Spotlight on… Nature in Fort Myers 

Home to manatee, dolphins and hundreds of species of birdlife, Fort Myers showcases the best of natural Florida. Here's how visitors can embrace the wild side...

Calusa Blueway

Some of the most diverse wildlife in Fort Myers lives in the coastal waters and inland tributaries of Lee County, Florida. Visitors have the chance to spot manatees, dolphins and sea turtles as well as plenty of bird life. The best way to get close to the marine life is to get on the water in a canoe or kayak. The Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail is a nearly 200-mile marked trail. A mangrove island or a sandy beach is the ideal picnic stop when it’s time to refuel. The safe shores are perfect for novice paddlers and young children. 

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J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Bird enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice with more than 245 bird species calling the Ding home. The refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States and is world famous for its spectacular migratory bird populations. Visitors have the option of enjoying the refuge via paddling, hiking or biking, or for a more accessible approach, there is a four-mile scenic drive. To learn more about the refuge and its inhabitants, visitors can sign up for a year-round guided tram, boat and paddling tours. There is also a Visitor & Education Center open daily with free seasonal programs and tours.

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Lovers Key State Park 

As romantic as it sounds, Lovers Key State Park has always been a popular spot for couples. The park is framed by a two-mile-long beach that often features as one of the top beaches in Florida. The park is a total of 712 acres and consists of four barrier islands, canals, and tidal lagoons. Spot bald eagles swooping for the catch of the day, dolphins jumping playfully in the surf or manatees hiding in the shallows. There’s also a freshwater pond where alligators live. Keen hikers and bikers can take on the Black Island Trail which is a 2.5 mile adventure through a maritime hammock along the canal banks of Black Island or the shorter Eagle Trail which is 1.1 miles.

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Edison and Ford Winter Estates

Stroll through more than 20 acres of changing landscapes with highlights including the Moonlight Garden, filled with nigh blooming plants, shrubs and flowers and  a reflection pool, the Butterfly Garden, home to a variety of butterfly species and butterfly plants, and the new Succulent Garden with more than 50 cacti. Inside, there is a 15,000-square-foot air-conditioned museum, which contains some of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford’s most prominent inventions and the Edison botanic research laboratory. The gardens are the perfect place to relax under a towering fictus tree or learn about plant species from six continents. 

Koreshan State Park in Bonita Springs, FL