Fort Myers

Overview

In Fort Myers, you can find all the perks of a perfect beach getaway, without breaking the bank. Float on a raft in the warm gulf waters and explore the islands on a bike. Then shop the art galleries, feast on an endless array of local seafood or parasail across the sky for a bird’s-eye view of the southwest Florida coast.

The Fort Myers-Naples area of Florida is a favourite sun-soaked retreat – not only for travellers seeking warm rays, but also for Floridians seeking a relaxed vibe.

Fort Myers is a welcoming, laid-back spot for travellers, with more than 80 km of white sandy beaches and an average gulf temperature of 25 C. Take in Fort Myers' 20 state parks and stay in accommodations ranging from cozy cottages and world-class resorts to family-friendly hotels.

In this southwest corner of the Sunshine State, discover a tropical paradise that attracts families, honeymooners, spring-breakers and snowbirds. Lee and Collier counties are filled with treasures, whether your heart's desire is to lay back in a hammock and watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico on Sanibel Island or fill your days with activities. In downtown Fort Myers, tour Thomas Edison’s winter estate on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River.  

You might prefer to play a round of golf at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, or just to sip a margarita while watching street performers entertain in Times Square at Fort Myers Beach. If you want to do all of the above and then some, you’ve picked the right place.

Southwest Florida is jam-packed with choices, and it brims with friendly folks who can’t wait to show off all there is to visitors.

Fort Myers is a fantastic destination for:

  • golf
  • romance
  • shopping & dining

Airport served by: RSW

Destination basics

Long-time residents of the Fort Myers area have been known to joke about the climate: “There are only two seasons around here: ‘tourist’ and ‘hot.’” There’s some truth to the saying.

From October through April, rain is rare. Temperatures range from the low- to mid-20s C during the day and low- to mid-teens in the evening. Perfect for Canadian visitors, the humidity is low, the breeze is gentle, and the sun shines all day.

Cold fronts occasionally dip into the southwest corner of the state, usually between December and March, sending temperatures into the single digits. This gives locals a chance to break out their sweaters, but the cool weather lasts no more than two or three days before it warms up again.

In the summer months, when most hotels lower their prices for the “off-season,” expect temperatures to linger in the 30s C. The summer heat is made more tolerable by the almost-daily late-afternoon thunderstorms that cool things off a bit for the evening.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Fort Myers

Whether it’s the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the winding Caloosahatchee River, the untamed everglades or the many creeks, canals and paddling trails – it has always been the water that draws settlers and visitors to the Fort Myers area.

Before Fort Myers Beach became one of top 10 spring break destinations in the United States, this narrow, 11-km-long island was the sleepy, balmy home mostly of shrimp fishermen and their families.

“Shrimpers” still dock near the bridge at Matanzas Pass before they head to the gulf, but these days, the bridge carries vacationing families, honeymooners, spring breakers and local day-trippers. Come to Fort Myers for the swimming, sunning, parasailing and events. Attend the annual offshore power boat races, the International Sand Sculpting Competition and don’t forget to try the fresh, fried, boiled and chilled shrimp when you’re here.

The Everglades National Park stretches through four south Florida counties and is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. Airboat guides stay busy year-round as they ferry guests through the grassy waters for sightings of alligators and rare birds.

The Caloosahatchee River starts its 120-km-long stretch from Lake Okeechobee in Glades County and winds its way down the state to the Gulf of Mexico. Until 1904, it was the only way to get to Fort Myers. “That’s how everybody got here, including Thomas Edison, by boat on the river,” says Matt Johnson, executive director of the Southwest Florida Museum of History. “When the railroad was finally built in the early 1900s, all that changed. But without the Caloosahatchee, there wouldn’t have been a Fort Myers. ”

Today, the Caloosahatchee legacy lives on with historic downtown Fort Myers, also known as the “River District.” (And, yes, there was once a Fort, the southernmost union outpost during the Civil War.) Art and culture are the main attractions in this neighbourhood.

The critically acclaimed Florida Repertory Theatre was built in 1908 and is housed in an old vaudeville venue. It is entering its 14th season, producing nine shows a year on its main stage and bringing more than 70,000 people to the River District annually.

This riverfront city is a popular hub with locals and travellers alike. Within an eight-block radius downtown, you’ll find more than a dozen eclectic art galleries, restaurants and bars, the Fort Myers Yacht Basin and Centennial Park with its weekly Thursday farmer’s market.

As with all American destinations, it is recommended to use U.S. dollars for general expenses and anywhere you have to use cash.

