Captiva Cruises offers daily cruises around Pine Island Sound, the Captiva Islands as well as Sanibel Island. There are several excursions available, some of which include dolphin tours, sunset cruises and half-day trips to nearby beaches. Captiva also offers private charters for corporate receptions or private parties and each vessel has cash bars. Some of the other highlighted attractions are the Nighttime Astronomy Cruise and the Marine Naturalist Adventure.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Fort Myers, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates highlight the lives of two American intellectual behemoths that are Thomas Alva Edinson and Henry Ford. Spread across 20 acres (8 hectares) of pristine estates, this site was where legendary inventor Thomas Edison began spending his winters along the Caloosahatchee River from the comforts of his beloved Seminole Lodge in 1886. In 1916, Edison's dear friend Henry Ford built his Craftsman-style holiday home, known as 'The Mangoes' right next door. Edison's house is engulfed in a blanket of spectacular beauty thanks to the botanical garden designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman that houses Florida's largest banyan tree. The Rubber Laboratory is one of the sight's prime exhibits that showcase the facility exactly how it was left by Edison.
The Six Mile Cypress Slough is one of many preserved and pristine swamplands spread throughout southwest Florida. The highlight of the preserve is the 1.2-mile (1.9 kilometer) boardwalk, a wood-planked corridor that runs through the 2,200-acre (890 hectare) wetland, where guests can see alligators, wild boar, otters and much more. During the dry season (October to June), birds like herons and egrets flock to the flag ponds which make it a perfect place for birders. There are guided tours year-round, and self-guided tour brochures in the LEED-certified interpretive center.
Lakes Park is one of the most popular recreational areas in-and-around Fort Myers. The 279-acre (112 hectare) park has several fresh water lakes perfect for swimming, fishing or hopping aboard a boat. Officially, swim season starts from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but throughout the year you'll see people wading in and out of the water. You don't have to go in the water however, because there is still a 2.5-mile (four kilometer) paved path used for running, rollerblading or riding your bike. Additionally, the Fragrance Garden offers a unique sensory experience and other picnic areas, concession stands, a miniature train ride, boat rental and showers, further delight visitors.
The mission of the Ostego Bay Foundation is to promote a better understanding of marine life and the delicate balance of ecosystems through education and community involvement. At the Marine Science Center, exhibits, touch tanks and aquariums allow visitors to see and feel marine life. There are also exhibits on fossils, shells and endangered species that educate and entertain at the same time. Additionally, the center offers a walking tour which includes visits to a Coast Guard station, the waterfront and aboard a shrimp boat.
The J.N. "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge is 5,000 acres (2,023 hectares) of tidal wetlands and mangroves, home to more than 200 species of birds, 50 different species of reptiles and 32 mammals. The best (and busiest) times to come (especially for bird-watching) are November through April. Visitors can explore the park on a two-mile foot trail, hop aboard a canoe or ride their bike along the Wildlife Drive which has views of the water on both sides. Moreover, the drive to its location on Sanibel Island is a treat unto itself.
Although it may be one of the important freight lines in the city, Seminole Gulf Railway is best known for its enjoyable dinner train excursions. Hop aboard the 1930s-era vintage train for an interactive and exciting ride through the scenic countryside, and indulge in a hearty meal and a bit of entertainment along the way. Featuring fabulous live bands, theatrics and comedy acts, to the iconic Murder Mystery scenario, this is one train ride you won't ever forget.
Look for the yellow and green dinosaur next to the water tower and you'll know you have found the Imaginarium, a hands-on science museum for kids of all ages. Try your hand at being a weatherman, excavate a T-Rex in the "dig pit" or chart a course on a boat. The simple explanations make learning fun and easy to understand. There is even a living coral reef and alligator lagoon.
The Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium aims to promote a better understanding of the natural history below as well as the cosmological one above. The 105-acre (42 hectares) site contains a museum, an aviary, winding nature trails, and a gift shop alongside meeting and picnic areas. The museum has information on the Calusa Indians, a tribe also known as the Shell Indians because of their subsistence on the gulf shores and estuaries. In addition to a glimpse back in time, the museum provides interactive animal exhibits like snake feedings and aviary tours.
The Florida Native Butterfly Society runs this conservatory as a home for many species from the Lepidopteran order. Hundreds of butterflies and moths are released each week and the site is a true testament to the diversity in Florida's butterfly population. The place which resembles a humid rainforest can host more than 1500 butterflies at any given time and visitors will be enchanted by the gardens in full bloom almost as much as the butterflies. Additionally, the on-site restaurant, Crêpes Café is a nice place for a bite, and if you wish to hold an event here, the space can be rented for parties, anniversaries, weddings, etc.