5 Things You Only Know if You’ve Been to Fort Myers and Sanibel (and Even Then, You Might Not)

Fort Myers storefronts
Fort Myers

The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel is full of unforgettable attractions and natural activities. But some things here veer beautifully off the beaten path. This list of five “insider” tips helps you find your way there even faster.

If you want to see a pair of bald eagles, eat ice cream

Who knew bald eagles were attracted to dessert? A now famous couple nests comfortably in the pine trees behind Sanibel’s Dairy Queen just off Periwinkle Way. (Ask the employees there, they’ll send you in the right direction.) Rumor has it, the best time of day to see the bald eagles is at sunrise or sunset. Getting ice cream AND seeing our nation’s mascot? Now that’s a real treat!

Ice cream cones
Sanibel's Dairy Queen

The sunsets are the stuff postcards are made of

If a picture’s worth a thousand words, seeing a Sanibel sunset in person is worth a million. Pour yourself a cocktail and let the soft dusk light wash over you. Watching the sky melt into shades of pink and orange above the Gulf can be a vacation defining moment you’ll always remember. And then do it again tomorrow! 

Sanibel pier
Sanibel Pier

You can truly get away from it all

The completely undeveloped Cayo Costa State Park and campsite is an island only accessible by boat (or helicopter, if you have one handy). But the effort is worth it when you arrive at the nearly 2,500-acres of preserved Florida landscape. Swim, snorkel, fish and even camp in this hidden Gulf Coast paradise. And you can’t miss the wildlife – you’ll likely see more manatees, native birds and dolphins than human beings.

Manatee swimming underwater

Yes, it’s a beach community, but it’s an art community, too

The Downtown Fort Myers River District is a place art enthusiasts come to be dazzled. If you’re looking for something to feast your eyes on, head there on the first Friday of every month (or the following Saturday) when 14 galleries open their doors to self-guided tours. You can check out the exhibits, meet the artists, hear live music and maybe even see a painting in progress.

Couples observing art gallery exhibits
Art Walk

You can camp on Sanibel Island and there’s also a zoo

Contrary to what you may think, Sanibel isn’t all beachfront hotels. The little-known Periwinkle Park & Playground is just a 10-minute walk from the beach, with accommodations ranging from tents to motor homes. But the best amenity of all is the “mini zoo.” You don’t have to be a guest to visit, so stop by to see wading birds, a few lemurs, cockatoos, macaws and parrots – many of which will call out a “hello” or “bye-bye.”


Of course, these are just the start of what makes The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel such a vibrant area. Come discover your own hidden gems. We promise they’re not hard to find.

Boardwalk leading to beach

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