Location Overview

Discover the backdrops offered in Lee County. Beaches, forests, charming villages, scenic vintage towns, rivers, lakes, sports venues - you’ll be surprised at the visual variety.


Natural Settings | Historic Locations & Architecture | Beaches | Sporting Settings | City Settings

Natural Settings

 

J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Canopied canoe trails, active native and migratory bird populations, hiking trails, alligators and wildlife aplenty. The 6,400-acre refuge is part of the largest mangrove ecosystem in the U.S.

Interesting angles: Roseate spoonbills, great blue herons, ibis and other dramatic birds come to feed at low tide.
Built environment: boat ramp, gift shop, education center and new recreation rentals building
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Gasparilla Island State Park

Isolated island park with access to five beaches with white sand, mixed with shells. Hiking trails, shelling opportunities and views of Gulf of Mexico and Cayo Costa Island onsite.

Interesting angles: Two lighthouse towers punctuate sweeps of beaches at the south end of the island.
Built environment: 1890 Boca Grande Lighthouse, museum, picnic shelters, historic chapel, one of the five beach accesses has a restaurant on the sand

Lovers Key State Park

A barrier island park with a nature preserve, wooded area and two-mile long beach. Views of tidal lagoon and inner waterways, Big Carlos Pass and manatees in canals.

Interesting angles: Photographers can capture a view of a tidal lagoon, sands and the Gulf of Mexico all in the same shot.
Built environment: bathhouses, concessions, shaded picnic areas, gazebo up on stilts in the sand
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Cayo Costa Island State Park

One of the largest barrier islands in Florida, the park has unique vegetation, more than five miles of biking and hiking trails plus nine miles of wide, unspoiled white-sandy beaches. Great shelling at south end of island. Can only access the island by boat.

Interesting angles: This island beach is largely unpopulated, presenting rare, wide open vistas.
Built environment: cabins, tent campsites, picnic tables, gift shop, bathrooms, showers, amphitheater
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Estero Bay Preserve

Florida’s first aquatic preserve is home to a variety of wildlife, including the bald eagle, bottlenose dolphin, gopher tortoise and fiddler crab. Part of the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail, it preserves 10 miles of water, inlets and islands showcasing native flora, including mangroves, slash pines and live oaks.

Interesting angles: Most famous for its population of dolphins, the preserve is also the place to find birds, kayakers and fisher-folk posed against the backdrop of dozens of uninhabited islands, including one with a Calusa mound archaeological dig site.
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Cabbage Key

With a panoramic view of Pine Island Sound, the 100-acre island, only accessible by boat, has no cars or paved roads, but plenty of nature trails.

Interesting angles: An Indian mound and 1930s water tower provide vantage points for views of the island’s nature trail, vintage buildings and Useppa Island across the channel.
Built environment: gift shop, restaurant, vintage cottages, inn, marina

Calusa Nature Center

The 105-acre park has boardwalks that go through pine flatwoods and cypress wetlands. Three nature trails with native wildlife and flora as well as butterfly and bird aviaries on site.

Interesting angles: Any of the heavily vegetated trails could stand in for Southern forest environment.
Built environment: Audubon aviary, museum, planetarium
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Great Calusa Blueway

Sheltered bays, rivers, backwaters and shorelines make up the 190-mile Blueway. Native birds, animals and mangrove estuaries are seen along the trail.

Interesting angles: The possibilities are too numerous to list, with varied panoramas from estuaries rich with birds to mangrove islands and Caloosahatchee River tributaries.
Built environment: Near the mainland in Estero Bay, you’ll get a lot of shots with buildings in background.
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Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

The sanctuary has an 11,000-acre ancient forest of mammoth cypress trees and a 2.25-mile boardwalk with alligator holes and lakes seen along the trail. Views of birds, mammals, butterflies, reptiles and amphibians aplenty.

