Find The Best Winter Surprises In Southwest Florida

  • Sanibel beaches are a welcomed sight year-round

    Beaches Beckon in the Winter Months

    Beautiful beaches are one of the main claims to fame in Southwest Florida. They are beautiful year-round, but the skies seem especially blue in the winter. And while the water may be a bit chilly for the locals, its warmth is considered a welcomed surprise to most visitors, especially ones from the north. In fact, winter offers lots of surprises for guests. Take a look.

    Photo courtesy of Gina Birch

  • Jet Blue Stadium packs in Red Sox fans for spring training

    Boston Red Sox Spring Training Games

    Each spring, players from the Boston Red Sox fly south for spring training. JetBlue Park, where the Sox play in Fort Myers, Fla., has a replica of the Green Monster, the infamous wall at Fenway Park where the team plays during regular season. You may be surprised to know that this monster has a bar and seats to watch the game from.

    Photo courtesy of Boston Red Sox

  • Fans flock to Hammond Stadium to get up close and personal with favorite Twins players during spring training

    Minnesota Twins Spring Training

    The Minnesota Twins train in Fort Myers each spring. Besides seeing big-name players from the stands, fans attending games at this stadium have great access to the batting cages for an up-close look at favorite star players. 

    Photo courtesy of John Meyer/Flickr

  • These giant sea cows are mesmerizing to watch in the wild

    Manatee Park

    While this might look like an ordinary park with walking trails, picnic facilities, a fishing pier and boat rentals, the best surprise in the winter is the giant sea cows, or manatees, that gather here. They come in droves, seeking the warm water put out by a local power plant. It can be an amazing sight. 

    Photo courtesy of ShaneGross/iStock

  • Actor/comedian Jim Belushi often takes the stage at his Fort Myers comedy club

    Belushi's Comedy Bar

    Belushi’s is a small comedy and music club above an Irish pub, in a building locals often call "the castle." You never know when the club’s namesake, actor/comedian Jim Belushi, will show up to join the band or introduce other funny guys.  

    Photo courtesy of Gina Birch

  • The birds you'll find at Ding Darling in the winter are spectacular

    J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

    Established to protect Sanibel Island’s mangrove ecosystem, this gigantic national wildlife refuge is well known for hosting a huge migratory bird population. During the winter, it sometimes appears the number of birds in any given tree outnumber its branches.

    Photo courtesy of Robert Blanchard/iStock

  • Look for the bright Scamp trailer and you've found the Leoma Lovegrove Gallery

    Leoma Lovegrove Gallery

    Matlacha is old fishing village in Southwest Florida that has turned into quite the magnet for artistic types. Leoma Lovegrove helped start the trend with her wild-looking gallery. Don’t be surprised to see her on site, painting while greeting her fans and collectors. 

    Photo courtesy of Gina Birch

  • Passengers keep cameras ready, waiting for dolphins to surface at sunset

    Sunset Cruises

    Sunset trips with Captiva Cruises can be breathtaking, but an added bonus are the dolphins. You never know when or where they will surface or how many you’ll find. Spotting these creatures is always a beautiful surprise, even for locals who are used to Florida's wildlife.

    Photo courtesy of Gina Birch

  • Birds and other wildlife find a warm home at Lakes Park

    Lakes Regional Park

    This massive park with walking trails, paddleboats and train rides makes a great outing for visitors wanting to exercise or entertain the kids. One of the best surprises is searching for and then finding alligators trolling the waters or sunning themselves on the shores of the lake. 

    Photo courtesy of Gina Birch

  • You never know what treasures from the sea you'll find during the museum's beach walks

    Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

    This museum is home to one the best collections of mollusks found not only Southwest Florida, but also around the world. The best surprise here is the interactive part: beach walks to help you find and identify shells and all kinds of things  found in the Gulf of Mexico.  

    Photo courtesy of Gina Birch

  • It's not just about the produce, but entertaining and educating the entire family

    Agritourism at Southern Fresh Farms

    Winter is the prime growing season for Southwest Florida produce, and you'll find farmers markets somewhere, every day of the week. At Southern Fresh Farms, you can buy organic produce and local products, and there also is a playground and petting zoo to entertain the kids, and a tilapia farm and fishing. It's an entertaining and educational agritourism stop.

    Photo courtesy of Gina Birch

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