Planning a vacation to Southwest Florida? We’ve broken down fun activities to do with kids in and around Fort Myers, no matter their ages.
Florida and summer vacations with children practically go hand-in-hand. There are activities almost everywhere you turn, family-friendly resorts and hotels (with some options for waterfront access, might we add), incredible eco tourism, white-sand beaches, and, of course, year-round sunshine.
As you begin your search for the perfect destination in the Sunshine State, we’re here to narrow down your results with one special location that delivers excitement and family bonding: Fort Myers and its surrounding areas.
Located in the southwest region of Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico, the greater Fort Myers area is a go-to for families looking for a wholesome vacation. The destination’s secluded islands, beloved beaches and welcoming neighborhoods offer relaxation, outdoor recreation, and most importantly, kid-approved adventures for every age. So whether you have infants, threenagers, tweens or teens, Fort Myers has exactly the activity to keep them (and you!) all smiles.
Check out our guide below to discover things to do with your tribe in the Fort Myers area.
Editor’s Note: For updated reports on Fort Myers’ beach conditions and current openings, head to visitfortmyers.com/beaches.
For Infants: Ages 0 – 2
Roam Unique Gardens & Take a Train Ride at Lakes Park
Lakes Park has a garden haven that’s perfect for little learners to explore and play. Head to the children’s garden for hands-on activities and musical play stations that are whimsically designed in shapes of flowers, lily pads and trees, as well as the fragrance garden for a picturesque succulent collection that provides photo opps everywhere. Stop by the Railroad Museum of Southwest Florida, located right at the park, for sights of historic locomotives, railroad tracks and artifacts. Our favorite activity is the mile-long, miniature train ride that takes you through the woods, lakes and a tiny village depicting the area during the 1950s.
See Manatees at Manatee Park
As the name touts, you can catch a glimpse of manatees at this stroller-friendly destination during cooler Florida months, from late December through February. Though if you’re planning to go during the summer, the Manatee Park also has a breathtaking butterfly garden that’s certain to wow tiny eyes and on-site playgrounds for a nice baby buggy break. Did we mention parking is only $5 and the restrooms are clean and spacious? That’s a win-win in our book!
Spend a Day by the Pool with a Resort Pass
In Fort Myers and its surrounding areas, being close to a pool or beach is convenient for combatting long days in the sun—especially with an infant in tow. While resorts in the area offer these amenities, some vacation rentals and Airbnbs in non-coastal communities may not. To get all the perks of a resort, from splash pads and lazy rivers to poolside bars, without having to stay there, purchase a day pass for a one-day indulgence. Depending on where you book, prices can range from $25 up to $115 per adult, with most offering free entry for infants.
For Toddlers: Ages 3 – 5
Set Sail on Salty Sam’s Pirate Cruise
Mini pirates will rejoice on this Gulf of Mexico sailing adventure where kiddos can board a 65-foot pirate ship for 90 minutes worth of pirate-themed fun: face painting, games, sword fighting and treasure hunting. Salty Sam’s Pirate Cruise is available at both 11 a.m., leaving you with the rest of the day to explore Fort Myers, and 7:30 p.m. for a golden hour, sunset cruise. Upgrade your toddler’s package (boarding pass included!) for special souvenir items that’ll get them into character, like an eye patch, pirate hat, toy cutlass, and, of course, a bag full of buried booty. Moms and dads, help yourself to a “parent only” drink at the galley.
Let ‘Em Play at Coconut Point Mall
Although some can argue that malls and tots don’t go hand in hand, we’re here to tell you that this outdoor mall has just what you need to keep cries at bay. With an interactive children’s play area, your tots can play in the 14-foot-tall walk-in castle (that’s guarded by a moat and two giant alligators!), crawl through a dragon cave and run across a family of turtles. Although the play area is technically outdoors, it’s completely covered, so your kids can run around in the shade on extremely warm or rainy days. There’s even ample seating that’ll give you a moment to rest as you watch your little ones make friends. Coconut Point Mall also has a Build-A-Bear Workshop, Five Below, a toy store and countless restaurants for an in-between-shopping meal.
