Looking for all the best attractions in the City of Palms? Our guide to all the best things to do in Fort Myers is all you need!
Notorious for its exceptional tropical climate, impeccable array of outdoor recreational activities, and long stretches of sandy beaches, Fort Myers, Florida, is a stunning travel destination in the USA!
Called the “City of Palms,” Fort Myers is renowned for its history, fishing, tropical ecosystems, seafood, and so much more.
A trip to the waters of Fort Myers guarantees a sighting of the adorable sea cow – manatees!
The endangered Florida manatee migrates to Fort Myers seasonally, so timing your visit to the area is crucial if you want to see these lazy sea cows graze on seagrass as you paddleboard or kayak across the water.
The city also welcomes history buffs from all over. At one point, famous icons and innovators Thomas Edison and Henry Ford called Fort Myers home. And the city was also the base for the American Army in the 1800s during the Seminole Indian Wars.
A trip to this lovely Florida destination is one you’ll never forget, full of sandy activities, intriguing history, fascinating plant and animal species, and more!
Check out our complete guide to the best things to do in Florida if you want more ideas for the Sunshine State!
Table of Contents
- The Best Things to Do in Fort Myers, Florida
- 1) Hit The Sand & The Water At Fort Myers Beach
- 2) Witness The Transformation Of Butterflies At The Butterfly Estates
- 3) Experience Renowned Performances At The Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall
- 4) Destress In Nature At The Matanzas Pass Preserve
- 5) Explore The Brick-Paved Streets Of The Historic Fort Myers River District
- 6) Catch A Ballgame At The JetBlue Park
- 7) Bask In The Sunset At Fort Myers Beach Pier
- 8) Learn About Iconic Innovators At The Edison Ford Winter Estates
- 9) Spend A Family Day Paddleboarding or Biking At Lakes Regional Park
- 10) Quench Your Thirst At Fort Myers Brewing Company
- 11) Go Bird Watching Or Hiking In Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
- 12) Soak In The Sun & History On Estero Island
- 13) Explore The Land & Waters Of Lovers Key State Park
- 14) Hike & Picnic At Bowditch Point Park
- 15) Visit Paradise At Captiva & Sanibel Island
- 16) Watch A Performance At The Florida Repertory Theatre
- 17) Learn About The Local Species At The Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium
- 18) Sight The Majestic Sea Cow At The Manatee Park
- 19) Take To The Water Of The Caloosahatchee River
- 20) Join The Show On The Murder Mystery Dinner Train
- 21) Enjoy A Stroll Through The Berne Davis Botanical Gardens
- Where to Stay in Fort Myers
The Best Things to Do in Fort Myers, Florida
Our list of the best things to do in Fort Myers saves you time and energy scouring the internet by compiling the best tourist attractions you don’t want to miss out on.
From looking for manatees in Manatee Park, to biking or walking under the iconic Florida palm trees, there is an abundance of fun awaiting you on Florida’s Gulf Coast!
1) Hit The Sand & The Water At Fort Myers Beach
Around a 20-minute drive from the city center, Fort Myers Beach is a big draw for tourists.
It is a seamless addition to our list of the best things to do in Fort Myers because of its considerable impact and tropical appeal for many wishing to sink their toes in the sand and experience a coastal beach town.
Located on Estero Island, a small barrier island, Fort Myers Beach is famous for its white sugar sands, impeccable sunsets, beachside restaurants, and tropical temperatures. Take on a world of water sports, from kayaking and paddleboarding to parasailing and boating.
This guided tour takes you kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding adventure with a local guide. On your journey, you can pick out West Indian manatees as they graze, dolphins as they play, and more fascinating creatures in the waters, such as sea turtles and crabs.
2) Witness The Transformation Of Butterflies At The Butterfly Estates
Home to the Florida Native Butterfly Society Conservatory, the serenity of the Butterfly Estates is settled in Gardner’s Park in the downtown Fort Myers River District.
