Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Bonita Springs, FL

  • Published 2022/12/16

Bonita Springs is every swimmer and surfer’s paradise.

This city in southwest Florida is between the large cities of Naples and Fort Myers.

But despite its quaintness compared to its surrounding communities, Bonita Springs in Lee County is one city you should not undervalue.

Complete with sandy beaches and spacious golf courses, it’s a summer haven for those who prefer the outdoors.

But did you know that long before Bonita Springs welcomed tourists and locals with its warm beach hospitality, it was famous for being a homesteader’s village?

In 1928 and the years after, Bonita Springs remained a quiet town that settlers lived in and abandoned.

It was not until the 1980s that it saw significant growth, bringing many tourists to its expanding businesses and world-class attractions.

If you’ve been contemplating visiting this city for a while, this list of free things to do in Bonita Springs, Florida, might convince you to push through with your plans.

Watch a Free Event at Bonita Springs Riverside Park

Bandstand at Bonita Springs Riverside Park

Stephen Orsillo /

Riverside Park is notorious for its community events and hosted concert series.

Its band shell and large green space make it easily a preferred location for traveling groups looking for local entertainment.

Sitting on the Imperial River, it also offers a wide array of amenities, including park benches and picnic areas for those who want to have a meal inside the park.

Inside, there are also Artist Cottages that you can visit on Sundays and certain occasions.

But perhaps the main attraction of this park is its huge stage at the center.

Events like Star Spangled Bonita and Holiday in the Park are two of the many free events you can catch here.

You can find Riverside Park in Downtown Bonita Springs on Old US Highway 41.

Admire the Shell-Lined Walkway at Cullum’s Trail

Ready for a short nature excursion?

Cullum’s Trail, which opened to the public in 2014, is a scenic pathway that leads to Bonita Springs Nature Place.

Extending to about a mile, this trail takes pride in its seashell-lined path and diverse plant species.

Bring binoculars with you as you traverse deeper into the trail just in case you meet the occasional traveling bird and its flock.

It’s easy to get lost in the trail’s different routes and find yourself at the center of nature’s beauty.

Cullum’s Trail starts on Kent Road, should you want to pay it a visit.

Let Your Kids Have Fun at Depot Park Playground

Within Riverside Park, Depot Park Playground promises a grand time for your overactive little ones.

Situated off Pennsylvania Avenue, this park features a well-rounded play equipment set and a large open area for your kids to run around.

Its equipment, Lions Club Natural Playground, provides interactive climbing, crossing, and sliding play for kids.

Oak trees offer you and your kids much shade from the summer heat.

It also has a walking path and complete restroom facilities.

Most of all, entry and parking are completely free!

Depot Park Playground should be on your must-visit list in Bonita Springs.

See the Sights and the Public Art Collection in Downtown Bonita Springs

Nothing truly introduces you to the history and appeal of Bonita Springs more than a leisure stroll around Downtown Bonita Springs.

With its collection of shops, boutiques, and other centers, prepare to explore a world of exquisite art and tradition.

See and admire the public art on display in various corners of the district.

One famous public art sculpture is The Secret Bench of Knowledge by Lea Divot.

This artwork, installed in 2003, has moved locations several times in the past, but it now sits in front of the city hall.

Bonita Springs’ history also comes to life in another public art, this time in the form of a mural by Alex Nunez.

“My Beautiful Town” is a colorful painting depicted outside Benson’s Grocery on Wilson Street.

Feel inspired by other works, such as Imperial River History by David Kellum and Lords of the Forest by Jane DeDecker.

It’s always an art celebration all over Downtown Bonita Springs.

Take a Picture under the Historic Banyan Tree

Visit the roots of Bonita Springs—literally—with a visit to the historic Banyan Tree across Riverside Park.

This natural landmark has been around since at least 1921, offering shade and a serene atmosphere around the square it sits on.

This old Banyan Tree is a significant part of Bonita Springs’ culture, with several people in the past using the landmark as a meeting spot.

Strike a pose underneath the tree and take a picture to commemorate your visit.

You can find this huge tree on Old 41 Road, right next to Bonita Springs Community Center.

Join the Annual Art Walk at Promenade at Bonita Bay

The Promenade at Bonita Bay is an outdoor shopping district that draws crowds even just for the sights.

With its array of restaurants, salons, and other service shops, it’s no wonder it’s a go-to place for many locals and tourists after an elegant shopping experience.

But more than being a shopping district, The Promenade at Bonita Bay is also a unique landmark.

Its tropical landscape features a canal-like design inspiration with seating options so you can enjoy the outdoors while relaxing.

Most importantly, The Promenade at Bonita Bay hosts the annual Art Walk, usually in January, where you can see various artworks from local artists, all for free!

The Promenade at Bonita Bay is on South Bay Drive.

Go Birdwatching at Hidden Cypress Preserve

On Youth Ranch Way, treat yourself to a nature-filled escapade at Hidden Cypress Preserve.

This preserve, spanning approximately 48 acres, is home to various habitats and wildlife.

Be one with nature as you start a birdwatching journey and spot some rare fowl and other animal species.

Some of the common animals you can see in this preserve include the Florida Panther and the Florida Black Bear.

The hiking trails are ideal for everyone, too—from experienced hikers to novice ones.

Examine the diversity within the plant species, and most of all, find relaxation amid nature at Hidden Cypress Preserve on Wellfield Road.

Marvel at Original Artworks at Bonita Springs Holiday of the Arts

If you plan to spend the holidays at Bonita Springs, add Bonita Springs Holiday of the Arts to your schedule.

