Ultimate List Of Day Trips from Ft. Myers, FL
Living on Florida’s west coast affords residents easy access to a number of outdoor activities; but sometimes you just need to take a road trip and see what else is out there. For those who feel the pull of the road calling, here are some excellent alternatives to check out no more than two hours away from Ft. Myers.
Everglades National Park
As one of the most vital and important ecosystems in the world, a visit to the Everglades reminds one that this is how large chunks of the Earth might’ve looked like millions of years ago. It’s primitive, alluring and positively fascinating! President Franklin Roosevelt referred to the land’s ‘quiet beauty’ when he dedicated the Everglades as a National Park and when you walk the trails here, that observation rings true. The park encompasses 1.5 million acres of tropical and subtropical habitat with one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems. Besides the Florida alligator, you can expect to see manatees, white-tailed deer, bobcats, and scores of endangered animals like the American crocodile and the Florida panther.
Big Cypress National Reserve
About 45 miles west of Miami you will run into this massive nature preserve on the northwestern edge of the Everglades. On this vast stretch of land that provides water for the estuaries along Florida's southwest coast, expect to encounter cypress, mangroves, alligators, and panther tracks. There are activities here that you would not otherwise be allowed to do in a National Park like off-roading, air boating, and deer, turkey and hog hunting. There is also a huge range of ranger-led activities to enjoy. For a real out-of-this-world experience, stick around until nightfall for a spectacular curtain of stars in the sky!
Billy Swamp Safari
Located on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, explore 2,200 acres of untamed Florida Everglades preserved in its pristine state by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Traverse the watery prairie of the Everglades in a giant swamp buggy and ride high above the action. You’ll be in the thick of things on this full-scale dive into all things Florida wildlife. There are airboat rides and snake and alligator shows. You’ll encounter gators, water buffalo, and bison and the guides are well-versed in the natural habitat that surrounds you. If you really feel adventurous, you can spend the night in an authentic Seminole chickee and sample some gator nuggets and fry bread at the Swamp Water Café!
Florida Panther Refuge
Today, in addition to the 12-16 Florida Panthers that den in, hunt on, and roam the refuge each month, numerous other wildlife also live here including black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, Big Cypress fox squirrels, alligators, and wood storks. There is also a myriad of botanical wonders to examine with over 700 different species to see. Tropical hardwood hammocks, which are dominated by ancient live oaks, are found along upland ridges. Acres of slash pine and saw palmetto lie adjacent to wet prairies blooming with glades lobelia, tickseed and prairie milkweed. Rare orchids and bromeliads are found throughout this mix of habitats.
Treeumph! Adventure Course
Treeumph! is a sprawling, 14-acre adventure playground where the surrounding trees have been transformed to become a series of physically challenging games such as a wobbly bridge, rock-climbing walls, zip lining and so much more. Spend a half-day enjoying 104 different games to challenge your mind and body at this aerial obstacle course staffed with highly skilled outdoor instructors with years of climbing experience that not only maximize the fun factor for each and every visitor but they also provide peace of mind with their attention to detail in all matters of safety. The degrees of difficulty vary greatly from challenges suitable for pre-adolescent kids and seniors all the way up to super intense courses that push you to your physical limits.
Beach Horses of Bradenton
How many times have you seen someone on a handsome steed on the big screen galloping down an empty beach or trotting down a path in the woods and thought, ‘Yeah, I’d like to that!’ Well, your dreams are about to be realized! Now, you can experience the thrill of riding a horse on a beautiful palm-lined beach and even ride your horse right into Palma Sola Bay. The folks over at Beach Horses have got all the gear you will ever need for the ultimate horse/human bonding experience you can have. This is a very cool way to spend the day and cool off in the process!
Sanibel Island/Captiva Island
If your idea of a fun day involves whiling away the hours bumming around by the seashore, then head out to Bowman Beach. This beach is very clean, is monitored with security cameras for visitor safety but, most importantly, it’s ground zero for some prime shelling. Once you’re done, you can take your booty to the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum and they will identify each shell for you. Go and grab a leisurely lunch or early dinner and saunter over to neighboring Captiva Island for a captivating sunset.
New Wave Eco Charters
If you’re ready to dive in the deep end of the pool for that life-changing vacation experience, this place has the goods! Besides having a great Instagram page, this company offers several eco-charter boat tours that range from two hours, half and full days. One takes you shelling, sightseeing, and dolphin-watching, while another seeks out animals in their natural habitat within secluded coves and hard to reach beaches. You can take paddleboard lessons and even take a private tour with an actual marine biologist. The adventures are waiting for you out in Captiva!
Siesta Key Village
Not far from downtown Sarasota, the small island of Siesta Key sits on the gleaming Gulf of Mexico and boasts one of the best beaches in the country. In the heart of this quirky, fun island is Siesta Key Village, a colorful, lively village near the beach that is full of restaurants, shops, bars, spas, ice cream parlors, and much more. The village is all about shops, parties, and fun, and its festive atmosphere is just perfect for barhopping. The village really gets busy during the many festivals it hosts; so if you can, time your visit with one of them.
Explore beautiful Sarasota Bay on high quality kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. One day you may encounter a gentle manatee grazing near your kayak, and the next you may get an aerial display from some playful dolphins breaching out of the Sarasota Bay waters! Experienced tour guides help you identify and learn about all the amazing flora and fauna the bay has to offer and you can rent one of their vessels for a self guided half day tour at your own pace. You can take a morning trip to known manatee and dolphin hotspots near Otter Key and the surrounding deeper channels, take a trip to Sharker’s Island where amazing sandbars are located or explore the Lido Key Mangrove Tunnels and get up close to some of your favorite wildlife.
Closer To Ft. Myers
Edison & Ford Winter Estates
Florida has a strong reputation as a destination for snowbirds, but especially those of the featherless variety. People from all walks of life dream of having a place to flee to when the winter winds up north start to blow and, throughout history, many prominent and famous people have purchased real estate in the Sunshine State; and it seems like a trend that will never hit its peak. Two of those previously mentioned VIPs bought homes right there in your own backyard of Ft. Myers where you can enjoy more than 20 acres of historical buildings and gardens including the 1928 Edison Botanical Research Laboratory.
Peace River Wildlife Center
Peace River Wildlife Center is a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation and education center tucked neatly into the mangroves overlooking Charlotte Harbor at Ponce de Leon Park in Punta Gorda Isles, Florida. With their mission to rescue, rehabilitate, and educate, this facility offers visitors a close-up look at some of Florida’s indigenous wildlife as they prepare to re-enter the wild. Their residents are birds of many different species of raptors, songbirds and shorebirds. The mammals they treat range from squirrels, bobcats, armadillos, raccoons, deer, and many more. Admission is free and public tours are given throughout the day.
The State of Florida is a wonderland of nature with an ecosystem all its own; so get out there and take it all in. Ready to hit the road yet?