Last updated: 09:08 PM ET, Wed October 04 2017
Low camera angle, late afternoon, Fort Myers Beach, Florida. (photo via fotoguy22 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Fort Myers

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Fort Meyer beach boardwalk at twlight (photo via Wiltser / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
PHOTO: Fort Myers Beach at twilight. (photo via Wiltser/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Fort Myers on Florida’s southwest coast is a city of beaches, cultural sites and natural Florida beauty. Here you’ll have access to 50 miles of white sand beaches and 100-plus barrier and coastal islands.

Beyond Fort Myers lie Sanibel and Captiva islands, Fort Myers Beach and more communities where the focus is the water and great outdoors. And these aren’t just any old beaches, but miles of sand that repeatedly are recognized as the nation’s best in terms of beach combing, shelling, kayaking and bird watching. Family Fun Magazine ranked the Fort Myers/Sanibel area the “No. 1 beach in the southeast U.S." Stephen Leatherman, Ph.D., a.k.a. “Dr. Beach,” has ranked Captiva Island as one of the country’s “most romantic beaches” -- twice. Condé Nast Traveler magazine's Readers' Choice Awards have acknowledged Sanibel and Captiva islands as among "destinations approaching perfection."

Overlooking downtown Fort Myers, Florida with the yacht basin in the foreground. Typical summer late afternoon with storm clouds lingering. (photo via fotoguy22 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Overlooking downtown Fort Myers, Florida with the yacht basin in the foreground. Typical summer late afternoon with storm clouds lingering. (photo via fotoguy22 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Beyond the beach, there are 95 golf courses in southwest Florida, including 47 public courses and semi-private courses for those who wish to swing a club. The 105-acre Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium features three miles of hiking trails and nature exhibits with 100 species ranging from eagles to rattlesnakes.

Major attractions include the 20-acre riverfront Edison & Ford Winter Estates. Here you can see Thomas Edison’s laboratory, experimental gardens and rare antique automobiles. Next door, Henry Ford's winter estate features several antique vehicles. The Southwest Florida Museum of History in historic downtown is housed in the former Atlantic Coastline Railroad depot. While downtown, enjoy a walking tour. The Imaginarium Hands-on Museum and Aquarium gives you a glimpse into science, the humanities and what makes the region special.

Other cultural highlights include the 10-acre Alliance for the Arts, home to the 12,000-square-foot William R. Frizzell Cultural Centre with public galleries, the 150-seat Claiborne and Ned Foulds Theatre, and the Margaret Morrow Frizzell Amphitheatre, where you can enjoy theatrical productions, concerts and other cultural events.

Florida Fort Myers colorful facades and palm trees in USA (photo via LUNAMARINA / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Colorful facades and palm trees in Fort Myers, Florida. (photo via LUNAMARINA / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Fort Myers offers it all in terms of shopping. Outlet shopping fans can choose from Tanger Outlets and Miromar Outlets. Mall junkies have many to roam, such as Gulf Coast Town Center. The area is home to numerous markets including "Southwest Florida's No. 1 Tourist Stop," Fleamaster's Flea Market in Fort Myers, with more than 400,000 square feet featuring 900 booths. Fort Myers has been recognized by Nation's Restaurant News as one of the "50 Cities That Sizzle," offering something for everyone. You’ll find the usual popular chain restaurants along with top local places to meet every budget. Seafood is the way to go, especially when you can find a setting at one of the numerous waterfront restaurants. And for those who seek to go casual while on vacation, you’ll find that even the most elegant restaurants have a relaxed dress code.

To get here, fly into Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), southeast of Fort Myers. Most major domestic carriers fly direct or with connecting flights into the airport. A rental car is a necessity for getting around the area, as public transportation is very limited. Fort Myers and its neighboring beaches enjoy an annual average temperature of 74.4° F, with average water temperature of 77.5° F. High season is Jan. 15 through April, when the weather ranges from mid-70s to mid-80s.