Looking for the perfect long weekend getaway from the cold northern winter or just a little bit of sunshine any time of the year? Why not head to Fort Myers, Florida? There are so many things to do in Fort Myers and the surrounding islands that it’s sure to make a great weekend getaway in Florida.
We highly suggest renting a car to enjoy your time in Fort Myers. That way, you can visit several beaches in Fort Myers and attractions. Book in advance on Discovercars.com for the cheapest rates and free cancelation. Renting a car for under $30 daily is a sure way to maximize three days in Fort Myers. Click here to check rates.
*This article was written before Hurricane Ian hit Fort Myers in September 2022. We will update the article as tours, restaurants, hotels decide to reopen/rebuild or if they will need to close forever.
Day 1 – Set sail in Fort Myers
Exploring Pine Island Sound is one of the best ways to see all of the best sights of Fort Myers. Spend the day with Captain Brian of Captiva Cruises, visiting the calm bays and sparsely populated islands surrounding Fort Myers and Sanibel.
Before hitting the water, we suggest filling up at one of the best breakfast restaurants in Fort Myers. You’ll need it!
Jump on a paddleboard and navigate through the waterways in Fort Mayers, looking for manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, and more.
All aboard for a fun afternoon of sailing on a luxury catamaran along Fort Myers Beach.
Paddle your way through the mangrove forest, bays, and beaches with a local guide looking for wildlife.
The day’s first stop is the pristine beaches of Cayo Costa State Park. It is known as one of the best places in the area for shelling, which is pretty impressive since Fort Myers & Sanibel are known as some of the best shelling destinations in the entire world.
Fort Myers even created National Seashell Day, which falls on the first day of summer. Cayo Costa is a unique place where you’ll be all alone, surrounded by nature in the beauty of these islands. If you are looking for the best shelling beaches in Florida, make sure to come to the Fort Myers area.
As you cruise the bay’s shallow waters, keep an eye out for wild dolphins. The cute dolphins love the calm, shallow waters around the islands near Fort Myers.
It’s not uncommon to see them while out on the boat. They love splashing in the waves the boats create, so always be on the lookout for dolphins.
After a morning full of natural beauty and hunting for seashells, make a stop for lunch at Cabbage Key. This privately owned island has been a must-stop place for around half of a century. Besides some great food, another reason that makes Cabbage Key a great place to stop is all of the quirky gems on the island.
Starting with the restaurant itself, which is covered floor to ceiling in one-dollar bills. At some point, it became the tradition to decorate a greenback and stick it to the walls at the Cabbage Key Restaurant. The owners now estimate there are over one hundred thousand dollars pinned, tapped, and otherwise stuck to the restaurant’s walls. Of course, we had to stick a few bills up on the walls ourselves too.
If an obscene display of cash isn’t enough reason to pull your boat up here, the food might be. It’s said one of the main inspirations for Jimmy Buffet’s Cheeseburger in Paradise came from the kitchen here. While that status is debated all around the world, what’s not is that the food here is top-notch. We highly suggest you try their famous mahi-mahi served with pico de gallo and seasoned rice and beans.
Have ultimate freedom with your own rental car! Visit more beaches, some of the best restaurants in Fort Myers, and more when you have a car. We always rent from Discover Cars, it’s easy & they have the best prices.
While on Cabbage Key, don’t miss the old-school wooden water tower that gives a birds-eye view of the island and surrounding small islands. Speaking of bird’s eye, if you look close, you may see an osprey circling the skies around the island, and his home might just be right above you. On top of the old water town is a massive nest, and sightings are frequent.
- Address: Latitude N 26º 39′ 24.162″ Longitude W 82º 13′ 20.635″
If you have any ambition left at the end of the day, make your way to the beach for sunset. The beaches of Fort Myers face almost due west and give a spectacular show of colors at the end of the day. One of the best things to do in Fort Myers is to watch the sunset and plan it right with a drink in hand.
Day 2 – The Historical Side of Fort Myers & Sanibel, Florida
Start your historical tour of Fort Myers and Sanibel by heading as far back as recorded history goes in this part of the world. Located on Estero Island, the Mound House is a chance to look back thousands of years into southwest Florida’s history.
The shells that make up the mound that the Mound House is named after were placed there by the Calusa tribe around 2,00 years ago. The bottom half of the house and museum shows how the mound was built and the periods when it was built as possibly the piece of land for ancient royalty. There is also a modern building on site that holds more recent history and now houses artifacts found on site.
- Address: 451 Connecticut St, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931
Fast forward in time, will bring you to the Edison & Ford Winter Estate. This well-preserved home of the great inventor Thomas Edison and automobile builder Henry Ford is a step back to the beginning of the last century.
More than a winter getaway, the estate in Fort Myers also housed a massive laboratory and extensive garden. In Florida, Edison had plants from around the world brought here to search for materials for his inventions. He was looking for a filament for his light bulbs and also things like rubber for tires.
As interesting as the antique laboratories are on the complex, the gardens are equally as impressive. The grounds are covered in exotic plants and unique trees brought to the property. Probably the most iconic is the huge clusters of banyan trees that have engulfed much of the property near the Edison Ford Winter Estate entrance.
If you haven’t had your fill of Edison and Ford-inspired entertainment, then head to Ford’s Garage for lunch or dinner. Here, you’ll find a life-sized antique Ford car hung from the ceiling over the bar, and everything on the menu has some relationship to Ford or cars.
- Address: 2207 First St, Fort Myers, FL 33901, USA
Day 3 – Unwind in Fort Myers
Start your last day in Fort Myers with an early alarm clock. It would be a sin not to watch the sunrise on the beach at least one morning on your weekend getaway in Florida.
The sunrise in Fort Myers Beach comes up across the bay, but on the beach, you get the peaceful pastel colors of the early morning. It’s as peaceful as it is picturesque because there are almost no people on the beach this early.
Spend your final morning walking Fort Myers Beach. The white powder sand is compacted nicely, making it easy to take long walks on the beach. A large wooden pier stretches far out into the sea toward the action center in Fort Myers Beach. One end hangs out into the gulf, and the other leads to the main streets of this beach community.
Wind down your weekend getaway by wandering the streets of Fort Myers Beach. Plenty of shops and restaurants fill an afternoon or an entire day. Pull up a barstool at one of the many casual seafood joints for a great-tasting, fun atmosphere.
Thanks to Fort Myers & Sanibel for inviting us to visit. As always, all opinions are our own.