Fort Myers is smaller than most cities by the water in Florida, but it features simple appeals that are just right. Not too grand, or too unique, Fort Myers is best reserved for a simple cosmopolitan escape. Fort Lauderdale on the other hand may be chill and relaxed but it’s bursting with uniqueness and beauty.
Chill, laid-back, and simple, Fort Myers is a perfect getaway for those looking to have an easier time in southern Florida. Away from the Sunshine State’s big players, Fort Myers offers a contrasting scene that both welcomes and makes you feel at home.
Fort Myers is best reserved for the simpler traveler, the hipster, and those on a budget. The city is adorned with a plethora of simple draws that are perfectly blended simulating a friendly, easygoing feel. If you don’t want the hyper energy of Miami, Orlando, or even Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers is your place.
What Makes Fort Myers Unique?
Fort Myers Beach
It’s nearly hard for visitors to think about Fort Myers without mentioning the nearby Fort Myers Beach. Although they are two independent communities, they come together to offer a draw in themselves. They both form a unique blend of history, small-town charm, and beach culture unlike found anywhere else in Florida.
These two regions, when combined, offer a diverse range of activities for people of all ages and interests. On Estero Island, Fort Myers Beach is a seven-mile-long golden-sand beach with shallow, warm water.
The beach is surrounded by homes and a modest number of hotels and restaurants. This is an excellent site for swimming, walking, and viewing dolphins, who are common in the region and can be spotted as near as a few feet off the beach.
Also called the Fort Myers River District, the city’s historic downtown is perfectly preserved with all the charms of its rich past. The area is home to the largest concentration of historical structures, not just in Fort Myers, but all of Southwestern Florida. Spanning 540 acres (219 ha), the area is teeming with opportunities to briefly look into the history.
The red interlocking roadway designates this region. The area is full of restaurants, theaters, and unique boutiques. The area, which comes alive in the late afternoon and early evening, is framed by Art Deco structures from the 1920s. Pedestrians meander up and down the spacious walkways while patios fill with diners enjoying some of the good fare on offer.
Parks, Parks, and Even More Parks
With its southern Florida address, Fort Myers is surrounded by expanses of nature teeming with wildlife. You can expect to find many wildlife centers, preserves, and conservatories around the city, and some even just inside. These expanses aim to protect, conserve, and bring awareness to the ecological life and wealth of the Sunshine State.
Here are some of the most famous ones in and near Fort Myers:
Lakes Regional Park
This 289-acre (117 ha) park, which was once a gravel quarry, is now a popular family attraction and outdoor leisure place. It’s also fairly accessible, having easy and even routes as well as small paths for easy treks. The Lakes Regional Park has a large and magnificent man-made lake where you can launch a boat, rent a boat, watch the fountains, and even fish.
J.N. Ding Darling National Refuge
J.N. Ding Darling National Species Refuge is located 45 minutes from downtown Fort Myers. It provides a fascinating view of the wildlife and ecosystems that define this part of Florida. It is one of the best sites to visit around Fort Myers, especially if you enjoy nature, Florida ecosystems, and wildlife.
You’ll witness a wide range of local vegetation and fauna in the mangrove habitat. Alligators, bobcats, otters, ospreys, numerous wading birds, and a plethora of crab and fish species are among them.
There are four hiking routes to discover here as well as offers several activities to enjoy. You can try canoeing, paddleboarding, fishing, bird-watching, and kayaking.
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
The 3,500-acre (1,416 ha) Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve provides a sanctuary for wildlife. It has been designated as a preserve since 1970 and is open to the public. It’s a lovely preserve with a diverse range of flora and fauna, and it’s a terrific alternative for nature lovers.
A walk along the 1.4-mile-long boardwalk is one of the pleasures of a visit. It’s a trail lined with interpretative and informational kiosks of all kinds. The walk circles the preserve, presenting information on how it protects the Gulf.
You can see ibis, blue herons, white egrets, roseate spoonbills, and a variety of other wading species as you go around the trial. There are also turtles, alligators, otters, and plenty of endangered species.
Edison and Ford’s Winter Escape
The Edison & Ford Winter Estates are located just north of downtown Fort Myers in a lovely area. The two innovators were incredibly good friends and opted to live next to each other in Fort Myers in the late 1800s. These homes are now designated as National Historic Landmarks and are open to the public for tours.
One of the city’s greatest attractions is the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, which span 21 stunning acres (8.5 ha) on the city’s coastline. Despite the higher admission costs, a visit to these majestic residences is a must. it is perfect for anybody interested in the history of these legendary inventors. Seminole Lodge is Edison’s residence, while The Mangoes is Ford’s.
