Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Lee County, FL

  • Published 2023/05/06

Lee County is your ultimate beachfront destination on the Gulf Coast within southwestern Florida.

Founded in 1887, this county is more famous for its sandy beaches, historic homes and estates, quirky galleries and museums, and islands.

It got its name from Robert E. Lee, who was an American Civil War general who helped the country reunite.

Aside from its noteworthy attractions, the county also offers access to an impressive water channel, including the Imperial River and the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s also home to a variety of collegiate opportunities, what with the Florida Gulf Coast University within the property.

Keep your beachfront vacation simple and elegant by choosing to travel to its county seat, Fort Myers, or any of its cities, including Cape Coral and Bonita Springs.

Here are the 15 best things to do in Lee County, Florida to help you out on your trip:

Taste Cabbage Key’s Famous Burgers

A restaurant at Cabbage Key

Howard Layne /

The irregularly-shaped Cabbage Key island is just as breathtaking in person as it is from an aerial view.

This island was once a sand dune during the ice age.

In its earliest years, the Calusa Indians settled into the area and carved a home within its borders.

Now, riddled with modernity and standing out with all-around entertainment, this island is full of high-class dining and recreational opportunities.

People dining at Cabbage Key

Fred Mays /

This 100-acre island is best known for its delectable cheeseburgers and frozen key lime pies.

Its vast array of cottages and humble accommodations are perfect if you prefer a nature-focused vacation.

Cabbage Key is a car-free island accessible only by boat at least 5 miles south of Boca Grande.

If you’re craving a secluded getaway, it doesn’t get more exciting than this island.

Watch Manatees Swim around Your Rented Kayak at Manatee Park

Welcome sign of Manatee Park

EQRoy /

Lee County’s collection of beaches is home to a selection of aquatic creatures—some you may see from the surface and others you may not.

At Manatee Park, you have the chance to greet manatees in their natural habitat.

This water refuge gem in Fort Myers is an all-around stop with an amphitheater, walking trails, and rentable kayaks.

It also has a butterfly garden you can wander in.

Manatees underwater at Manatee Park

EQRoy /

Feel relaxed as you view the Orange River from across your picnic table or on one of the viewing decks of the park.

Remember, though, that manatees are not around all throughout the year.

Come by during manatee season, which is from December to February, to guarantee to see the creatures.

Manatee Park is on Palm Beach Boulevard.

Boardwalk at Manatee Park

SunflowerMomma /

Roam the Diverse Habitats at Pine Island Flatwoods Preserve

In St. James City, Pine Island Flatwoods Preserve is a plethora of habitats within a 944-acre property.

Some of its ecological communities include tidal swamps, coastal grasslands, freshwater marshes, and more.

The land of this site has been city property since the years 2000 and 2001.

This preserve features a 1.5-mile hiking trail and several more trails that stretch for about 6 miles that remain unmarked.

It’s also a hotspot for many local plants, including a variety of ferns and blossoming floras.

The wildlife you can expect to see at this spot include true owls, raccoons, pelicans, and more!

Pine Island Flatwoods Preserve lies along Stringfellow Road.

Look Out for Wading Birds at Estero Bay Preserve State Park

Sunset at Estero Bay Preserve State Park

Dale Kohler /

Your sharp spotting skills are a necessity when you come by Estero Bay Preserve State Park.

Established in 1966, this Estero natural landmark is Florida’s first aquatic preserve.

It protects Estero Bay and all its inhabitants—from plants to animals.

At over 11,000 acres, it contains a well-rounded trail system and offers several outdoor activities for the regular visitor.

Wildlife spotting is one of them.

The spot is abundant with animals like gopher tortoises and bald eagles.

Canoe or kayak across the preserve’s large bodies of water.

Most importantly, the park is famous for being a stop for wading birds, which you can see while you’re hiking across the park’s walkways or exploring the marshes.

You can find Estero Bay Preserve State Park on Broadway West.

Keep a Good Aim while Playing Golf at Coral Oaks Golf Course

Coral Oaks Golf Course is a Cape Coral staple famous among golfers of every level.

