This is a two in one stop for history lovers. Guided tours are available or you can guide yourself around the 125-acre island, formerly housing two unique cultures. Among the exhibits at Mound Key are information panels outlining the history of the Calusa Indians and the scenic Estero Bay. Historians believe that this mound, accessible only by boat or canoe, was the one-time stronghold and ceremonial center of the Calusas. Then in the late 19th century the Koreshan Unity utopians formed a settlement here, complete with a publishing house, general store, art hall and the first power plant in the area. Today you can hike, picnic and find your own utopia on the lovely grounds full of native vegetation. Boat access is still be found at Koreshan.
Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: The intriguing history of this old Florida, waterside site includes Calusa Indian ceremonial grounds and a Koreshan Unity utopian settlement.
Gina's expert tip: Check the calendar of events for concerts on the grounds
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 Tours and Excursions because: This popular kayak and canoe rental spot offers tours down the Estero River for offering education, help with fishing, even guidance with paddling.
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.
Downtown Fort Myers has a quite a rich history and True Tours is a fun way to learn about it. Local experts regal visitors with intriguing information about the city's famous residents, old buildings and well photographed streets. You'll also be caught up to date on the city's sometimes-painful revitalization, and interesting architecture on some tours. Be sure to bring your camera as the tour allows time for you to grab that perfect shot against the beautiful Southwest Florida skies. But if you want a hair raising experience, take the Ghost Tour and meet the spirits that many believe, still reside in some of these old buildings. The walking tours vary in price and times but occur year round.
Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: The tours offered are educational and fun, connecting the historical dots with a dose of downtown folklore.
Gina's expert tip: Walking tours of the fishing/art village of Matlacha are occasionally added to the calendar
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 A. 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 inventions 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 have stunning flora and fauna that guides love to point out.
Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: The winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford are among the most famous attractions in the area. The guided tours offer fascinating information.
Gina's expert tip: The self-guided audio tour is a good value, allowing you to explore the estates at your own pace.
Experience what it was like to travel via rail on a section of the original railway that operated between Naples and Fort Myers. Today, the Seminole Gulf Railway runs excursions from Fort Myers's Colonial Station, most notably the Murder Mystery Dinner Train. The trip features a five-course meal and a cast of characters, one of whom meets with an untimely, yet well planned, death. Those on board the train can participate in solving the crime between their dinner courses. During the three hour and a half hour tour, you'll travel through native vegetation, cross bridges that make you feel as if you are on a boat rather than a train, and learn a few fun facts about the area to boot.
Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: This train ride through the Southwest Florida countryside, also features dinner and a murder mystery play onboard.
Gina's expert tip: The railway offers special excursions for holidays as well as dates like Mother's Day
This full day tour of Florida's famous Everglades has something for everyone. You adventure begins with a dolphin cruise on Fort Myers beach, followed by a van ride to the so-called river of grass. Here you will take a swamp buggy ride through the Big Cypress Swamp, hop on a thrilling airboat and tour the Big Cypress National Preserve by van. This is where you will see dozens of huge alligators and lots of wildlife. An interactive reptile exhibit allows you to hold native snakes, if you wish. Another highlight of this tour is lunch in Everglades City where you'll try alligator meat. In addition, you'll be able to interact with the locals (Gladesmen) and learn what it is like to actually live in this legendary swamp lamp. This nine-hour day is lead by certified naturalists and biologists who are a wealth of information.
Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: This outdoor adventure introduces you dolphins, alligators, reptiles as well as the culture of Floridians who call the famous Everglades, home.
Gina's expert tip: Want to stay overnight? Everglades "glamping" is offered via a native, thatched roof chickee hut or a swamp cabin.
Captiva Cruises offers one the best ways to explore the Southwest Florida coast, from Captiva Island, Cabbage Key and Useppa to Boca Grande and Cayo Costa. The guides are extremely knowledgeable about the rich history of these sparkling waters and the islands that have hosted everyone from pirates and Native Americans, to military and millionaires. New on the roster are boating lecture series from experts on wildlife, sharks, history and much more. Enjoy the wildlife-spotting tours, seashell-hunting tours, dolphin and sunset cruises and daylong trips to unspoiled barrier islands. This is one activity that the entire family will embrace and enjoy.
Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: Captiva Cruises offers an extensive menu of water tours to key coastal spots, and an entertaining staff who knows the waterway's fascinating history,
Gina's expert tip: Private charters are also available if you have a large party or special occasion.
Offering some the most diverse eco-tours in the area, Tarpon Bay Explorers works in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for exploration of the famous J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. The refuge, created by President Harry S. Truman, is a fascinating place, part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the country and there is a lot to discover. Tour the refuge on foot or tram with the lead of expert guides who have eagle eyes to spot native and rare wildlife and vegetation. Not just by land but also by sea, there are numerous tours from the water via kayaks, stand up paddle boards and pontoon boats, including breakfast outings, and shelling adventures; Sanibel is famous for its shelling.
Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: If exploring the J.N."Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island is on your list, this tour company covers all bases and then some.
Gina's expert tip: Fishing charters and pontoon rentals are also offered here.
Since 1991, owners of this day safari have been helping visitors explore one of the most fascinating natural habitats in the world, the Florida Everglades. There are four pickup locations in the Fort Myers area, and depending on where you hop on, the ride will take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 – hours. The full day safari includes a nature drive through the Big Cypress National Preserve, a guided walk, a pontoon boat ride in Everglades National Park and skimming across the so-called river of grass in a thrilling airboat ride. Lunch is also provided. Because the full day is nine hours, a little much for younger kids, a half-day tour is available as well. Besides learning about the importance of the Everglades, you'll see all kinds of wildlife, including alligators and dolphins. This outdoor adventure is not one to miss.
Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: This safari takes you into the heart of the world famous Florida Everglades on foot, in a pontoon boat and in a thrilling airboat.
Gina's expert tip: If youre skin is sensitive don't forget the bug spray. Depending on the time of the year, you could encounter mosquitos.
The Key West Express is a relaxing way to bypass the sometimes tedious traffic through the Florida Keys on the way to the most famous island, Key West. The high-speed ferry leaves in the morning with a late afternoon return, getting you from dock to dock in about three and a half hours. Take a day trip or stay for several. The boat has a windy top deck where you can work on your tan, or two air-conditioned levels with comfortable seating. Bartenders mix up lovely libations while the galley serves snacks to satisfy your hunger. Leaving the dock and going into open waters, the boat is often accompanied by dolphins, playing in its wake. It's a fantastic way to see Key West without getting stuck in traffic.
Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: Grab a comfy seat and a drink on this high-speed ferry to historic Key West; enjoy the view and let the captain to the driving.
Gina's expert tip: Arrive early to snag the best seats, they are first come first serve.