of Art and history buffs with the Flagler Museum. For lunch, head to The Square or Clematis Street for Palm Beach foodie options galore.
Though the beaches are lovely, they don’t stand out to me as anything that different from Fort Myers. I recommend spending the rest of the day exploring the shops and gardens of Worth Ave or taking a sightseeing or sunset catamaran cruise. End the day at the food hall Grandview Public Market and head back with that Palm Beach glow.
22. Boca Raton
- Distance: 155 miles (2.5-hour drive)
- Highlights: Art Museum, Shopping, Foodie Dining, Nature Center, and Beaches
One of the more upscale cities that you can take a day trip from Fort Myers to is Boca Raton, known for its art, beautiful beaches, and shopping. It’s a quick half-hour drive, and I recommend stopping at Mizner Park first to walk around.
Here you can visit the Boca Raton Museum of Art or do some shopping and sightseeing. I recommend grabbing lunch before your next destination at one of the fun restaurants here like Kapow Noodle Bar or Rebel House.
Next, a visit to Boca Raton is not complete without checking out the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. This attraction has aquariums with sharks and fish, as well as a sea turtle rehabilitation hospital. Then finish off the day at Red Reef Park for some beach time.
There is a plethora of excellent restaurants in Boca Raton, so do not hesitate to get dinner while here! I recommend a casual spot like Mystic Lobster Roll Co if you were just at the beach or an intimate, Mediterranean dinner at Trattoria Romana if you are in a fancier mood.
23. Delray Beach
- Distance: 160 miles (2.5-hour drive)
- Highlights: City Art, Pinball, Nature Center, Foodie Spots, Gardens
For a little bit of something for everyone, Delray Beach is a Florida town in day trip driving distance. Start at Atlantic Avenue and spend some time checking out the shops and murals of this street. There are plenty of art galleries to peruse and you can have a late breakfast or an early lunch. I love the Delray Beach Market and El Camino.
Afterward, check out an indoor activity like the Silverball Retro Arcade and Museum. This spot has all sorts of pinball machines from the 1950s and you can get unlimited plays while you are here! For something more educational, the Sandoway House Nature Center is a cool place to see sharks and reptiles.
If you are thirsty, SaltWater Brewery is a fun time for all. There are tons of yard games, frequent live music, food trucks, and brewery tours. Or for a relaxing afternoon stroll, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens are a breathtaking sight, with so much exquisite architecture and plant life to see.
That should cover a day, but there is always the beach and mini golf if you need more to fit in! I recommend heading back to Atlantic Avenue to close off the day with a bite before the drive back.
24. Bok Tower Gardens
- Distance: 115 miles (2.25-hour drive)
- Highlights: Gardens, Nature Trail, Sightseeing
For a day immersed in the beauty of nature, Bok Tower Gardens is one of my top day trip recommendations. I have met many people that seem skeptical it is worth the drive, but once arriving, everyone is enchanted by the sights here!
The gardens open at 8 AM daily and I recommend arriving sometime before 10 AM so you can take in the low morning crowds. Start at the Welcome Center where you can learn all about Edward Bok and his inspiration for the Bok Tower. From here, you have to see it for yourself, so head to Olmstead Gardens for a great view! You can spend about two hours checking out the tower, the different gardens, koi ponds, and the boardwalk.
Make sure to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it on the picnic tables outside. Head back into the gardens by 1 PM for the enchanting Carillon Concert played by the tower. In the afternoon, I recommend taking an architecture tour of the El Retiro Mansion, exploring the nature trails, or letting the kids play at Hammock Hollow if you brought any.
Once you are ready to leave Bok Tower Gardens, there is still more to do nearby. No visit is complete without driving to Spook Hill and experiencing your car rolling uphill! If you are confused, just trust me and see for yourself.
End the day trip with dinner at one of the favorite local Lake Wales restaurants, such as L’Incontro Italian Restaurant or Manny’s Original Chophouse. And if you still want to spend time outside, you can even top off the day with some craft beer at Grove Roots Brewing Company. Visiting Bok Tower Gardens is a great way to see the unique side of Old Florida.
25. Downtown St. Petersburg
- Distance: 115 miles (2-hour drive)
- Highlights: Mural Tour, Breweries, Museums, and Gardens
My favorite city in Florida is St. Petersburg, so if you can take the two-hour drive there for a day trip, I think it is an excellent endeavor. You could easily make your own adventure by walking around and discovering colorful murals, craft breweries, and music on the pier.
If you prefer a more structured St. Petersburg day trip itinerary, start with a visit to the Sunken Gardens. It is a tropical oasis right in the middle of the city with flamingos, rainbow eucalyptus, and all sorts of flowers to see. For an indoor experience, the Dali Museum has some breathtaking art on display.
Afterward, get lunch downtown on the pier or at a foodie spot, like one of these St. Pete restaurants. Then take a biking tour to see the city on wheels! If you have time, the top of the Birchwood is an amazing place to watch the sunset before the drive back.
26. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
- Distance: 125 miles (2-hour drive)
- Highlights: Rides, Animal Encounters, Shows, City
If you have done it all at the Orlando theme parks, it may be time to take a day trip to Busch Gardens. This theme park is two hours away from Fort Myers and has everything you could want from an amusement park, including rides, shows, animals, and water rides.
Plan to get there right before the park opens and hit the most popular attractions first. This includes Iron Gwazi (the tallest, fastest and steepest hybrid coaster in the world), Cheetah Hunt, and Montu for coaster lovers. If you aren’t into speedy rides, start with the skyride cable car and some of the animal experiences. They tend to be more active in the morning!
Don’t expect a gourmet lunch in the park, but there are plenty of options to satisfy your hunger. Zambia Smokehouse and Dragon Fire Grill are some of the best options. Afterward, you can continue riding coasters and seeing animals or opt to cool off with some water rides.
Busch Gardens has your typical rapid ride and a flume ride that are both family-friendly. You can also check out some of the shows, including an ice-skating performance and a Sesame Street musical. With nineteen rides and tons of animals, it is not hard to find ways to spend the whole day here!
If you want a unique spot for dinner after your day at the theme park, head to nearby Downtown Tampa. For nice days, the outdoor food hall, Sparkman Wharf has tons of food options and lovely waterfront views. However, if you rather dine inside, there are loads of excellent Tampa restaurants for that as well. Whether you end your day experiencing a little bit of Tampa or stay at the theme park all night, a Busch Gardens day trip makes for a fun experience for all.
27. Tarpon Springs
- Distance: 140 miles (2.25-hour drive)
- Highlights: Boat Tours, History, Cuisine
For a taste of Greece without having to take an international flight, you can visit Tarpon Springs, which is a little over two hours away from Fort Myers. Immigrants from Greece flocked to this town in the 1890s and it became one of the largest natural sponge markets in the world. The markets still function today and with that, the town has kept its Greek cultural roots intact.
Start your day on the water with a dolphin and shelling cruise. Odyssey Cruises offers many throughout the day, but I recommend doing the 10:30 AM for the best chance of seeing dolphins. During the two-hour tour, the boat stops on Anclote Island where you can see a lighthouse and find shells. And you can even bring your dog!
With the tour getting done at 12:30, it’s the perfect time for lunch! You have to get an authentic Greek meal while you are here. I recommend going to the famous Hellas for a Greek Salad or a Gyro Platter. Don’t skip the Feta Dip, and if you are feeling daring, the broiled octopus is a favorite.
After lunch, make sure to peruse the shops and read about the history of the area. You can get your own authentic sponge and some baklava if you aren’t too full from lunch! Other things to do in the afternoon include visiting the Tarpon Springs Aquarium or trying the local beer at 5 Branches Brewing or wine at Tarpon Springs Castle Winery. If you still have time, you can visit nearby Dunedin, Clearwater Beach, or Tampa for dinner on the way back to Fort Myers.
28. Downtown Tampa
- Distance: 125 miles (2-hour drive)
- Highlights: Museum, Aquarium, Zoo, Gardens, Foodie
Just two hours away, Tampa is a city I can’t get enough of. This is a fun day trip that offers so much culture and a break from the quiet Fort Myers. Leave early enough to beat the traffic and start your day with one of Tampa’s top attractions.
Choose between ZooTampa, the Tampa Museum of Art, or the Florida Aquarium, depending on your interest. Adults will enjoy any of the options, whereas families should stick with the zoo or aquarium. Afterward, head to Armature Works for lunch.
This is my favorite food hall around and it has so many excellent food stands to sample from. If you prefer a more traditional sit-down lunch, Ulele and Steelback there offer that as well. Once you are full, take a walk down the Riverwalk to see the city views.
For the afternoon, head to either USF or the University of Tampa for some exploring. USF has a botanical garden open to the public with all sorts of trees, plants, and flowers. Over at the University of Tampa, you can learn about the history of the area at the Henry B. Plant Museum, as well as take in the stunning architecture.
Lastly, end the day at the historical Ybor City. There’s a free museum here that shows the history of the area, or you can tour a traditional cigar factory. For dinner, it’s a great area to try Cuban cuisine at places like Carmine’s Restaurant and the local brews at Tampa Bay Brewing Co. or the Cigar City Meadery.
- Distance: 132 miles (2-hour drive)
- Highlights: Downtown, Spring Training, Breweries, Honeymoon Island State Park
For a gulf coast day trip, one hidden gem I love is Dunedin! This area has small-town vibes compared to the rest of the Gulf Coast, but still, plenty to do and see. You can start the day at Honeymoon Island State Park and check out either the beach or the nature trails. If you have a lot of time, you can even take the ferry to Caladesi Island from here and enjoy the untouched beaches and often dolphin sightings on the ride over!
