16 Day Trips From Fort Myers To Experience The Beaches And Swamps Of Florida

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One area of Florida I want to explore even more than I have is the west side, specifically the southwest.

I’ve still gotten to see quite a bit over there, though and am sharing some great day trips from Fort Myers with you today! These are all great additions to any Florida road trip.

Almost everything on this list will be no more than an hour and a half from Fort Myers because I hate day trips that are more than two hours usually, but a couple do go over that.

Some of the places on this list are some of my favorite places to go in Florida, like Big Cypress. You’ll also find some of the best beaches in Florida in the Fort Myers area and on this list.

Tigertail beach marco island florida

Now for all those great hotel options in Fort Myers. As usual, there are tons of chains here so if you’re a point collector, you’ll have tons to choose from no matter which you prefer.

As for non-chain hotels, here are some great ones. If you want to be by the beach, The Neptune Resort and DiamondHead Beach Resort are two awesome choices that are both family friendly.

If you want to stay somewhere smaller, check out The Hibiscus House Bed and Breakfast. The Hotel Indigo is perfect if you want to be downtown and the Legacy Harbour Hotel is for you if you want a waterfront view that isn’t the ocean.

If you do decide to travel right now, please do so safely and at your own risk.  Wear a mask, wash and sanitize regularly, check any government regulations before going, and book accommodations with flexible cancellation policies, just in case. 

Map of Ft. Myers day trips

Best day trips from Ft. Myers

There are so many great options for Ft. Myers day trips, it can be hard to choose! Especially when Fort Myers Beach is right there. But all of these places are definitely worth visiting if you can.

Blind Pass Beach Sanibel florida


Distance from Fort Myers – 37 minutes – there is very limited parking on the island and you have to pay a $6 toll every time you come back to the island so renting bikes is a great way to get around and see the island without really worrying about parking.

Here is something that can help plan any parking. Or to avoid that, consider staying in Sanibel if your budget allows.

Why it’s the perfect Fort Myers day trip – This is the perfect day trip from Fort Myers if you want to see the beach and do some shelling. It’s great because it’s not too far from Fort Myers but it’s far enough.

I would definitely recommend going there first thing in the morning to hopefully beat the mid-day crowds, at least a little bit.

Must-do activities – There are plenty of things to do on Sanibel but the number one thing to do is shelling! There’s Bowman Beach and Lighthouse Beach Park which are good places to start. My personal favorite was Blind pass Beach.

Consider walking a little further from the main areas to get away from the crowds and definitely go a low tide.

You can rent a bike to explore the island, visit the shell museum, or visit the J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

Sanibel Island is right next to Captiva Island (it’s how you get to Captiva) so consider popping over there as well for some beach time or just to see it.

Corkscrew Swamp Florida

Corkscrew Swamp

Distance from Fort Myers – 1 hour – make sure you put the boardwalk or the visitor center into Google Maps or it will take you to some weird place in the middle of farms by Ave Maria (fun fact: the guy that founded Dominos founded Ave Maria.)

Why it’s the perfect Fort Myers day trip – This is home to the longest boardwalk in Florida and will let you have a close look at the Florida swamp without going as far away as Big Cypress. It is about $15 for entry, but it’s a cool boardwalk and you can spend a couple of hours here.

Must-do activities – Walk that boardwalk and keep an eye out for wildlife along the way like birds and alligators.

If you’re lucky and visiting in the summer, maybe you’ll even see the ghost orchid there blooming! This is one of the best easy hikes in Florida, for sure.

Myakka state park canopy walk

Myakka State Park

Distance from Fort Myers – 1 hour 15 minutes

Why it’s the perfect Fort Myers day trip – This is the perfect day trip from Fort Myers if you want to spend a whole day outside. You could easily spend days here doing all the things, but one whole day is enough to see plenty.

Must-do activities – While you’re there make sure you do the canopy walk (almost like ziplining but you’re walking above the treetops instead of zipping), do some Geocaching, take a boat tour, go kayaking, bike the roads, or hike some of the many trails.

The Canopy Walk is one of the coolest easy hikes in Florida and if you want to do something a little different, consider trying to get a permit for the hike to Deep Hole!

tigertail beach marco island florida

Marco Island

Distance from Fort Myers – 1 hour 11 minutes

Why it’s the perfect Fort Myers day trip – It’s the beach without the Sanibel crowds! Hard to beat that, right? It’s easy to navigate around the island and a great jumping off point for the Ten Thousand Islands (which you can read about below)!

Must-do activities – Shelling! We went shelling on Tigertail Beach, but there is also South Beach. You can rent kayaks and paddle boards at Tigertail to paddle around the mangroves and look for birds.

You can also visit the Marco Island Historical Museum or the Marco Island Center for the Arts, visit the Briggs Nature Center or the Otter Mound Preserve.

