Fort Myers vs. Naples

Fort Myers may look like they’re leagues away but these cities actually have almost the same kind of draws. However, the difference is the caliber they hold. Fort Myers is a smaller city packing with so many attractions yet can still feel relaxed. Naples on the other hand is exactly like its European counterpart, a center of arts, culture, and community.
Fort Myers vs. Naples

Table of Contents

Fort Myers

Small and interesting, Fort Myers may not have the same high-caliber charms as many of its counterparts but it is worth the visit. If you’re a history buff, and more of a slow and chill traveler, Fort Myers offers quite a relaxing, small-town vibe. The city is perfect for families who want to get away from the noise of the Sunshine State.

What Makes Fort Myers Unique?

Fort Myers Beach

Separate and autonomous from each other, it is undeniable that Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach are intertwined. Despite the contrast in their features, these two destinations perfectly complement each other. The charming town and the riverside city all make an ideal Southwestern Florida itinerary.

Fort Myers’ cosmopolitan charms perfectly complement Fort Myers Beach’s beach scene. You can easily have the best of both worlds. The charming town of Fort Myers Beach is situated on Estero Island right fronting the Gulf of Mexico to the west. It boasts a gorgeous golden beach stretch perfect for beach-loving tourists.

The beach has noticeable shallow waters perfect for different sorts of activities. From swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding, families can surely enjoy a quick beach trip here. And if you’re visiting during the right season, you might just see dolphins.

Historic Downtown

The most historically valued piece of the city is Fort Myers River District, more famously known as the Historic Downtown. Here, you can marvel upon a perfectly preserved piece of the city’s history, and possibly also the entire USA. The area’s historical charm has drawn visitors seeking a glimpse of the country’s past.

You can see a large concentration of old buildings and structures along its well-preserved streets and blocks. The area is considered to be the largest historical area in Southern Florida, booting out the likes of Tampa. Thanks to its vast historical wealth, many of the buildings and structures here are designated as US historical landmarks.

Despite the old buildings and streets, the downtown area is home to many of the city’s several cosmopolitan charms. It houses many of Fort Myers’ best restaurants, shopping centers, and entertainment hotspots. If you’re up for some classic aesthetic, you can also find an Art Deco stretch here. The downtown area is best for getting to know the city while feeling like a local easily.

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Parks, Parks, and Even More Parks

One of Florida’s biggest draws is how many parks it fits into its expansive territory. Southern Florida in this case holds the most number of natural parks and wildlife conservatories. Traveling around Fort Myers and the surrounding area you’ll be sure to see the sheer number of parks you can visit.

Fort Myers, in fact, holds the largest concentration of parks and conservatories in the entire state. Here are some of the must-visits:

Lakes Regional Park

Quirky Lakes Regional Park has an interesting backstory that has made it even more of an interesting place to visit. It was once a gravel quarry with a man-made lake inside. It was eventually closed off and converted into a park for the local people.

The quarry-turned-park is now one of the most famous spots to hit in the city. Its vast expanse offers several things for whole families to enjoy.

J.N. Ding Darling National Refuge

Conveniently accessible from the downtown, the J.N. Ding Darling National Park is a must-visit. It is a special testament to the city’s commitment to the protection and conservation of wildlife. The park houses a vast array of wildlife and a closer view of the Southern Florida natural outdoors.

The refuge features various types of ecosystems that support and help wildlife thrive. One of its most interesting ecosystems is the rich mangrove habitat. As you tour along these sections, you can check out how animals live and interact in their natural habitat.

The J.N. Ding Darling National Refuge has various activities and tours on offer.  Many of these allow you to travel and explore the expanse while learning more about nature and wildlife. Other notable activities include canoeing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and even bird-watching.

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

The Six Mile Slough Preserve has been a champion of natural preservation since the 70s. It remains faithful to its dedication to protecting wildlife around Southern Florida. You can find a wide range of plant and animal species here. The park also helps educate visitors and nature lovers about the value of wildlife preservation.

You can also tour around the preserve using a boardwalk that stretches for over a mile inside. There are several kiosks around the boardwalk providing more information. You can learn more about nature, the animals you can see around, and the ecological impact of these preserves.

Apart from the many land animals, you’ll see, bird-watching is also a hit in the preserve. Ibises, blue herons, and the curious spoonbills are just some of its famous residents. The park also protects amphibians and reptiles, especially the endangered ones. If you’re lucky, you can spot turtles, alligators, and many more here.

