Fort Myers, a vibrant city on Florida’s Gulf Coast, is known for its beautiful white sand beaches, world-class golf courses, and a delightful mix of historic and modern attractions. While there’s plenty to do and see within the city itself, sometimes the urge to explore further afield can lead to unforgettable experiences. Day trips are an excellent way to add variety and excitement to your vacation while allowing you to unwind and immerse yourself in the natural beauty and rich culture of the surrounding areas.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the best day trips from Fort Myers, each offering something unique and captivating. Whether you’re a beach lover, an outdoor enthusiast, or a history buff, these destinations promise to leave you inspired and eager for more adventures. So, let’s dive in and discover the amazing excursions waiting just a short drive away from Fort Myers!
Located just a short drive from Fort Myers, Sanibel and Captiva Islands are an idyllic pair of barrier islands known for their stunning beaches, tranquil atmosphere, and laid-back charm. Connected by a small bridge, these two islands offer a perfect day trip destination for those seeking sun, sand, and sea.
Sanibel Island is particularly famous for its incredible shelling opportunities, thanks to its unique east-west orientation that allows the Gulf of Mexico to deposit an abundance of shells on its shores. Bowman’s Beach and Lighthouse Beach are popular spots for beachcombers, while Blind Pass Beach offers a more secluded option. Captiva Island boasts its own beautiful stretches of sand, such as Turner Beach and Captiva Beach, where you can soak up the sun and relax.
Nature lovers will find plenty to explore at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. This 6,400-acre refuge is home to a wide variety of bird species, as well as alligators, manatees, and other native wildlife. Take a drive, bike ride, or walk along the Wildlife Drive to get up close and personal with the diverse ecosystem of the refuge.
Both Sanibel and Captiva Islands offer an array of charming shops, boutiques, and galleries for visitors to peruse. Periwinkle Way on Sanibel Island and Andy Rosse Lane on Captiva Island are popular shopping destinations where you can find unique gifts and souvenirs. When it comes to dining, there are many delightful options to choose from, ranging from casual waterfront eateries to upscale restaurants. Be sure to sample some local seafood specialties, such as stone crab and grouper, during your visit.
Naples, located about an hour’s drive south of Fort Myers, is a sophisticated and charming coastal city known for its upscale shopping, pristine beaches, and vibrant arts scene. With its numerous attractions and activities, Naples makes for an ideal day trip destination for those seeking a blend of relaxation, culture, and outdoor fun.
One of the most iconic sights in Naples is the historic Naples Pier, stretching into the Gulf of Mexico and offering breathtaking views, fishing opportunities, and a chance to spot dolphins swimming nearby. For a lush, tropical experience, visit the Naples Botanical Garden, a 170-acre paradise filled with themed gardens and conservation areas. Lowdermilk Park is another must-visit spot, boasting a beautiful beach and plenty of amenities for a fun-filled day.
Fifth Avenue South, the heart of Naples’ downtown district, is a shopper’s paradise with its upscale boutiques, art galleries, and specialty shops. This picturesque area also offers a wide array of dining options, from casual cafes to fine dining restaurants, where you can indulge in the local flavors and international cuisine.
Naples is known for its thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries and cultural institutions throughout the city. Art lovers should not miss the Baker Museum, which houses an impressive collection of contemporary and modern art, as well as temporary exhibitions. Additionally, consider visiting the numerous galleries along Third Street South and the surrounding area, where you can discover works by local and international artists.
Everglades National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve, is a vast and unique ecosystem that spans 1.5 million acres across southern Florida. Just a couple of hours from Fort Myers, this natural wonderland offers a fascinating and unforgettable day trip experience, filled with diverse wildlife, awe-inspiring landscapes, and thrilling outdoor activities.
The Everglades is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, as it is home to countless species of plants and animals, some of which are rare or endangered. Keep an eye out for alligators, manatees, turtles, and the elusive Florida panther, as well as over 350 species of birds, including herons, egrets, and the vibrant roseate spoonbill.
One of the most popular ways to explore the Everglades is by taking an airboat tour, which offers a thrilling ride across the park’s shallow waters while providing opportunities to spot wildlife up close. For a more serene experience, consider kayaking or canoeing through the park’s mangrove forests and freshwater marshes. Hiking enthusiasts can also enjoy the numerous trails throughout the park, such as the Anhinga Trail, which offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.
While visiting Everglades National Park, consider exploring the nearby Big Cypress National Preserve, which boasts an equally diverse ecosystem and offers additional opportunities for wildlife viewing, hiking, and scenic drives. Another nearby attraction is Shark Valley, located in the northern part of the Everglades. Here, you can embark on a tram tour, bike ride, or walk along the 15-mile loop trail, which is home to an abundance of alligators, birds, and other wildlife.
Punta Gorda, a charming and historic city situated along the picturesque Charlotte Harbor, is just under an hour’s drive from Fort Myers. With its beautiful waterfront views, rich history, and array of outdoor and cultural attractions, Punta Gorda offers an engaging day trip experience for visitors of all ages and interests.
