5 Best Things To Do in Fort Myers, FL

No matter what season we visit Fort Myers, Florida, the beach is the magnetic attraction. Lazy afternoons, sunsets and long walks are always on our agenda there. We have been in this area three times over the past two years. Aside from the beach, here are our “Favorite 5” Best Things To Do in Fort Myers, Florida!

Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium  A wide variety of animals native to Florida reside at the Calusa Nature Center.

Roadschool 101 at the Calusa Nature Center

Roadschool 101 at the Calusa Nature Center

Alligators, bald eagles, and an array of other wildlife can be seen up close and personal at this educational center. The Audubon aviary is home to permanently injured birds of prey. As a matter of fact, many of the animals that live there, have injuries that prevent them from living in their natural environment. We meandered down all three nature trails and were fascinated by all the facts we found along the way. The museum is not to be missed to learn about Southwest Florida’s natural history. Alongside the gift shop, the museum is an interactive way to experience the touch tanks, fossils, and the creatures that live inside.

Up close and personal with the critters at the museum/gift shop

Up close and personal with the critters at the museum/gift shop

We found the staff in the museum to be very friendly and informative about the resident wildlife. The Planetarium was a favorite for the astronomy-lover in our family.  It was well worth the admission price we paid for a few hours of educational fun. Call 239-275-3435 or visit the  Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium online for more details.

Manatee Park  The best time to visit this non-captive refuge for manatees is in the winter months of November through March. Florida Manatees are free to come and go as they please, but tend to congregate at the park during the colder months. There are observation decks to see the gentle creatures up close but the best way to experience this is in a kayak or guided tour (that do have fees associated to them). However, admission costs nothing to Manatee Park and the parking fees are minimal. We have visited Manatee Park many times during our time in Fort Myers. We’ve also enjoyed the picnic areas, butterfly garden, and the playground on this 17-acre park. A kayak trip is on our list for the near future! For more information, call 239-690-5030 or visit Manatee Park online.

Edison and Ford Winter Estates  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Edison and Ford Winter Estates as a step back in time . DSC_0052We spent nearly an hour in the museum before ever embarking on a tour of the properties. In the museum, the kids were enthralled to find that Edison patented 1,093 inventions and to read about Edison/Ford’s camping adventures in the early 1900s. The most notable fact they took with them that day was that Thomas Edison was home schooled, a fact that they found very fascinating. DSC_0152The automobile enthusiasts of our gang were extra-interested in the Ford portion of the experience. Because some of our crew has little minds and busy hands, we opted for the self-guided tour so that we could take as little or much time as we wanted at each point of the walk through the estates. It was definitely an all-afternoon experience. Next time, we’ll take lunch to enjoy at one of the picnic areas. For a complete description of all the options available at this historically educational stop, call 239-334-7419 or visit online.

J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge  At first glance, this wildlife refuge doesn’t seem like much, But after a visit to the Sanibel Island attraction, we wondered what took us so long to see it! The 6,300 acres of this facility originally founded to preserve the mangroves there, can be seen by foot, bike, car or a tram. A small nominal fee ($5.00 per car) is all that is required to drive through the refuge. There are fees associated with the tram tour; however, it is a much more educational experience and the naturalists point out so many things that we would have otherwise missed. The best time to visit the Darling Wildlife Refuge is between November and April as crocodiles, alligators, osprey, and an enormous variety of other birds live and migrate here. Call 239-472-1100 to check the operating schedule or visit the complex online.

Imaginarium Hands-On Museum  If hands-on science exhibits are your thing, make this a stop on your learning road trip! This is another Fort Myers attraction that we didn’t see until our third time here. It’s amazing just how much there is to see at this center. Touching the sea life was a big plus for our gang but so was being “blown away” by a hurricane. hurricane Don’t plan much else for the day when you go to the Imaginarium. We lost track of time and didn’t leave until closing time. Be sure to eat before you go or pack a lunch as there weren’t many food options there. This is on our list for the next rainy day in our future. It’s on the pricier end of our Favorite 5 in Fort Myers but well worth the investment in our roadschooling adventures. Call 239-321-7420 or visit the facility online to view the schedule (closed on Mondays).

Honorable mentions in the Fort Myers area include:

Zoomers –  for amusement park fun. By checking their Facebook page or watching their daily specials, you can really get lots of bang for your fun bucks. (Note: The go-cart tracks here are the attraction for us. Even our four-year old had an option to drive!)

Lee County Sports Complex – for baseball action. The Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins hold spring training in Fort Myers. Other college teams play here as well. If baseball is your game, this is definitely worth checking out.

Corkscrew Sanctuary – another nature lover’s road trip. It’s a ways from the city but if you want a taste of the swamp-life, this sanctuary can deliver. With more 13,000 of Western Everglades acres located in the Corkscrew watershed, the birds and wildlife encounters are immense. The white board at the beginning of the self-guided nature walk will give you a hint at the fascinating creatures you may encounter!DSC_0246



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