Edison and Ford’s Winter Escape

Your Fort Myers historical tour won’t be complete without visiting its most iconic landmarks: the Edison and Ford Winter Estates. These are some, if not the most important historical spots in all of Fort Myers.

They were former winter escapes of the famous Amerian inventor, Thomas Edison, and industrialist, Henry Ford. Their well-preserved estates are also two of the city’s countless designated historical landmarks.

Apparently, Edison and Ford were very close friends and have chosen to build estates right next to each other in Fort Myers. Their properties span 21 acres (8.5 ha) together and are situated right on a gorgeous coastline, south of the downtown area.

The Mangoes and the Seminole Lodge each offer an intimate view of the country’s industrial history. You can learn more about its revolution to its development. The estates also offer an interesting view of how these famous Americans lived in the city.

Tour packages around both estates are hefty and pricey but it is mostly because of their value and fame. Most packages take you around the houses, their gardens, and a laboratory perfectly preserved since the 1800s. You can also check out the seven galleries inside where many personal items and memorabilia of Edison and Ford are displayed.

Naples

What Makes Naples Unique?

Center of Arts and Culture

Naples is considered Southwest Florida’s center for arts and culture thanks to its overt appreciation for them. The city even has a plethora of places and organizations that celebrate and showcase arts and culture. You can take tours around the city and find gems such as art galleries, museums, performance centers, and many more.

It is best to start at the Philharmonic of Van Bergen. Every year, between September and May, 400 events are held here. It now includes a modern concert hall that hosts everything from classical and chamber music concerts. It even hosts pop concerts and Broadway musicals.

You can also check out regular performances of The Naples Players. A nationally recognized community theatre that regularly outperforms professional companies in popularity polls. Today, it draws over 65,000 spectators yearly, which is another highlight of the city.

Apart from performance spaces, the city also offers a wide variety of museums for your historical curiosities. Visit the Collier County Museums System which has five distinct venues some of which are located in Naples. It showcases various sociological and archeological glimpses into the region’s past.

The Collier County museums also include the Museum of the Everglades, which shows the local history of the past centuries. You can also visit the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples, which is perfect for children of different ages.

As for the art, the famous Baker Museum has to be the best spot. Formerly Naples Museum of Art exhibits a diverse collection of art in its 15 galleries. You can wander from modernism to 3D art.

You can also head to Downtown Naples’ Third Street South district, and Crayton Cove. They each have a diverse range of fine art galleries. Check out the Naples Art Association. It provides classes and workshops throughout the year in downtown Naples.

The Naples Art Association, also known as Artis Naples, aims to promote art. Mostly about education, interest, and engagement in the arts, intending to assist aspiring artists.

These efforts include outreach programs and exhibition possibilities. They have helped in producing an interesting mix of old and modern art that works well together.

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The Beaches

Southeastern Florida’s famous beaches don’t hold the monopoly on beautiful beaches. Many of the Sunshine State’s beautiful and underrated beaches can be found in the southwest as well.

The sand is fine and white, and the water of the Gulf of Mexico is great for swimming, wading, and beachcombing. The beaches here are ideal for children of all ages because the surf is generally very gentle to nonexistent.

One of the best activities in Naples is to just chill and lounge around the beach. But with a lot in its roster, you might have trouble deciding which is which. Here are some of the best:

Delnor Wiggins State Park

For nature lovers, this highly-rated beach is one of Naples’ best beaches. Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park’s gorgeous mile-long beach is a tropical paradise. It is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, shelling, and snorkeling.

There are various picnic sites with tables and walking routes that meander into the dunes. You can also climb the simple watchtower near the park’s north end for a wonderful perspective of the park.

Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park

If you want a more raw and natural scene for your beach day, Barefoot Beach is surrounded by wildlife and lush greens. The beach is sparsely populated so you can easily have that relaxing, quiet time at the beach.

The beach’s shallow water and gentle waves are ideal for relaxing and taking in the view, making it ideal for families. Some of the amenities here are a picnic area, equipment rental, and a concession stand. It also has showers, restrooms, and disabled and wheelchair access are among the amenities.

Naples Pier Beach

The Naples Pier is one of the city’s most famous and attractive landmarks. It’s also not nearly as packed as one might think. Also called the Naples Municipal Beach, it features 10 miles (16 km) of flawless white sand. Popular among families, the Naples Municipal Beach is surprisingly not crowded and has the best views of all of the city’s beaches.

