Fort Meyers has been a winter resort for almost as long as it's been an official city. It was incorporated in 1885 and about a decade later began attracting tourists from around the country. The City of Palms, as it's known, has not stopped since. Today it's still a tourist haven of beaches, shops and numerous entertainments, from golfing to fishing to ice skating.
The city began as a military fort on the Caloosahatchee River in the mid-1850s. Turn-of-the century vacation developments in the late 1890s prompted Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and other prominent "snowbirds" to show up from the cold north and give Fort Myers its lasting reputation as a winter resort.
The city's signature attraction is Fort Myers Beach and its pristine, easily accessible white sands. The beach gently slopes into the gulf and is safe for kids who just want to splash around in the water. Nearby Town Square is a perfect stop for family vacationers, located near the pier.
If you're looking for a little more privacy, offshore are more than 100 keys and barrier islands with over 50 miles of fine beaches, clean water, and some of the best hotels and resorts in Florida. The islands are accessible only by boat. One favorite is Lover's Key, a site just south of Fort Myers Beach. The charming beaches are wide, the water crystal clear and, despite its name, the area is popular among family vacationers.
If you visit in the spring, and you like baseball, you can catch a game with the Boston Red Sox or the Minnesota Twins, the two major league teams that have their spring-training parks here.
Shopping and Dining
The lively downtown area, also known as the River District, is set on the easy-moving Caloosahatchee and offers the highest concentration of things to do in the city. There is an art walk, a music walk, a bike night and a farmers market. There are concerts, galleries and boutiques, nightlife venues, and a wide selection of restaurants, from high-end French bistros to Bennett's Fresh Roast, which serves what one ESPN writer called "the best donuts on the planet."
The Gulf Coast Town Center, located on Interstate 75 near Estero, offers a more comprehensive shopping experience. Near a movie theater and local hotels, this vibrant mall includes smaller shops as well as department stores like JC Penney and Babies R Us.
For an all-inclusive day near Fort Myers, a good choice is the mall/marina at Fishermen's Village in nearby Punta Gorda. It's home to myriad trendy shops and boutiques, quality restaurants, and places to stroll and check out the yachts in the harbor. There is also the Military Heritage Museum, a nod to Fort Myers' roots as a 19th-century army installation and a great stop for anyone who appreciates military history.
4350 Executive Circle
2300 Peck St
14701 S. Tamiami Trail
1528 Hendry St