7 Reasons to Travel to Southwest Florida
Traveling to Florida? Steer towards the southwest. Southwest Florida offers some of the most stunning beaches, flora and fauna, adventure sports, shopping experiences, and historical explorations for the discerning traveler. Southwest Florida Insider shares what to do in Southwest Florida. Travel to this gorgeous destination and understand why so many people are moving to Southwest Florida.
1. Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
This ribbon-shaped ecosystem, spread across a 3,500-acre preserve in Fort Myers, is home to a diverse population of plants and animals, including endangered species. The slough, a long narrow wetland with slow-moving freshwater, is a wildlife corridor that offers a safe travel route for animals. Travelers find that this mile-long boardwalk that weaves in and out of the wetlands is a great way to disconnect and de-stress. The Slough’s butterfly garden, the lakes with alligators, the swamp lush with a variety of ferns, the gnarly old cypress trees, a vast variety of birds, and diverse wildlife such as turtles, herons, anhingas, cardinals, and gar will prove to be an unforgettable expedition.
2. Fort Myers River District
Those seeking history, entertainment, and shopping will find the Fort Myers river district irresistible. The live theater, captivating art galleries, and museums, as well as some eclectic shopping and dining options, make for a perfect outing. Visitors can experience the bustling district with the Historic Walking Tour and cruise along Caloosahatchee River to see bird rookeries, mangroves, and river islands on the history and Eco River Cruise.
The buildings from the 1900s, the boutiques, restaurants, and bars dot the brick-paved streets. The city hosts signature events throughout the year that showcase art, music, food, and even cars. Art Walks on weekends, a downtown Car Cruise-In on every fourth Saturday evening from May through October, pet walks, bike nights, fashion shows, block parties, and many such events make Fort Myers a perfect getaway.
3. Lovers Key State Park
This captivating two-mile strip of white-sand oceanfront property on Fort Myers Beach is one of the finest state parks in Southwest Florida. Perfect for a picnic or an afternoon of biking, hiking, and kayaking, it is also popular for weddings. Visitors can take their boats out into the Gulf of Mexico via Estero Bay to catch fish such as sea trout and tarpon that are native to the area (a fishing license might be required). The Dolphin & Wildlife Cruise is a special outing through the mangroves that reveals the local wildlife such as manatees and dolphins.
4. J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge
A haven for bird watchers and nature lovers, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island is a wildlife refuge, which also happens to be a part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the country. A refuge to more than 270 species of birds, including many endangered and threatened species, J.N. “Ding” Darling occupies more than 6,400 acres of land and shelters mangrove forests, marshes, and seagrass beds. Travelers can hike or bike along the 4-mile-long Wildlife Drive, which is also open for vehicles and an open-air tram. Besides the Indigo Trail and Bailey Tract, there are numerous biking and hiking trails across the park. The refuge can be viewed from the water in canoes and stand-up paddleboards or by hopping on a tour with Tarpon Bay Explorers, the refuge's official partner.
5. Bowman’s Beach
Turquoise waters and shoreline strewn with striking seashells make this one of the most popular beaches of Southwest Florida. Rent a canoe or kayak, lay down on the white sands, or wait for the sunset, Bowman’s beach is a great picnic area.
6. Captiva Beach
Labeled as one of the most romantic beaches, Captiva beach is known for its glorious sunrises and sunsets and silky white sands. Besides outdoor adventures such as biking, hiking, fishing, and water sports, the beach also offers birdwatching opportunities.
7. Cayo Costa State Park
Minus the condos and the motels, this former fishing village for the Calusa Indians offers a nine-mile stretch of undeveloped shoreline. The park with its pristine beaches is accessible only by a boat or kayak in the area.
From swimming, snorkeling, shelling to fishing, birdwatching, and bicycling through the island’s interior, the state park is an adventure in seclusion. Travelers can stay overnight at campsites and cabins to experience the beaches, pine forests, and wildlife in the state park.
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