Interesting angles: Here is an authentic peri-Everglades swamp setting complete with alligators, the famous ghost orchid and great nat sound from pig frogs and birds. Boardwalks are beneath Spanish-moss draped in ancient cypress trees.
Built environment: Blair Audubon Center has a media theater and store plus exhibits and classrooms.
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Babcock Ranch/Telegraph Cypress Swamp

Onsite buggy ecotour goes through the 90,000-acre swamp’s unspoiled pinewoods and fresh water marsh. Various wildlife sightings like alligators, birds, deer, turkey, Florida Cracker cattle and quarter horses.

Interesting angles: Unbelievable saturated browns and blacks are punctuated with greens in the cypress forest. A lodge, a cabin built for the filming of Just Cause (Sean Connery), and ranch structures add to the vast acreage’s picturesque qualities.
Built environment: concessions, gift shop, restaurant, ranch

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

The 2,200-acre wetland ecosystem has observation decks, seating enclaves and a 1.2-mile boardwalk trail and is home to various types of wildlife.
Interesting angles: The boardwalk snakes through several levels of environment, including a large pool surrounded by dense native vegetation - a magnet for birds and alligators.
Built environment: restrooms, parking lot at entrance, interpretive signs, new all-green visitors center
More info...


* Known for pristine beaches, various environmental restrictions may apply when filming.

 

 

Historic Locations & Architecture

 

Edison & Ford Winter Estates

The estates have 20 acres of tropical gardens with a 400-foot banyan tree, recently-restored historic homes, one of Florida’s first swimming pools and Edison’s laboratory. Across the street is the museum with inventions and exhibits, a museum store, garden and cottage shop.
Interesting angles: The estates are on the Caloosahatchee River, so the aspect from the houses through the vegetation to the river is quite picturesque.
Built environment: two early 1900s homes, fully restored, garages with vintage Ford cars, various outbuildings, Edison’s office plus his laboratory as he left it
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Sanibel Island Lighthouse

You will find the Sanibel lighthouse pier nearby plus a boardwalk that leads to the working lighthouse, which is on the eastern tip of the island. Surrounding areas include white-sandy beaches with shells, shade trees along the shoreline and views of the Gulf of Mexico.
Interesting angles: The sun rising over the bay brings dramatic lighting to the fishing pier, lighthouse keepers' cottages and light tower.
Built environment: boardwalks, lighthouse keepers’ cottages, lighthouse
More info...

Boca Grande Lighthouse

Located on the south end of Gasparilla Island State Park, the still-working 1890 lighthouse is adjacent to the assistant keeper’s cottage. Museum inside the lighthouse provides a perfect observation site for boat traffic and fishing expeditions.
Interesting angles: Videographers can capture a scene of people playing and fishing on the beach with the oft-photographed Florida-style lighthouse as a backdrop.
Built environment: two vintage keepers’ cottages, vintage lighthouse, picnic shelters, range light on one of the beach accesses
More info...

 

Koreshan State Historic Site

Settled in 1894, this religious settlement has 11 buildings, including the Bakery, Art Hall and the restored home of founder Cyrus Reed Teed. Area for fishing, camping and picnicking. Playground and boat ramp also on site.
Interesting angles: Shots are varied and interesting with the combination of native landscaping, exotic trees, river and reconstructed historic buildings.
Built environment: buildings of various vintages and sizes from the early 20th century; workshop with collection of vintage tools; reproduction wooden bridges in Craftsman and Victorian styles
More info...

 

Downtown Fort Myers River District

A 504-acre area that has many historic influences, including Italian (1924 Richard Building) and medieval revival (Courthouse and 1926 Miles Building). Views throughout the district of the Caloosahatchee River.
Interesting angles: The river and historic buildings combine to create a setting that is both hometown and timeless.
Built environment: shops, art centers, museums, live theater, government buildings and restaurants

 

Southwest Florida Museum of History

The museum is housed in a historic train depot with pre-historic through present day exhibits and artifacts. Cracker House replica, a 1926 La France fire pumper (fire engine), a 1929 Pullman rail car and a display of 1,200 pieces of depression and carnival glass available for viewing.
Interesting angles: Exhibits indoors and out can set the stage for historic scenes, including vignettes on agriculture, ancient cultures, fishing, the Cracker house and vintage rail car.
Built environment: Vintage Spanish Revival depot, gift shop, Cracker House replica, historic Pullman rail car
More info...