Here, the two friends would spend the rest of their lives in each other’s company. On a tour, you’ll visit the huge grounds, laboratories, and a modern museum. It features seven galleries including vintage cars and electricity exhibits.
Fort Lauderdale can often be underrated due to its proximity to the high-powered Miami area. However, it is a stark contrast to Miami with all its more laid-back feel and scenes that hits closer to home. A coastal city brimming with curiosities, Fort Lauderdale offers a unique twist to your Florida experience.
While Miami is perfect for an energetic vacation, Fort Lauderdale is built for the slow-traveling tourist. Families who prefer a more relaxed scene can also surely enjoy the city. From its quirky canals, museums, and family-friendly beaches, Fort Lauderdale should be as popular as Miami.
What Makes Fort Lauderdale Unique?
Laid Back Beaches
Just like most of the Eastern Florida coast, Fort Lauderdale is also blessed with a neverending stretch of gleaming white sand. This has given the city a plethora of beaches to enjoy, and even more reasons to explore it. You can find a beautiful selection of beaches that have their own unique characteristics and specialties.
However, Fort Lauderdale isn’t all about crowded beaches and high energies. The city’s beaches boast their own brand veering away from Miami’s hyper highs. You’ll find that most of Fort Lauderdale’s beaches are more homey, welcoming, and relaxing.
Here are some of the most recommended spots along the city’s fabled endless white-sand coast:
Loggerhead and Vista Park
With neighboring locations, Loggerhead and Vista Park are always tandem in the itinerary. They are considered the best beaches in all of Fort Lauderdale. They best represent the city’s more relaxed and mellow appeal, coupled with the welcoming warmth of its local patrons. Loggerhead and Vista Park also sit along a gorgeous coast sporting the best ocean views.
Fort Lauderdale Beach Park
Fort Lauderdale Beach Park is not as quiet and mellow as Loggerhead and Vista Park. But it best represents how relaxed and homey Fort Lauderdale can be. The famous beach has amenities and facilities that are made for families around the area. They can come together as a community through leisure.
Around Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, you can find spaces for sports and fun such as basketball courts and a playground. It also has rental shops that offer recreational equipment. You can use volleyball nets, bikes, and watersport equipment. You can also find BBQ grills where you can grill and meet locals and other tourists, offering a sense of community and familiarity.
Las Olas Beach
If you’re up for a bit of energy and evening fun, head to the famous Las Olas Beach. It is Fort Lauderdale’s party center for the younger crowd. You can find an interesting collection of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs along the promenade here. It may not be as high-powered as Miami’s nightlife scene, but it is a phenomenon in itself in the city.
The Venice of America
Surrounded by a wealth of bodies of water, Fort Lauderdale is full of water and quirks. Upon visiting the city for the first time, its abundance of canals and waterways can surprise you in a good way. This unique feature has people comparing it to Venice and even Amsterdam. Fort Lauderdale is full of these man-made aquatic wonders that it has made it one of its most defining features.
Sporting a large collection of waterways, bays, inlets, and marinas, Fort Lauderdale is a Waterworld marvel. It has become a hit among tourists for years. Thanks to this unique feature, you can evoke scenes straight out of movies. Not to mention a plethora of fun and interesting activities around. Imagine a fun water-taxi ride, or a romantic canal tour.
Speaking of canal tours thanks to its many waterways around, there are plenty of ways to get around and explore the man-made marvel. There are water tours that can take you from the beaches to the most interior canals, or you can even try out many of the city’s quirky water transportations. Several charters offer not just an exploration of the canals, but also pieces of their history.
With an abundance of these canals many of which can seem romantic, Fort Lauderdale is dubbed the “Venice of America”. Thanks to this comparison many people were curious enough to see how it is and have created a reputation for the city. If you want to see what the canals and Fort Lauderdale are all about, head to the Fort Lauderdale Intracoastal Waterway.
There are many interesting activities you can do along the city’s largest aquatic highway. Lined with many spots and features, it is perhaps the city’s most happening center. You can find bars, restaurants, the best shopping centers, and much other entertainment. You can relish in the marvel of the canals as you walk along the banks of the main artery.
Other than the appealing features of the main Intracoastal Waterway, the famous area of Las Olas is easily accessible as well. If you’re looking for a bit of energy and plenty of things to do, Las Olas is the most recommended spot. The area is big for cosmopolitan loving tourists and locals.
Yachting Capital of the World
With its Waterworld setting, the city is full of marinas and docks perfect for boats of different kinds and sizes. The city sees the most number of boats compared to other port coastal cities in the continental US. Thanks to several ideal conditions and factors, Fort Lauderdale has become a favorite docking spot. You can catch yachts coming from all over the world here.