This annual festival, held every December, is a mixed celebration of local art with a dash of Christmas spirit.

Open to the public in a boutique-sized art show, this festival aims to highlight original and handmade artworks.

Some art pieces you can expect to see at this festival include sculptures, artisan candles, and jewelry.

Woodworking and ceramics are also common art forms showcased in this free event.

Take the opportunity to discover art in its varied forms when you explore Bonita Springs Holiday of the Arts, which will be on Old 41 Road.

Hike around Pine Lake Preserve

Bonita Springs’ collection of nature preserves is remarkable, and included in this collection is the Pine Lake Preserve on Kent Road.

Reopened in 2021, this preserve is a partnership project between Lee County and the City of Bonita Springs.

Extending to 147 acres, it’s filled with man-made lakes and natural plant-focused habitats.

Among these habitats include floodplain swamps and mixed cypress pine.

This preserve is an iconic spot for birdwatchers, too.

While you’re there, remember to take note of the wading birds flocking the area and keep an eye out for herons and Black-necked stilts.

Pine Lake Preserve is your paradise away from home that requires no fee!

Try the Outdoor Fitness Equipment at Island Park

When it comes to recreational sites, Bonita Springs does not disappoint, and Island Park is proof of this.

Acquired in 2004, this park features an off-path pavilion and outdoor fitness equipment.

Despite its quaint size of 1.6 acres, it promises a wide array of activities for you and your loved ones, including biking or canoeing.

This park also connects to Riverside Park with a pedestrian bridge.

View the Imperial River as you walk along the bridge, or stay and soak up the serene river views on the platform.

Island Park is on South Riverside Drive.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Had enough of Bonita Springs?

Here are other free activities you can do in nearby cities within a half-hour distance:

Admire Nature while Jogging Down the Boardwalk at Gordon River Greenway

Boardwalk at Gordon River Greenway

Paulleon /

In Naples, Gordon River Greenway is a picturesque riverfront landmark that introduces you to natural and man-made attractions.

Opened in 2014, this greenway provides a healthy mix of paved trails, wildlife stations, and decorative bridges.

On the 10-foot-wide boardwalks, take leisure strolls, or bring your bikes or skateboards for a more challenging nature exploration.

Along its trails, find frequent benches for you to relax on.

Tall trees at Gordon River Greenway

Paulleon /

This is also why the greenway is an attraction suitable for all, young or old.

You can also bring your leashed dogs onsite.

Gordon River Greenway is on Livingston Road, which is only a 21-minute drive from Bonita Springs.

The waters of Gordon River Greenway

Robert Miller Online /

Sign Up for a Free Educational Tour at The Bird Gardens of Naples

Have a soft spot for parrots and all kinds of birds?

Then you may want to visit The Bird Gardens of Naples in Naples.

This parrot conservation center aims to bring wild parrots and other fowls inside a well-kept aviary, away from captivity and possible endangerment in the wild.

With over 100 bird species, this place is a haven for bird lovers and owners.

Best of all, it does not charge you anything for an educational tour around the place.

Its wide variety of fauna and flora is also home to bees and butterflies.

You can bring unsalted nuts to feed the birds during your tour.

From Bonita Springs, it will only take half an hour to reach The Bird Gardens of Naples, which is on Purple Martin Drive.

Explore the Native Gardens at the Collier Museum at Government Center

Approximately 27 minutes from Bonita Springs is the Collier Museum at Government Center.

Located along Tamiami Trail East in Naples, this center takes you back centuries in historic Southwest Florida.

As you explore the interactive exhibits and galleries, you’ll learn about the life of some of the early settlers in the community.

Go through their ceremonial equipment and art tradition, like patchwork.

After your historic excursion inside the center, you can continue exploring the native gardens outside.

While Collier Museum at Government Center is free to enter for everyone, donations are highly appreciated.

Enjoy the Sea Breeze and Scenery at Sugden Regional Park

The lake of Sugden Regional Park

SunflowerMomma /

On Avalon Drive, Sugden Regional Park is a waterfront park with a wide array of public amenities that are free for everyone.

With a stunning view of the 60-acre Lake Avalon, this park is a must-see for lone travelers and families.

Because of its eye-catching lakefront and open space, it’s also a popular 4th of July celebration spot.

Rest at the gazebo or go down the boardwalk to enjoy the cool breeze.

You don’t have to travel more than half an hour from Bonita Springs to reach Sugden Regional Park in Naples.

See the Native Flowers at the Naples Preserve

The Naples Preserve, unlike the nature preserves on this list, adds a unique twist to your nature escapade.

Located along Tamiami Trail at the corner of Fleischmann Boulevard, this preserve serves as both a butterfly garden and a tortoise habitat.

Its 0.4-mile boardwalk takes you on a journey across oak-rosemary scrubs and pine Flatwoods.

With its array of native flowers and fauna in its pollinator garden, you can see colorful butterflies.

You might also see a few gopher tortoises along the way if you’re lucky.

The Naples Preserve is only a 19-minute drive from downtown Bonita Springs.

Final Thoughts

Bonita Springs and its glorious beach getaways have always been a travel treasure that many have had the opportunity to experience.

Its affluent beaches and charming small-town appeal have made the city popular among tourists.

With the long list of free things to do in Bonita Springs, Florida, you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank or creating a huge dent in your wallet during your trip.

Are you ready to start your adventure in Bonita Springs?

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