 

Sanibel Historical Village and Museum

Eight restored buildings make up this village and date back to the early 1900s, showcasing life on Sanibel Island from the days of the Calusa Indians and its early pioneers.
Interesting angles: Arranged like an old fashioned village, its front porches, historic vehicle, period-furnished rooms and live pioneer garden provide great angles.
Built environment: Rutland House, schoolhouse, cottage, post office, store, packing house, tea room
More info...

 

Old Florida fishing camps, marinas

The historic Whidden’s Marina has a maritime museum and a shop with fishing supplies. Big Hickory Fishing Nook is a fishing charter shack with views of egrets, pelicans and blue herons looking for lunch. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Jensen's Twin Palm Resort & Marina has historic beach cottages and a water taxi. Cabbage Key Marina is located at the foot of an Indian mound where the restaurant and inn sit. Matlacha has a boat ramp, kayak launch to the Great Calusa Blueway, fishing pier, walking path, community buildings, sheltered picnic tables, restrooms and basketball courts.
Interesting angles: Capture old Florida in the colorful, weathered shacks slumped waterside and purely maritime fishing and boating scenes. Whidden’s displays vintage fishing and boating equipment along with an assortment of pot-bellied pigs, rabbits and other animals.
Built environment: weather-worn old-Florida sheds, shacks and fish houses, restaurants, docks, boats, ramps, piers and other recreational facilities


 

Beaches

 

Gasparilla Island State Park

Located at the southern end of Gasparilla Island, the park offers scenic views of Boca Grande Pass, white-sandy beaches and the Gulf of Mexico’s emerald green waters.
Interesting angles: From the lighthouse’s front porch or the dunes walkover, there are magnificent views of the beach, short sand dunes, pass waters and boats, plus Cayo Costa can be seen from across the pass. A charming historic chapel also provides interest.
Built environment: picnic areas with pavilions, 1890 Boca Grande Lighthouse and museum, historic chapel

 

North Captiva Island

The 4.5-mile, sparsely-populated island has pristine beaches and is densely wooded. The north part of the island is inhabited, but there are no cars, grocery stories or hotels.
Interesting angles: With its historic stilted fish house in the harbor, colorful Barnacle Phil’s restaurant, an unpaved grassy landing strip and isolated white sand beaches, this island - only accessible by boat and small plane - offers variety with its seclusion.
Built environment: collection of large rental homes, three restaurants, historic stilted fish house at mouth of harbor

 

Cayo Costa

The state park has a nine-mile, white, commonly deserted beach, as well as a pine forest, oak-palm hammock and mangrove swamps. Abundant bird life and shelling opportunities, plus a nature trail through the woods. The island is only accessible by boat.
Interesting angles: Vestiges of historic human habitation, such as a pioneer cemetery, blend with rustic cabins to create impressive images against a "deserted island" setting.
Built environment: 12 cabins, restrooms, dock, a few private homes
More info...

 

Captiva Beach

The six-mile beach runs the entire west coast of the island with an abundance of shells. Surf is rougher and wavier than Sanibel; beach is wide and sand is lightly grayer. Dunes are largely intact and small groves of trees grow right up to the beach.
Interesting angles: It has the best sunsets on the islands. Blue herons and other shorebirds strut the sand, sea oats and dunes daisies adorn the dunes, and typically, plenty of people are playing and walking on the beach.
Built environment: South Seas Island Resort and golf course in background at north end, restaurants and homes along the beach, historic chapel and cemetery close to the beach
More info...

 

Turner Beach

Wide, flat sands with excellent vantage point for Gulf coast sunsets north (Captiva side) of Blind Pass between Sanibel and Captiva islands. There, you’ll find strong currents and a small dirt lot with access to the beach and inlet.
Interesting angles: Poised on the pass, it has water on three sides, with a good view of sunset with sand and trees in the foreground. For people shots, there are fisher-folk on the bridge and, when a front brings in waves, surfers, skimboarders and body-boarders.
Built environment: restaurants nearby, foot showers and restrooms, bridge across pass
More info...