This public golf course is the creation of golf designer Arthur Hills.

It features an 18-hole layout, complete with maintained fairways and an extensive practice range.

Its eight lakes and multiple bunkers add to the appeal and charm of the golf play across the course.

The facility also comes with a pro shop and a full restaurant and bar.

If you’re new to golfing, the site also offers golfing lessons and weekly junior sessions.

Head over to Northwest 28th Avenue to reach Coral Oaks Golf Course.

Browse through the Historical Artifacts at the Mound House

People approaching the Mound House

Warren Eisenberg /

Fort Myers Beach‘s Mound House is both an archaeological and historical site worth checking out.

This house-turned-museum sits on top of a 2,000-year-old Indian mound.

Inside the home, a wide selection of Calusa artifacts awaits you, including an underground exhibit called Stories Beneath Our Feet.

Some of the objects you can find at the museum include ancient tools, old photos, and elegant furnishings of the original William H. Case House.

Trail at Mound House

Warren Eisenberg /

But your trip to the past doesn’t stop there.

The museum’s surrounding historic gardens are also a beauty to behold.

You can also rent a boat to explore Estero Island’s waters and plan a picnic at its designated areas.

The Mound House opens its doors to your curious mind on Connecticut Street.

Exterior of the Mound House

Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Check Out the Wildlife and Plants at Bonita Wonder Gardens

A gazebo at Bonita Wonder Gardens

SunflowerMomma /

Bonita Wonder Gardens is a unique gem focused on flora and fauna in Lee County.

This Bonita Springs stop specializes in an interactive journey to Old Florida.

This center once went by the name The Reptile Gardens since its establishment in 1936.

Now, several years later, the facility is open to rescued and rehabilitated wildlife.

A bird at Bonita Wonder Gardens

JE Dean /

And at the same time, it offers a mirror into what was once Old Florida, with its distinct plant species and habitats.

Step into different aviaries and spot well-known and unfamiliar birds and reptiles.

Some of its most anticipated programs are its weekly habitat chats, where you can witness alligator feeding demonstrations.

Bonita Wonder Gardens is on Old 41 Road.

Spend Time in Nature while on a Hike at Calusa Heritage Trail

When you’re in Lee County, take your much-needed adventure to the outdoors at Calusa Heritage Trail.

This walking trail is a publicly-accessible spot.

Managed by the Randell Research Center, it spans one mile and offers a gateway to the mounds, canals, and other natural features within the archaeological landmark.

Along the way, read interpretive signs of the Calusa people and community who once found refuge within this area.

Other amenities within the trail include benches, a boardwalk, and a bridge.

For a wider view of the natural surroundings within the spot, climb atop the trail’s observation decks.

You can also sign up for guided tours of the trail.

Calusa Heritage Trail is a Pineland staple, which is within the community of Bokeelia.

Parking and entrance to the trail are on Waterfront Drive.

Watch the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center Light Up at Night

Exterior of Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center

Felix Mizioznikov /

Dive into the world of arts at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center.

This facility brings a variety of art forms to the public.

Open on the weekdays, this gallery features performance, visual, and educational arts for the community.

Its monthly art exhibitions shine a spotlight on local and national artists and their creativity.

Building sign of Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center

Andriy Blokhin /

There’s also a rooftop sculpture garden that’s open every Wednesday night for some live entertainment.

Watch concerts, join lectures, and rent the facility for an important event!

And when you’re within the area when nighttime comes, watch as the museum turns into a beacon of light like you’ve never seen before.

Drive over to First Street in Fort Myers to reach the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center.

Water fountain at Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center

SR Productions /

View the Artifacts and Exhibits Displayed at the Museum of the Islands

A cultural expedition awaits you at the Museum of the Islands.

This all-around museum opened in 1989.

Since then, it has only flourished as a preservation site for Pine Island and all its surrounding islets.

It resides in what was once a library building and puts on display donated items from the distant past.

These include portraits, shells, a variety of household objects, and a famous Manatee skeleton.

It has a special fisherman exhibit that details what life is like in the fishing industry.

