We just got back from our anniversary trip to Fort Myers Beach! Though it wasn’t Hawaii or the Mediterranean like past anniversaries, it still beat being stuck at home like we were in 2020! Because we just got our puppy Kiwi, we decided to stay at an Airbnb in driving distance and that is how we ended up spending 5 days in Fort Myers Beach.
I have a restaurant guide, things to do list and Airbnb review, but I wanted to start with a trip report to share all about our Fort Myers Beach experience! My plan is to also have a YouTube video to share of our Fort Myers Beach trip! I hope you enjoy this look back at our 5 days in Fort Myers Beach!
Day 1 – Arriving in Fort Myers Beach
We left for Fort Myers Beach on April 21st, 1 day before our fourth anniversary. It’s about a 4-hour drive from the Space Coast where we live, so we wanted to get an early start. After a quick stop for bagels, we drove straight through to the other coast! Since our Airbnb said check in was at 4 PM we decided to stop River District on the way for lunch.
There were multiple places I wanted to eat at on First Street, and with one look at Izzy’s Fish and Oyster for lunch, I couldn’t resist it! We sat on the patio and Kiwi was happy to smile at the passerbys. It was an amazing start to the trip with a delicious lunch of Blue Point Oysters, Stone Crab, Ceviche and a Hot Buttered Lobster Roll we split. We drank a Hazify by Palm City Brewing alongside that instantly got us in the vacation mood.
Though our Aribnb host texted us that we were free to check in early, we decided to hang out in the River District a bit longer while we were there. A sign for Snouts and Strokes: Pet Pub intrigued us, as it is part art gallery, part pet lounge, but it did not have the vibe we were going for. Instead, we went to Coastal Dayz Brewery, which had a lovely patio and a great craft beer selection. After a flight of ales and wheat beers here, we headed beachside!
Checking into our Airbnb was a breeze as all we had to do was open a lock box. We were super excited to have a whole house and pool to ourselves on vacation, as we usually stay in hotels! I will go more in depth in the review, but this one had two bedrooms, a large living area, one and a half baths and a gorgeous pool and patio. And it was only a short walk to the beach! We were tired from the drive, so our rest of the day was spent hanging out by the pool relaxing and just ordering Door Dash. However, we did manage to make it to the beach to see this beautiful sunset view!
Day 2 – Exploring Estero Bay
Our plan was to take it easy our first full day by staying local. We got an early start with breakfast at Little Palm. Unbeknownst to me, It used to be named Fresh Connection and I kept saying I really wanted to go there, but Andrew wanted to try Little Palm. Well they turned out to be the same place! We loved the acai bowls, especially the tropical presentation, and the avocado toast.
Afterwards, we wanted to check out the Bonita Beach Dog Park, which was only ten minutes away. Dogs are allowed on all of Fort Myers Beach, but they have to be on a leash. At this dog beach, they can roam free! We thought it would be a fun opportunity for Kiwi to play in the shallow water.
This turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip! After some initial confusion of finding the place (during high tide you have to trudge through some water), we had a blast hanging out with Kiwi in the ocean. He is only five months old so he got to meet some bigger dogs for once and they got a long great! He even swan in the ocean!
We could have stayed here all day, but decided to grab lunch a little after noon. The Big Hickory Waterfront Grille was nearby and on the water. This was a quintessential Florida lunch spot and we enjoyed a Fried Grouper Sandwich, Blackened Grouper Tacos and another Hazify beer with a crystal blue ocean view. Kiwi was exhausted and so well behaved here after his day of fun.
After that, we decide to spend the afternoon of our anniversary by the pool. The weather was perfect for relaxing in the shade and swimming. The backyard of this Airbnb was what convinced us to book it and it lived up to expectations in every way. There was even a TV by the pool that we used to play music through.
Since we were celebrating four years of marriage, tonight was the night to treat ourselves. We went to dinner at the Bayfront Bistro just south of our Airbnb. This was another favorite meal of the trip. We got a bottle of rose from Russian River Valley and both enjoyed pasta dishes. Andrew had the Fettucine with Scallops special and I had the Spicy Tunisian Shrimp and Calamari Pasta. We both agreed that the dishes were pretty pricey for what it is was, but it was worth it for the nice atmosphere and bay view. For dessert, we split the tiramisu to finish of a sweet night!