 

Blind Pass Beach

A 60-acre public preserve with a nature walk leading to lagoon on the Sanibel side of the bridge. Also, you’ll find coves along the bayshore, cars parked on Gulf side and the beach stretching half a mile.
Interesting angles: Just across the pass from Turner Beach, it offers many of the same features plus colorfully painted cottages and trees near the water’s edge.
Built environment: restrooms, picnic tables and showers, bridge across the pass, restaurants and cottages on south end

 

Bowman’s Beach

Great shelling opportunities, sunset views and quarter-mile walk from parking lot to beach with view of beach grasses, shrubs, pine trees, estuary and sea grapes along the way. Birds and tropical fauna are around the beach’s soft, fine sand.
Interesting angles: Views vary from ospreys and pileated woodpeckers in the estuary to a stretch of Sanibel’s most secluded beach carpeted in shells.
Built environment: picnic tables, restrooms, showers
More info...

 

Lighthouse Park Beach

Eastern tip of Sanibel, the beach has Gulf and bay views plus strong currents. Shelling opportunities abound.
Interesting angles: People and structures add appeal to a beach that rounds the south end of the island. Kitesurfers come here often, and there are impressive views of sunrise, fishermen on the pier and the bay with causeway bridges in the background.
Built environment: Sanibel Lighthouse, historic Oil House, refurbished concrete fishing pier, restrooms, picnic tables, boardwalk
More info...

 

Sanibel Causeway

Views of dolphins and Gulf of Mexico sunsets from the beach. Vehicles can be parked right up to water’s edge.
Interesting angles: This is the area’s windsurfing and kitesurfing hot spot. Shots from the road can catch water views on both sides with the island in the background.
Built environment: bridges, restrooms
More info...

 

Bowditch Point

This 17.5-acre park comes with a wide boardwalk among palm trees that leads to the narrow beach which becomes thinner at its tip. It fronts both gulf and bay.
Interesting angles: Its end-of-island vantage affords views of boat traffic coming into the bay, Fort Myers Beach high bridge and Sanibel Island and its lighthouse – all with white sand beach and native vegetation in the foreground.
Built environment: snack bar, restrooms, bathhouse, boardwalk, resort nearby
More info...

 

Lynn Hall Memorial Park

The park has a flat beach with small waves. Provides direct access to the Fort Myers Beach Pier and Times Square with shops and restaurants.
Interesting angles: This lively scene’s components include a picturesque pier, a nightly sunset celebration - with musicians and other performers - at the base of the pier, people dining and milling around Times Square, pelicans buzzing the pier, sidewalk restaurants, parasailing and boating as well as a nighttime party landscape.
Built environment: benches, picnic tables, playground, fishing pier, restaurants, shops, resorts, clubs
More info...

 

Fort Myers Public Beach

Equipped with 30 beach access points, this beach is wide with white, fine sand close to dunes.
Interesting angles: This is a quieter beach location, where an offshore sandbar at the south end attracts birds. Some of the taller resorts offer an elevated vantage point for catching sunrise, beach and gulf views.
Built environment: older houses with seawalls, restaurants nearby, resorts
More info...

 

Lovers Key State Park

The 712-acre park has flat, white and secluded beaches covered with shells and driftwood. Manatee, dolphins and birds can be seen from the beach. Wetlands and estuaries can also be shot at the park.
Interesting angles: Dolphins play in the bay waters, birds flock to the estuary, kayakers make their way along the Great Calusa Blueway and dogs frolic in the water at the designated pet beach on the south end. The gazebo on the beach adds interest.
Built environment: restrooms, picnic tables, showers, wedding/picnic gazebo, bridges over estuary
More info...

 

Bunche Beach

"Old Florida" type, passive beach with a natural tidal wetlands area that is representative of the area before the introduction of exotic plant species.
Interesting angles: Bald eagles and shorebirds are plentiful, especially at low tide. No immediate structures interrupt views of mangroves, mud flats and sunsets over Sanibel.
Built environment: no facilities
More info...