A must-visit attraction in Punta Gorda is Fishermen’s Village, a vibrant waterfront complex that features a unique combination of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Browse through the various boutiques and specialty stores, dine at the waterfront eateries offering fresh seafood and stunning views, or embark on a sightseeing cruise to explore the harbor and its surroundings.
For wildlife enthusiasts, the Peace River Wildlife Center is a great place to visit, as it provides rehabilitation and care for injured and orphaned native wildlife, including birds of prey, wading birds, and small mammals. Nearby, the Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park offers a wealth of opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, birdwatching, and kayaking, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the area’s natural beauty.
Punta Gorda’s rich history can be explored at the Punta Gorda History Park, which features a collection of preserved and restored historic buildings, showcasing the city’s architectural heritage. Additionally, the Military Heritage Museum offers an insight into the area’s military history through a range of exhibits and artifacts, paying tribute to the men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Boca Grande, a quaint and picturesque island community situated on Gasparilla Island, is just over an hour’s drive from Fort Myers. Known for its stunning beaches, historic downtown, and relaxed atmosphere, Boca Grande offers a peaceful and charming escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Gasparilla Island State Park, located at the southern tip of the island, is a must-visit destination for beach lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. The park features pristine white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and the iconic Boca Grande Lighthouse. Spend the day sunbathing, swimming, fishing, or exploring the nature trails that wind through the park.
Boca Grande’s historic downtown is a charming area that boasts well-preserved buildings, tree-lined streets, and a relaxed, pedestrian-friendly atmosphere. Take a leisurely stroll and browse through the unique shops, galleries, and boutiques, or grab a bite to eat at one of the local cafes or restaurants.
Boca Grande offers a variety of dining options, ranging from casual beachside eateries to more upscale establishments. Be sure to sample some of the local seafood specialties during your visit, such as the delicious grouper sandwiches or fresh stone crab claws. With its laid-back ambiance and delightful culinary offerings, Boca Grande provides an enchanting day trip experience for visitors looking to unwind and indulge in the island’s charms.
Just a short drive from Fort Myers, Cape Coral is a vibrant and family-friendly city known for its extensive network of canals, beautiful parks, and diverse attractions. With its abundance of outdoor activities, cultural sites, and dining options, Cape Coral makes for an exciting and fulfilling day trip destination.
For a fun-filled day with the family, head to Sun Splash Family Waterpark, which offers a variety of water slides, pools, and play areas for all ages. Nature lovers can explore the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve, a 365-acre park that features walking trails, kayaking, and abundant wildlife, including eagles, herons, and even the occasional manatee. Another great outdoor destination is Rotary Park, a 97-acre environmental park that offers nature trails, a butterfly house, and picnic areas.
Dive into Cape Coral’s history at the Cape Coral Historical Society & Museum, which showcases exhibits and artifacts that tell the story of the city’s development and its unique past. The museum is a great place to learn more about the local history and the people who have shaped Cape Coral into the thriving city it is today.
Cape Coral boasts a diverse range of dining options, from casual cafes to fine dining establishments. Many restaurants take advantage of the city’s waterfront location, offering stunning views and fresh seafood dishes. Be sure to try some of the local culinary delights, such as the succulent Gulf shrimp or the mouth-watering fish tacos, while enjoying the beautiful waterfront scenery.
In this article, we’ve explored a variety of exceptional day trips from Fort Myers, each offering its own unique attractions and experiences. From the beautiful beaches of Sanibel and Captiva Islands to the sophisticated charm of Naples, the natural wonders of Everglades National Park, the historic allure of Punta Gorda, the enchanting island life in Boca Grande, and the family-friendly adventures in Cape Coral, there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy.
We encourage you to venture out and discover the incredible destinations that await just a short drive from Fort Myers. By taking the time to explore these diverse locations, you’ll be able to experience the richness of Florida’s Gulf Coast and create lasting memories with friends and family.
As you plan your day trips from Fort Myers, remember to consider your own personal interests and preferences, as well as those of your travel companions. Each destination has its own unique offerings, so be sure to choose the ones that best align with your passions, whether that’s beachcombing, wildlife spotting, shopping, dining, or immersing yourself in history and culture. Happy exploring!
Now that you’ve taken some time to explore our community, and its surrounding areas, look to Elite RV & Boat Storage in Fort Myers, FL for all of your storage needs! If you’re looking for a safe and secure place to store your RV or boat trailer near Florida Gulf Coast University or Southwest International Airport, Elite RV & Boat Storage offers the perfect solution! Our covered parking spaces are spacious enough to accommodate even the largest vehicles, so you know that all of your prized possessions will be kept in an enclosed environment. Don’t waste any more time trying to find new space around home—let our storage facility do its job while giving you peace of mind.
About the Author: Tim is an SEO Strategist at Storage Asset Management in York, PA. He is a self-storage industry specialist who has written about everything from storage advice and helpful resources to industry trends. In his free time, Tim enjoys sampling craft beer and exploring the local music scene.