continued: Beaches & Parks: Fort Myers
Lovers Key State Park
8700 Estero Blvd.
Located between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach on S.R. 865 (Estero Blvd.), this romantic state park is both visually impressive and environmentally progressive. Activities include 2-1/2 miles of white sand beaches, world-class shelling, swimming, bridge and backbay fishing, bird watching and excursions to observe loggerhead sea turtles during active periods, as well as bottlenose dolphins and endangered West Indian manatees. Canoe and kayak explorations of miles of waterways lead to several uninhabited islands through the park. A 100-seat, turn-of-the-century beachfront pavilion is available for weddings, lectures and special events. Handicapped accessible. Entrance fee is $3 for a single occupied vehicle, $5 for up to eight people in one vehicle, and $1 per person for walk-ins and bicyclists.
Bowditch Point Regional Park 50 Estero Blvd.
Located on the northern tip of Estero Island, this 17-acre park offers everything to make your day at the beach complete. A boardwalk leads to picnic areas and the beach. Stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the bay, the park’s amenities include a bathhouse and changing rooms, a "village deck" for group gatherings and a covered waiting area for trolley service. Onsite parking is available behind the bathhouse and includes handicapped access parking. Park free at the Main Street lot, and hop a trolley for 25 cents (call Lee Tran at 275-8726). Or, park at the park for 75 cents an hour.
Lynn Hall Memorial Park 950 Estero Blvd.
Located in the northern section of Estero Island in the Times Square shopping, dining, and entertainment district next to the fishing pier, this county-operated park provides the perfect setting for family outings. Picnic tables, restrooms, showers, barbecue grills, and a playground are available to visitors. Parking fee is 75 cents per hour, handicapped accessible.
Matanzas Pass Wilderness Preserve
Overlooking Estero Bay off of School Street, this preserve features more than 56 acres of unspoiled live Oak Hammock and 4,000-feet of mangrove shoreline to explore by elevated boardwalk. Limited free parking.
Just northeast of the southern tip of Fort Myers Beach, this island, like so many in the Fort Myers/Sanibel area, was constructed from shells deposited by the Calusa Indians more than 2,000 years ago. Accessible by boat only.
Lakes Regional Park
7330 Gladiolus Drive
Lakes Park offers 279 acres of Florida foliage. Visitors can enjoy freshwater swimming in the summer, canoeing, paddle-boating, fishing, an observation tower, exercise course, picnic tables with barbecue grills, a concession stand, shower facilities, and 2-1/2 miles of paved nature trails for jogging, biking and walking. Recent additions to the park include a zero-depth-water Play(spray)-ground and rock climbing wall. Other amenities include a fragrance garden for the visually impaired and a 1-1/2-mile miniature train ride through the back section of the park. Winter hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., summer 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is a $2 per person fee to ride the train. Parking fee is 75 cents per hour, $3 for the day.
2100 Edwards Drive
Along the Caloosahatchee River in downtown Fort Myers, this scenic park has 8 acres of playgrounds and picnic areas with an entertainment pavilion and fishing pier. Special events and concerts take place year-round. Free parking.
Manatee Park S.R. 80
Visitors can observe the endangered West Indian manatees in their non-captive habitat from three observation decks during the winter months of November through March. The Eco-Tourium Gift Shop is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in season, interpretive naturalists are on site, and kayak rentals are available during "Manatee Season." Facilities on the 17-acre Orange River site stay open year-round for picnicking, fishing and canoeing. Nature-lovers host ongoing educational programs. Hours are April through September, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; October through March, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Handicapped accessible. Parking fee of 75 cents per hour, $3 for the day.
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
Six Mile Cypress Pkwy.
Visitors can journey through this 2,200-acre wetland ecosystem on a mile-long boardwalk trail, where southwest Florida's diverse plant and wildlife are found. See subtropical ferns and bromeliads. Watch wading birds such as herons, egrets, ibis and anhingas. Open daily April through September, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., October through March, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free guided walks daily, January through March at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and April, November and December at 9:30 a.m., and Wednesdays only May through October, 9:30 a.m. Handicapped accessible.
Hickey’s Creek Mitigation Park
17890 S.R. 80
This 1,020-acre wildlife preserve consists of a variety of habitats including palmetto-oak scrub, pine flatwoods and seasonal wetlands. Offers views of scenic creek from trail and overlook areas. This ecosystem supports threatened scrub jay and gopher tortoises. Site includes rustic restrooms, canoe/kayak landing, fishing deck and more than 5 miles of walking trails. Open daily 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Limited parking available for 75 cents an hour, $3 for the day.