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Things to do in downtown Fort Myers: One day itinerary

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Hotels.com to bring forth some of the stunning wanderlust destinations in the USA. As always the opinions and ideas are my own.

Located in the state of Florida in the USA, Fort Myers offers a tropical paradise with a variety of water activities, historical sites, and cultural opportunities to immerse yourself in. If you are planning to spend one day in Fort Myers, you will find this guide useful. In this guide, we will cover all the amazing things to do in downtown Fort Myers where you can check out all the prime city attractions.

One day in Fort Myers: Things to do in downtown Fort Myers

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One day in Fort Myers itinerary

Note: As travel today remains uncertain, please keep your safety and the safety of others in mind at all times. Follow local guidelines, remember to wear a face mask, and wash your hands often. Check official websites before your trip for the latest updates on policies, closures, and status of local businesses.

Here are a few essential travel tips for your trip to Fort Myers Florida, USA. 

Planning your trip: Fort Myers River District Travel Tips

Fort Myers Airport

If flying from Canada or overseas, you will arrive at Southwest Florida International Airport. It is located to the southeast of Fort Myers, and is the third-largest airport in the United States. 

You can easily book affordable flight tickets to Fort Myers from New York City, or any major destinations in the US.

Once you are in the city, head to the downtown area and stay there for the night. You can access ground transportation from the airport, including local shuttle buses and rental cars to get to your hotel or downtown. 

Where to stay in Fort Myers?

If you are planning to stay for the night, consider booking accommodation in downtown Fort Myers. From the River District to elsewhere in the town you will find a beach resort, boutique hotel, and/or affordable accommodation for your stay. 

The historic district of Fort Myers comprises 4 distinct areas – Dean Park, Edison Park, Downtown, and Seminole Park. The area is also known as the River District and is home to most of the prime attractions in Fort Myers. 

During your day trip itinerary you can easily walk to various landmarks, break for lunch or hit urban parks – everything is within walkable distance from the downtown area. 

You can visit the promenade for beach views in about 35 minutes from the River District (by car). 

Start the day with breakfast in downtown Fort Myers (Start at 7:30 or 8:00 am)

Head to McGregor Cafe for breakfast of simple eggs and bacon or ham. The Benny is my favorite here. Or you can pick one of the classics – egg sandwich or gravy biscuit and eggs. 

Fuel up as you will be walking a lot and exploring Fort Myers. No matter what your interests, you will find everything from history, gorgeous beaches and more. 

Explore the Edison & Ford Winter Estates (09:00 to 10:00 am)

Edison & Ford Winter estates in things to do in downtown Fort Myers
Edison & Ford Winter Estates

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is a must visit attraction for history buffs and first time travelers to the city. Spread over an area of 20 acres, this historic complex is located on the Caloosahatchee River.

These estates offer a true glimpse into the lives of two of America’s greatest inventors – Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford. 

Be sure to stop by the Estates Museum where you can learn all about the inventions, and artifacts from the inventor’s lives. Learn about Edison’s 1,000 patents or how he came up with the first light bulb which is still burning in the lab. 

When you are at the complex, spend a few hours (1-1.50 hours) and tour the botanical gardens and the historic buildings. Try to get in there at 9:00 am in the morning. 

  • Address: 2350 McGregor Blvd, Fort Myers
  • Hours: 09:00 am to 5:30 pm 
  • Entry fee: Self-guided tour prices range from $15 to $25

Historic Walking Tour of Fort Myers (10:30 am to 12:00 pm)

After exploring the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, join a walking tour of the historic district and learn about Fort Myers’ past (and haunted stories). 

The River District is considered to be one of the most beautiful historic districts in Florida.

These excursions are for 1.50 hours, and are conducted by an expert local guide from True Tours. You will hear stories and historical details about the city, and then head to Franklin Shops, followed by a quick stop at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. 

Historic river district
Historic River District

Fort Myers’ historic downtown has a rich past. From the Roaring Twenties, 1929 depression to post-WWII prosperity and urban decay later, this district has seen it all. 

Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes and apply sun protection for your tour. 

You can check out the River District Fort Myers walking tour here

  • Address: Departure point is Franklin Shops in downtown Fort Myer (2200 First St, Fort Myers, FL 33901, USA)
  • Hours: 10:30 am to 12:00 pm
  • Entry fee: Starts at $20

Visit The Burroughs Home and Gardens- a Georgian Revival Mansion (12:15 to 1:30 pm)

Make way to The Burroughs Home after the tour. This landmark dates back to the year 1901, and is an architectural gem in downtown Fort Myers. Inside the complex, you will find beautiful antique furnishings, stunning interiors with a grand stairway and more. 

The architecture of Georgian Revival Mansion is hard to beat, and so is the serenity surrounding it. The home sits on two acres of lush gardens along the beautiful Caloosahatchee River making a photographer’s paradise. 

