Fort Myers and Sanibel Island is a place where pelicans soar through bright blue skies, dolphins leap from crystal waters, and bright white sand glistens with seashells along over 50 miles of coastline. Aside from world-class shopping and internationally recognized golf courses, the possibilities are endless when it comes to things to do on Sanibel Island.
It’s no wonder so many travelers call this area their favorite summer vacation spot year after year!
Friendly neighbors emerge from Sanibel vacation rentals, and colorful shops await at every corner in downtown Fort Myers. The adjacent cities are equal in beauty and charm. Many visitors repeatedly come to experience the magic that comes with delicious seafood, sightings of rare ocean-dwellers, and one-of-a-kind sunsets. Here’s everything you’ll want to know before you head out on your day trip to Fort Myers.
Explore on Your Sanibel Island Vacation
Sanibel Island rentals are luxurious enough that any vacationer could remain in them for days – but with over 400 types of seashells burrowed along with the beach, unique and locally-owned eateries and boutiques lining the island’s central tourist district, Periwinkle Way, and wildlife waiting in one of the many beautiful hiking trails, no one would truly want to want to leave their vacation rental.
Around 6,000 years ago, Sanibel Island merged with Captiva Island, forming one large landmass filled with history and culture. Featuring some of the most breathtaking beaches in the country as well as a rich selection of shopping and dining, the island offers more than that offered by an average beach getaway. The island played an essential role in the Civil and Seminole Wars – not to mention the legendary pirates’ dens – and has hosted prominent historical figures such as Juan Ponce de Leon, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and powerful Native American nations like the Calusa tribe.
The geographical area is connected by the Sanibel Causeway, which stretches across the Gulf of Mexico.
Take a Day Trip to Fort Myers
Sanibel Island is only a 40-minute drive to Fort Myers, a place where small-town charm mixes with laid-back beach vibes. Perfect for visitors of all ages and interests, Sanibel Island day trips are activities visitors make sure to have on their vacation schedule.
Bordered by golden beaches and fading inland to lively shops and entertainment districts, Fort Myers is a place that cannot be missed when in South Florida. There are so many fun things to do and see in Fort Myers that you might want to come back for a second or even a third day!
Things to Do in Fort Myers
The list of Sanibel Island’s things to do is long, but the list stretches further in Fort Myers. To start, take a stroll through Times Square, a shopping and dining district located behind the town’s main pier that is anchored by a bright blue clock with a cheery orange face.
Fort Myers is also a place where, somehow, snowbirds Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were neighbors. Now, a museum has been erected in their honor: The Edison & Ford Winter Estates. Spread across 21 acres and featuring immaculate gardens, laboratories, and vintage car garages, the museum is a National Historic Landmark that allegedly includes the largest tree in North America.
Whether you want to get in the water or stay on dry land, getting outside is easy here. Take a stroll down the Fort Myers River District, a historic downtown area highlighting Art Deco architecture and historic structures, or kayak and canoe along Lovers Key. There are also state parks and wildlife preserves galore, an excellent spot for family-friendly fun.
Fort Myers Beach
Seven miles of white sandy beaches await at Fort Myers Beach, a coastline with beauty that rivals those found in Sanibel, Florida. The weather in Fort Myers rarely sinks below 65 degrees in the winter or rises above 100 degrees in the summer, leaving the turquoise waters a perfect temperature year-round.
The beaches are separated by The Pier, locally known as Pelican Pier, where the northern side is calmer and less crowded, and the southern side is cultured and lively.
Fort Myers Pier
The Fort Myers Pier, or Pelican Pier, is a 560-foot stretch of boardwalk extending into Mexico’s Gulf. Pelicans and seagulls can often be found perching on the railways, and vendors can often be found selling fishing supplies, drinks, and souvenirs.
The pier offers views to all the offered Fort Myers, Captiva Island, and Sanibel Island activities, like parasailing, dolphin sightings, paddle boating, or stargazing.
Downtown Fort Myers
Brick streets pave the way along downtown Fort Myers, the city’s River District. Buildings that date back to the 1920s rise on either side of the roads, and patios crowded with laughing guests and live entertainment jut into the sidewalks. With dining options ranging from fine fare to casual eateries, there is something for even the pickiest eaters in downtown Fort Myers. Most notably is Ford’s Garage, a restaurant that honors the winter home of Henry Ford with vintage cars and an old-fashioned service station theme.
Plan Your Next Stay
One of the best Sanibel Island activities is just to spend time in one of their vacation rentals or one of the condo rentals in Captiva. Few things can compare to relaxing on powder-soft sand, listening to the rhythmic surf, or watching a golden sunset fade over the coast. While the things to do on the shores of nearby Fort Myers or in one of the island’s many wildlife refuges are endless, there’s nothing like a bit of rest and relaxation among the salty air and homey atmosphere that the Gulf of Mexico in South Florida offers.
Renovated in 2015, the impressive baseball fields of Hammond Stadium lure visitors to the Fort Myers area each year.
The stadium seats over 9,300 people and hosts the Minnesota Twins each year for spring training and serves as the home for the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, a Class A Advanced affiliate team. The stadium is named in honor of a retired Lee County deputy administrator, and it features a waterfall fountain, intricate architecture emulating Churchill Downs, and a large gift shop.
Directions to Fort Myers from Sanibel Island Vacation Rentals
From condo rentals in Captiva and Sanibel Islands to Fort Myers, the trip is a quick journey down Sanibel Captiva Road to Periwinkle Way, leading to the Sanibel Causeway. The bridge stretches across the Gulf to connect the Sanibel-Captiva Island area to Punta Rassa and Fort Myers. From the causeway, follow McGregor Boulevard until it becomes Main Street.
If getting to islands from a flight to Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, take the Terminal Access Road to Interstate 75 South, getting off at Exit 128 and taking the connector road to turn right onto South Tamiami Trail, and then to Gladiolus Road. Turn left onto Summerlin Road, which eventually merges into McGregor Road, and follow the same route from Fort Myers back to the Sanibel Island rentals.