The Butterfly Estates include a butterfly conservatory, shops, and a cafe, all of which are “green friendly.” The butterfly conservatory is one of the best things to do in Fort Myers, featuring tropical nectar gardens, trickling waterfalls, and numerous species of butterflies fluttering about.
The Florida Native Butterfly Society Conservatory’s mission is to protect and raise native Florida butterfly species while educating others on the importance of conserving these species.
- Address: 1815 Fowler St, Fort Myers, FL 33901, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 3 pm (Closed Mondays)
- Cost: $10
3) Experience Renowned Performances At The Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall
Less than twenty minutes from Fort Myers, the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall presents symphonies, musicals, and other entertaining events on the Florida Southwestern State College campus.
The performing arts hall was named after Barbara B. Mann, who worked as President of the Community Concerts Association for more than 40 years and was an avid member of the Lee County community.
The Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall is the largest proscenium stage in Southwest Florida, featuring National Touring Broadway musicals and other renowned performances.
- Address: 13350 FSW Pkwy, Fort Myers, FL 33919, United States
Traveling further up the coast? Check out our guides to Tampa and Sarasota, two gems of Florida’s west coast.
4) Destress In Nature At The Matanzas Pass Preserve
Located in Fort Myers Beach along the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail, the Matanzas Pass Preserve protects the unspoiled, prosperous land of mangroves and the ecosystem for native plant and animal life.
Within the preserve, four native plant communities make up the land, including coastal grassland, maritime hammock, black mangrove forest, and tidal swamp.
A walk through the Matanzas Pass Preserve allows visitors to see different native plant species of these ecosystems, from the Jamaican Caper and the Florida Mayten to the Cat Claw and Wild Cotton.
An ethnobotanist leads guided tours through the preserve for an educational experience to learn more about the species that call Matanzas Pass Preserve home. For many, simply walking through the Matanzas Pass Preserve is the ultimate destresser away from the hustle and bustle of life!
Read Next: While you’re in the area, consider checking out all the best things to do in Naples, Florida.
5) Explore The Brick-Paved Streets Of The Historic Fort Myers River District
The main portion of downtown, the Fort Myers River District, offers a charming historic appeal with a horde of riverside attractions to explore.
The River District is by far one of the best things to do in Fort Myers, its brick-paved streets teeming with hopping bars, boutique shops, lively nightlife, and remarkable restaurants.
The district holds the most significant amount of historic structures in Southwest Florida, many of which were established in the early 1900s.
Walking tours wind through magnificent structures of Beaux Arts Neoclassical architecture and other points of interest to learn about the influences and influential figures that helped establish the city.
Time your visit to Fort Myers right to experience the exuberant events in the River District, from block parties and fashion shows to Art Walks and the Car Cruise-In car show!
6) Catch A Ballgame At The JetBlue Park
JetBlue Park, a baseball park often known as the “Fenway South” training and development facility, obtained many of its characteristics inspired by the legendary Fenway Park in Boston. For the Boston Red Sox spring training, the Major Baseball League team heads to JetBlue Park.
If you’re in the area in March, you can watch the Red Sox in action as they train and scrimmage in the spring. Fans of the Red Sox can peer at a replica of the Green Monster and see an old-school manual scoreboard up close and personal.
About five miles west of the baseball park in the CenturyLink Sports Complex is the Hammond Stadium, the spring training home to the Minnesota Twins.
During the official season, Hammond Stadium is home to the minor league affiliates of the MLB team, the Gulf Coast League Twins, and the Fort Myers Miracle.
- Address: 11500 Fenway South Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33913, United States
- Hours/Cost: Visit the website for more info about tickets!
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7) Bask In The Sunset At Fort Myers Beach Pier
Stretching across the sand of Fort Myers Beach and into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Fort Myers Beach Pier is a spectacular spot to enjoy the tropical scenery, cast a line, and take photos to remember the vacation by!
A hub spot for activity, locals and tourists travel to the pier to watch the dolphins jump through the water and bask in the breathtaking sunsets and sunrises.
Head on over to the pier to vibe to live music with locals and fellow tourists, the scent of salt on the breeze and the crash of waves radiating the perfect ambiance of paradise.
