There is no shortage of things to do in Fort Myers, no matter what type of activity you are looking for. Andrew and I recently took a trip to Southwest Florida and had an exciting time exploring Fort Myers, Estero, Sanibel and Captiva Islands. From water activities in the gorgeous blue ocean to learning about the history of the area, you can spend a while here without getting bored!
This guide is broken up into active, educational or cultural and nature things to do in Fort Myers, Florida. I have also included some annual events to look out for throughout the year. For a trip to Southwest Florida, I recommend trying to fit in at least one activity from each category to get the full experience. My favorite way to travel is do something in the morning, relax by the pool or beach in the afternoon and then head to a local restaurant or brewery in the evening. I hope this guide introduces you to some unique Fort Myers experiences!
Active Things to Do in Fort Myers
Though vacations are usually time for relaxing, it can be nice to get moving as well. If you are in need of an adrenaline rush, here are seven active things to do in Fort Myers. This ranges from mild activities like a nature walk to more adventurous sport rentals. Regardless of your age or pace, this section has an active experience for anyone!
Go on a Watersports Adventure
If you are looking for a rush while enjoying the sunny, Fort Myers weather, Island Watersports has some great options. You can go parasailing right off Fort Myers Beach or rent a jetski! They even have a jetski tour if you want to be guided around the area or a banana boat ride for riding around with friends. Fort Myers Beach is the best place to find activities like this, but they also have some in Estero as well.
Hike the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
One of the highest rated preserves around is Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, Despite the name, most of the trails are under 3 miles on a boardwalk surrounded by lush forest. Along the way, you are treated to stunning views of lakes, ponds and dense slough. This is an excellent spot for bird watchers as well, and you may even see gators and otters too!
Play a Game of Golf
Whether you are an avid golfer or just casually like to hit a few balls, there are plenty of golf opportunities in Fort Myers. Here you can find many public courses, like the Eastwood Golf Course, with plenty of tee times available for less than $40 with a cart. If you rather golf with the whole family, there are a few mini golf courses throughout the area, with my top choice being Pop Stroke. This is a Tiger Woods designed putting course with some interesting designs, fun for serious and casual golfers. There is also a TopGolf being built in Fort Myers if you want to try an interactive driving range!
Do Yoga on the Beach
One of the most special things to do in Fort Myers Beach is take a yoga class right on the sand! Every Saturday, Becky offers classes near the pier for only $15 per person. You can experience the refreshing breeze while taking in a view of the ocean during your yoga session. It is the ultimate way to relax!
Explore Koreshan Park by Foot and Kayak
For those who like canoeing, kayaking or paddleboarding, there are plenty of spots in Fort Myers to go for a paddle. One of the most unique in my opinion is Koreshan Park. The Estero River offers a diverse ecosystem to explore and nature watch through. Afterwards, you can walk around the state park and learn about the Koreshan settlement that used to reside here. This is an intriguing mix of nature and history while being active outdoors!
Go for a Sail
If you want to feel the breeze while taking in wonderful views, a sail out of Fort Myers or Sanibel is the best bet. Copacetic Sailing offers a variety of tours from sunset sails to full day island charters. Here, you can experience the peace that comes from gliding through the water, powered by wind on a catamaran. They even offer wine and beer to make for a refreshing sail!
Take a Guided Eco Tour Through the Mangroves
Though I have mentioned kayaking a few times in this post, nature enthusiasts will want to take a guided eco-tour for the full experience. This is one of the best things to do in Fort Myers and there are a lot to of options to choose from. I recommend Lovers Key Adventures where you can choose from a kayak or paddleboard tour through the estuary. They offer morning, afternoon, sunset or night tours for whatever suits your travel plan! You are guaranteed some amazing views whichever you choose and a little workout too.
Educational or Cultural Activities
To fully experience the area, I recommend trying one of these activities that are quintessential Fort Myers. Whether it is learning something new at a museum or taking in some local entertainment, these next nine fun things to do in Fort Myers will give you a taste of the area. Here are some educational and cultural Fort Myers area experiences.
Explore the Edison and Ford Winter Estate
Two of the most notable Fort Myers residents are Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, who both wintered here in the early 1900’s. Both their winter estates have been restored and are now a historic site complete with educational exhibits. Here you can explore the museum complete with a timeline of Edison and Ford’s innovations, as well as a gallery of the life of each. You can also step back in time through the Edison research laboratory and both historic homes. Though this is one of the few indoor things to do in Fort Myers, there is also a gorgeous 20-acre botanical garden on site, worth exploring if the weather is nice. A visit to the Edison and Ford Winter Estate is perfect for learning about Fort Myers and American history in general.
Watch the Sunset at Times Square
Times Square is a notable landmark of Fort Myers beach where you can find all the touristy shops and bars a vacationer could ever need. Though this is a fun place to hang out anytime of day, sunset is probably the best time to visit. Here, you can get a spectacular view of the sun setting from the beach or pier and there is often live music going on around the plaza.
