Jackie Kovacs headshot

Jun 6, 2024

4 min. read

Imagine everything in your home—furniture, appliances, pots and pans, the contents of your medicine cabinet—washed away along with your actual home and vehicle. Then, multiply that by thousands of other homes, countless businesses, your community’s natural attractions and the associated wildlife. That’s what Hurricane Ian did to parts of Fort Myers, FL in September 2022.

But instead of falling apart, the people of Fort Myers pulled together. “We came together more in the recovery than we did with Covid,” says Jacki Liszak, president of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce. And while the area is still recovering, it has come a long way in a short time—so far, in fact, that we can think of five great reasons to visit.

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1. The beaches

With 29 public-access beaches, Fort Myers offers something for all lovers of sand and surf. Stroll the shops near Time Square, just a short walk from downtown Fort Myers, near the site of the hurricane-damaged pier (under repair). Or experience the world’s best shelling (yes, it’s a verb here) by boating to the pristine shores of Cayo Costa or North Captiva. Be sure to wave to the dolphins and manatee along the way.

2. Sight-seeing

Need a break from the sun? Duck into a slice of history at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates. Tour Thomas Edison’s 1886 winter escape nestled alongside that of Henry Ford’s on 14 acres of riverfront. Build in time to marvel at the display of Ford’s first vehicles, dating back to 1914. Bird enthusiasts will want to head to Sanibel Island where the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is home to herons, egrets, ibis and the prized roseate spoonbill. Make sure you take in at least one spectacular sunset: Downtown Captiva rarely disappoints.

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3. Fishing

If you’re angling for a day of fishing, a little history, dolphin sightings and more, Endless Summer Charters can provide a winning combo. Recommended add-on: lunch at historical Cabbage Key, a quirky, water-access-only destination where the late singer Jimmy Buffet is said to have enjoyed the meal that inspired his song “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”

4. Food

Speaking of food, Fort Myers offers dining options for all tastes and budgets. From casual seafood-a-plenty offerings at Pinchers, to the low-key elegance of waterfront dining at Captiva’s The Green Flash (try their take on key lime pie), it’s easy to thrill your tastebuds. Feel like a classic American burger? Pop into Ford’s Garage in downtown Fort Myers, then stroll the quaint art deco-era streets.

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5. Resorts

For have-it-all convenience and access to downtown, it’s hard to beat The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village. The waterfront setting of this timeshare-turned-resort boasts 308 rooms, including 180 suites with equipped kitchens and laundry. If you don’t feel like cooking, you can dine on property at the resort’s two restaurants, or stroll to the nearby promenade where five other venues await. For a beachier vibe, consider Captiva’s South Seas Island Resort. Though badly damaged by Hurricane Ian, this historic property is building back better on its 4 km of stunning white sand beach. Enjoy golfing, charter a boat, relax in a beach chair by the shore or indulge in an up-to-six-person cabana experience—all a rentable golf cart ride away.