Visit Fort Myers and Cape Coral
In Cape Coral, life floats by like a light sea breeze in this community just north of the Caloosahatchee River. The easygoing, waterfront lifestyle in Southwest Florida inspired local developers in the 1950s. They created canals to encourage local boating. Celebrities were brought in to tout the benefits of "the Cape," as the locals know it.
Today, a lively strip of restaurants and stores along Cape Coral Parkway offer endless activities for kids, including Sun Splash Family Water Park, Mike Greenwell’s Family Fun Park and the 27,000-square-foot Eagle Skate Park.
Nature lovers always find themselves at Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve, where a boardwalk guides you through a quiet mangrove habitat without disturbing the wildlife. Just remember to look for Cape Coral's most famous resident – the burrowing owl, often seen day and night throughout the community.
You can also discover water, wildlife and wonderful adventures when bicycling in Cape Coral, a designated Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. One of Florida’s largest cities by land mass offers a very special bicycling experience with more than 90 miles of interconnected bike routes bordering nature preserves, scenic canals, marinas, golf courses and the expansive Caloosahatchee River.
Fort Myers, known for its nature and historical estates, serves as a gateway to a stretch of islands including the Sanibel area, known for its famous shelling beaches.
The city of Fort Myers hugs the shores of the wide Caloosahatchee River, which created the town and levered its importance during the Seminole Wars. Since the early 1800s, settlers and visitors of fame and wealth came to the Fort Myers and Sanibel area, most notably light bulb inventor Thomas A. Edison, who built his home, laboratory and botanical gardens between the river and McGregor Boulevard, the town's most celebrated drive, thanks to Edison. He lined the old road with stately royal palms that remain a signature today. His contributions to the city (he also plugged Fort Myers into electricity) are celebrated on his birthday every February with the Edison Festival of Light Pageant, culminating in a nighttime parade.
A sophisticated performing arts hall and two sports parks, which host the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins for spring training, provide entertainment in the Fort Myers area.
Downtown is evolving into a lively night scene where clubs, coffee houses, street performers and cafes draw a young, artsy crowd. For nature lovers, parks preserve fragile habitat while providing trails for hiking, biking and paddling. Manatee Park is home to a herd of endangered Florida manatees that come to winter in its warm waters every year. Visitors can kayak among them or listen to their singing through special hydrophones.
Host to the largest population of burrowing owls in Florida, and North Fort Myers, home to the vintage Shell Factory & Nature Park, face Fort Myers on the Caloosahatchee River's northern banks. Pine Island, a long island that holds tenaciously to its deep fishing and farming heritage, hides in the Intracoastal Waters off Cape Coral. Ancient Calusa Indian mounds and a funky small-town artist village bring culture-seekers to this island that celebrates its signature crop each July at the Mango Mania festival.
Main among Fort Myers' litany of barrier islands are Fort Myers Beach, a bustling beach town priced for families; Sanibel Island, centered around its famous shelling beaches and birding mecca at J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge; Captiva Island, a jumble of quirky shops and restaurants; and Bonita Beach, where the Great Calusa Blueway paddling trail begins to head north 90 miles. The Fort Myers and Sanibel area is also home to the one-of-a-kind Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, plus a historic village and a couple of nature attractions. Its Tarpon Bay lies along the Blueway and is part of the wildlife refuge. Roseate spoonbills, bald eagles, ospreys, manatees, dolphin, sting rays, tarpon and bob cats dwell in forests and waters of the refuge.