Something for Everyone – Southwest Florida Things to Do
There are the most obvious forms of entertainment and activities in Southwest Florida: beaches, boating, fishing and golf. View this online guide to Southwest Florida arts, beaches, entertainment, golf, boat and fishing charters, eco-tours, boat rentals, gambling… and more here.
But there is much more beyond that with the area having a very active arts community, nightlife for all ages, museums, broadway shows, concerts, and more. Here’s just a short list of popular Southwest Florida things to do in Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach, and Naples.
Southwest Florida Arts and Entertainment
Entertainment, Nightlife, Dining in Southwest Florida
Bell Tower Shops in central Fort Myers offers shopping variety and some of the best restaurants in town. Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicos, Brookstone, Williams Sonoma, Mole Hole, Victorias Secret.. and plenty more. Bistro 41 is one of our favorite dining spots but there are so many more, including the ever popular Cru. On Friday nights catch the free Jazz by the Fountain concerts.
Attend one of Cape Harbour’s open air concerts by the marina. Live music includes rock and roll, bluegrass, folk, and everything in between.
If you like bluesy rock and roll, don’t miss Deb and the Dynamics. They play all around Southwest Florida. Watch for them Tuesdays at Cape Harbour or Leapin Lizards, catch them on Matlacha at Berts Bar, or on the beach at the Lighthouse.
Learn to line dance, or just dance, at the Dixie Roadhouse nightclub in downtown Cape Coral. Or take in a top rated live performance, dance, and cocktails at the Club Fletchers nightclub just west of downtown Cape Coral.
Get nostalgic about Ford cars and memorabilia, and have a great burger and craft beer at Ford’s Garage.
Gulf Coast Town Center and Coconut Point are two new shopping centers with live entertainment, martini bars, hundreds of designer stores, and traditional mall magnets. You can drop a few hundred in a few hours, easy.
Southwest Florida Symphony – Their Around Town Series is ever popular and you can attend their concerts (classical or Pops) in Fort Myers, Estero, Cape Coral, Sanibel and places in between.
Barbra B Mann Performing Arts Hall – Concerts, Broadway Theatre, Musical Reviews, Comedy – an excellent variety such as Liza Minnelli, Moody Blues, The Wedding Singer, Rent, Blast, and B.B. King… all within the next few weeks.
Old Naples is another favorite of ours when we cruise on the water down to the City Pier in Crayton Cove. Tommy Bahama restaurant, Campiello Ristorante, and a host of small and name brand shops and restaurants. Also in Naples, check out Fifth Avenue and Tin City.
For the motorcycle enthusiast, there are bike nights in nearly every city. At the Cape Coral bike night and Fort Myers bike night, enjoy music, food, drink, and strolling to admire the beautiful bikes.
Big M Casino Boat – play the slots and enjoy live entertainment aboard the Big M. Day and night cruises for 10 bucks.
Or for more gambling options, visit the Seminole Casino with slots, cards, and live entertainment. Open 24/7, Seminole Casino Immokalee is Southwest Florida’s #1 attraction and premier gaming destination, with over 1,200 of the newest slots,34 live tables games,1st Street Deli, SWFL’s only authentic NY-style deli and the EE-TO-LEET-KE (“The Camp”) Grill home of authentic Seminole Fry Bread.
Family Fun in Southwest Florida
Eagle Skate Park, located adjacent to the William “Bill” Austen Youth Center, is one of the largest skate facilities from Tampa to Miami and features nearly 27,000 sq. ft. of ramps, rails and pipes. The park offers extreme fun for skateboard, rollerblade, and bike enthusiasts ages 6 and up, with both daily and annual admission rates available. (Helmets and parental/legal guardian consent required prior to admission.)
On Fort Myers Beach, check out Midisland Watersports for Waverunner Rentals, Guided Waverunner Dolphin Tours, Parasailing, Stand Up Paddle Boards, Kayaks, Banana Boat Tube Rides, Cabanas, Chairs, Umbrellas. On Fort Myers Beach for 20 years and family owned and operated.
Ford/Edison Winter Estates – Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were some of the first to call Fort Myers their winter getaways. Visit their historic family compounds to history, art, educational tours, and beautiful gardens.
Bowditch Beach Park is Now home to New Day Docks, featuring 10 slips for boats up to 28 feet and a paddlecraft launch onto the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail.
Times Square on Fort Myers Beach is considered the heart of Estero Island’s downtown. Full of shops and restaurants, Times Square features outdoor dining, street performers, and plenty of spots to sit down and relax.
Visit J.D. Ding Darling Nature preserve. This 6,354-acre Florida wildlife refuge, named for Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and pioneer environmentalist Jay Norwood Darling, is – at latest count — home to 220 species of birds, more than 50 types of reptiles, and 32 different kinds of mammals.
Being originally from Minnesota, we have to mention first Twins Spring Training and their minor league team the Miracle. And of course Boston Red Sox fans are everywhere! Spring training and minor league ballparks are in Fort Myers, close to the airport. The Sox will have a brand new stadium for 2012.