I did a lot of shelling in Florida in 2021 and Tigertail is probably my favorite (and Cape San Blas, but that’s not near Fort Myers.

Matlacha Florida


Distance from Fort Myers – 30 minutes – There is parking here, but it can be very hard to find since a lot of the roads are blocked off because they’re residential. If you want to avoid the parking struggle, consider staying on the island.

Why it’s the perfect Fort Myers day trip – This is a little different than anything on this list. Instead of being a beach or swamp getaway, it’s a cute little artsy fishing town!

Its super close to Fort Myers which means you could easily get there last minute, too.

Must-do activities – While Matlacha isn’t brimming with things to do, there is enough to keep you busy. Spend the day wandering around the galleries and shops, try some fishing, enjoy fresh seafood, or do some kayaking/paddle boarding through the mangroves.

Gator Hook trail big cypress Florida

Big Cypress

Distance from Fort Myers – 1 hour 30 minutes

Why it’s the perfect Fort Myers day trip – It’s pretty much as close as you can get to Everglades National Park without going all the way across to Homestead then in to Flamingo. You can technically visit the Gulf side of the park, but it’s primarily boat tours or paddling.

This is also the furthest trip from Fort Myers on this list, but it’s totally worth the drive especially since you’ll probably see alligators.

Must-do activities – There are quite a few boardwalks in Big Cypress so make sure you do all those. If you want to try a little swamp hiking, do the Gator Hook trail.

Some other hikes you could do are the Fire Prairie Trail, Marsh Trail (even though it’s technically in the Ten Thousand Islands), and part of the Florida Trail if you want!

Want to get even further into the swamp? Rent some kayaks or do a ranger-led paddling tour if you’re not comfortable going out on your own or just want to learn while you’re out there.

Fakahatchee Boardwalk Florida

Fakahatchee Strand

Distance from Fort Myers – 1 hour 15 minutes – this could be a little off either way. The boardwalk and the Hilton are in different areas, but both shouldn’t be much more than this.

Why it’s the perfect Fort Myers day trip – This could be combined pretty easily with a day trip to Big Cypress. It’s a much less well-known corner of the swamp to explore and see some wildlife.

Must-do activities – This is a pretty wild park (like, untamed kind of wild) without many maintained trails. Like, almost none.

But, there is the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk which is a must-do and the hike to the Fakahatchee Hilton, a small shack with a pond out back full of gators.

Keep an eye out for wildlife wherever you are. Try some Geocaching or take a walk or bike down one of the side dirt roads (literally dirt or mud, not gravel).

You could also do the short hike in the Florida Panther Refuge if you come over here. It’s a nice easy hike and doesn’t take too long.

three birds on marsh trail ten thousand islands

10,000 Islands

Distance from Fort Myers – 1 hour 15ish minutes – this depends on the area you’re going to. If you’re doing a tour it will most likely leave from Marco Island, Naples, or Everglades City (if it’s with park service).

Why it’s the perfect Fort Myers day trip – This is about as wild as you can get in this very busy area of Florida and you can experience it on your own or with a tour.

Must-do activities – This is a great place to go shelling, kayaking, or boating. Take a boat tour out to the Cape Romano Dome Houses or do a shelling tour if you don’t feel comfortable renting a boat yourself (it can be difficult to navigate the area.) There is also the Marsh Trail if you want to do some hiking.

If you’re feeling really adventurous and are prepared for it, consider doing some wild camping on the islands. Just know there are no facilities for this type of thing.

Collier semeinole state park hike palm trees

Collier-Seminole State park

Distance from Fort Myers – 1 hour

Why it’s the perfect Fort Myers day trip – I think this is a little Florida hidden gem. It’s a popular place for snowbirds and has some good hiking options!

Must-do activities – There is a 3.5 mile biking path in the park in addition to a short boardwalk. There are also two trails outside of the main park area that are 3-5 miles which you can gain access to after registering at the ranger station.

white orchids with purple spots at the naples botanical garden in florida
Photo by Carol VanHook Flickr


Distance from Fort Myers – 45 minutes

Why it’s the perfect Fort Myers day trip – Because it’s a nice city with some great beach options, too.

Must-do activities – Visit the Naples Botanical Garden, visit Clam Pass Park, walk around 5th Ave (the downtown area), stop at the Naples Art Institute, and walk down Naples Beach.

I really like Naples and would like to do more there, especially visit the Botanical Garden.

lovers key state park

Lovers Key State Park

Distance from Fort Myers – 40 minutes

Why it’s the perfect Fort Myers day trip – Shells! Beach! Sand dollars!

