A subtropical climate, innumerable beaches, outdoor activities aplenty and a fair dose of history: there’s no arguing that Fort Myers is a standout destination for those looking to holiday in Florida. Less hectic than Tampa or Miami but with enough culture to keep visitors entertained, Fort Myers, which is often twinned with neighbouring Cape Coral, offers the perfect compromise for those seeking both a natural retreat and a city escape. If you’re planning an upcoming trip, read on for our beginner’s guide to the City of Palms for some sun-drenched travel inspiration.
Located on the southwestern side of the Florida peninsula, Fort Myers was first founded in 1886. The city began life as a small fort, but it wasn’t long before the area’s beauty and tranquillity attracted flocks of visitors. The Royal Palm Hotel, which opened its doors to guests in 1898, became a fast favourite of the well-to-do. Fort Myers was evidently also popular amongst celebrated inventors: Henry Ford and Thomas Edison famously spent their winters here, and the two friends built estates that are next door to one another. Visitors today can tour the facilities, and even poke around Edison’s old laboratory.
Warm all year round (the average temperature is a balmy 29ËšC), Fort Myers is ideal for those seeking to spend most of their holiday outdoors. There are as many ways to soak up the rays here as there are sunny days. No matter your agenda, it’s recommended that you pack a fair few bathing suits in your suitcase.
The area around the city is home to over 100 coastal islands. These range from the small and remote to the more accessible. Sanibel and Captiva Islands are the two best-known, and with their powdery beaches, verdant stretches of palm trees, bike paths, and water sports offerings, they have the hallmarks of a the perfect day trip. Estero Bay is even home to the incredible Mound Key Archaeological State Park, which houses Native American artefacts dating back more than 2,000 years.
After a few solid days of beach-bumming, visitors should also make sure they take advantage of Fort Myers’ rich nature, including the mangrove ecosystems to be found in the area. A number of chartered companies let visitors boat through the aquatic forests, with fishing-specific trips a popular option. Those who take their fishing especially seriously can also embark on a deep sea fishing charter. Reel Fish N Sea is a reliable operator; the company also teaches diving lessons and hosts beach outings.
Once the sun sets, the city’s bustling nightlife heats up. Locals and visitors flock to venues like the Twisted Vine Bistro. Located in the city’s historic river district, the restaurant’s eclectic offerings include local specials like pan-seared Florida snapper with spicy lobster sauce. Bars like The Firestone also draw plenty of visitors: the four-storey complex houses a Martini bar, sky bar, and grille room. And for those who like to wash down a beachy day with a frosty beer, the open-air World of Beer has more than 500 craft brews available.
Of course, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. From some of the country’s best golf courses to family-friendly museums like the Imaginarium, from pick-your-own citrus groves to hiking trails aplenty, the only problem when it comes to visiting Fort Myers is fitting everything in!
Header photo: Fort Myers Beach © Adventure Picture/istock/Thinkstock
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Written by Claire Bullen