Toast at dinner

get a taste of island life


If they haven’t already, foodies are taking notice of Southwest Florida. For each beach-casual seafood joint overlooking the water (and there are many), alternative choices have popped up representing all types of cuisine and price points.

One of the most bucket-listed dining experiences on our shores takes place just off the coast. Dinner cruises like those offered by the Sanibel Harbour Princess carry you onto glimmering Gulf waters aboard a sleek modern yacht for a decadent meal and a top-notch view of the sunset. As fun as a buffet on the open water sounds, the options on land satisfy many tastes as well.  

Fall in love next to the waterside during a sumptuous candlelit dinner at Thistle Lodge on Sanibel, or at Tarpon Lodge in Pine Island. Slip into something more casual for an evening sipping tropical drinks and tapping your toes to live music at local seaside restaurants like Flippers on Lovers Key, RumRunners in Cape Coral or Doc Ford’s on Sanibel.  

Our area’s coastal location skews our local palate toward seafood, but that only scratches the surface of our unique selection. Restaurants like Ichiban, Blu Sushi and Thai Gardens bring delectable flavors from the Far East to Fort Myers. And the fiesta never stops at Mexican favorites like Jalapeños Restaurant and La Casita

But for every taste on the menu, there’s a flavor of fun that heats up after dark. Start in downtown Fort Myers in the River District at local mainstays like Firestone Sky Bar and the Barrel Room at the Twisted Vine Bistro for talentedblues bands. Once a month, don’t let the live music in the Patio de Leon pass you by during Music Walk, or the vibrant sights and sounds of Art Walk. For an encore, head to Fort Myers Beach where the Lani Kai and The Cottage are known for live bands and welcoming dance floors.

In Greater Fort Myers, a round of cold, local beers is always nearby at microbreweries like Point Ybel, Fort Myers Brewing Company, and Old Soul Brewing. Each hosts a variety of live entertainment that almost rivals their mouth-watering ales, lagers and more. Then, belly up to the bar at The Ranch Saloon and The Buddha for live music that’ll make you shake your tail feather. Or soak up the telltale chords and poignant lyrics at the Buckingham Blues Bar.

Whether it’s to cool down the evening, or make a splash, you’ll find the perfect spot close to the water in Cape Coral. Try the Dixie Roadhouse, Nevermind Awesome Bar and Eatery, and Backstreets for quintessential nighttime hangouts where fun-loving days continue into the night.


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