"Beaches, parks and recreation centers abound on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel."
Filling the time between each beautiful sunset is easily done on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. Miles of pristine shorelines and an abundance of parks and recreation centers create opportunities for fun and leisure. See for yourself why southwest Florida tops the nation’s list of favorite destinations for the variety of outstanding outdoor activities.
SANIBEL & CAPTIVA ISLANDS
Bowman’s Beach (239) 472-6397
Gulf-side on Bowman’s Beach Road on Sanibel Island, Bowman’s Beach is a county-owned and operated beach and picnic area. Parking fee of $2 per hour.
Sanibel Lighthouse 1 Periwinkle Way (239) 472-6397
Located on Sanibel Island’s southern tip, view the picturesque 100-plus-year-old lighthouse while enjoying a picnic, strolling on the beach or fishing from the pier. Parking available, $2 per hour (multi-space machine).
Turner Beach (239) 472-6397
Situated between Sanibel & Captiva islands, this beautiful beach is prime shelling territory and an excellent vantage point for West Coast sunsets. Parking is limited. Level ground handicapped parking; no handicapped restrooms available.
Gulfside Park (239) 472-6397
Located off Casa Ybel Road on Sanibel Island, this beach offers swimming, picnicking and restrooms. Parking available, $2 per hour (multi-space machine).
FORT MYERS BEACH
Lovers Key State Park 8700 Estero Blvd. (239) 463-4588
Located between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach on S.R. 865 (Estero Blvd.), this romantic state park is both visually impressive and environmentally progressive. Activities include 2-1/2 miles of white sand beaches, world-class shelling, swimming, bridge and backbay fishing, bird watching and excursions to observe loggerhead sea turtles during active periods, as well as bottlenose dolphins and endangered West Indian manatees. Canoe and kayak explorations of miles of waterways lead to several uninhabited islands through the park. A 100-seat, turn-of-the-century beachfront pavilion is available for weddings, lectures and special events. Handicapped accessible. Entrance fee is $3 for a single occupied vehicle, $5 for up to eight people in one vehicle, and $1 per person for walk-ins and bicyclists.
Bowditch Point Regional Park 50 Estero Blvd. (239) 463-1116
Located on the northern tip of Estero Island, this 17-acre park offers everything to make your day at the beach complete. A boardwalk leads to picnic areas and the beach. Stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the bay, the park’s amenities include a bathhouse and changing rooms, a "village deck" for group gatherings and a covered waiting area for trolley service. Onsite parking is available behind the bathhouse and includes handicapped access parking. Park free at the Main Street lot, and hop a trolley for 25 cents (call Lee Tran at 275-8726). Or, park at the park for 75 cents an hour.
Lynn Hall Memorial Park 950 Estero Blvd. (239) 463-1116
Located in the northern section of Estero Island in the Times Square shopping, dining, and entertainment district next to the fishing pier, this county-operated park provides the perfect setting for family outings. Picnic tables, restrooms, showers, barbecue grills, and a playground are available to visitors. Parking fee is 75 cents per hour, handicapped accessible.
Matanzas Pass Wilderness Preserve (239) 765-4233
Overlooking Estero Bay off of School Street, this preserve features more than 56 acres of unspoiled live Oak Hammock and 4,000-feet of mangrove shoreline to explore by elevated boardwalk. Limited free parking.
Mound Key (239) 765-0865
Just northeast of the southern tip of Fort Myers Beach, this island, like so many in the Fort Myers/Sanibel area, was constructed from shells deposited by the Calusa Indians more than 2,000 years ago. Accessible by boat only.
Lakes Regional Park 7330 Gladiolus Drive (239) 432-2000
Lakes Park offers 279 acres of Florida foliage. Visitors can enjoy freshwater swimming in the summer, canoeing, paddle-boating, fishing, an observation tower, exercise course, picnic tables with barbecue grills, a concession stand, shower facilities, and 2-1/2 miles of paved nature trails for jogging, biking and walking. Recent additions to the park include a zero-depth-water Play(spray)-ground and rock climbing wall. Other amenities include a fragrance garden for the visually impaired and a 1-1/2-mile miniature train ride through the back section of the park. Winter hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., summer 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is a $2 per person fee to ride the train. Parking fee is 75 cents per hour, $3 for the day.
Centennial Park 2100 Edwards Drive (239) 338-2287
Along the Caloosahatchee River in downtown Fort Myers, this scenic park has 8 acres of playgrounds and picnic areas with an entertainment pavilion and fishing pier. Special events and concerts take place year-round. Free parking.
Manatee Park S.R. 80 (239) 694-3537 or 461-7477
Visitors can observe the endangered West Indian manatees in their non-captive habitat from three observation decks during the winter months of November through March. The Eco-Tourium Gift Shop is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in season, interpretive naturalists are on site, and kayak rentals are available during "Manatee Season." Facilities on the 17-acre Orange River site stay open year-round for picnicking, fishing and canoeing. Nature-lovers host ongoing educational programs. Hours are April through September, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; October through March, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Handicapped accessible. Parking fee of 75 cents per hour, $3 for the day.