In the afternoon head to Downtown Dunedin to explore the quirky shops and cafes. There are so many great places to get lunch with some of my favorites being the Crown and Bull and Frenchy’s Outpost. Be sure to check if there is a game TD Ballpark. The Toronto Blue Jays practice here during Spring Training, and you check out the minor league Blue Jays team during the regular season.
If there isn’t a game going on, I recommend a brewery crawl for the afternoon. There are at least half a dozen Clearwater breweries within walking distance of each other, including Dunedin Brewery, 7venth Sun, and Cueni. For those who prefer a little pop culture history, the Ultimate Beatles Museum is a fun visit!
Lastly, end your Dunedin Day Trip with a sunset view. The Hi-Fi rooftop at the Fenway Hotel has gorgeous unobstructed views and tasty cocktails to go with it. For dinner, head downstairs to the Hew Parlor & Chophouse, and do not miss the to-die-for French Onion Mac and Cheese! If you don’t fill up there, the family-owned Strachan’s Ice Cream shop is a sweet way to finish off the day trip before heading back to Fort Myers.
- Distance: 140 miles (2.5 hour drive)
- Highlights: Beach Boardwalk, City Art, Galleries, Foodie Spots, Nature Center
For a relaxing day trip on the east coast, Hollywood offers a taste of the glamorous beach life mixed with a vibrant arts and culture scene. Start your day with a picturesque walk along Hollywood Beach and enjoy the ocean breeze. Then make your way to downtown Hollywood, where you’ll find an array of art galleries and boutiques. Take a self-guided tour of the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project which showcases impressive murals created by local and international artists.
When you are ready for lunch, I recommend stopping at one of the many local Peruvian restaurants like Pachamanka or Cvi.Che.105. This is one of the best parts of Florida to find authentic ceviche and lomo saltado. Next, head to 3 Sons Brewery and relax with a craft beer from one of South Florida’s best! You could also take a food tour if you want a locals perspective!
For afternoon exploration, check out the Anne Kolb Nature Center, a 1,500-acre coastal mangrove wetland. You can hike the nature trails, rent a kayak, or join a guided tour to learn about the diverse wildlife that calls this area home. To end the day, head back to the beach and either watch the waves or stroll the 2.5-mile-long beach boardwalk. There are plenty of options for grabbing dinner here, finding a souvenir or just ending your day with a peaceful sunset.
31. Key West
- Distance: 96 miles by sea (3.5-hour ferry ride)
- Highlights: Ferry Ride, Historic Tours, Tourist Attractions, Tiki Bars
If you really want to maximize your time in Florida while visiting Fort Myers, there is a ferry that allows visitors to take a day trip to Key West. For $185, you can book a roundtrip ride on the Key West Express and visit the Conch Republic for a day or longer if you get a hotel there.
The catamaran leaves Fort Myers at 8 AM and arrives in Key West around noon. Then you have to be back on the boat by 4:30 PM for a three-and-a-half-hour ride back. It’s obviously better to stay a few days and experience all the fun things to do in the Florida Keys. But if you only have one day, it is possible to take a day trip!
Key West Express drops passengers off about half a mile from Duval Street. From here, you spend the day checking out iconic Key West spots like Mallory Square, Sloppy Joe’s, the Audubon House, The Hemingway Home, the Key West Lighthouse, and the Truman Little White House.
Everything is within walking distance so it is the easiest way to get a taste of Key West. Just be prepared to want to spend more than a day trip here once you arrive!
Know Before You Go: Epic Day Trips from Fort Myers
Whether you live in Fort Myers or you are looking for a unique adventure during your trip there, these thirty day trip ideas should make for a fun experience! From wildlife sightings to vibrant city tours, there is so much to do within a three-hour drive. Before you take one of these day trips from Fort Myers, here are some tips to keep in mind!
- These driving times should be pretty accurate, but there may be traffic during February through April with spring breakers. Also, snowbird season (January – April) can lead to some slowdowns with driving as well.
- On the other hand, watch out for afternoon showers when visiting July through October. I often recommend waiting until after dinner to head back from a day trip so you can avoid getting caught mid-drive in a storm!
- While exploring, make sure to leave nature undisturbed and always throw away your trash. You can take shells home if you like, but make sure there are no living organisms in the shells when you do!
- No matter what you are doing for your day trip from Fort Myers, you will probably want to bring sunscreen and bug spray. I like Sun Bum and these bug-repellent wipes.
- Even if you are not bringing a picnic lunch, I always recommend packing a cooler with drinks and a couple of snacks for day trips. This way you can enjoy nice, cold water or seltzer on the drive back!
- Check out the map below to get an idea of where each day trip will take you. To save the map for later, click the star next to the map name. Then go to Google Maps -> Menu -> Your Places -> Maps and you will see it.
- What’s your favorite day trip to take from Fort Myers, Florida? Let me know if I missed any in the comments! While this post focused on places outside of Fort Myers, be sure to check out my guide for things to do in Fort Myers for more fun ideas close by!Check out my complete guide for Florida day trip ideas if you are looking for places in Central Florida!