Fort Myers is a stunning city along the Caloosahatchee River on Florida’s southwestern coast. Sometimes called the “City of Palms,” this relaxing city is most famous for its “Old Florida” vibe and white sand beaches, but there are also many destinations sure to pique the interest of nature lovers, families, and history buffs.
Although Fort Myers isn’t a huge city, you’d be surprised just how many things there are to do here. For convenience, we’ve organized our list of the best things to do in Fort Myers into these categories: landmarks, natural attractions, museums, and shopping. Here’s a sample of what we’ll detail in this post:
- River District
- McGregor Boulevard
- Cape Coral
- Sanibel Beach
- Manatee Park
- Butterfly Estates
- Lakes Park
- Edison and Ford Winter Park
As you could already sense, there’s a whole lot happening in Fort Myers. Keep reading this post to better plan your stay in the City of Palms.
- Why You Should Visit Fort Myers, Florida
- 17 Things To Do In Fort Myers, Florida
- Fort Myers Landmarks
- Fort Myers Natural Attractions
- Museums in Fort Myers, Florida
- Best Things To Do In Fort Myers, FL At Night
- Most Romantic Things To Do In Fort Myers, FL
- Where To Stay In Fort Myers, FL
Why You Should Visit Fort Myers, Florida
Fort Myers is a great Florida destination for tourists interested in a more relaxed beach vacation. With a population of about 85,000, Fort Myers has all the amenities of a major city without the crowds of some other Gulf Coast beaches.
Besides its lovely islands and beaches, Fort Myers has a surprisingly diverse array of attractions. Whether you’re interested in family-friendly adventures, nature treks, or shopping & dining, you’ll find a way to keep everyone happy here.
Plus, if you ever tire of Fort Myers, you’re only an hour’s drive from other prime tourist destinations like Naples.
17 Things To Do In Fort Myers, Florida
Now it’s time to take a peek at our list of the 17 best things to do in Fort Myers. This isn't a short list, so we broke it down into easier-to-digest groups.
Fort Myers Landmarks
1. Fort Myers River District
Alongside the Caloosahatchee River, the River District is a pedestrian-friendly area that has become Fort Myers’ “it place.” Anyone looking for the city’s best restaurants, pubs, and boutique shops should look no further than this area of Downtown.
In addition to its fantastic nightlife, River District has many entertainment venues like the Florida Repertory Theatre. Find out all that River District has to offer tourists on its website.
2. McGregor Boulevard
Also along the Caloosahatchee River, McGregor Boulevard is a scenic drive full of the city’s famous palm trees. Tourists who take the drive down this boulevard claim it offers a glimpse into pre-commercialized “Old Florida.” Also known as FL Road 867, McGregor Boulevard measure roughly 15-miles from central Fort Myers to Punta Rassa.
3. Cape Coral
West of central Fort Myers, Cape Coral has a reputation as a boating paradise. Sure, Cape Coral might not be Venice, but it does have a mighty impressive canal system. The star attraction of Cape Coral is its prime sunset viewing spots. Anyone traveling with kids, however, should know Cape Coral is home to the fun Sun Splash Family Waterpark.
For detailed info on things to do while in Cape Coral, definitely check out the city’s main website.
Fort Myers Natural Attractions
4. Lakes Park
South of Fort Myers is the 280-acre Lakes Park, which, as the name suggests, is full of manmade lakes. Boating is a favorite activity here, but you could also visit the gardens or go biking.
Lakes Park is usually open from 7 AM till dusk every day of the week. Parking usually costs $1 per hour or $5 for the entire day. For more detailed information, be sure to visit Lakes Park’s official website here.
5. Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium
Measuring over 100 acres, the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium is a fantastic way to get children interested in ecology. After watching a show at the 87-seat planetarium, go on a hiking trail, visit live animals, and check out the butterfly room.
Typically, Calusa is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 AM – 4 PM and on Sundays from 11 AM – 4 PM. General admission costs $10 per adult and $5 per child. Be sure to check out all of the events going on at the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium on this website.
6. Manatee Park
Nearby Orange River, Manatee Park is a prime viewing area for…well, manatees! Anyone here during winter should definitely take a kayaking journey to get close to these gentle giants.
The Manatee Park is open from 8 AM till dusk and parking costs $2 per hour. Take a peek at Manatee Park’s official website on this link.
7. Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
Measuring roughly 3,500 acres, the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve has a fantastic 1.2-mile boardwalk through the Florida wetlands. Nature lovers will really enjoy taking a few selfies at this preserve’s many lookout points. This preserve is usually open between dawn and dusk every day, but always check the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve’s website for info on closures. Parking is $1 per hour or $5 for the entire day.
8. The Beaches Near Fort Myers
A nice feature about Fort Myers is there are so many beautiful beaches to choose from. There are, however, a few that deserve a special mention. For instance, Sanibel Beach has the lofty distinction as the “Seashell Capital of the World.” After collecting a few of these incredible seashells, don't forget to visit the fantastic Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum nearby.
Another beach in Fort Myers worth mentioning is the San Carlos Bay - Bunche Beach Preserve. Nature enthusiasts who visit here often rent a kayak to explore the area’s mangroves and exotic birds.
9. Butterfly Estates
Not too far from the River District is a tiny attraction with a lot of colors. The non-profit Butterfly Estates has a lovely greenhouse full of native Florida butterflies. Usually, the Butterfly Estates are open between 10 AM – 3 PM every day except for Mondays. Regular adult admission is $10 per person. You can find out more on this link to Butterfly Estates’ official Facebook page.
10. Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve
Like the Cypress Slough Preserve, the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve in Cape Coral has a wonderful boardwalk through the Florida wetlands with plenty of photo ops. Plus, this preserve is attached to the Veterans Memorial Park, which features many impressive war monuments.
The Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve is open between 8 AM till dusk on most days. Click on this link to the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve’s website for more details.
Museums in Fort Myers, Florida
11. Southwest Florida Military Museum
Visiting the Southwest Florida Military Museum is a fantastic stop for history buffs. Although this collection of military gear is somewhat small, curators are extremely dedicated and admission is free. Who could argue with that?
This museum welcomes guests weekdays between 9 AM – 5 PM and on Saturdays between 9 AM – 4 PM. You can learn about this local institution on the Southwest Florida Military Museum’s Facebook page.
12. Edison and Ford Winter Park
Amazingly, the former Fort Myers homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford are still standing today. On your tour of this premier museum, you’ll learn a whole lot about these American originals as you visit their rooms, labs, and botanical gardens.
The Edison and Ford Winter Park is open between 9 AM – 5:30 PM every day of the week. A general self-guided tour costs $25 per adult, $20 per teen, and $15 per child. To learn about different tour options, visit this Edison and Ford Winter Park webpage.
13. IMAG History and Science Center
Parents who are traveling with curious kids must make a stop at the interactive IMAG History and Science Center. It’s estimated there are now over 60 science-related exhibits here with a strong focus on marine life and live animal shows.
This science center is typically open Tuesdays through Saturdays between 10 AM – 5 PM and on Sundays from 12 PM – 5 PM. Tickets cost $14 per adult and $10 per child. For more details on specific exhibits, take a look at the IMAG History and Science Center on this link.
14. Railroad Museum of South Florida
Measuring around 3,200-sq feet, the Railroad Museum of South Florida is home to some impressive replica trains and model sets well worth your time. There’s also a miniature train on the property that takes kids on a scenic ride around Lakes Park.
The Railroad Museum of South Florida is usually open Mondays through Fridays from 10 AM – 2:00 PM and on weekends from 10 AM – 4 PM; tickets cost $5 per person. Those interested in learning more should look into the Railroad Museum of South Florida’s website.
Specialty Shopping Opportunities in Fort Myers
15. Cape Coral Farmers' Market
Fort Myers locals are spoiled with two exceptional farmers' markets every week in Cape Coral. If you’re in the area on either Saturday or Tuesday, you’re more than welcome to explore all of the fantastic food stalls that open here.
The Cape Coral Farmers' Market is open on Saturdays from 8 AM – 1 PM between May and September, but it moves Downtown between October and May. On Tuesdays between 1 PM – 6 PM, however, there’s a Surfside Sunshine Market off of Veterans Parkway.
For more specific info, be sure to visit the Cape Coral Farmers' Market website.
16. Fleamasters Fleamarket
With over 900 vendors, Fleamasters Fleamarket is the ultimate destination for frugal shoppers. From cigars to honey and orthotics to carpeting, pretty much anything you could imagine is on sale in this 400,000 sq. foot market.
Fleamasters Fleamarket is open Fridays through Sundays from 9 AM – 5 PM between October and April. Between May and September, however, the Friday hours are reduced to 9 AM – 3 PM. You can look through all of the shops here on Fleamasters Fleamarket’s website.
17. Shell Factory and Nature Park
The Shell Factory and Nature Park refer to a 50,000 sq. foot area that includes shops, restaurants, and plenty of outdoor attractions. Whether you want to shop, visit animals, play mini-golf, or go ziplining, there are countless ways to enjoy yourself in this impressive destination.
Entry to the Shell Factory’s stores is free, but you have to pay $13 per adult and $8 per child to enter the Nature Park. Usually, the Nature Park and Fun Park are open every day from 10 AM – 5 PM, but check the Shell Factory’s website for weather-related closures.
Best Things To Do In Fort Myers, FL At Night
As mentioned above, the hottest place for nightlife in Fort Myers is at the River District. Definitely look into the River District’s events page before visiting to see what live music and shows will be going on during your stay.
If you’re in the mood for a spooky evening, however, consider taking a hair-raising ride on the Murder Mystery Dinner Train out of Colonial Station. Tickets range depending on your package, so check out this official link to the Murder Mystery Dinner Train Experience for more details.
Most Romantic Things To Do In Fort Myers, FL
Couples visiting Fort Myers should consider going on a soothing paddlewheel cruise along the Caloosahatchee River. These luxurious tours frequently include dolphin sightings, dinner, and live entertainment. You can find out more about these tours on JC Cruises’ website.
Alternatively, foodie lovers should think about a chocolate cooking class at the highly awarded Norman Love Confections. To find out how to sign up for one of these delicious courses, be sure to check out this link to Norman Love Confections’ website.
Where To Stay In Fort Myers, FL
When looking for hotels in Fort Myers, ask yourself whether you’d prefer beach activities or Downtown attractions. Below, we’ll give you two well-reviewed Fort Myers hotels in both locations.
Hampton Inn & Suites Fort Myers-Colonial Boulevard
For a reasonably priced three-star hotel in the center of Fort Myers, you can’t go wrong with the Hampton Inn on Colonial Boulevard. Not far from the Edison & Ford Estates, this hotel has perks like continental breakfast and pool access.
Outrigger Beach Resort
Outrigger Beach Resort is a fun Hawaiian-themed hotel conveniently located along Fort Myers Beach. In addition to easy access to the beach, this three-star hotel earns high praise for its family-friendly vibe, daily live music, and outdoor swimming pool.