Tours are offered by Reservation Only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

  • Address: 2505 First St, Fort Myers, FL 33901
  • Hours: 11:00 am – 01:30 pm
  • Entry fee: Adults $12, Seniors $10

After the tour of the manion stop for lunch, and then continue on with the one day Fort Myers itinerary.

Afternoon in Fort Myers (option 1) – Shopping & Centennial Park near Downtown Fort Myers

Spend the second half of the day in downtown Fort Myers, or drive to the beach (if you have access to a car or catch an Uber for $22+). 

We got two options for you below, 

Because you had a busy morning, you can take it slow and wander the First Street and capture the historic lanes. 

For those who want some retail therapy can head back to the Franklin Shops. There are also other boutique stores in the River District Shops area where you can swipe your cards or window shop. 

Centennial Park near downtown Fort Myers is also a great place to relax in the afternoon. The park offers views of the Caloosahatchee River and the fishing pier. There are winding sidewalks and lush green trees with a lovely fountain. You will find statues of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone there.

You can check out the riverfront from here as well. This park hosts a variety of events and festivals. 

Afternoon in Fort Myers (option 2) – Fort Myers Beach for the afternoon (from 2:30 pm onwards)

Fort Myers Beach
Fort Myers Beach

Still energized for more? Head to Fort Myers Beach instead of downtown. 

From downtown to the beach is about a 35 minutes drive. You can catch a cab or Uber to get there. 

Public transport is available as well. It takes about an hour and 40 minutes to get there, and it is a cheaper alternative.

Fort Myers Beach is a town located on Estero Island. Home to sandy beaches, you will find a ton of marine life, a lively pier and postcard worthy sunset views. 

Times Square is my favorite spot here, after the beach of course. Spend some time strolling around the shopping center, and wait for the sun to go down. 

Nightlife – at the beach or downtown (after 05:30 pm)

There are many ways to sign off on your one day in Fort Myers itinerary. If you are at the pier, you will find a lot of places to eat and drink. 

After dinner, take a stroll along Times Square before returning to your downtown hotel.
Times Square is bustling with activities in the evening with live music, cafes, ice cream parlors and of course the eclectic night lights at the fishing pier and the beach ambiance.

Sunset in Fort Myers Beach
Sunset in Fort Myers Beach

If staying in downtown for the afternoon/evening 

In downtown Fort Myers, you can hang out at Space 39 Art Bar & Martini Lounge. They are open till late night (02:00 am). 

Plan to visit the lounge in the evening (after 05:30 pm) or after dinner to grab some drinks, and enjoy live music and the pretty decor and atmosphere inside the bar. 

Fort Myers downtown area is home to The World Famous Cigar Bar. It is a cool place to relax, buy cigars and get drinks. 

For fine dining, visit the Verandah. This restaurant is located in a historic setting and offers Southern cuisine. They have a lovely piano bar and a garden courtyard where you and your party can sit down and enjoy a delicious meal. 

Downtown Fort Myers also has many pizza places and cheap eat options, for those traveling on a budget. 

Other things to check out in Fort Or Myers & Sightseeing Map

We have included a few more top rated tourist attractions in Fort Myers that are worth a visit, maybe for the next trip.

  • Fort Myers Brewing Company: Enjoy local beer and street food, and go a brewery tour
  • Lakes Regional Park: Home to 158 acres of man-made freshwater lakes, this is one of the free things to do in Fort Myers
  • Art Walk and Music Walk events: These events are free, and are organized on the first Friday of each month from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m
  • Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve: Great spot to sight wildlife and birds
  • Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium: This is a 105-acres nature center, and a planetarium, which is home to bird and butterfly aviaries, nature trails, and a museum
  • Go on a foot parasailing adventure. Tours are available 
  • Visit Manatee Park, Lovers Key State Park, or Cayo Costa State Park
  • Day trips: Go on day trips to the Sanibel Island, Big Cat Habitat, Gulf Coast Sanctuary in Sarasota, Everglades and Everglades National Park to check out wildlife and mangroves from Fort Myers. If not renting a car, you can book a Everglades Adventure Day Trip from the Greater Fort Myers area. 

Additional Travel Tips for One day in Fort Myers itinerary

Beach in Fort Myers
Beach in Fort Myers
What is there to do in downtown Fort Myers?

There are a lot of things to do in downtown Fort Myers from historical quarters, shopping, restaurants and bars, active nightlife to the green Centennial Park. You can easily spend a day or two exploring the heritage quarters, eating out and enjoying a relaxing city break.

Does Fort Myers have a downtown?

Yes. Fort Myers has a downtown area which is the historic city center. It is also known as the River District neighbourhood.

Is the River District in Fort Myers safe?

Yes, the River District is safe, even in the evening. Having said that, avoid navigating dark and unknown alleys in the night. And exercise general travel safety measures.

We hope you found this post useful in planning your day in the downtown Fort Myers area and beyond. 

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