Whether you’re an avid bird-watcher, a serious cyclist or simply a nature enthusiast, Fort Myers’ parks and preserves will inspire you with their natural settings. Get out and explore some of the amazing landscapes throughout the area’s islands, beaches and neighborhoods.
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Nature enthusiasts of all ages can find enriching insights at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge through birdlife and native flora. Among its 7,600 acres you might spot great blue herons, white ibis and the area’s signature pink roseate spoonbill. While the preserve is friendly to hikers, bikers and drivers, you can also take a 90-minute guided tram tour with Tarpon Bay Explorers to dive even deeper into the ecology and history of the refuge.
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
Visit Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve to walk the one-mile boardwalk through intermingled wetland and upland ecosystems. Keep an eye out for American alligators in Gator Lake or visit in the early morning to watch the playful otters in the pond. You can also take a guided walk with an expert for help spotting wading and migratory birds like wood ducks, red-shouldered hawks and barred owls.
Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve
Located in Cape Coral, Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve is something to behold. Visitors of all ages can walk the boardwalk and climb the observation piers to look for eagles, ibis, herons, and more. There are kayaks for rent to launch into the cove and out onto the Caloosahatchee River. Before you leave the park, pay your respects at the Veterans Memorial Area featuring statues that honor those who fought in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, and more.
The Great Calusa Blueway
More than just a park or preserve, the Great Calusa Blueway is a 190-mile marked water trail perfect for paddling and wildlife watching. Meander through inland and coastal waterways, peer up at towering mangrove forests and look out for friendly manatees beneath the water. There are multiple launch sites that offer kayak rentals, including on Matlacha and Sanibel Island and in Koreshan State Park in Estero.
Caloosahatchee Regional Park
Visitors will find a welcome escape in this unspoiled subtropical habitat. Caloosahatchee Regional Park is covered in wild grasses, unique trees and hard-packed clay. The park is popular with adventurous mountain bikers due to the diverse terrain in certain parts. There are also plenty of hiking trails for a more leisurely stroll.
There’s a #MyFortMyers story for everyone. Start planning at VisitFortMyers.com to make your own #MyFortMyers memories.
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by Amber Chase