Enjoy a Day of Outdoor Fun at The Shell Factory & Nature Park
A Fort Myers staple, The Shell Factory & Nature Park is brimming with outdoor activities that’ll take up your entire day (now that’s what we call easy planning). Your children can ride the carousel for only $1, toss water balloons at the “water wars” station and go gem mining with their very own sifter and sandbag loaded with treasures. The park also features paddle boats and bumper boats for on-the-water fun.
For Big Kids: Ages 6 – 10
Spot Wildlife on a Hike Through J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s Trails
Need to burn off some of your kid’s never-ending energy? J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is the perfect place to get them moving and also introduce them to native Floridian wildlife. The 7,600-acre wildlife refuge is home to 51 types of reptiles and amphibians, 32 mammal species and more than 245 species of birds. Walk or bike the 4-mile, round-trip Indigo trail to spot alligators, night herons or white ibises, or sign up with Tarpon Bay Explorers to take a guided 90-minute tram tour.
Collect Seashells at Gasparilla Island State Park
About an hour-and-a-half-drive from Fort Myers, Gasparilla Island is a must-visit. You’ll be able to enjoy the experience of southwest Florida’s beaches without all the crowds. Swim, snorkel or fish the gorgeous blue-green water then wander the shoreline that offers unmatched seashell collecting. Before the sun sets, though, head to the nearby Port Boca Grande Lighthouse. Originally built in 1890, this beautifully-preserved lighthouse now houses a family-friendly museum filled with “please touch” exhibits (local bones, fossils and shells).
Take on Epic Water slides at Sunsplash Family Water Park
Time to unleash your inner child. As the largest waterpark in Cape Coral (a quick 20-minute drive from Fort Myers), Sunsplash Family Water Park boasts over 14 acres of water-filled fun, from slides and tube rides to pools, a lazy river and a play area (including toddler-sized slides) for younger swimmers. Thrill seekers in your clan won’t be able to get enough of the park’s 30-foot-high slide tunnels and the 457-foot single or double rider tube rides, which is one of the longest slides in Florida. The minimum height requirement for most single rides is 48 inches tall, whereas double riders who are accompanied by an adult must be a minimum of 36 inches.
For Tweens & Teens: Ages 11+
Grip it and Rip it at Popstroke
Older kids will appreciate this family-friendly golf and outdoor dining concept that provides a contemporary take on your traditional mini golf outings. Featuring two 18-hole putting courses that were designed by Tiger Woods himself, Popstroke has a full-service menu with appetizers, entrees, dessert and cocktails (yes, please!). There’s even an ice cream parlor with 24 different flavors of cold, creamy goodness to keep you cool in the heat. If you have little ones in the group, there’s also a children’s playground to keep them happy, too.
Try Your Hand at Stand-Up Paddleboarding with Gulf Coast Kayak
A trip to Fort Myers isn’t complete without an aquatic adventure. Gulf Coast Kayak provides guided tours for both first-time and experienced stand-up paddleboarders. Book their two-and-a-half nature tour to sharpen your skills and explore the Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve. You’ll have the chance to learn about the Calusas who paddled the same waters, while keeping an eye out for dolphins, manatees and stingrays.
Experience All the Thrills at Gator Mike’s Family Fun Park
Gator Mike’s Family Fun Park packs in a ton of activities that’ll take more than one day to experience. If time permits, you could head to this outdoor adventure park over the span of your vacation to explore all there is. We’re talking go-karts, rock climbing, aerial ropes, ziplining, mini-golf, an ax-throwing range and a paintball course. Gamers will also appreciate the indoor arcade, where prizes are up for grabs. There’s truly something for everyone here!
Start planning your trip at VisitFortMyers.com where there’s a #MyFortMyers story for everyone!