We’re happy to keep sharing updates from Lee County as Fort Myers and the surrounding area keep bringing us good news.
Nearly 70 percent of the area’s guest rooms are ready to welcome visitors, with the balance on their way to recovery—that number represents just a little over 9,800 rooms that are ready to be booked.
Because the info on accommodations and attractions changes daily, the destination recommends checking with individual businesses on their status. For more information, click visitfortmyers.com/open.
Open Attractions, News and Upcoming Events in Fort Myers
The world-famous Sanibel Lighthouse was celebrated in a relighting ceremony on Feb. 28, five months to the day after Hurricane Ian nearly toppled the iconic structure.
Gasparilla Island beaches, Tarpon Bay Beach and Blind Pass Beach on Sanibel Island are open. Gulfside City Park and Bowman’s Beach, both on Sanibel, plan to open this month.
Beach parks in Lee County will reopen in phases beginning this month. Visitors are urged to use caution as debris continues to wash onshore and may be obscured by sand. Beach shoes should be worn at all times. Some amenities, such as restroom facilities, piers and walkovers, have not been repaired or replaced at this time. With those cautions in mind, the tentative opening plans for beaches and beach parks are:
- Dog Beach
- Boca Grande beach access
- Alison Hagerup Beach Park, Captiva Island
- San Carlos Bay/Bunche Beach Preserve, south Fort Myers
- Bonita Beach Accesses 1, 4, 5, 6 and 9
- Lynne Hall Memorial Park, Fort Myers Beach
- Bonita Beach Park
- Bowditch Point Park, Fort Myers Beach
- Bonita Beach accesses 2,3, 7, 8 and 10, also known as Little Hickory Island Park
- Crescent Beach Family Park, Fort Myers Beach
For details: leegov.com/parks/beaches
New air service at Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW):
Breeze Airways: Hartford (BDL) and Providence (PVD) begin this summer. The RSW-BDL flights will operate twice weekly on Wednesday and Saturday starting May 17, and the RSW-PVD service will start July 13 and operate three times a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.Sun Country Airlines: Eau Claire (EAU), weekly. American Airlines: Austin (AUS), daily. Avelo Airlines: Raleigh-Durham (RDU) weekly; Wilmington (ILG) weekly.
What’s Going On
It’s a wonderful time of the year for your client to enjoy the great outdoors and take in a baseball game in Fort Myers. Spring training runs through March 28.
For details and tickets:
Spring training 2023mlb.com/redsox/tickets/spring-trainingBoston Red Sox Through March 28 JetBlue Park, Fort Myers
Minnesota Twinsmlb.com/twins/tickets/spring-trainingThrough March 27 Lee County Sports Complex/Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers
March 26: Vintage “Base Ball” tournamentEdison and Ford Winter Estates will host its annual Vintage “Base Ball” Tournament at historic Terry Park in Fort Myers on March 26. The teams play several consecutive games throughout the day in a small tournament format. The gates open at 9:30 a.m. with the first game starting at 10 a.m. Admission is $5 for adults. Kids 18 and under will be admitted free.
Vintage base ball (baseball in the 1860s, was spelled with two words) is played by 1860s rules, including wooden bats, no gloves and lemon peel baseballs. Players wear vintage uniforms, and the umpires call the shots the way they did during the time period.
For spectators wanting to learn more about the history of spring training and the baseball legends that played in Fort Myers, Edison Ford program manager Holly Shaffer will give a presentation on March 24 and March 25 at 11 a.m. The presentation is included with general admission to Edison and Ford Winter Estates. edisonford.org
More to Do
Cape Coral Questvisitfortmyers.com/cape-coral-quest to collect a Cape Coral Quest Pass to participate on any mobile device.The City of Cape Coral and Fort Myers – Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods have teamed up to launch the new Cape Coral Quest app for a fun way to explore the area and a chance to win prizes through Nov. 30. Follow the directions at
March 7-11: ECHO Global Food and Farm Festival, North Fort Myers echonet.org/events/global-food-and-farm-festivalVisitors can enjoy tours, workshops and experiences for the whole family at the annual global food and farm festival. Check the schedule and details at
March 25: Sounds of the Sand dingdarlingsociety.org/articles/read-more3Visitors can enjoy the islands’ music and support Sanibel Island’s J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge at Bell Tower in Fort Myers on March 25. The free event is open to the public from 1-7 p.m. and will feature popular Sanibel and Captiva musician Danny Morgan and other local bands and entertainers. “Ding” Darling will set up stations with nature games for families and information about the refuge and its recovery and how to donate to DDWS to support refuge conservation work, including post-hurricane habitat restoration, wildlife protection and environmental education.