It’s a must-see if you’ve got a fascination for history.

The Museum of the Islands is within the heart of Pine Island Center in Bokeelia.

Gather Seashells for Your Collection at Bowman’s Beach Park

The waters of Bowman's Beach Park

Andriy Blokhin /

Bowman’s Beach Park is one of the most popular beaches in Sanibel.

Scenic and serene—this beach is famous among many beachcombers and wildlife enthusiasts.

Its grand shelling opportunities all around have attracted many to come and expand their shell collection with the shells scattered all over the beach’s white sand.

People at Bowman's Beach Park

Andriy Blokhin /

It also offers walking trails, grills, and even kayak rentals.

Bowman’s Beach Park is dog-friendly too, so you can come with the whole family for some waves and tanning.

You can find this beach on Bowman’s Beach Road.

Trail at Bowman's Beach Park

Kristi Blokhin /

Spot a Few Gopher Tortoises at Koreshan State Park

A house at Koreshan State Park

SunflowerMomma /

Estero’s Koreshan State Park provides countless outdoor learning opportunities for you and your group.

This state park offers 11 historic buildings and establishments that depict the beliefs of the state’s mighty pioneers.

It was in 1893 that a religious sect, spearheaded by Dr. Cyrus R. Teed, settled in the land and opened up a botanical garden and a farm.

Its name, Koresh, is a Hebrew word, which means Shepherd.

Now, the state park is an ideal spot for some meditation and historical excursions.

Aside from historic homes, the park is also home to bamboo trails and a variety of wildlife species, including gopher tortoises.

You can find Koreshan State Park along Corkscrew Road.

Go Mountain Biking along the Trails at Caloosahatchee Regional Park

For adventure-seekers planning to travel to Lee County, Caloosahatchee Regional Park is the best spot for you.

This regional park encompasses about 768 acres of diverse habitats, including oak hammocks and cypress swamps.

One of its stand-out features is its northside mountain biking trails.

It has designated hiking trails that zigzag across the southern border of the park, too.

All in all, these trails amount to about 20 miles—enough space for you to explore the charm of these historic lands.

Yes, this regional park is also a dwelling place for the Calusa Indians and the Seminoles.

The park also has primitive campgrounds for your indefinite stay out in the wild.

Caloosahatchee Regional Park sits along North River Road in the community of Alva.

Wander the Property and Gardens at Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Exterior of Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Irina Wilhauk /

Add a bit of light—literally!—to your Lee County with a stop by Edison & Ford Winter Estates.

This historic landmark comes with a 15,000-square-foot museum, a cluster of historic homes, and a luscious garden.

This place was where the Edison and Ford families started leaving their legacies behind for the future.

Opened in 1947, it offers 20 acres of historic establishments, including a Main and Guest House that you can freely explore during your visit.

A lab in Edison & Ford Winter Estates

EQRoy /

Its botanical gardens are of high excellence with its 1,700+ plant species.

And a stop by its museum can take you decades in the past, a time when two men became pioneers of inventions that the future generations continue to use—light and automobiles.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates is in Fort Myers.

More specifically, it sits along McGregor Boulevard.

Interior of Edison & Ford Winter Estates

SR Productions /

Feel Inspired by the Artworks Displayed at Jungle Drums Gallery

If you’re looking for an art escapade while in Lee County, Jungle Drums Gallery won’t let you down.

This gallery in Captiva Island features marine-centered artworks in a variety of mediums.

Browse through life-sized sculptures and crafted jewelry you won’t find anywhere else.

Other artworks include unique furniture carvings and quirky signages.

You can purchase any of the artworks onsite, too.

And while you’re at it, you also help out various local conservation groups because proceeds from the gallery go to these causes.

Jungle Drums Gallery is on Andy Rosse Lane.

Final Thoughts

With Lee County’s collection of islands, man-made attractions, and outdoor spots, there is never a dull moment at this place.

And the article above proves this right time and time again.

Will you be using the list of the best things to do in Lee County, Florida, to create your itinerary?

If you do, safe travels!

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