 

Bonita Beach Park

The 2.5-mile beachfront park has sand dunes and sparse vegetation.
Interesting angles: This is a happening little beach with plenty of fun-in-the-sun shots and shells in the sand.
Built environment: picnic tables, restrooms, volleyball courts, concessions, showers, bathhouse, boardwalk, gazebo, restaurant
More info...

 

Sporting Settings

 

Championship golf courses

From city-owned to semi-private, green-carpeted golf courses spread to every corner of the county. Some are Audubon-certified, but all are magnets for birds and alligators as well as golfers.
Interesting angles: Each course has its own personality reflected in various types of vegetation and style of clubhouses. Golfers are swinging while gators are sunning on the banks.
Built environment: clubhouses, bridges, golf carts
More info...

 

Old Florida-style marinas and exclusive yacht harbors

There’s no lack of boats in Lee County, and the best place to shoot them is in the local marinas, which range from funky to fine.
Interesting angles: Portray the boating lifestyle with shots of vessels from crusty old shrimping trawlers to luxury stretch yachts. Marinas attract colorful structures, fishermen, pelicans and adventure.
Built environment: docks, boatels, restaurants, ship’s stores, showers

 

Fishing charter boats

Serious fishing types hire the services of an experienced, informed fishing guide to take them to GPS points where the fish congregate. It’s the surest way to connect with what’s biting. Most are affiliated with a marina, but some operate on their own and pick up at various locations. For a more affordable option, visitors board a party boat to take them to deep waters.
Interesting angles: Charter a fishing boat to capture prime footage of pulling in a tarpon, shark or other impressive catch, while also scoring dolphins and birds at sea - plus views of the coast from offshore.
Built environment: boats, party boats with facilities aboard
More info...

 

Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track

A quarter-mile round track with matinee and night races, as well as trackside dining. Full-card simulcasting of dog, thoroughbred and poker.
Interesting angles: Shoot racing dogs from a dog’s-eye view or an audience perspective.
Built environment: stadium, poker room (second floor)

 

Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo Arena

Rope tying, stock sorting and barrel racing events with cattle and horses in a metal-fenced circle with dirt.
Interesting angles: Behind-the-scene shots make nice B-roll background for footage of action-packed arena events.
Built environment: arena stands, barns

 

Germain Arena

The arena has two NHL-sized hockey rinks, public ice skating, pro shop, arcade and party rooms. The facility is also used for major concerts and touring shows.
Interesting angles: Both professional hockey action and family skating can be shot at this location.
Built environment: three restaurants, restrooms, rinks
More info...

 

Two Major League Baseball Spring Training complexes

The 6,990-seat City of Palms Park is the Boston Red Sox’s spring training destination. The 7,900-seat Lee County Sports Complex is where the Minnesota Twins go for their spring training.
Interesting angles: From professional baseball action to fans enjoying the game, this is the best opportunity around to film a baseball scene.
Built environment: stadiums, food concessions, restrooms, dugouts

 

Minor League and Local Baseball

On the National Register of Historic Places, Terry Park has four lighted fields and batting cages. Baseball legends - Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Roberto Clemente - have played at this park since 1925. Other stadiums provide fields for college teams, community baseball games and one professional minor league team.
Interesting angles: The field settings are interesting in the hometown parks, and the baseball action is more grassroots.
Built environment: City of Palms Park, Bill Hammond Stadium (Lee County Sports Complex), Cape Coral Sports Complex all host Minor League baseball games, Terry Park

 

"City" Settings

 

Historic and modern courthouses

Downtown Fort Myers has new and old government buildings, including the 1926 County Courthouse built in Classical Revival style of sandstone and brick.
Interesting angles: The historic courthouse with its lovely old banyan tree is a contrasting counterpoint to the modern U.S. Courthouse and federal building across the street.
Built environment: courthouse and other buildings

 

Historic and modern theaters

Fort Myers, Sanibel Island and Cape Coral have dedicated theater buildings and performing art halls.
Interesting angles: The settings range from a historic movie theater turned stage to intimate, grand and outdoor stages.
Built environment: theater buildings, outdoor stages and amphitheaters
More info...