For all the anglers, the bait, snack, and gift shop on the pier is open, so you can test your luck at catching local catches like Spanish mackerel, cobia, spotted sea trout, and redfish.
Or take your sunset to the next level by joining a boat tour through the canals and mangroves of the area!
- Address: 10 Old San Carlos Blvd, Fort Myers, FL 33931, United States
- Hours: 9 am – 9 pm
8) Learn About Iconic Innovators At The Edison Ford Winter Estates
A botanical garden and historical museum, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates date back to 1885. When Thomas Edison visited Southwest Florida, he constructed the estates as his vacation home, where Edison also built a laboratory.
The estate would soon become known as the Seminole Lodge, where Edison and his family would swim, boat, shell, and where, according to Edison, the best tarpon fishing on the planet was found.
Many famous names, including Herbert Hoover and Henry Ford, visited Edison’s estates. Ford fell in love with the area, purchasing the property next to Edison’s to establish The Mangoes, Ford’s bungalow estate.
Visitors to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates can take in the homes of historical innovators and figures – the creator of the photograph and electric light bulb, Thomas Edison, and the pioneer of the American automobile, Henry Ford.
- Address: 2350 McGregor Blvd, Fort Myers, FL 33901, United States
- Hours: 9 am – 5:30 pm
- Cost: $25
9) Spend A Family Day Paddleboarding or Biking At Lakes Regional Park
Opened in 1984, Lakes Regional Park was named after its scenic freshwater lakes. It is often called Lakes Park for short. There are numerous popular outdoor activities to participate in at Lakes Regional Park that you don’t want to miss out on!
Over 1,000 birds make Lakes Regional Park their home during nesting season, so if you like birdwatching, you can catch glimpses of black-crowned night herons, scarlet ibis, and other intriguing species at this park.
For those looking to stay active on their vacation, at Lakes Regional Park, check out the paddleboard and bike rentals so you can build up an appetite by burning calories out in the great outdoors of Florida.
Lakes Park is family-friendly, featuring a rock climbing wall, splash park, playground, and a Train Village with a miniature railroad. The miniature railroad takes passengers on a 1.5-mile trip around the lake and through a tunnel to bask in the sights.
10) Quench Your Thirst At Fort Myers Brewing Company
Boasting the best brews in town, the Fort Myers Brewing Company serves local beer and great vibes.
As the first microbrewery to open its doors in Lee County, this brewing company has worked hard to establish itself. It is reputed for its family and pet-friendly atmosphere, live music, food trucks, and fantastic brews.
Visitors are encouraged to take part in guided tours to learn about the process of making beer. The tasting room is open for trying out the different crafts and varieties made at Fort Myers Brewing Company, with outdoor seating available.
- Address: 12811 Commerce Lakes Dr #28, Fort Myers, FL 33913, United States
- Hours: 12 pm – 10 pm Tuesday – Thursday, 12 pm – 11 pm Friday & Saturday, 12 pm – 8 pm Sunday & Monday
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11) Go Bird Watching Or Hiking In Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
A wetland preserve protecting the local ecosystem, the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve’s cypress filters rainwater that heads toward Estero Bay.
Many species call the preserve home, including alligators, otters, and numerous migrating birds. The preserve is one of the stops along the Great Florida Birding Trail, so it’s an excellent place for bird-watching!
At the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve boardwalk trail, visitors can see the native and migratory plant and animal species in person and learn about them more at the preserve’s Interpretive Center.
The center features interactive exhibits where all ages are welcome to learn more about the importance of the cypress trees, the wetland ecosystem, and the species that call it home.
- Address: 7751 Penzance Blvd, Fort Myers, FL 33966, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 4 pm (Closed Mondays)
- Cost: parking is $1 per hour or $5 for the day
12) Soak In The Sun & History On Estero Island
Bordered by San Carlos Island and Big Carlos Pass, Estero Island was once a renowned citrus establishment. Today, Estero Island is the home of Florida Gulf Coast University, Mound Key Archaeological State Park, and other top things to do in Fort Myers.
