Casual and Entertaining Nightlife on Fort Myers Beach

The party on Fort Myers Beach changes with the seasons. While it is almost always warm here, Fort Myers Beach does have its ‘seasons.’ They just look different from most of the rest of the world. The seasons here revolve around the tourists and so does the nightlife.

The nightlife is casual. Although people dress fresh for the evening hours, there is generally no requirement for stilettos or even collared shirts. Take for instance the Lani Kai Island Resort, party headquarters on Fort Myers Beach. It’s not fancy, always sandy and always great for people watching.

The neighboring Cottage at the GUlfshore Grill is found on a second story deck, has a lot less grit, great live music and still offers a view of the beach, as well as the shenanigans at the Lani Kai.

Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grille also has a waterfront view, of the Estero Bay. Resembling a giant beach house, this two story bar and grill has several bars, a stage and a large outdoor dance floor.

Restaurants and bars are almost constantly being renovated to offer even more options for beach loving, nighttime partygoers. It never hurts to double check hours of operation. In the meantime, check out these 10Best spots.


The Yucatan Beach Stand is much more than a "stand." It is a massive, open-air restaurant and bar with bamboo, nautical design and an island themed menu. There are lots of TV's to catch a game and almost as many taps for trying beers from around the country. It might be hot outside but the beer here is always cold and the fans blowing. The bar tenders are entertaining and welcoming no matter what time of the day or night you show. Live music is booked most days of the week, even when it is not tourist season. Yucatan is in a great location, a block off of the beach and convenient for bar hopping.

Smokin Oyster Brewery, SOB
Photo courtesy of Smokin Oyster Bar

Situated between the Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay on Fort Myers Beach, the Smokin' Oyster Brewery, or S.O.B., has been shucking oysters since 1997. The beach cottage has live entertainment on the open, front patio almost every night, with a good sized bar to belly-up to. It's a fun, yet low key place to spend an evening. Be sure to ask for a signature S.O.B. drink coozie to keep your specially brewed beer cold. Besides cold drinks and music, this bar serves fresh oysters, a variety of seafood steamer pots and delicious garlic crab claws. There is paid parking on the street and a few free spots on the east side of the building.

Parrot Key Caribbean Grill
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch

Off the beaten path of the beach Parrot Key is on the bay side of the island, before you cross the so-called "big bridge" to the beach. Channeling the spirit of the Caribbean with both it's cuisine and it's atmosphere, Parrot Key delivers a variety of live music and fun events almost every night. The large bar specializes in fruity cocktails and cold brews. Once you find this spot at Salty Sam's Marina, be prepared to stay awhile as it's sister bar and restaurant, Bootleggers, also offers live entertainment so when one band takes a break, you can walk next door for more. Come by car or boat


Sitting at the base of the Matanzas Pass Bridge on Fort Myers Beach, Nervous Nellies has three levels of food and fun, all with views of the Estero Bay. Two out of three levels also boast live music. Uglies Rooftop Bar gets crowded quickly, with both indoor and outdoor seating available. Different types of live music is played in the bar every night, from rock to country and contemporary. Nellie's also has an outside deck where you can hear live bands on the weekends as well as other days depending on beach events. Many people arrive by boat, for both the party and food; the menu reads like a newspaper with something for everyone.

Mermaid Lounge
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch

The Mermaid is an old school bar. Don't expect food or even fresh air for that matter as smoking inside is allowed here. This friendly beach bar is popular with all walks of life, from bikers to college kids, and everyone in between. It can get a little rowdy at night, but in a fun way. One of the most popular events at this beach bar actually comes on Sunday and it's affectionately called "Church." On this day the bar is lined with cups of spicy Bloody Mary mix and sweet orange juice, just waiting for the ice and booze to be added. The production line is necessary since the drinks are only $1 and there are lots of thirsty people.

Beached Whale

It's downright impossible to miss the turn for this time-tested establishment on Fort Myers Beach with signage that boasts a pink-skinned beachcomber, frothy ale held aloof, sitting atop a purple whale. Such good-natured quirkiness is what has so endeared this bastion of barbecue and seafood to regulars over the years. The live entertainment here spans every night of the week both up and downstairs, featuring the most popular local and regional bands. The rooftop, Lookout Lounge also provides great views of the beach and the sunset. This establishment also has parking, a plus for any party place found on the beach.

Most beach goers spot Doc Ford's from the big bridge (Matanzas Pass) while crossing over Estero Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. Resembling a sprawling stilt house, Doc's has a cool (as in temperature) inside bar as well as ample dining space. However, the biggest parties occur downstairs, along the dock. Here you will find all kinds of live music, every day and or night of the week. There are two dockside bars and a large dance floor for when the music moves you. It's a fun, casual spot where partygoers can also arrive by boat. Also under the Doc's management umbrella is the neighboring Dixie Fish Company which also offers live entertainment.

Lani Kai Island Resort

The Lani Kai is a legendary party spot on Fort Myers Beach. People come by car and boat to see what is going on, and there is always something. It's not fancy but it's fun, at times downright raucous, with live music, games lots of skin and lots of drinking, both day and night. Especially during spring break season which begins as early as February and lasts through the beginning of April. At times, it is standing room only on the beach, and the bars are three deep. It can get loud, silly and there is never a shortage of entertaining people watching. The rooftop bar offers a great vantage point and a break from the frenzy below. You can pay to park here for the day but the lots often fill up fast.

The Cottage Beach Bar and Grill
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch

The Cottage is cool, a favorite spot for locals year round. As part of the more civilized and recently renovated Gulfshore Grill, the Cottage is a casual, outdoor beach bar with an unobstructed view of the water. People come by car, by boat and by foot to party here. You'll find live music at just about every night. Sometimes the acts are solo and more mellow, other times full bands set up and rock the deck. When the bands break, you can often hear the music thumping from the neighboring Lani Kai Resort, a Spring Break magnet. It's fun to watch the madness from the safety of the Cottage deck, but also easy to walk next door and join the raucous celebration if so moved.

Fort Myers Beach Sunset Celebration
Photo courtesy of Gina BIrch

Beaches in the Fort Myers area are full at sunset. Some people watch in reverence as the sun slips away into the great Gulf of Mexico. However others like to celebrate, like victory in a sporting event, the conclusion of another day. These are the people who gather on Fridays and Saturdays for the Sunset Celebration at the so-called Times Square area of Fort Myers Beach. The square is a pedestrian area at the foot of the beach pier, full of shops, restaurants and bars. But for weekend sunsets, the paved space is taken over by artists, musicians and other performers, gathering to celebrate the mighty sun. Activity begins around 5:00 and will continue as late as 10pm. It's free and it provides great people watching.


Meet Gina Birch

Gina carries the rare title of "Native Floridian". Living in Southwest Florida for more than 20 years, she is a well known, award winning radio and TV personality. She also writes for a number...  More About Gina