Head to Fort Myers for manatees, Everglades, and white-sand Gulf Coast beaches.
Fort Myers is a prime location to explore the incredible diversity of southwest Florida’s nature and wildlife. On the banks of the Caloosahatchee River, Fort Myers is also close to Gulf Coast beaches and the Everglades. From the Gulf of Mexico to Estero Bay, there are endless opportunities near Fort Myers for fishing, kayaking, and watersports in the water shared with dolphins, manatees, and tropical fish. The white sand beaches on this section of Florida are impeccable, and the mysteries of the Everglades are just a boardwalk (or swamp walk for the brave) away. Beach campsites are popular, and if you’re traveling by RV, you’ll find RV resorts with full hookups in town.
Manatee Park is a must-visit in Fort Myers. This waterfront park lets visitors walk along a channel where manatees congregate in the warm water outflow of the Fort Myers Power Plant. Another solid park in city limits is the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, where you can follow a 1.2-mile boardwalk through a diverse wetland that serves as a wildlife corridor for the region.
Don’t be surprised if you hear the word ‘shell’ in verb form on Sanibel Island. Dubbed the “Seashell Capital of the World,” shells from 400 species are known to wash up here every morning, and the pastime of browsing the tide’s bounty of mollusk armor is known as “shelling.”
For white-sand Gulf Coast beaches where you can kick back and watch the sunset over the water, head to Fort Myers Beach. Dodge the crowds by continuing south on the Bonita Beach Causeway to reach the undeveloped Lovers Key Beach.
It’s about an hour from Fort Myers to reach the Gulf Coast Visitor Center of Everglades National Park, where you take a boat tour or kayak into the mangrove maze of the Ten Thousand Islands.
For a more interior view of the Everglades, head to Big Cypress National Preserve instead. Big Cypress shelters the northern section of Everglades. Here you can explore trails through wild swamps, pinelands, and prairies. Gators, egrets, and herons are abundant here. It’s much rarer to spot the preserve’s other famous inhabitant, the Florida panther. As an International Dark Sky Park, Big Cypress is also an excellent place to view the stars.
Winters in Fort Myers are sunny, temperate, and pleasant. Summers are hot, humid, and rainy. Camping is still possible in summer, but it’s more comfortable in a covered structure with a fan or AC. Summer and fall are also hurricane season, and Florida travelers should keep an eye on the National Hurricane Center’s Atlantic forecast as their trip approaches and when traveling at this time of year.