Estero Island may be a hot tourist spot for its tropical vibes and Fort Myers Beach, but it is also full of history.
For example, the island was the center of a religious group that disbanded in the 1960s, which can be learned about more at the Koreshan State Historic Site, which is on the National Register of Historic Sites.
Another historical point of interest on Estero Island is the Mound Key Archaeological State Park, which expands over 100 acres of the island.
The park preserves the ruins, including large ceremonial mounds, of the Native American Calusa people and remnants of Spanish explorers of hundred years before.
13) Explore The Land & Waters Of Lovers Key State Park
Settled on four barrier islands, including Lover’s Key, Black Island, Inner Key, and Long Key, Lovers Key State Park is now a renowned tropical getaway and site for beachside weddings.
The park preserves and protects the mangrove forests and long stretches of sandy beach of the barrier islands to capture its wild and majestic essence for visitors and locals to enjoy far into the future.
Lovers Key State Park visitors are welcome to adventure the lagoons and canals where manatees graze, dolphins play, and turtles swim by kayak, boat, paddleboard, or along the beach.
On Black Island, numerous trails are open for jogging, hiking, cycling, or boating within the Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay in Lover’s Key State Park.
- Address: 8700 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931, United States
- Hours: 8 am – 6 pm
- Cost: $8 per vehicle
14) Hike & Picnic At Bowditch Point Park
A scenic nature preserve and recreation site, Bowditch Point Park is another one of the best South Florida parks. Tourists and locals both come here for its stunning bayside viewpoints, swimming beach, and hiking trails.
About seven acres of the park are developed and designated for recreational purposes, while the other ten acres are untouched preserve sites.
You can enjoy nature here in various ways, from basking in the thriving natural ecosystems within the preserve’s trails to grilling out under the shaded picnic areas.
Birding on the trails at Bowditch Point Park is incredibly popular, with free guided walks offered seasonally to learn more about the local ecosystem and species that call it home.
- Address: 50 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931, United States
Heading to the east coast? Check out our list of the top things to do in Miami!
15) Visit Paradise At Captiva & Sanibel Island
Less than an hour’s drive from the city, Sanibel Island, and the nearby Captiva Island are favored escapes from the hustle and bustle of life. These tropical paradise islands are notorious for their picturesque views, serene vibes, and luxurious activities.
Expect to find some of the best beaches, fishing, shelling, dining, and entertainment in the Sanibel and Captiva Islands!
The untainted coastal islands thrive with wildlife, nature, and fresh air, solidifying their places as top getaway destinations. More than 25 miles of bike paths are open for bikers to stay active and bask in the fresh air and scenery of the islands.
Shop until you drop at the Periwinkle Way Shops, reserve a stay at one of the luxurious resorts, and sink into the captivating vibes of Captiva Island and Sanibel Island.
Join this Sanibel Beach and Cape Coral dolphin boat tour for an adventure of the waters to catch sight of dolphins as they soar above water.
Your guide will recite intriguing facts about the local area, with more chances to see sea turtles, manatees, and more exciting changes for animal sightings on the water!
16) Watch A Performance At The Florida Repertory Theatre
Settled in a historic 1917 venue in the Fort Myers River District, the Florida Repertory Theatre is an award-winning theatre featured in the Wall Street Journal as “One of America’s top Repertory Companies.”
The theatre produces a broad range of musicals, dramas, and comedies that pulls in over 87,000 people annually.
The theatre is dedicated to establishing high-quality productions as a first-rate theatre so that guests can experience a show of a lifetime!
- Address: 2268 Bay St, Fort Myers, FL 33901, United States
- Hours/Cost: Visit the website to browse performances and tickets.
17) Learn About The Local Species At The Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium
The Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium uses live native animals for educational purposes at the natural history museum.
The exhibits within the center teach visitors about the environments that nurture these native species and how these animal and plant species have come to adapt to the environment.
Opened in 1970, the Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium has been dedicated to educating others on the importance of community and conservation for almost 50 years.
