Rural beginnings have given way to a growing community with inland trails, sailing lessons, and shell hunts at The Shell Factory and Nature Park. This longtime attraction is just one reason to get off the beaten path and head north.
On the northern shore of the Caloosahatchee River, North Fort Myers is a refreshing blend of town and country. The lush landscape exudes true Southern ambience, thanks to ancient moss-draped oaks, inviting horse farms and tropical riverbanks.
On inland nature trails, horseback riding is a unique way to explore the landscape and observe local wildlife. If you're ready to hit the water, rent a powerboat or charter a cruise from one of the local marinas to explore uninhabited islands, secluded beaches, and quiet coves to cast lines for fish. You can even paddle from one end of the county to the other along the Great Calusa Blueway, the marked and GPS-plotted coastal waterway trail with access points along the Caloosahatchee River.
A frequent visitor to local waters, the manatee remains one of nature's most shy and gentle mammals. Warm inland waters attract these endangered animals upriver where you can view them in a natural setting. Observe these gentle giants aboard a nature cruise. Some tours net tiny creatures from the sea for your up-close examination along with sighting dolphins and local birds.
No visit is complete without a stop at The Shell Factory, home to the world's largest collection of shells and coral. Seaside treasures found here fascinate kids for hours, while the nearby kitschy flea market, the Northside Drive-In, will entertain the secondhand hunters in your family. Bonus: There are also plenty of charming shops and local restaurants to be found nearby.
Head northeast to Babcock Wilderness Adventures for a rollicking swamp buggy ride through the eras of local logging and cattle-ranching history. You’ll see four distinct ecosystems and get a great chance to see local animal celebrities like alligators, Florida panthers, sandhill cranes, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and Florida Cracker cattle and boars in their natural settings.