Not wanting to end our anniversary too early, after we got back to the Airbnb, we walked Kiwi to the Shamrock Irish Pub at the end of our street for a pint of Guiness. This took us back to our 2nd anniversary trip where we went to Ireland! It was a quirky place to grab a beer, but definitely nowhere I would go out of your way for. The most amusing part was a man playing harmonica (poorly) along with the country music playing. People kept trying to give him money and refused, saying this was his hobby and he just comes here for fun! He was quite a memorable character and a funny way to end our anniversary.
Day 3 – Daytrip to Sanibel and Captiva
The next day we decided to visit the nearby Sanibel and Captiva islands. They are about half an hour away from Fort Myers Beach and were supposedly more secluded, less touristy destinations. In my mind, I was picturing the Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket to Cape Cod for a comparison. Though the beaches in Fort Myers and Bonita were plenty pretty, we wanted to check these out.
Since we would be leaving Kiwi for a while, we took him to breakfast at MoJoe’s Coffee Café. They had an adorable outside eating area that was perfect for bringing a pup. Unfortunately, the food was not so perfect. I ordered a classic egg, hash brown and bacon meal that arrived ice cold and clearly frozen hash browns. Andrew had the biscuits and gravy, which were equally lackluster. To add insult to injury, we have been pescatarian this year so this was out first meal with meat in a while! We thought about sending it back, but were on a time crunch, so made do. With cold brew, the breakfast cost almost $40, so it was also very expensive. I mention this because this spot has very good reviews and I would not recommend it to others in the future.
After breakfast, we made our way to Sanibel with our first stop being the Sanibel Lighthouse. The drive over the water was stunning and we found parking pretty quickly at around 10 AM on a Friday. This is the closest part of Sanibel to Fort Myers and was excellent for sightseeing. There were multiple trails for nature viewings, plenty of beach, a lighthouse and exhibit and even a pier you could fish off of!
We spent at least an hour walking around and taking pictures. One thing that stood out to me was how crowded the beach was though, I had pictured it to be much less busy than Fort Myers Beach. Most of the shells that the island is so famous for had been picked through as well, so we did not find any crazy big shells like I have seen! We did find some cute little ones and enjoyed walking the beach and even seeing someone catch a Sheepshead Fish. Apparently, they are notorious bait thieves, so this is actually quite a feat!
After an hour or so there, we wanted to check out Captiva. Our waiter the night before told us Blind Pass Beach was the best of the islands. That is about half an hour away from the lighthouse, but the drive there was quite scenic. We saw so many people riding bikes and it made me wish we had stayed on this island. I couldn’t find any Airbnbs as nice as ours when I was looking though!
When we got to Blind Pass Beach the parking lot was completely full and there were multiple cars waiting for spots. We decided to continue on to Turner Beach, but again had no luck there. After this, there is only one more public beach, Alison Hagerup, further north. We kept driving and still couldn’t find any parking. At least there were lots of waterfront mansions to ogle at as we drove by.
Since we had not eaten much for breakfast and were out of beach options on Captiva, we decided to stop at the Mucky Duck for lunch. This is right on the beach so the view is nice, but they are very strict that you can’t use the beach if you are parking there. We were happy to have a few drinks by the water though. I got a Bloody Mary and Andrew had a local IPA. The ordering system is definitely odd, as you have to go to a bar for drinks, but a waiter takes your food order. We eventually got food. I got the Captiva Sandwich and Andrew got the Mahi Mahi special. The sandwich really hit the spot and the fish was very fresh. Still, it was a bit of a chaotic experience, especially as the restaurant got more crowded for lunch.
With a long drive ahead of us, we decide to head back. Though we spent more time in the car then on the beach in Sanibel and Captiva, I was happy to get a taste of the islands. In the future, I would either splurge for a stay here or take a boat charter here for the day. We did stop at Joey’s Custard on the way back for a refreshing treat. Kiwi was very happy to have us back and we spent the rest of the day by the pool with him.
For dinner, we decided to check out the “Times Square” area of Fort Myers Beach. There were a few restaurant options we had in mind, but we wanted to scope out the choices and see which were less crowded, because of Covid. Being only a mile from our Airbnb, we walked and took Kiwi with us. I had a feeling from driving by that this place would not be our cup of tea and my suspicions were correct. The pandemic made it a lot worse though, as it was pretty shocking to see so many people partying here without masks. Yucatan Beach Stand and La Ola Surfside both looked way too rowdy for us. However, Felipes Mexican Taqueria had some outdoor seating available so we dined here.