Go to a Spring Training Game at JetBlue Park or Hammond Stadium
If you happen to visit the area between February and March, you can see either the Red Sox or the Twins play at their respective stadiums. This is typically the month of spring training, where MLB teams practice before the official season starts. It is a great chance to see the players up close and get pretty cheap tickets. If you are not visiting then, there is still the minor league team, the Mighty Mussels, that plays baseball games at Hammond Stadium the rest of the spring and summer.
See a Show at the Florida Repertory Theatre
For a sample of local theater, the Florida Repertory Theatre is known for having wonderful shows and musicals all year. Here you can see a play in this historic arcade theater complete with music and entertainment. They do classic shows, like West Side Story and unique ones, such as A Doll’s House, Part 2. There is something for everyone, whether you want a date night show or a special experience for the whole family!
Enjoy a Brewery Beer Tasting
Southwest Florida is home to dozens of excellent breweries that make their own craft beer. One of my favorite things to do in Fort Myers for couples is have a tasting date at a brewery. Check out this post to pick one to visit and then order a flight so you can each try a variety of beers! This is an enjoyable way to expand your beer palate and try something new!
Have Dinner on the Murder Mystery Train
If you ever wanted to experience a real-life game of clue, there is a murder mystery dinner train in Fort Myers where you can do just that! Here, guests board a train and a long with a five-course meal, get to watch a murder mystery play out. There are even clue sheets to help work out the mystery and plenty of comedic jokes for those who like humor. The food and performance changes frequently, so you can go multiple times and get a novel mystery!
Go Shopping Downtown
Whether you like window shopping or checking out the latest designed fashions, there are several places to walk and shop in Fort Myers. I love the River District, because there are beautiful views and the opportunity to grab a bite, alongside store like Market Earth. There is a farmers market every Thursday if you want locals’ goods too. For more well-known brands, the Coconut Point Town Center is an outdoor mall with tons of stores and chains to dine at. There are plenty of clothing stores here for whatever you may need and the atmosphere is lovely.
Take a Tour of the Burroughs Home and Gardens
History buffs will want to visit the Burroughs Home and Gardens, in addition to the Edison and Ford estate mentioned above. This Georgian Revival style mansion was built in 1901 and gives visitors an authentic look at what life was like a century ago. There is also an elegant garden and during the holidays, they have an amazing light display. Self-guided tours are available for $10 daily, or you can have a guided tour for $20 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Check Out the Market and Petting Zoo at Southern Fresh Farms
Plant and animal lovers may want to take a detour to Southern Fresh Farms if you get the chance. This is one of the best things to do in Fort Myers with kids, as there is a petting zoo with cows, goats, donkeys and chickens. There is a big playground for kids to run off some energy after the animal greeting as well! For adults, guided tours are offered to learn about the grounds and local farming. Here, you can also find a market with local produce and even an on-site brewery!
Fort Myers Things to Do in Nature
Above all, no visit to Fort Myers is complete without experiencing the breathtaking nature the area has to offer. For those who love all things marine, Southwest Florida has a rich, aquatic environment with all sorts of sea life. And if you prefer to stay on land, there are also diverse forests and wetlands with all the Floridian flora and fauna imaginable. Here are eight outdoor things to do in Fort Myers and Southwest Florida.
Take a Nature Walk through Matanzas Pass Preserve
To experience natural Fort Myers, the sanctuary Matanzas Pass Preserve is worth a visit to. This 60 acre park is one of the best free things to do in Fort Myers beach, as you can take a short walk through the boardwalk or trek some longer trails. At the end of the boardwalk there is a bayside pavilion, ideal for having a picnic or looking for dolphins and birds. Make sure to bring your camera to capture some of the scenic views and sights.
Spend a Day at the Beach
Southwest Florida is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. We were excited to learn when we arrived that Fort Myers Beach is completely dog friendly and we had many sunset strolls with Kiwi here. However, we even more so enjoyed the Bonita Beach Dog Park, just south of Fort Myers Beach. This was a gorgeous area with warm, clear water and sugar sand. I definitely recommend checking out this area around Lovers Key State Park for some of the most pristine beaches. If you have time, Sanibel and Captiva Island have some excellent beaches within driving distance. Make sure to get to theses early before parking fills up though!
See Butterflies Up Close at the Butterfly Estates
To me, there is something so magical about a Butterfly Garden. There are many in Florida, but the Butterfly Estates in Fort Myers is one of the closest here. For only $10, you can enter the garden and see all the different color beauties. If you are lucky, one might land on you! They also have presentations that explain how to create a garden that helps butterflies thrive at home and even do butterfly releases of the Lepidoptera butterflies they breed. This is a great way to learn about and appreciate these magnificent creatures.
