The Getaway
10 Ideas for Your Weekend Itinerary in Fort Myers

Fort Myers is an ideal destination for a weekend getaway and offers tourists a fantastic, underrated coastal escape. Attractions like the Edison and Ford Winter Estates and Mound House give visitors insight into the breadth of American history. Experiences like shelling at Cayo Costa State Park or wildlife spotting at Six Mile Cypress are the stuff good memories are made of. Between March and May is the best time to visit, and the city is easily accessible via Southwest Florida International Airport.

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01 Exploring the Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Thomas Edison, he of the light bulb, and Henry Ford, who founded the Ford Motor Company, owned neighboring vacation homes in Fort Myers and became friends. It's fascinating to see where these influential individuals spent time and to learn about their historical contributions. Allocate around three hours for this attraction. You can take a self-guided audio tour of the homes and gardens, or go on a guided tour. Finish at the museum or by enjoying the beach and banyan tree views.

Fort Myers Florida, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates. Main Ford estate house museum Irina Wilhauk / Shutterstock.com

02 A morning with manatees

The manatees at Manatee Park are not in captivity. The park is actually a warm water sanctuary for these endangered marine mammals during winter, so the best times to see them is between December and February.

You can walk the trails or rent a kayak to paddle through the mangroves. When it's not manatee season, you'll come across other wildlife like turtles, snakes, and alligators.

03 Discovering the River District

The River District in and around First Street is a great place to visit throughout the day. Restaurants and coffee shops feed the ravenous and jittery, cute boutiques release satisfied shoppers back into the world, and the nightlife is buzzing. The area is pet-friendly and has regular art and live music nights. Plus, historic early 20th-century buildings, including old homes, lend character.

Diners enjoying the patio. in the River District of Ft. Meyers Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock.com

04 Nature's marvel at Six Mile Cypress

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, Ft Myers

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is a wetland with a big job—it catches and filters rainwater, and serves as a wildlife corridor so animals can safely travel from point A to point B. Take a pair of binoculars for birdwatching and get close-up views when you notice even the faintest hint of movement in the distance. It's best to arrive early to avoid the crowds and spy those famous early birds in action. The neat 1.2-mile looping boardwalk is well-maintained.

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05 Sun and shells at Sanibel Island

Great blue heron at Blind Pass Beach on Sanibel Island, Florida

How many times can you say "She sells seashells on the seashore" without messing up? You can try this tongue twister while doing the "Sanibel Stoop"—the familiar bending every visitor does to inspect the potential treasures at their feet. Sanibel Island experienced damage from Hurricane Ian in 2022, but the lighthouse still stands. Sunsets here are pretty memorable. You can fish, hike, go biking, swim, and look for the dolphins that frequent these waters.

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06 Captiva Cruises Adventure

Captiva Cruises at McCarthy's Marina offers boat tours to explore the waters in this part of Florida. The crew members know the history and ecology of the region like the back of their hands, and throw in humor to help the info stick. Head for Pine Island Sound or Cayo Costa. The latter is one of the biggest barrier islands in the Sunshine State and makes for a laidback day trip or camping destination. Captiva Cruises handles the ferry service.

07 A taste of local flavors

As far as eating places go, Shrimp Shack specializes in seafood with comforting hushpuppies on the side. Crispy onion rings, flavorful coconut and boom boom shrimp, tender white fish, and delicious cheese grits and clam chowder are some of the highlights on the menu. A drive-thru makes this a convenient stop after a tiring activity. Ford's Garage is also popular for its Ford-themed decor and burgers that hit the spot.

 

08 Unwinding at Fort Myers Beach

View of the beach from the fishing pier in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.

Sunrise walks, pier selfies, parasailing, and just plain chilling out on a wide expanse of famous sand. These are some of the activities you can look forward to at Fort Myers Beach. The beach took a battering during Hurricane Ian, and the community is still recovering but is ready to welcome tourists back. Travel to the area means supporting local businesses as they try to forge a path forward from the destruction.

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09 Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation

The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife on Sanibel Island, also known as CROW, does tremendous work to help injured animals. You can tour the hospital facility, watch bat presentations, and learn from passionate volunteers. This family-friendly attraction will inspire young and old alike to be more compassionate and aware of the value of these creatures.

 

10 A journey through time at Mound House

Mound House on Estero Island sits on top of a Calusa Indian shell mound that's about two thousand years old. The Calusa tribe was known as the "Shell Indians" because they turned shells into tools. Disposed tools were amassed and became a mound. You can learn about this amazing chapter in the region's history at the museum here.

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