Must-do activities – This is a great place to go shelling in Florida and it’s where I found my first whole sand dollar! It’s a really great beach (one of my favorite Florida beaches so far! Set up shop and enjoy the sun (with sunscreen, lots of it).

Delnor wiggins pass state park florida

Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park

Distance from Fort Myers – About 45 minutes

Why it’s the perfect Fort Myers day trip – Because it’s a beautiful beach and could be combined with some other trips like Bonita Springs or Naples.

Must-do activities – Really just relax on the beach and look for shells! Take a dip in the water to cool off, too. It’s a narrow beach but it really was beautiful here.

Photo by Andrew Morffew Flickr

Venice Beach

Distance from Fort Myers – Google Maps says “Typically 1 hr to 1hr 30 minutes.” I’ve never seen it give a range like that before!

Why it’s the perfect Fort Myers day trip – Shark teeth!

Must-do activities – Look for shark teeth at Nokomis Beach, visit the Clyde Butcher Gallery, visit part of Sleeping Turtles Preserve, and walk around downtown Historic Venice Beach.

Photo by Florida Fish and Wildlife Flickr – A rehabilitated Florida panther being released

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

Distance from Fort Myers – 2 hours 12 minutes

Why it’s the perfect Fort Myers day trip – Because it’s very different than everything else on this list! Most things are beachy or swampy but this is prairie and woods.

Must-do activities – This is a great place for birding in Florida. The Florida trail also runs through the park from north to south. This a great place for hiking and biking in the prairie of Florida.

Key West

Distance from Fort Myers – When I first saw this as a suggestion I thought Absolutely not! No way! Then I learned about the Key West Express!

This ferry will make that day trip from Fort Myers to Key West possible with just a two hour ride there! Just be prepared for a hefty price tag as it’s $185 per adult round-trip!

Why it’s the perfect Fort Myers day trip – Because it’s Key West! I actually haven’t been there yet but want to go and think doing a day trip too Key West from Fort Myers sounds perfect.

This way you can experience Key West without the extremely high hotel rates! Although the drive through the Florida Keys looks amazing so still do that if you can.

Must-do activities – See the southernmost point of the US, visit the Butterfly and Nature Conservancy, go to the Hemingway House, go to the Key West Lighthouse, or go kayaking. There is plenty to do in Key West to keep you busy.

cayo costa state park florida beach
Photo by John St. James Flickr

Cayo Costa State Park

Distance from Fort Myers – 30-60 minutes depending on where you leave from (Punta Gorda, Pine Island, or Sanibel/Captiva) plus a 30ish minute ferry ride.

It is $2 for the park entrance, plus the ferry which is $35 from Pine Island, $45 from Sanibel/Captiva (+$6 toll if you’re not staying here), and $48 from Punta Gorda.

Why it’s the perfect Fort Myers day trip – Because it’s beautiful beach that won’t be as busy as other nearby beaches since it can only be reached by boat.

Must-do activities – There are nine whole miles of untouched beaches on Cayo Costa, perfect for relaxing and shelling.

You can rent kayaks from the gift shop, hike or bike the nature trails, fish, and even snorkel and dive off the shore. This is one of the top places I want to go in Florida.

Corkscrew Swamp Florida

Fort Myers FAQs

Visiting Fort Myers and have questions? Hopefully I can help! If I don’t answer your question here, leave a comment and I will!

What is there to see between Naples and Fort Myers?

Quite a bit! Lovers Key State Park, Koreshan State Park, Bonita Springs, Barefoot Beach, Clam Pass Park, and Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park are just a few.

Is it better to stay on Sanibel or Fort Myers?

If you’re a hardcore sheller, Sanibel. If not, Fort Myers is good. Sanibel is easy to visit from Fort Myers and best visited first thing in the morning, especially for shelling.

What island is across from Fort Myers?

Pine Island is directly across from Fort Myers and Sanibel and Captiva are slightly south and across, more across from Cape Coral.

Is Fort Myers worth visiting?

Yes! It’s a good central city in southwest Florida that makes it easy to see a lot of things on day trips.

I will say, I do prefer other cities in the area (Naples) but have used Fort Myers as a base before and will again.

Was there a fort in Fort Myers?

Yes! It was one of the first forts built along the Caloosahatchee River. There were various occupied forts there from 1841 to 1863, when it was abandoned, then the tourists came and literally carried he buildings away.

Is Fort Myers safe for tourists?

Most likely, yes. It has it’s bad spots but you’re not likely to encounter them as a tourist unless you get lost. If you’re going to Fort Myers Beach, you’ll likely be fine.

Is there a ferry from Fort Myers to Key West?

Yes! I mentioned it above but this is the best (really only) way to do a Key West day trip from Fort Myers. It’s called the Key West Express.

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Have you done any of the Fort Myers day trips? What is your favorite day trip from Fort Myers?

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