The 105-acre center is home to numerous rescue animals, bird and butterfly aviaries, scenic nature trails, and a planetarium theater for an interactive and wholesome educational experience!
- Address: 3450 Ortiz Ave, Fort Myers, FL 33905, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 4 pm (Closed Mondays)
- Cost: $10
18) Sight The Majestic Sea Cow At The Manatee Park
A picturesque waterfront park, Manatee Park is a non-captive warm water refuge for native Florida manatees.
This capturing aspect of the park makes it one of the best things to do in Fort Myers, where tourists and locals can frequently sight manatees as they graze, laze, and swim in the water.
The Florida manatee is an endangered species, and Manatee Park is a natural habitat for the species to eat, reproduce, and live.
Manatee Park also has attractive features, including butterfly and native plant gardens, picnic areas, kayak and canoe rentals, and a boat launch in the Orange River.
- Address: 10901 Palm Beach Blvd, Fort Myers, FL 33905, United States
- Hours: 8 am – Sunset
- Cost: Free
19) Take To The Water Of The Caloosahatchee River
The Caloosahatchee River stretches from the Florida Everglades out to the Gulf of Mexico, creating an important habitat for wildlife.
At around 65 miles long, the river provides the perfect place for canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, or fishing.
The water can be quite brackish, making it excellent for fishing and paddling but not so great for swimming.
If you paddle up the river, you may even see the untouched landscapes of Caloosahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. This precious location is closed to the public to provide a safe landscape for wildlife, as is its neighboring Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
But regardless of where you are on the Caloosahatchee River, you may see lots of land and water animals thriving in the area!
To see more of the local wildlife, jump on an Everglades Day Safari from Fort Myers and learn about the area with a naturalist guide!
20) Join The Show On The Murder Mystery Dinner Train
Step onto the Murder Mystery Dinner Train in Fort Myers for an experience like no other!
The Murder Mystery Dinner Train presents a comic mystery paired with a five-course American-cuisine meal on a retro train ride.
The live murder mysteries are brought to life on a moving train, boasting one-of-a-kind entertainment paired with delicious foods and drinks, plus a lively theatrical atmosphere.
This is one of the top Fort Myers attractions for families or anyone looking for a fun night out!
21) Enjoy A Stroll Through The Berne Davis Botanical Gardens
Planted by the Fort Myers-Lee County Garden Council members, the Berne Davis Botanical Garden is lovingly cared for.
The gardens promote a serene and rejuvenating atmosphere that is great for strolling or relaxing.
Throughout the Berne Davis Botanical Garden are rare and tropical fruit species along with other plants such as herbs, bromeliads, herbs, hibiscus, orchids, and more to ponder over while basking in the fresh ambiance of the garden.
Find shaded relief under the gazebo with the sounds of the trickling water fountain and thriving plants surrounding you.
- Address: 2166 Virginia Ave, Fort Myers, FL 33901, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 1 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays
- Cost: Free
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Where to Stay in Fort Myers
Now that we’ve covered all the best things to do in this sunny Floridian city, let’s talk about some of the best places to stay. There are great options for every budget!
Best Cheap Hotel in Fort Myers
Providing affordable accommodations, the Econo Lodge North presents its guests with complimentary coffee, Wi-Fi, continental breakfast, parking, and access to the outdoor pool. So after an exciting day of exploring the area, refresh in the sun’s rays at the hotel’s pool!
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Fort Myers
Only ten minutes from the Southwest Florida International Airport, the Quality Suites Fort Myers Airport I-75 offers a desirable location near some of the best Fort Myers attractions, bars, and trendy restaurants.
Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi and breakfast before spending the day outside at the pool or hitting up the many activities available.
Best Luxury Hotel in Fort Myers
Part of the downtown Fort Myers River District, the Luminary Hotel & Co., Autograph Collection is luxurious, creative, and exuberant in its masterful design.
So hang out on the rooftop bar for drinks, sink into luxury at the outdoor pool on the fourth floor that oversees downtown, and have a romantic meal at the hotel restaurant – luxury is guaranteed at this unique stay!
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