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve Six Mile Cypress Pkwy. (239) 432-2004..Visitors can journey through this 2,200-acre wetland ecosystem on a mile-long boardwalk trail, where southwest Florida's diverse plant and wildlife are found. See subtropical ferns and bromeliads. Watch wading birds such as herons, egrets, ibis and anhingas. Open daily April through September, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., October through March, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free guided walks daily, January through March at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and April, November and December at 9:30 a.m., and Wednesdays only May through October, 9:30 a.m. Handicapped accessible.
Hickey’s Creek Mitigation Park 17890 S.R. 80 (239) 728-6240
This 1,020-acre wildlife preserve consists of a variety of habitats including palmetto-oak scrub, pine flatwoods and seasonal wetlands. Offers views of scenic creek from trail and overlook areas. This ecosystem supports threatened scrub jay and gopher tortoises. Site includes rustic restrooms, canoe/kayak landing, fishing deck and more than 5 miles of walking trails. Open daily 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Limited parking available for 75 cents an hour, $3 for the day.
BONITA SPRINGS & ESTERO
Bonita Beach Park 27950 Hickory Blvd. (239) 229-0459 or 461-7440
Located between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Springs, this 4-acre pristine beachfront park features a boardwalk to protect the sea oats, sand dunes and coastal vegetation surrounding a gazebo and eight picnic shelters. Bathrooms, changing rooms and outdoor showers front parking areas with handicapped access. Parking is 75 cents per hour, $3 for the day. Lee Tran trolleys offer transportation to this beautiful beach on Little Hickory Island leaving from the K-Mart store at Bonita Beach Road and U.S. 41 in Bonita Springs. Cost is 25 cents.
Bonita Springs Community Park 26740 Pine Ave. (239) 992-2556
Located at West Terry Street and Pine Avenue, this park is the hub of recreation in Bonita Springs. Its 60 acres offer picnicking, a playground, sports fields, a 7-acre lake, library and community pool. The recreation center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free parking.
Koreshan State Historic Site 8661 Corkscrew Rd. (239) 992-0311
At the Koreshan State Historic Site, the curious find only remnants of a religious sect, which practiced communal living and equal rights of women long before the concept was popular. Visitors can tour the buildings and property where the Koreshans envisioned their perfect city and enjoy a picnic lunch on the picturesque grounds. Camping and canoeing are available. Located off of U.S. 41 in Estero. Open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset. An entry fee of $4.00 per vehicle for up to eight people and $1.00 for each additional person.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary 375 Sanctuary Rd. (239) 348-9151
This 11,000-acre wilderness sanctuary, operated by the National Audubon Society, offers visitors a 2-1/4 mile boardwalk through pinelands, wet prairies, hammocks, and cypress ponds. The sanctuary contains the country's largest remaining stand of virgin bald cypress with its 500-year-old trees being among the oldest in eastern North America. Large populations of rare wood storks, as well as a number of wild orchid species can be found during the winter months. Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for college students, $5 for Audubon members, $4 for children ages 6 to 18, free for children younger than 6. Open daily, October through March, from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, April through September, 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Lake Kennedy Senior Center 400 Santa Barbara Blvd. (239) 574-0575
Lake Kennedy Park features picnic facilities, a playground, boat ramp, fishing, boardwalk, restrooms and a senior citizens center. Adjacent to Sun Splash Family Waterpark.
R.C. Seahawk Park 1030 N.W. 28th St. (239) 542-8350 or 542-1624
The R.C. Seahawk Park is a developed facility for radio-controlled model airplanes, gliders and boats. Meets are held every weekend.
Veterans Memorial Park 4140 Coronado Pkwy. (239) 573-3128
Veterans’ Memorial Park features basketball, shuffleboard and boccie courts, playground, picnic tables, an open pavilion and restrooms.
Four Freedoms Park 4818 Tarpon Ct. (239) 574-0804>
Four Freedoms Park is on Bimini Basin and has a recreation center, playground, amphitheater, picnic area and fishing.
Jaycee Park 4125 S.E. 20th Pl. (239) 573-3128
Located at the end of Beach Parkway, Jaycee Park offers a magnificent view of the Caloosahatchee River. The park has a quarter-mile jogging track and eight exercise stations, two picnic pavilions with tables and grills, shade trees and restrooms.
Jason Verdow Memorial Park 801 S.E. 27th St. (239) 573-3127 or 772-4232
This park features three lighted Little League fields with bleachers, restrooms, picnic tables and a playground.
Pelican Sports Complex 4128 Pelican Blvd. (239) 573-3127 or 772-4232
The Sports Complex offers five lighted soccer fields, one practice field, four lighted baseball diamonds, a batting cage, playground and restrooms.
BMX Park 1410 S.W. 6th Pl. (239) 573-3127 or 772-4232
The park offers a bicycle moto-cross track and a softball complex with three lighted fields.
J. Chandler-Burton Memorial Park 1502 N.E. 3rd Terrace (239) 573-3127 or 772-4232
This park is the home of Cape Coral Little League Girls Softball. The park has one tennis court, a basketball court, three lighted playing fields, picnic tables, barbecue grills, playground equipment and restrooms.
