There are so many ways to have fun on the water in Fort Myers and Holiday Water Sports has it all. One of the most popular experiences is flying high above the beach via a parasail. Board the six-passenger winch boat directly from the sand on Fort Myers Beach, flying solo or in tandem with one or two other people. You'll dangle peacefully at the end of an 800-foot line with a free-fall dip into the water. Jet Ski's are at the other end of the spectrum, a gas-powered personal watercraft offering speed and exhilaration. Other rentals include stand up paddle boards or SUPs, aqua cycles with giant flotation wheels and more.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Jet Ski's, Parasailing, paddle boards....a few of the many popular ways to have excitement and fun on the waterways of Fort Myers.
Gina's expert tip: If the weather is not perfect and the day has been slow operators sometimes offer discounts to drum up interest.
Certain times of the year, it's faster and easier to travel by bicycle on Sanibel Island than by car, and it's more fun too. Billy's Bike Rentals is loaded with options to take care of everyone in your family, even those who don't know how to ride. Besides individual bikes and bicycles built for two, there are covered surreys so the entire family can share in the peddling. Grab a map and off you go to explore island highlights like the historic lighthouse and the world-renowned Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Be sure to take a break at a beach access for a dip, pack a picnic, or splurge at one of the fantastic local restaurants. But be sure to save space in your basket for shopping bags after visiting the numerous unique boutiques along Periwinkle Way.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: One of the best ways to see Sanibel and Captiva Islands is via bicycles and Segways. Rent them here, grab a map and get going.
Gina's expert tip: If you're staying on the island, "Billy" can deliver your bike.
There is so much water in the Fort Myers area but there is only one, true water park. Sun Splash Family Water Park has more than fourteen acres of water slides, pools and activities for the entire family. Kids go crazy for the adrenaline pumping speed slides and the five-and-a-half story free fall drop. If that's too much excitement, grab a float and peacefully bob down the Main Stream River Ride. There's a Tot Spot for the little ones and plenty of chairs for mom and dad to lounge in the sun. Food and concessions are available along with lots of special deals throughout the summer, so be sure to check the events calendar online. The water park typically closes at the end of October through February, then the site is used for carnivals, concerts and special events.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: With all of the water in the area, this is the only full-service water park, with fast slides, lazy rivers and refreshing pools.
Gina's expert tip: No outside food and beverages are allowed in. Concessions are provided and there are plans to sell alcohol in the near future.
Walking the 2.5 miles of paved and unpaved paths at Lakes Park is free but if you have a few extra dollars there are boat and bike rentals too. Workout stations with waterfront views are perfect for burning a few calories. The small water park is free for kids to cool off and concessions are available. Check out the Miniature Railroad that offers a 15-minute ride past a small scale village. Also, look for exotic vegetation and the occasional alligator in the 158 acres of freshwater quarry lakes; fishing is allowed. On your walk or ride, look for birds like Ibis and Heron, enjoy the fragrance garden, a seasonal community garden and rest in the gazebo or the many covered picnic areas. The park is also home to many cultural and music festivals and a seasonal Farmers Market on Friday mornings.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: This park has a little something for everyone; wildlife, bike trails, exercise stations, boating, and a small water park for the kids.
Gina's expert tip: There is a second entrance from Summerlin Road, for foot and bike traffic only
The Estero River is between Fort Myers and Bonita Springs. A lazy stretch of waterway leading to the Gulf of Mexico, it is lined with mangroves, palm trees and moss-covered oaks. Rent individual or double kayaks, as well as canoes and be sure to pack snacks. There are numerous beautiful sites to pull over for a picnic, the first one being the Koreshan State Historic Site. The Estero Bay is about a 4 1/2 mile paddle and here you'll find more private places to beach your boat. Explore the historic Mound Key, sitting some thirty feet above sea level. Walk through the mangrove forest and sit atop the huge shell mound for an amazing view of the coasts of Bonita Springs and Fort Myers.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Fort Myers has lots of smaller waterways full of scenic vegetation and wildlife. A paddle down the Estero River can be both relaxing and invigorating.
Gina's expert tip: Put camera's and cell phones in ziplock-type bags, you won't want to leave them in the car but also want to keep them safe from a possible emersion.