Though Felipe’s is a chain restaurant, it was the perfect dinner for us that night! We each got margaritas and tacos and split the Jalapeno Poppers. They were by far the best poppers I have ever had, with a tasty fried breading and a spicy filling. We also got an insanely spicy hot sauce that was excellent on our tacos. You can choose different options and my favorite was the Fried Avocado Taco and Andrew’s was the Al Pastor.
After dinner, we put Kiwi in his K9 Sport Sack to walk back since he had a long walk there. He has been loving this thing as he gets to relax and see things from up high. Everyone who saw was amused and we ended up walking back with our masks on because so many people were coming up to us! It’s definitely a convenient way to bring your dog around with you!
Day 4 – Hiking 6 Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
After a busy day yesterday, we weren’t sure how to spend Saturday. After sleeping in, we decided to go to the famed Heavenly Biscuits for breakfast. When we got there, the line was wrapped around the building, but we were assured that it is worth it. Luckily, it went pretty fast and we got our food in less than an hour. I got an egg, bacon and cheese on a biscuit and Andrew got a fried chicken biscuit sandwich. It was definitely worth the wait, and everything was so tasty! They also have giant cinnamon buns that smell amazing, but with neither of us being sweet tooths, we didn’t get one. Everyone who did looked like they were in heaven though!
After this, it was time for a nature walk since we hadn’t been able to exercise much on this trip. We were between 6 Mile Cypress Slough Preserve or Matanzas Pass Preserve. Neither allow dogs, and we ultimately chose 6 Mile Cypress even though it was farther away. This was mainly motivated by the fact that there were way better lunch options over the bridge. The Fort Myers Beach restaurant options are all pretty touristy spots.
The 6 Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is a beautiful and untouched spot of Florida, perfect for wildlife viewing. The trail is actually 1.2 miles, not 6, so it makes for an easy hike. Andrew brought his DSLR and got some great pictures of birds and butterflies. We did not see any gators in Gator Lake or otters in Otter Pond, but it was still a pleasant couple of hours of exploring.
After plenty of walking, we went to Green Cup Café for a vegan lunch. Though we initially both wanted the falafel, they were out of it. I instead got the Olympian, a Greek wrap with oyster mushrooms and Andrew got their Crunchwrap Supreme with black beans and oyster mushrooms. They also had a variety of craft beers, so we had enjoyed refreshing brews from Destihl Brewing. This lunch was absolutely spectacular and one of the best vegan cafes we had visited. We were surprised by how much we liked the cashew cheese too! Green Cup Cafe was definitely a hidden gem worth visiting in Fort Myers River District.
After lunch and a lot of traffic back to the beach area, we settled into our routine of afternoon by the pool. One thing that signifies vacation for me is hanging out at the beach or pool all day and then showering and getting ready for dinner. I was happy we could do that here while hanging out with Kiwi, since we would not be able to do that at a pool!
This night though, we ended up being lazy and not going out for dinner. Instead, we decided to try getting Ray’s Pizza delivered. Though it was the best rated pizza place around, this was another Fort Myers beach dud. It took almost two hours to get delivered and the pizza was cold with stale crust when it arrived! Luckily, we had some snacks and then walked over to the beach for sunset viewing. We managed to get an awesome time-lapse of the sun setting while taking in some people watching, including a guy walking the beach with a trombone playing Cee Lo Green songs!! Apparently Fort Myers Beach has a lot of budding musicians.
Day 5 – Exploring Inland Fort Myers and the Riverfront District
For the last of our 5 days in Fort Myers Beach, we had one more stop we had to make. Millennial Brewing was on our must visit list and since they didn’t open until the evening on Monday, today was our last chance. Unfortunately for us this meant dealing with traffic going over the bridge again. It did end up being worth it though!
We started with breakfast at Starbucks because we had yet to find coffee that lived up to our expectations near us. The Impossible Breakfast Sandwiches here are favorites of ours too. Since the brewery is pup friendly, we brought Kiwi over with us and started at Koreshan Park. This is a Fort Myers State Park that features preserved historic homes of the Koreshan pioneers.