Guiffrida Park 1044 N.E. 4th St. (239) 573-3128
Guiffrida Park has barbecue grills, picnic tables, two covered pavilions and a playground.
Caloosa Park 610 Del Prado Blvd. (239) 573-3127 or 772-4232
Caloosa Park offers two lighted softball fields, two lighted football fields, one tennis court and restrooms.
Storm Football Park 2602 Chiquita Blvd. (239) 573-3127 or 772-4232
Storm Football Park offers three lighted football fields, restrooms and picnic tables.
Koza/Saladino Park 301 S. W. 30th Terrace (239) 573-3127 or 772-4232
Koza/Saladino Park offers four lighted little league baseball fields with bleachers, restrooms and picnic tables.
Four Mile Cove Ecological Area S.E. 23rd Terrace (239) 549-4606
Four-Mile Cove Ecological Area is a 365-acre saltwater wetland preserve at the end of Southeast 23rd Terrace, just behind the Coralwood Mall, along the Caloosahatchee River and Midpoint Bridge. Amenities include a 4,200-foot boardwalk trail through a mangrove forest, a visitor center with restrooms and picnic area, and a canoe launch at Horton Park. Open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset. Free parking.
PINE ISLAND, BOCA GRANDE & OUTER ISLANDS
Matlacha Community Park and Boat Ramp 4577 Pine Island Rd. (239) 283-4110
This park’s community buildings complement sheltered picnic tables, restrooms, a double boat ramp and benches. Drive north from Fort Myers to S.R. 78, turn left and proceed 13 miles, turn left again at the next street past the Island Super Market.
Cayo Costa Island State Preserve (941) 964-0375 or 964-2965
Cayo Costa is a delightfully secluded island that is great for camping, swimming, shelling and fishing. Primitive cabins are available for overnight stays. Accessible only by boat.
Phillips Park 5675 Sesame Dr., Bokeelia (239) 656-7748
Phillips Park features play areas, athletic fields, picnic areas and a swimming pool. The Pine Island Library is located across the street. Free parking.
Boca Grande Beach Park (941) 964-0375 or 964-2965
To find this park, take U.S. 41 to Murdock. Turn left on 776 and then again on 771 to the Boca Grande Causeway ($4 toll) to the four-way stop, then turn right. There is a $2 honor fee to enter. Once there, enjoy a delightful Gulf beach equipped with picnic tables, barbecue grills and restrooms.
Boca Grande Community Center 131 First Street W. (941) 964-2564
The center has picnic areas, playgrounds, multi-purpose courts and an active community recreation center.
Boca Grande Community Park 305 Wheeler Rd. (941) 964-2564
Boca Grande Community Park has one baseball diamond.
Boca Grande Lighthouse Park 880 Belcher Rd. (941) 964-0375 or 964-2965
Picnic in the shadow of a maritime landmark. The Boca Grande Lighthouse, built in 1890, overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and is the perfect spot to observe boat traffic and fishing expeditions. Swimming is not recommended here because of the strong current. Open November through May seven days a week, June through October five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission of $2 per vehicle covers parking.
NORTH FORT MYERS
Caloosahatchee Regional Park 18500 North River Road, Alva (239) 693-2690
This 765-acre park features two sections. The north section’s 400 acres offer 5 miles of bike trails and 2 miles of roads for hiking, biking or riding horses. The south section’s 368 acres accommodate tent camping, picnicking and hiking on 3 miles of trails, 6,700 feet of it paralleling the Caloosahatchee River. A handicapped trail on a seashell-laden path leads to a scenic river overlook. Open daily 8 a.m. to dusk. Parking is 75 cents an hour, $3 for the day.
Nalle Grade Park 8350 Nalle Grade (239) 656-7748
Near the Lee County Civic Center, Nalle Grade Park offers shelter and picnic tables.Free parking.
Hancock Park 2211 Hancock Bridge Parkway (239) 656-7748
Hancock Park has four baseball diamonds, one football field, five tennis courts, a tennis wall, a playground and restrooms. Free parking.
Located on North Joel Boulevard, Lake Camille has freshwater fishing and a beach.
Lehigh Community Park 1400 West 5th St. (239) 369-3004
Located off of Lee Boulevard across from the Able Canal, the Lehigh Community Park features picnic tables, a playground, baseball diamonds, tennis courts and a swimming pool. Accessible by West 5th Street. Open daily year-round, dusk to dawn, lighted facilities until 11 p.m. Free parking.
Lehigh Acres Senior Center 219 Plaza Dr. (239) 369-5355
The Senior Center has educational courses, entertainment, crafts and horseshoe pits.
Lehigh Acres Community Center 1299 Homestead Rd. (239) 369-1521
In front of the Senior Center, this is the hub of activity for the community. Dance classes, educational programs, teen activities and more. Open Monday through Saturday.
Lehigh Veterans Park 55 Homestead Rd. (239) 369-1521
This newly constructed park has a lake, playground equipment, skateboard facility, picnic areas and a beautiful lodge, complete with kitchen and restrooms, available for rental. Free parking.