 

Sleepy towns

Out-of-the-mainstream, small-town settings appear in Captiva Island, Boca Grande, Matlacha and downtown old Bonita Springs.
Interesting angles: Set your film in an old-time community where you can find historic churches, a riverside park, funky buildings and main street vistas.
Built environment: shops, restaurants, galleries, seafood markets, historic buildings

 

Pineland

Located on Pine Island, Pineland is the site of Calusa Indian shell mounds and artifacts. Illustrated plaques can be found along the naturally landscaped Calusa Heritage trail. Bird and wildlife viewing abound. In addition, there’s the historic Tarpon Lodge, a golf course and a marina.
Interesting angles: Indian mounds offer subject matter for shooting the remnants of ancient cultures. The waterfront village also has a historic lodge and golf course.
Built environment: Pine Island’s oldest and smallest post office (built in 1927), Randell Research Center, signage, restrooms and pavilion, golf course, historic Tarpon Lodge
More info...

 

Fort Myers Beach

Fun, youthful beach town where families and couples find watersports, shopping, restaurants and one of the nation’s largest shrimping fleets.
Interesting angles: Shrimp boats bob in the harbor, boat traffic and dolphin ply the bay, and folks play day and night on the beach and its waterfront restaurants and clubs.
Built environment: fishing pier, resorts, restaurants, shops, beach homes, historic Mound House, historic cottage, marine science center, high bridge
More info...

 

Edison Park and other historic, palm-lined neighborhoods

Along Fort Myers’ McGregor Boulevard, royal palms and gracious old homes line the way, with occasional churches, the Edison & Ford Estates and other vintage commercial buildings mixed in. An authentic community scene with joggers, dog-walkers and others milling about along with views of the Caloosahatchee River.
Interesting angles: A flank of stately royal palms makes an uncommon frame for shots in this neighborhood. Add river vistas, Edison’s unusual gardens and vintage homes framed with oleander, poinciana and other blossoms for a perfect shot.
Built environment: homes, churches, country club and golf course, shops, restaurants

 

Art galleries

Though scattered throughout the area, galleries do cluster in a number of charming settings such as Sanibel Island, in bright, colorful cottages in Matlacha, downtown Fort Myers and old fishing cottages along the river in Bonita Springs.
Interesting angles: Artists are typically working or demonstrating at many of the galleries. The revitalized fish houses of Bonita Springs’ Riverside Park are particularly charming.
Built environment: galleries, art centers
More info...

 

Restaurants

From ultra-casual seafood shacks to linen-and-candlelight dining rooms, the region’s dining scene offers settings as tasty and tasteful as the food.
Interesting angles: Diners arriving for dinner by boat is purely southwest Florida in style. Many of the waterfront restaurants have a funky, old-Florida personality.
Built environment: restaurants, docks
More info...

 

Riverfront High-rises

Downtown Fort Myers is developing a dramatic skyline as condo towers join a high-rise resort as well as government and commercial buildings.
Interesting angles: Shot from the river, downtown’s skyline includes bridges and boat masts.
Built environment: high-rise buildings, resort

 

Shopping districts, malls and boutiques

Some highlights of regional shopping include the new Gulf Coast Town Center and Coconut Point mall in Estero, Miromar Design Center in Estero, Promenade Shops in Bonita Springs, Periwinkle Place on Sanibel Island, Sanibel’s shell shops, Captiva Island, Matlacha, Boca Grande, two factory outlet malls and downtown Fort Myers’ antiques shops.
Interesting angles: Unique to Florida, Sanibel’s plethora of shell shops display piles of shells and magnificent, huge showcase specimens. Shopping venues range from main street scenes and lushly landscaped Periwinkle Place and Bell Tower to the polish and glam of International Design.
Built environment: malls, shopping centers, downtown shops
More info...
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