Visit the IMAG History & Science Center
If you are looking for indoor things to do in Fort Myers with kids, the IMAG History & Science Center is my top pick. This museum has all sorts of exhibits that can stimulate minds, young and old! I love how they teach you about the local environment, complete with an interactive AR sandbox about the Southwest Florida water sheds and an aquatic touch tank with local creatures. There are also movies, playgrounds and historic exhibits.
Explore the Sanibel Lighthouse and Grounds
Sanibel Island is less than an hour away from Fort Myers and worth a drive if you have time for a day trip. We started our day the Sanibel Lighthouse, which was a lovely nature park. Not only are there exhibits about the history of the island and the lighthouse, but there also is a nice beach, walking trails and a pier where we saw a few interesting catches. If you only have time for one thing on the island, this is an awesome all-around experience.
Watch for Manatees at Manatee Park
For those visiting Fort Myers in the winter, a visit to Manatee Park will often make your day. They flock to these warm waters in the winter and you can usually count dozens huddling together in view. Regardless of when you visit, this is a cute park to walk around, check out the playground or even launch a kayak from.
Go Fishing off the Fort Myers Beach Pier
In addition to Sanibel, those who like fishing can check out the Fort Myers Beach Pier. This is the locals favorite spot to fish and a diverse variety can be caught here. You can get fishing pole rentals from Rudy’s Treasure Chest or bring your own for a cheap thing to do in Fort Myers Beach. If you rather not fish, the pier is also a great place to watch for dolphins!
Take a Shelling and Dolphin Boat Tour
The Fort Myers is known for having tons of stunning seashells, but they can still be hard to find if you don’t get to the beach early. An even better way to find some is to take a shelling cruise with Adventures in Paradise to an island that can only be reached by boat! Here, you take a boat tour where you can spot dolphins, manatees and turtles to an island that you get to walk around and explore for the day! They offer a variety of tour options, so check it out for the ultimate Fort Myers Beach attraction.
Annual Events in Fort Myers, Florida
Though there are fun things to do in Fort Myers all year, certain times of year are great for attending festivals and fairs! Southwest Florida has some of the best dining and art festivals that are usually aimed at locals, but such a gem if you happen to be visiting then too! Here are a few to look out for throughout the year.
Edison Festival of Light – Every February
To celebrate famous resident Thomas Edison, Fort Myers puts on a festival in his honor every February. The highlight is a parade of lights as a nod to one of his best inventions. Throughout the weekend, there are tons of science themed activities from a 5K to a STEM expo. This event is fun for all ages to learn about and celebrate science!
Fort Myers Seafood & Music Festival – Every January
There is nothing like fresh seafood and you can get as much as you want every January at the Fort Myers Seafood Festival. Admission is free and you can purchase as little or as much different coastal dishes from shrimp boils to paella. In addition to delicious food and drinks, there is live music going on all weekend long to set the tone of a fun event.
ArtFest Fort Myers – Every February
Creators and appreciators of the arts will want to visit Fort Myers in February for ArtFest! This is a free weekend long event where you can see and purchase all sorts of unique artwork. Along with the marketplace, there is food, drinks and music as well as an Art Yard for kids.
American Sandsculpting Championship – Every November
To add some excitement to a beach day, visit Fort Myers in November during the American Sandsculpting Championship. This is when artists from all over the world compete to make the best sandcastle. This is at the benefit of beach goers, who are treated to all sorts of amazing sandcastles to see across the beach! There is even live music and demonstrations to celebrate the competition and of course, plenty of photo opportunities!
Know Before You Go: Things to Do in Fort Myers
Southwest Florida has so much to offer and Fort Myers is no different. With the exception of a couple tourist areas, most of Fort Myers has stayed true to its roots and you can experience wild Florida in its pristine form. Whether its exploring nature inland or enjoying what the coast has to offer, you will not be disappointed here. I hope you found some new things to do in Fort Myers, regardless if you live here or are visiting! Before you go, here are some things to keep in mind.
- The best times to visit Fort Myers is November through May. You may be able to get better deals in the summer, but it is a lot hotter and there is a risk of hurricanes.
- If you are going in the ocean, use sunscreen without oxybenzone. Sunscreens that contain this ingredient can be harmful to sea life.
- For flying into Fort Myers, I recommend the close by Southwest Florida Airport.
- If you are visiting Fort Myers, you will most likely want a car. Though the beach area and riverside area are both relatively walkable on their own, you won’t be able to explore much else without a car.
- For those seeking nightlife, Fort Myers Beach is very lively with lots of bars by the beach. The Riverside has some bars as well, but they are a little less rowdy.
Have you been to Fort Myers before? Let me know what your favorite thing to do here is if you have! For more advice on visiting the area, check out my guide to the best Fort Myers restaurants and breweries.