For entertainment and shopping, your credit card will give you the exchange rate at the time of purchase. There are also numerous ATMs inside banks and public spaces where you can withdraw funds at your convenience. Just be aware that transaction fees vary by ATM.

When you fly into Fort Myers, you can see water everywhere. And it’s not just the Gulf of Mexico – rivers, ponds, estuaries, swamps, creeks and canals break up the land. As a result, there’s no shortage of water activities to do here, including sailing, fishing, waterskiing, kayaking and canoeing.

The warm climate is also perfect for people who like to golf. Hundreds of public and private courses are scattered across the area and you can often spot lazy gators in the water hazards or eagles flying low while you play.

The mainland of Fort Myers, with Port Charlotte to the north and Naples to the south, is flat and sandy, with plenty of flora and fauna. You can see palm trees, flowering plants and thriving fruit trees full of citrus, mango, star fruit and more.

Bridges and causeways link the outlying islands, including Sanibel Island, Gasparilla Island, Fort Myers Beach and Marco Island. Other islands such as North Captiva Island or Useppa Island can only be reached by boat or small plane. The barrier islands, especially Sanibel Island and Captiva Island, offer some of the very best shelling in the world.

Getting around the Fort Myers region is easy. Hop on a LeeTran bus between 7 a.m. and 9:00 pm to get around the city, or catch a taxi to your destination.

To get to and from airport, call MBA Airport Transportation, the taxi provider for Southwest Florida International Airport. These taxis charge based on zones (not meters) and standard rates apply for one to three travellers. Are there more than three travellers in your group? You’ll need to add an extra US$10 for each person.

Arrival

Before you depart for sunny Fort Myers, you’ll pass through U.S. customs in your Canadian city of departure. Once you’ve landed at Southwest Florida International Airport, head over to baggage claim (just follow the signs) and retrieve your luggage.

Need more information about Fort Myers? Stop by the one of the visitor Information booths located in the baggage claim area.

Outside you will find a range of transportation options to get you to your destination, or to the beach if you prefer.

Departure

Smiling WestJetters will greet you at the international departure counters of Southwest Florida International Airport. Simply check in and await your flight. You can also check in and select your seat online using WestJet’s simple Web check-in service in advance.

Fort Myers’ most famous snowbird, Thomas Edison, noted the uniqueness of the area by declaring: “There is only one Fort Myers in the United States, and there are 90 million people who are going to find it out.” His prediction in 1914 was right on target, as the riverfront city, with its white sandy beaches and shell-strewn islands, has become a popular destination for travellers from all over the world.

More than 200,000 people visit Edison’s winter estate on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River each year. You can tour Edison’s home, laboratory and botanical gardens (featuring a massive banyan tree – a gift from Harvey Firestone in the 1920s), and also check out Henry Ford’s place right next door. The men who brought us moving pictures and the Model T continue to draw people to Fort Myers.

If you make your way to the beaches of Sanibel Island and Captiva Island early in the morning, the very first thing you notice are people with buckets and strainers, hunched over as they hunt for shells. This position is jokingly known as the “Sanibel Stoop.”

These barrier islands, just a 20-minute drive from Fort Myers, form an east-west twist on the Gulf of Mexico and act as a Florida shell bucket. Collect shells and find the perfect conches, cockleshells, sand dollars and more. Get there the morning after a summer-season thunderstorm for the best finds.

If you haven’t filled your suitcase with shells, then a trip to The Shell Factory and Nature Park is in order. This one-of-a-kind treasure just north of Fort Myers is a must-see destination. Since the early 1950s, The Shell Factory and Nature Park has boasted a large collection of shells, fossils and corals. Over the years, additions to the park include a homemade fudge store, an arcade, bumper boats and a nature park complete with baby zebras, bobcats and flying raccoons.

While the sunshine, shells and history are constant in Fort Myers, new and exciting things take place all the time here. In the spring of 2011, Prince Albert of Monaco, a bob-sledding Olympian, spent a weekend here to celebrate the new Art of the Olympians museum and gallery.

The waterfront building in the heart of downtown is the only facility of its kind allowed to display the famous Olympic rings. Inside, guests get to see the artwork of a variety of Olympic athletes and artists including Peggy Fleming, Florence Griffith-Joyner, founder and discus champ Al Oerter and many more.

From natural wonders and a proud history to a bright future, the joy in visiting the Fort Myers area is in the discoveries. You’ll find everything from a pristine sand dollar, to a flying squirrel, to the very first movie camera all in this unique corner of paradise.

Departing from:

ˆTotal price one-way per guest. See terms and conditions. *Prices are per guest, based on double occupancy and are limited; may not reflect real-time pricing or availability. See terms and conditions.

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