This pristine wildlife refuge, named after famous "Des Moines Register" cartoonist and conservationist J. N. "Ding" Darling, offers more than 6,000 acres of South Florida's wildest wetlands, pearly-white beaches and mangrove forests. The refuge has an international reputation for its massive migratory bird population, more than 250 species live here. Among the park's many other permanent residents are alligators, river otters, manatees, snakes and sea turtles. Many endangered and threatened species find solace in the refuge as well. While you have wide access, it's important to remember that this is their turf. Visitors can bike or hike more than 7 miles of trails within the park or take advantage of the guided canoe trips and narrated tram tours.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: You never know what type of wildlife you will encounter at this massive refuge on Sanibel Island that offers tours, biking and even boating.
Gina's expert tip: Bring bug spray, binoculars and a camera with a good zoom to capture photos of Florida wildlife
This space doubles as a nature center and museum, spanning more than 100 acres. Visitors to the museum will mostly discover information about Southwest Florida's natural history, including exhibits on indigenous snakes, alligators and crocodiles, birds of prey and more. There are also interpretive displays that address concerns to the area such as water quality and the plight of the animals found in and around the water such as the endangered manatee. The museum offers daily programs were visitors can get up close and personal to many resident animals. You can then look for them in the wild while you stroll the boardwalks. In Addition, the Nature Center's planetarium offers visitors a chance to check out the most visible stellar phenomena each month.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: This is a great way to explore the native vegetation and wildlife of Southwest Florida, along elevated boardwalks that end with interactive displays.
Gina's expert tip: Bring bug spray if you plan to explore the grounds.
Cabbage Key is a 100-acre island about twenty miles northwest of Fort Myers. If you don't have a boat, you'll have to take a water taxi from Pineland Marina on Pine Island. The island is lush with tropical foliage and the Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant is striking, sitting high atop an Indian shell mound. Built in the 1930's, the Inn has a popular open-air restaurant, with hard wood floors, an old piano and dollar bills covering the ceiling and walls. Cheeseburgers are popular as it is said that Cabbage Key was the inspiration for Jimmy Buffet's hit song, "Cheeseburger in Paradise". The island is intoxicatingly relaxing with fascinating trails for exploration. Take a day trip or overnight in the main Inn as well as one of seven private cottages.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: This small island, accessible only by boat, is paradise, with beautiful walking trials, a small inn and a popular restaurant.
Gina's expert tip: Take a photo by the famous sign that reads; Conserve Water, Shower With a Friend
The Edison & Ford Winter Estates cover more than 20 acres along the Caloosahatchee River, offering a glimpse into the lives of two of America's greatest inventors: Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. The estate museum is 15-thousand square feet of fascinating exhibits from the nations most influential inventor. You'll get to see some of Edison's most famous creations such as the light bulb, telegraph, telephone, phonography, x-ray machine and more. You may also be surprised to discover more than 1000 of Edison's lesser-known patents as well as personal photographs and other items. Henry Ford's original Model T is also there, a gift to Edison from his friend and fellow winter resident. The botanical gardens are full of unique flora and fauna.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Step back in time at the sprawling winter homes and gardens of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, situated on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River.
Gina's expert tip: The self-guided audio tour is a good value, allowing you to explore the grounds at your own pace.
Florida is home to Spring Training for fifteen major league baseball teams and Fort Myers is the only city hosting two. Every February the boys of summer descend on the city to hone their skills and rosters for the regular season (games get into full swing the month of March). It's a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the players who are more relaxed and accessible. The Red Sox train at JetBlue Park, also known as Fenway South. This stadium replaced the quaint City of Palms Park for Spring Training in 2012 and includes seats in the replica, Green Monster. Hammond Stadium, where the Twins play, recently underwent a multi-million renovation project. One of the best features of this park is the bullpen picnic pavilion, where fans can get great photos and autographs of their favorite sluggers.
Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Each spring, major league baseball players descend on the Fort Myers area for training, giving fans an up close and personal sporting experience.
Gina's expert tip: If you're in town before the games begin, you can still catch players practicing on the field and in the batting cages.