Keeping It Live in the Bars and Restaurants of Fort Myers



Nothing completes a great night out, quite like live music. You'll find some kind of live music at almost every beach bar and island restaurant. You'll also find it outdoors at many of the areas premier shopping and dining destinations. But it's mostly background, which serves an entirely different purpose.

If you prefer watching a band, really listening to the music and perhaps even dancing to it, you need a different venue. As far as the beach goes, one the most popular places for both locals and tourists is known as The Cottage; it's part of The established Gulfshore Grill on Fort Myers Beach. The space is small but the setting is perfect for both acoustic and small bands.

The Martini Bar at the Firestone restaurant downtown Fort Myers, or the Brick Bar as locals call it, is a vintage space on the buildings third floor. It has been updated with a modern touch and employs a variety of bands ranging from Blues, to R & B and rock-n-roll. 

A few rock-n-roll legends and big band greats have ties to Fort Myers and they often bring their famous friends to town. You just never know when they might show up at some of these 10Best spots to watch and play!



10
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 plenty of parking, a plus for a party place on the beach.


9


 

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. Doc's also owns the neighboring Dixie Fish Company, another waterside stop offering top-notched, live entertainment.


8


 

The Firestone is a four-story entertainment and restaurant complex in an historic building, facing the newly renovated waterfront in downtown Fort Myers. The Martini Bar on the third is known to locals as the "Brick Bar", home to live bands on the weekend, playing everything from blues to rock-n-roll. The bar has been renovated, and while it still has some of the old rustic feel, it is definitely more posh. When the band takes a break, walk up to the rooftop Sky Bar, open nightly, where some of the area's hottest DJ's keep the party going . Check the website for an updated list of bands and expect to wait in line on a Friday or Saturday night.


7


 

The Cottage is cool, a favorite spot for locals year round for its great view, food and entertainment. As part of the more civilized 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 The Cottage just about every night. Sometimes the acts are solo and more mellow, other times full bands set up and rock the deck. At times you can also hear the music coming 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.


6
Big Blue Brewing
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch


 

A brewery, restaurant and music venue, Big Blue has a lot under one giant roof. Housed in an old bingo hall, the owners paid special attention to the materials used on the ceiling when remodeling the expansive place, keeping the acoustics in alignment for the bands playing here Thursday through Saturday. The schedule can change seasonally so always check ahead. This is a big space, with a large patio where you can still hear the action, without being right in front of it. Beers are tap are either brewed in house or in the state and the chef puts gourmet twists on everything that come out of the kitchen.


5


 

This former Chinese restaurant has morphed into one of the most infamous local bars in the Fort Myers area. You'll know you are in the right place by the giant statue of Buddha, sitting in the parking lot. A couple of things you can be sure of in this bar, the drinks are cold and cheap, and the music is loud. Local bands love to rock here as well as those on the touring circuit. There's something about the small dance floor of the Buddha that makes people get a little crazy. It's not uncommon to see party goers dressed in jeans and a T, jumping around next to someone in a polo or even in formal attire. Everyone is welcomed at the Buddha.


4


 

The Cigar Bar has been a hotspot in downtown Fort Myers for more than fifteen years. A family owned establishment, the bar was originally known for it's large humidor, superb selection of spirits and itsmasculine, yet cozy lounge. Owners then took over an adjacent space as a way to accommodate the crowds and increase the bar's entertainment capabilities at the same time. This is a compact but good spot to hear mostly local bands light it up. In addition, you can enjoy more than just beer with your live music, as the bar has a huge selection of scotch, bourbons and whiskey's.


3


 

The Buckingham Blues Bar has been open since the 1950's in the middle of nowhere, as some might say; the Buckingham community is about twelve miles east of downtown Fort Myers. You might expect a blues a bar to be a bit gritty and it is. That's one of the things that attracts music lovers and fantastic artists from all over the country. The bar is open seven days a week and food is available. There is a dark, indoor lounge, an outdoor stage and a backyard beer garden. You can REALLY see the stars at night here and listening to that soulful music seems to make them twinkle even brighter.


2
The Roadhouse Cafe
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch


 

The owners of the Roadhouse have connections and they use them, to the extreme delight of music lovers. Inspired by their successful restaurant in Cape Cod, the family of famous trumpeter Louis Colombo, opened this spot in 2007. Colombo had quite a career, performing with legends the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Tony Bennett. He spent the winter months in Fort Myers where he loved to get on stage at the Roadhouse, his famous friends did too. Colombo passed away in 2012 but his friends still come back and play in his honor. Once inside this beautiful café, you'll forget you're in a strip mall in Florida, you'll think you're in the big city and have just hit the musical jackpot.


1
The Barrel Room at Twisted Vine Bistro
Photo courtesy of Gina Birch


 

Adjacent to Twisted Vine Bistro, this bourbon and blues bar has brought a new level of "cool" to downtown Fort Myers. You'll not only find an extensive selection of whisky, wine and other spirits but also a gastropub menu with the kitchen serving until midnight. Enjoy items such as tuna and watermelon ceviche, shrimp and chorizo mac-n-cheese and lots more. The space is cozy, with reclaimed wood, low lighting and a small stage that has been home to some of the best jazz and blues musicians in the area, state and those on tour nationally. The Barrel Room is a hot spot with sophisticated fun for Fort Myers.


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Meet Gina Birch

Gina carries the rare title of "Native Floridian". Living in Southwest Florida for 22 years, she is a well known, award winning radio and TV personality. 

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