Take a Boat Charter from Cape Harbour with The Banana Bay Tour Company. Sunset cruises, narrated eco-tours, lunch cruises to Picnic Island and full-day trips to Fort Myers Beach aboard a 52’ catamaran-style tour boat. The “Coconut Woman” departs daily from the dock in front of Rumrunners. This first-class, full service, Coast Guard certified vessel accommodates up to 49 passengers and is available for private charters and group events.
Rent a boat at Cape Harbour and explore the Gulf of Mexico, beaches, or catch a few fish. Take sailing or cruising lessons, or rent a yacht, at Tarpon Point with Southwest Florida Sailing and Cruising School.
Go shelling on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, and then learn about shells at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. It is the most comprehensive museum in the Western Hemisphere devoted solely to shells. Rated a “Gem” attraction by AAA. Visit before or after the beach to identify shells. Certified by the American Assocation of Museums.
Take a Water Taxi to Cayo Costa, Cabbage Key, or other beautiful Southwest Florida beaches and islands.
The city of Cape Coral has a very robust Parks and Recreation (PDF link) program, with classes, concerts, festivals, team sports, and much more.
Lover’s Key at the south end of Fort Myers Beach is one of the top rated beaches in the nation. A haven for wildlife, the islands and their waters are home to West Indian manatees, bottlenose dolphins, roseate spoonbills, marsh rabbits, and bald eagles. The two mile long beach is accessible by boardwalk or tram and is popular for shelling, swimming, picnicking, and sunbathing. Black Island has over five miles of multiuse trails for hiking and bicycling. Anglers and boaters can launch their vessels from the park’s boat ramp. The park’s concession offers kayak tours, as well as bicycle, canoe and kayak rentals.
SunSplash WaterPark – a Cape Coral treasure for the entire family. Plenty if big kids on the slides. Music, food, and entertainment as well as special events.
Visit the Cape Coral Yacht Club river beach for a fun family day with many facilities such as community pool, tennis, and Ford’s boathouse for a wonderful meal and beverage.
There are many places to rent Kayaks and explore the rivers, Gulf of Mexico bays, or Cape Coral canals. Four Mile Cove is a “green” gem with pristine canoe and kayak waterways, a 4,500-foot nature trail and a quiet picnic area and visitors’ center. Located on the Caloosahatchee River. Home to Veteran’s Association’s Iwo Jima, Korean, Vietnam memorials.
Rotary Park in Cape Coral is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, Rotary Park consists of brackish ponds, wetlands, salt flats and uplands. The park is home the Liam J Perk Memorial playgound. Free tours of the Tom Allen Memorial Butterfly House, dog park, observation towers, and more.
For an extended tour, take the Key West Express to the Florida Keys. You can get there in about 4 hours on their super fast boats, and the trip alone is worth every penny. The boat departs from Fort Myers Beach.
Visit the Fort Myers Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium 105 acre site with a museum, three nature trails, a Planetarium, butterfly and bird aviaries, a gift shop and meeting and picnic areas. Strolling through the Museum, visitors can learn about Southwest Florida’s natural history. Daily educational programs allow visitors an up close and personal view of some of our resident creatures, including a skunk, bobcat, raccoon, white tail deer, Butterfly Aviary and Native Plant Nursery and an Audubon Aviary which houses permanently injured birds of prey (hawks, vultures, bald eagles, owls and more). And the stars are always out in the Planetarium.
Check out Babcock Wilderness Adventures and discover the natural heart of Florida on a 90-minute swamp buggy tour through Telegraph Cypress Swamp and the Babcock Ranch. Experience alligators, Cracker Cattle, local birds and wildlife all up close and personal.
The Strausser BMX Sports Complex has been home to the BMX Motocross track since 1977 and the Men’s Softball League since 1987. The park has hosted several state and national BMX Motocross races and softball tournaments.
Places to Stay in Southwest Florida
Since many of our customers are from outside Florida, we’re often asked where to stay while they are here on their property shopping trip. Here are some of our favorite places:
Tarpon Point – the Westin Resort at Marina Village – a waterfront resort in Cape Coral with studio, 1 bedroom, and 2 bedroom suites and expansive views. Also home of the 5 star Marker 92 restaurant and Nauti Mermaid waterfront bar and grill. Arrive by car or by boat with slips available for lease and transient dockage space available. The hotel is pet friendly.
Sanibel Harbour Resort – Conveniently located in southern Fort Myers and close to the beaches and shopping/dining. Excellent Views, Marina, Sanibel Princess Dolphin-Watching Cruises, and Charlies Cabana Bar.
Lighthouse Island Resort – laid back atmosphere in walking distance to Fort Myers Beach and one of the most affordable on the beach. If you’re in the partying mood, the tikki bar here is a rockin. Nights can be a bit noisy, so if you want peace and quiet, be sure to ask for a room furthest from the tikki bar and pool. Pet friendly.
Pink Shell – a Fort Myers Beach beach resort with all the amenities.
The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club on Sanibel Island – an 18 hole Mark McCumber course on the beautiful island of Sanibel.
South Seas Resort – at the northern most tip of Captiva, this is heaven on earth. If you’ve got a boat, take the route via the Gulf of Mexico and then take Redfish pass into the Inter Coastal Waterway. Hug the short and turn right into the marina. Marina guests can enjoy all the resort amenities… if you can tear yourself away from the beach to see them.