With idyllic, natural white-sand beaches and hundreds of islands to explore in Southwest Florida, it's best to have a travel plan. Start making your list with these examples of things to do with your group while visiting Florida's natural side.
White-sand beaches with subtropical wildlife and lush foliage surround you in Southwest Florida, along with an often-surprising history and heritage. The best group visit is all about finding the perfect balance for your guests. Here are some suggestions to help you weigh your options.
At the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, the Fort Myers winter homes for inventor Thomas Edison and automobile industrialist Henry Ford, take a 90-minute guided tour of Edison’s 14-acre riverfront estate, laboratory and experimental gardens. The three-acre winter home of Ford, nicknamed "The Mangoes," features a display of Ford vehicles dating to 1914. Consider taking an eco-friendly river cruise that will take you down the Calusa, past the Estate. For a few more natural views, Babcock Wilderness Adventures can take your group on a 90-minute swamp buggy ecotour with a trained naturalist through Telegraph Cypress Swamp. Look for cougars, alligators, snakes and birds, along with native flora.
Before dinner, stop in at the 50,000-square-foot Shell Factory and Nature Park, one of the largest collections of shells, fossils, corals, jewelry, pearls and resort wear anywhere. Both attractions are located just north of Fort Myers. Florida is known for its citrus fruit, so squeeze in a little time south of Fort Myers to visit Sun Harvest Citrus, whose roots date to 1940 in Vero Beach along the Indian River. Next, check out the diverse wildlife along the Caloosahatchee River, including waterfowl, manatees and dolphins. J.C. Cruises offers a daytime cruise with narration aboard its triple-decker paddle-wheeler.
Cross the three-mile causeway across San Carlos Bay on your way to Sanibel Island for a 90-minute tram tour of J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States, and is world famous for its spectacular migratory bird populations. Next on your visit to Sanibel, head to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum and check out its astonishing display of shells from around the world, with a focus on Southwest Florida. Afterwards, stroll the shell-laden beaches of Sanibel Island at Lighthouse Beach. The lighthouse, built in 1884, makes a nice backdrop for group photos.