New Topgolf Swing Suitechipsfortmyers.comThe Luminary Hotel & Co. and downtown Fort Myers Chips Sports Pub just added a Topgolf Swing Suite. Non-golfers will enjoy it, too, as their interactive simulators offer a variety of entertainment. Virtual games include Zombie Dodgeball, hockey, baseball, football and carnival games.
Visit Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum on Sanibel Islandshellmuseum.org/post-hurricane-experienceThe Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum on Sanibel Island has reopened to visitors for a unique, limited-time experience of shells, natural history and perspectives of the recent events of Hurricane Ian. Check for hours and details at
Offshore Sailing School returns to Captiva Islandoffshoresailing.comOffshore Sailing School has teamed up with ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island and offers its popular sailing courses.
Billy’s Rentals reopens on Sanibel Islandsanibelbike.comBikes are once again available for rental (pickup or delivery) or sale, along with repair services.
Restaurants and Breweries
Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant brings its high-end winery concept to Fort Myers this spring. chwinery.com
Yucatan shrimp and mojitos are back on Sanibel Island!docfords.com/sanibel-island. Work is underway at the Fort Myers Beach location with tentative plans for a spring opening, docfordsfortmyersbeach.com. Also, sister restaurant—Dixie Fish Co.—has reopened its original Florida fish house, overlooking Matanzas Harbor at Fort Myers Beach. dixiefishfmb.comDoc Fords on Sanibel Island has reopened with daily service.
Junkanoo returns as Junkanoo Below Deckjunkanoobeachfmb.comThe popular Fort Myers Beach hotspot has opened in a new location at Snook Bight Marina as Junkanoo Below Deck.
La Ola Surfside Restaurant plans to relocate its Fort Myers Beach vibe, dining and entertainment to Bell Tower Shops in Fort Myers. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant plans to serve it popular Times Square menu. laolafortmyersbeach.com
Other businesses that have relocated to the Bell Tower Shops include Synergy Sportswear, Bubbly Latitude, Adventure in Paradise, Macintosh Books and Paper, Butterfly Beach, Sanibel Candle Company and Congress Jewelers.
Cheesecake Factory coming to Esterocheesecakefactory.comWork is underway for the Cheesecake Factory at Coconut Point in Estero. Plans call for the 9,000-square-foot restaurant to open later this year.
Insomnia Cookies opens in Fort Myersinsomniacookies.comNewly opened for takeout and delivery in the University Shopping Village near FGCU. Ice cream, cookies, brownies, brookies and more. Warm cookies are served until 1 a.m. daily and until 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Sun Harvest Citrus in Fort Myers is now carrying three select craft beers: Two local favorites, Gateway Blonde and High 5 from Fort Myers Brewing and for key lime lovers, Keybilly Island Ale from Brew Hub. sunharvestcitrus.com
Note for your beer-loving clients
Forbes names Fort Myers top Florida City for Craft beer loversFrom the article: “Craft brewing has seen a massive rise in popularity over the past few decades, and few states exemplify this trend as well as Florida. From the Georgia border down to the outskirts of the Everglades, there’s a wealth of vibrant cities that have mastered the art of brewing, slinging up refreshing pilsners and mouthwatering IPAs for seasoned beer. If you’re planning a trip to the Sunshine State anytime soon, don’t miss out on these incredible beer-filled destinations.”
