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(2022 - Winter/Spring Issue)


With hundreds of kilometres of bike routes, an easily navigable network of canals and rivers, and an abundance of arts, attractions, and activities, the 11 distinct areas of southwest Florida’s Fort Myers region make it the prized getaway for seeking sun and solitude. Sure, there are the beautiful beaches of Captiva and Sanibel Islands, but if you’re looking for that true authentic “Old Florida” vibe, it’s the smaller locales that offer an off-the-beaten path experience.

Artsy Island Vibes

The relaxed atmosphere and picturesque surroundings are what attract artists to Pine Island and Matlacha (pronounced MATT-LA-SHAY). A throwback in time to when things moved slower, the 27-km-long enclave is home to an eclectic mix of fishing enthusiasts and artists. Visitors have plenty of opportunities to peruse local shops, galleries and markets. The island has several communities, including St. James City, Bokeelia, Pineland, and the artist haven of Matlacha, which is actually a tiny island.

Highlight: Part of the Great Calusa Blueway paddling trail, Matlacha Pass adds appeal for the more adventurous types.

Family Fun Vibes

A boater’s paradise, Cape Coral makes an enjoyable excursion via the Caloosahatchee River and its network of canals. Another great way to explore this relatively flat area is on two wheels via dedicated bike routes. Other family outdoor activities could include kayaking through a mangrove forest or stopping by a bird or butterfly sanctuary.

At the southern tip of Gasparilla Island there is no shortage of adventure. Explore historic lighthouses, experience quiet beaches, and kayak around the over 100 islets by Boca Grande & Outer Islands. Not to be missed are North Captiva for shelling, and Cayo Costa for wildlife.

Highlight: Families should definitely stop by Sun Splash Family Water Park, Mike Greenwell’s Family Fun Park, or Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve.

History and Healthy Vibes

The former plantation of Bonita Springs and Estero now includes attractions such as Wonder Gardens, Bonita Beach Park, and the Koreshan State Historic Site, often referred to as “New Jerusalem.” More history can be explored at Mound Key, a ceremonial centre of the Calusa Indigenous community. Make sure to visit Dolly’s Produce Patch and Eatery, renowned for homemade pies, or Shangri-La Springs, a spa oasis for natural rejuvenation.

Highlight:  Be sure to visit the Shell Factory and Nature Park in North Fort Myers, boasting the world’s largest collection of shells and coral.

Water and Wildlife Vibes

The Fort Myers region is the perfect spot for horseback riding and fishing boat charters, and for the paddle lovers, it’s kayaking the Great Calusa Blueway for manatee and dolphin encounters. You can kick it up a notch on a swamp buggy ride as you ride through four ecosystems with Babcock Wilderness Adventures for your chance to spot alligators and panthers.

Highlight: For a completely unique local experience, check out the Murder Mystery Dinner Train. The scenic 3.5-hour journey includes dinner and a live-action murder mystery show.

Travel Planner

For more travel information on the area, check out: VisitFortMyers.com.

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