There is a pretty large area to walk around and explore the different houses. We saw a few couples doing photo shoots here and it is definitely a photogenic place! We were thinking about going canoeing, as they usually offer canoe and kayak rentals for paddling the Estero River. They were not doing them because of Covid though, so we only spent an hour here. Since we finished early, we went to the nearby Southern Fresh Farms. This is a cute little farm with a petting zoo, a market and even a brewery! The market was a lot smaller than expected, so we decided to try some beer. We found the beer here to be excellent, especially for such a small-scale place and we were sad we couldn’t get cans or growlers! Kiwi was a hit here too as usual.
After this, it was time to head back River District for lunch and another brewery. Our plan was to eat lunch first, but as we drove by Millennial Brewing, we saw a prime parking spot. Knowing there wasn’t much parking near the restaurants our plan was to walk to lunch and then come back to the brewery. However, we saw the most adorable Pomski that looked like a corgi so we had to meet them! Turns out the pup was named Nillo and she was celebrating her 2nd birthday! A corgi and a daschund showed up for her pup birthday and Kiwi got to meet them all! He was so sweet with all the pups and even wore a birthday hat. It was so adorable seeing them all play, especially Kiwi with a giant German Shepard puppy he met.
With all the birthday excitement, it was hard to focus on the beer, even though it was the best we had had all week! We each got flights and immediately the French Toast Brown Ale stood out. I am not usually a sweet beer person, but this had a cinnamon flavor I could not get enough! We even ended up buying a growler so we could bring some home. The blueberry pancake maple sour, the Clever Girl IPA and the Xwing Apricot were also delicious brews here.
After a very eventful brewery visit, we went to Blu Sushi for lunch. We got a couple of creative rolls and one basic roll. They were pretty good, but honestly did not compare to our favorite local sushi spot Umami. We are often let down traveling at other sushi places because we have such a good local one! Surprisingly the side salad was a stand out as it had a fresh ginger dressing, as opposed to the usual orange one at sushi places.
I am sure you can guess what we did after lunch. Back at the pool of course! We were sad this would be our last afternoon here and made sure to soak it up. I was reading The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle every day by the pool and was hoping to finish, but Kiwi kept distracting me. It is such a good mystery book though!
For our last dinner, I was hoping to somewhere with a waterfront view. We were tempted to go back to Big Hickory Grill, but wanting to try somewhere new, we went further south to Coconut Jack’s. This place was packed to the brim though with people parked all over the street, so we decided not to attempt it. We saw an Italian restaurant, Enzo’s Ristorante nearby and the menu looked appealing enough. Though it was not on the water, the sky opened up and started torrentially downpouring minutes after we were seated inside! Apparently, fate was on our side this evening!
For dinner, we decided to go all out for our last non-pescatarian meal. We split Beef Carpaccio and a House Salad. For my meal, I had Lasagna and Andrew had the Spaghetti Al Brendy. Everything we ordered was tasty, cheesy, and well-balanced flavor wise. It was a filling end to the trip!
That night, we watched a bit of the Oscars and packed since our Airbnb was a mess from so much coming and going all week. Though we didn’t need to check out until 11 the next day, we had a busy week ahead of us. After a morning walk on the beach with Kiwi, we loaded up the car and headed out! We did make a detour to the Coconut Point mall to check out a potential couch option at West Elm. This is a wonderful mall area if you have any shopping to do on your trip! Kiwi slept the whole ride home and we took that of a sign that he had a very fun first vacation!
Summary – Our 5 Days in Fort Myers Beach Trip Report
Though we had a blast, I am not sure I will be adding the Fort Myers area to my favorite Florida destinations. The Fort Myers Beach area was a bit too touristy for my taste. It may have just been the time of year we were visiting. But overall, I do think it is more ideal for a family or group vacation rather than a romantic anniversary trip.
However, one thing everyone visiting should know, is that there is a ton of traffic around the Matanzas Pass Bridge most of the day. This made getting to other parts of Fort Myers difficult and added a lot more driving time to our trip. If you are looking to relax and spend every day at the beach, this shouldn’t be as much of an issue. I will cover all this and more in my Fort Myers Travel Guide coming out soon, but I just wanted to end with a few disclaimers. Overall, I found the experience of having an Airbnb with lots of amenities to outweigh any of the negatives on this trip!
Regardless, thank you for reading along with my Fort Myers Beach Trip Report! This is the first of these I have done in a while, as I usually focus on more attraction and restaurant recommendation posts. I personally find trip reports more helpful because you can get more of a feel for the area when reading about someone’s experience. If you agree, let me know and I will write more trip reports in the future!