The article mentions our Coastal Dayz Brewery, Fort Myers Brewing Company and Port Ybel Brewing Company. forbes.com/sites/jaredranahan/2023/01/27/floridas-top-five-cities-for-craft-beer-lovers
New Breweries Coming Soon
Two new breweries plan to open: Swamp Cat Brewing Company is revitalizing a church in the Hough historic neighborhood in Fort Myers. Plans include an outdoor beer garden. swampcatbrewing.com
Chubby Mermaid Brewing in Bonita Springs plans a May opening. chubbymermaidbrewing.com
Southwest Florida Ale Trail’s Volume VII passport is now available to guide your clients to 18 breweries located in Lee, Hendry and Collier counties. The program is simple: Buy a passport, visit a brewery, enjoy a beer and earn rewards. swflaletrail.comWater Activities For Everyone
Tarpon Bay Explorers on Captiva Island has opened with limited hours of operation and offerings. Kayak trail tours through Commodore Creek are offered and kayaks and paddleboards are available for rent. The gift shop is open. tarponbayexplorers.com
Tropic Star Cruises of Pine Island is back on the water, transporting visitors from Safe Harbor Pineland to the Boca Grande Lighthouse, Gasparilla Island and Cabbage Key. Perfect destinations for a day outing and lunch. tropicstaradventures.comAccommodations
Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina, Fort Myers Beach pinkshell.com/resort-updatesPink Shell has reopened and is currently booking stays beginning March 11. Wedding inquiries are being accepted for January 2024 and beyond. Jack’s Restaurant is open and serves a daily lunch buffet. Visit
Fairfield by Marriott opens in Bonita Springsmarriott.com/en-us/hotels/rswfb-fairfield-inn-and-suites-bonita-springsThe new Fairfield by Marriott includes 113 guest rooms and suites, free breakfast and Wi-Fi, a restaurant and meeting space, electric car charging, lounge bar and is pet-friendly.
Margaritaville Beach Resort, Fort Myers Beachmargaritavilleresorts.com/margaritaville-beach-resort-fort-myers-beachIn the NewsMargaritaville Beach Resort, with 254 rooms that include views of the Gulf of Mexico and Matanzas Bay, plans its opening in fall 2023. In addition, the resort has purchased the Silver Sands Resort and plans to incorporate it into an extension of Margaritaville Beach Resort with balcony suites and retail outlets. It’s currently in the design stage, the opening of this addition is planned for 2025.
HGTV named Boca Grande as one of 21 of the best gulf coast beaches. The mention includes Gasparilla Inn & Club, Port Boca Grande Lighthouse & Museum, Cayo Costa State Park, North Captiva Island, Cabbage Key, Captain Brian on the Water-Sanibel/Captiva Tours and Captiva Cruises. hgtv.com/lifestyle/travel/best-gulf-coast-beaches-pictures
Shellcast PodcastWhat’s the difference between bird-watching and being a birder? Quite a lot, according to ardent birder Dr. Jose Padilla-Lopez. Have interested clients tune in to spend some time with him at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Fort Myers and learn more than a few things about the birds to be seen along the boardwalk.
Listen at VisitFortMyers.com/shellcast or wherever you get your podcasts. For info on the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, click here.
Annual Festivals and Events
Spring training 2023mlb.com/redsox/tickets/spring-trainingBoston Red Sox Through March 28 JetBlue Park, Fort Myers
Minnesota Twinsmlb.com/twins/tickets/spring-trainingThrough March 27 Opening game with Tampa Bay Rays Lee County Sports Complex / Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers
24th Annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival, Fort Myersreadfest.orgMarch 4
ECHO Global Food and Farm Festival, North Fort Myers echonet.org/events/global-food-and-farm-festivalMarch 7-11
34th Annual “Ding” Darling Day Conservation Carnival, Lakes Parkdingdarlingsociety.org/articles/ding-darling-daysApril 22
13th Annual Fort Myers Film Festivalfortmyersfilmfestival.comMay 17-21
11th Annual “Ding” Darling and Doc Ford’s Tarpon Tournamentdingdarlingsociety.org/articles/tarpon-tournament-1May 19
Captiva Pride Weekendtween-waters.com/captiva-pride-weekendJune 2-4
National Seashell Dayvisitfortmyers.com/national-seashell-dayJune 21
Island Hopper Songwriter Festisland-hopperfest.visitfortmyers.comSept. 22-Oct. 1
Sanibel Island Writers Conferencefgcu.edu/siwcNovember TBD
39th Annual Cape Coral Festival of the Arts, Cape Coralcapecoralfestival.comJanuary 2024 TBD
ArtFest Fort Myers, Downtown River Districtartfestfortmyers.comFeb. 2-4, 2024
21st annual Burrowing Owl Festival, Cape Coralccfriendsofwildlife.org/burrowing-owl-festival-2February 2024 TBD Rotary Park
Edison Festival of Light Grand Parade, Fort Myersedisonfestival.orgFebruary 2024 TBD