Best Things To Do in Fort Myers
Surrounded by both salt and freshwater, Fort Myers' natural surrounding are the prime reason for visiting. Numerous natural preserves in the area... READ MORE
Surrounded by both salt and freshwater, Fort Myers' natural surrounding are the prime reason for visiting. Numerous natural preserves in the area will help you get one with nature, including the popular J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to many native animal species. History buffs will make a beeline for the Edison & Ford Winter Estates while baseball fans will want to score tickets to spring training. After you've experienced the sights and sounds of Fort Myers, lounge on the peaceful beaches to unwind.
Updated July 29, 2020
- #1View all Photos#1 in Fort MyersParks and Gardens, RecreationTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, RecreationTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Named after a political cartoonist and conservationist, the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge occupies 8,000 acres of land on Sanibel Island, located southwest of Fort Myer's city center. The refuge, which takes up about half the entire island, was originally meant to conserve the island's significant mangrove forest. Today, it is still home to those mangroves, as well as animals like crocodiles, alligators and countless species of birds. In fact, for herons, cuckoos, ospreys, and other birds, the refuge is an important stop along their migratory path. Recent visitors to the park said it's a unique way to see a variety of wildlife.
You'll see the most wildlife if you visit between the months November and April during low tide. If you visit in the summer be aware of the high humidity and increased amount of bugs – including mosquitos. You can explore the refuge in whatever way suits your tastes: on foot or bike via trails, in a canoe, or by car. Parts of the park also allow boating and fishing. The park is open every day, including holidays, but is closed all day each Friday. The park also offers a free visitor and education center that's open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from May to December and open until 5 p.m. from January to April. Park hours vary throughout the year, so check the website before visiting. The website also includes tide charts to help you plan your visit. Admission is $5 per vehicle or $1 per pedestrian or bicycle.
- #2View all Photos#2 in Fort MyersMuseums, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The Edison and Ford Winter Estates are home base for history buffs who visit the area. The two American innovators – Thomas Edison, the inventor of the electric light bulb and the phonograph and Henry Ford, the pioneer of the automobile – were good friends who built their winter homes next to each other about a mile south of downtown Fort Myers. Dating back to the early 1900s, the historic estates are now on display for visitors. Along with the grand homes, the grounds also include a botanical garden (with trees planted by Edison himself), a research laboratory and a museum with hundreds of artifacts and inventions from the entrepreneurs. Guided and self-guided tours are available
The estates are open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (except Thanksgiving and Christmas). The cost of admission depends on the type of tour you sign up for; the garden tour is separate from the homes, museum and laboratory admission. Certain tours, such as the garden tour or a behind the scenes tour are only available once a week. Prices range from $25 to $50 for adults and $15 to $20 for children ages 6 to 12. Discounts are available for teens. According to recent visitors, the price of admission is a little high, but worth it for those who are interested in the history of either inventor. For more information on prices and tour times, visit the organization's website.
- #3View all Photos#3 in Fort MyersZoos and AquariumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDZoos and AquariumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
It's best to stop by Manatee Park, a refuge for Florida manatees, during the winter season (between December and February). During the colder months, the animals flock to warm pockets of water to escape chilly temperatures. Since the park is directly on the warm water discharge canal of the Florida Power & Light company, it's a popular spot for these gentle creatures. There are a handful of observation decks to see the animals up close, but you can also hop into a kayak and paddle out to spot them. You probably won't see manatees if you visit in summer, but you can enjoy the park's 16 acres in kayaks or on guided tours. Recent visitors to the park say when its cool out (and with a little patience) you can see upwards of 50 manatees at the park.
General admission to the park is free, but there is a small fee for parking ($5 a day, year-round). Kayak rentals and concessions are available from December to March from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the rest of the year concessions are closed and kayak rental is by reservation only. After catching a glimpse of the manatees, you can also explore the extensive on-site butterfly garden. You can check the website to see if manatees are present at the park on any given day.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Fort MyersZoos and AquariumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDZoos and AquariumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
You'll see a wide range of animals native to Florida at the Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium, including bald eagles, alligators, hawks and owls. There are also daily shows and animal demonstrations, as well as touch tanks and fossils that kids will enjoy.
Allot one to two hours to enjoy tours of Calusa's artificial habitats, experience the wetlands or visit the butterfly house, and if there's still time left over, take in the Center's laser and space-related shows. Recent visitors feel the planetarium is a highlight, but the rest of the nature center is fun for families with smaller children.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Fort MyersSports, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDSports, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Although the nearest major league baseball teams are in Tampa and Miami, those visiting Fort Myers still see big league action in the form of spring training. Every March, the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins escape the cold for the warm spring temperatures the city has to offer.
The Red Sox have been making their home at JetBlue Park since 2011, where diehard fans can see a replica of the Green Monster as well as an old school manual scoreboard. Fans who visited recently said the park has earned the nicknamed "Fenway South." The Minnesota Twins have been suiting up to prepare for the season in Fort Myers since 1990. Their stadium, located at CenturyLink Sports Complex, is about 5 miles west of JetBlue Park. When it's not spring training, the complex is also home to the two minor league affiliates of the Twins, the Fort Myers Miracle and the Gulf Coast League Twins, as well as facilities utilized by local collegiate and community teams. Recent visitors to the stadium said they found concessions easy to find and that every seat provides a great view of the action on the field.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Fort MyersMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Future scientists and engineers (and their families) come to the IMAG History & Science Center to explore topics, such as earth and space science, Florida history, technology, marine animals, and more through interactive exhibits. The center also offers live animal encounters with its touch tanks and aquarium.
Recent visitors were pleased with the center and its hands-on exhibits, and said it was a great indoor activity when the weather won't cooperate. Others felt the admission price was too high, citing old exhibit facilities. Other reviewers warn this activity is best suited for children 12 and younger.
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