Just by merely sightseeing around the city’s marinas, you’ll see yachts of many kinds. From extravagant megayachts of the super-rich to the small quirky tour yachts, you can see quite a spectacle here.
What actually makes Fort Lauderdale ideal is the many yacht-centered services it offers. You can find a wide range of solutions here. Some services include yacht building, refinishing, and maintenance. You can even find crew management and financial services. Yachts of all kinds can find a perfect haven in many of the city’s marinas.
Yacht-related factors aside, thanks to the city’s location, it also offers near-perfect weather all year round. Its climate and weather conditions make for a perfect sanctuary for not just vacationers but also boats. You can be sure to have safe water charters, and great seas to sail.
Fort Lauderdale also boasts another quirky draw that is both educational and entertaining. The city is speckled with museums thanks to its cultural and historical wealth, not to mention an appreciation for science and art as well.
For vacationing families, and curious adventurers, there is a wide selection of museums to learn something about. Check out some of the most well-known:
NSU Art Museum
From its telltale name, the NSU Art Museum is the best place to go for art lovers or those who just want to see the aesthetic of it all. The museum is teeming with masterfully made art pieces open for criticism and appreciation.
It houses an abundance of 6,000 collections of exhibitions that span a few floors. Each of these floors contains certain art collections of varying kinds, from various origins and artists.
One of NSU’s best and most famous collections is made by the American painter William Glackens. You can see a variety of his works, from crayon sketches on canvas, to elaborate hand-carved wood.
You can also find many famous artists on display coming from other parts of the world. Some of the most notable are the Avant-Garde pieces of many European COBRA artists.
Historic Stranahan House Museum
For a glimpse of the city’s curious history, visit the iconic Historic Stranahan House. It is the oldest residential house in the city and is also one of the oldest surviving structures in all of Fort Lauderdale.
The house was built in 1901 by Frank Stranahan, the city’s founder. It was initially built to be a center for trade and community gatherings. However, in the later years until its conversion into a museum, it was also the official residence of the Stranahan family.
As old as it is, the Stranahan House has witnessed all of Fort Lauderdale’s wealth of historical points. As you take a tour inside, the identity and the spirit of Fort Lauderdale will easily wash over you with all the memorabilia of the house’s past. You can even see glimpses of how Frank and his wife lived there.
Museum of Discovery and Science
For science lovers, and curious kids, the Museum of Discovery and Science has to be the most obvious choice. The museum is known for its interactive and informational displays. It is perfect for getting that balance between education and entertainment.
You can get a wealth of knowledge in many fields of science, as well as the modern discoveries of man, including the frontiers of nature. Housing over 200 exhibits, the Museum of Discovery and Science is built with the purpose to entertain and educate.
One of its most famous features is a virtual airboat exploration across the famous Everglades National Park. Which showcases how blessed Florida’s natural side is.
Which Is Better – Fort Myers or Fort Lauderdale?
For vacations and holidays that are packed and full of thrills, Fort Lauderdale is the best option. The coastal city is known for its interesting blend of unique draws and features. Fort Lauderdale is also perfect for travelers of any kind. Families and solo travelers who prefer a more laid-back approach to travel will find the city to be extra delightful.
But if you want real peace, quiet, and simpler scenes, Fort Myers is a good option. It has a distinct small-town vibe, despite its several cosmopolitan charms. It is also a very safe place to travel, and very gay-friendly. However, Fort Myers doesn’t offer as many activities as any other bigger city in the region.
Is Fort Myers or Fort Lauderdale Warmer?
Located in the same state, located on opposing coasts Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale don’t have much of a temperature difference. However, Fort Myers is slightly warmer than Fort Lauderdale, especially during the highs of summer. Fort Myers sports an average high of 92 F (33 C), while Fort Lauderdale hits around 90 F (32 C).
Fort Myers Beach vs. Fort Lauderdale Beach
When it comes to beaches, Fort Lauderdale surely wins. Littered with dozens of beaches on its coast fronting the Atlantic, the coastal city has a roster of beautiful spots. Fort Myers technically doesn’t have a beach.
How Far Is Fort Myers From Fort Lauderdale?
Fort Myers is 110 miles (178 km) from Fort Lauderdale, directly.
How Far Is Fort Lauderdale Airport From Fort Myers Airport?
The direct distance from Fort Lauderdale Airport to Fort Myers Airport is approximately 104 miles or 168 km.
How to Get From Fort Myers to Fort Lauderdale
You can drive, fly, or take a bus to get from Fort Myers to Fort Lauderdale.
What Airlines Fly From Fort Myers to Fort Lauderdale?
Only a few airlines can take you from Fort Myers to Fort Lauderdale. You can book with airlines such as JetBlue, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and Spirit Airlines.