Sure, it’s easy to spend the day with the kids making sand castles and wading in the gentle surf of the Gulf of Mexico – but there’s actually so much more to do in Fort Myers than sun and sand. Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can probably swing some of these family-friendly spots for a fun afternoon and a meal to make even the pickiest eaters grin.
Edison and Ford Estates
Can you imagine life without light bulbs? No way! Learn all about the two friends and neighbors who were behind all kinds of can’t-live-without-it inventions – you know, like cars – at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates. Purchase admission tickets online, and you will have access to the museum and laboratory. Hands-on activities that are fun for kids and adults, like slime mixing, take place throughout the year. Check online to see what’s planned when you’re in town.
Lakes Regional Park
The huge Lakes Regional Park has plenty of space to run around — or simply rest in the shade if you’re on vacation to recharge. Download the overview map before you head over and park ($1 per hour parking fee). You can rent bicycles, stand-up paddleboards, and even ride the miniature train that loops a mile around the park and ends at the Railroad Museum.
Manatee and Centennial Parks
Keep enjoying Fort Myers’ beautiful weather by waving hello to the gentle locals at Manatee Park. Locals say it’s best to go during December, January, and February to get the most out of the park’s viewing platform for the non-captive manatees that linger near the warm inland waters here.
At other times of the year, Centennial Park is a prime spot for a free day of family fun. With plenty of shady spots to stretch out on a picnic blanket, the park offers a comfy area for enjoying a packed lunch and watching local artists capture the scenery. On Thursdays, you can pick something up at the farmers’ market and enjoy a meal made of fresh ingredients.
Family-Friendly Restaurants Galore
This city is filled with good places to eat that are comfy and welcoming for families and their budgets. If you’ve got a hankering for home-style cooking, look no further than Fort Myers’ Farmers Market Restaurant. The cooks serve up delicious country-fried ribs in no time. Start the day at The Golden Fork cafe, which has all the eggs and pancakes you want, including interesting twists like the Tango Omelet. Another favorite is The Oasis Restaurant, with chicken fingers, burgers, buffalo quesadillas, and plenty more to fill you up.
IMAG History and Science Center
Plan a day of hands-on learning fun at the IMAG History and Science Center, where the admission cost includes animal encounter shows, the “Sea-to-See” Touch Tank, and more than 60 exhibits. There’s a lot of science to experience here, like the virtual reality exhibit that puts you smack dab in the middle of Fort Myers 150 years ago. Plus, kids 2 and under are free.
Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium
If your kids are always asking questions about animals, plants, stars — or pretty much anything — then head straight to the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium for the answers. Catch a live animal presentation around midday and then a cool show in the planetarium right afterward, and learn about everything from alligators to asteroids. For a mere $5 per child, it’s a lot of bang for your buck. (Kids 2 and under are free.)
With these budget-friendly suggestions, your family is sure to have a memorable and fun-packed vacation in sunny Fort Myers, Florida.
Looking for even more tips and suggestions for your upcoming trip? Check out more Fort Myers Family Guides.