A snack stand, volleyball courts, picnic tables, parking, restrooms, and showers are all accessible at the beach. There are free children’s lifejackets available as well.

World-Class Shopping

Shopping in Naples, Florida is one of the most popular attractions for both visitors and residents. It is widely regarded as one of the top shopping scenes in the United States.

There are browsing and shopping choices for every taste, style, and budget. The scene offers a vast range of stores to keep you obsessed and might just break your bank.

5th Avenue South and Third Street South are two of Naples’ most well-known commercial districts. Both districts are in downtown Naples and are within walking distance of one another. Both include one-of-a-kind upmarket boutiques with designer labels for your clothes and home. Many of the things are one-of-a-kind, which adds to the enjoyment of shopping here.

5th Avenue is also one of the busiest shopping districts, with convenient daytime walking access. Many of Naples’ greatest restaurants have alfresco tables where you can have quick refreshments.

Third Street South, also known as 3rd Street South, has a more easygoing and laid-back vibe than Fifth Avenue. It’s the site of the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings, and it’s only two blocks from the Naples Pier on 12th Avenue.

Other notable areas of shopping districts in the city include the Waterside Shops, Mercado, and The Village Shops on Venetian Bay.

Dining Experience

With quite a roster of world-class draws, Naples’ dining scene is at that level as well. Naples is a culinary paradise, with hundreds of wonderful restaurants where you can sip and enjoy to your heart’s content.

You’ll never go hungry in Naples. It boasts laid-back cafes and retro-style diners. It also has trendy food carts and high-end restaurants throughout the town. With over 700 restaurants in Naples, Florida, there is sure to be something for everyone.

Many of the city’s best restaurants feature sunset views. Most of them have prime locations along Fifth Avenue South or Third Street South. They serve the best breakfast in town, with consistently amazing staples and service. Try and visit local favorites such as The French, M Waterfront Grille, and Osteria Tulia.

Which Is Better – Naples or Fort Myers?

If you’re looking for a jam-packed city, with lots of draws and activities Naples is the better choice. It has beaches, museums, parks, and the best shopping, and dining scenes, not to mention, it also has tons of activities on offer. Naples is perhaps one of the most visited cities in all of Florida thanks to the right blend of its draws.

Fort Myers has its share of tourist-worthy draws, however, it quite can’t compete against Naples’ high-caliber and sheer number of features. But the small city is perfect for those who prefer smaller cosmopolitan centers, rich in history.

FAQ

Which Beach Is Better – Naples or Fort Myers?

When it comes to an epic beach scene, Naples by far is the best option. It offers picturesque beaches, many of which have shallow waters and gentle waves perfect for just about anyone.

Fort Myers, on the other hand, only has the Fort Myers Beach town, which isn’t even in the city limits. However, they’re always associated with each other and can even count as a single travel spot.

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Is It Better to Stay in Fort Myers or Naples?

If you’re looking for better accommodations in a city with better draws, Naples is the place to be. The city offers a wider range of accommodations and has several features that are surely fun and interesting.

Is Fort Myers and Naples the Same?

Fort Myers and Naples are both different cities. They’re both located on the southwestern coast of Florida, fronting the Gulf of Mexico.

Where Are Fort Myers and Naples?

Forty Myers is located in Southwestern Florida, just within the Caloosahatchee River. Naples is located on the same side, but approximately 32.9 miles (53 km) south of Fort Myers.

Is Naples North or South of Fort Myers?

Naples is located 32.9 miles or 53 km south of Fort Myers.

How Far Is Naples From Fort Myers?

Naples is approximately 32.9 miles or 53 km from Fort Myers, directly. If you want to drive or take land transportation across, you’ll have a road distance of around 40 miles or 65 km.

Naples to Fort Myers Transportation

You can get to Fort Myers from Naples via three common ways. You can take a bus, a taxi, or drive the high road.

Naples to Fort Myers by Bus

You can get to Fort Myers by bus from Naples in less than 30 minutes. However, prices vary depending on the route or connections you’re going to take. You can find direct routes, while others have layovers in between. The average one-way ticket costs 27 USD.

How Far Is It to Naples From Fort Myers by Boat?

Naples is approximately 20 nautical miles from Fort Myers.

How Long Is the Boat Ride From Fort Myers to Naples?

Given a 20-nautical mile distance between them, a boat ride may take more than an hour.

Is Fort Myers the Closest Airport to Naples?

The nearest airport to Naples is the Naples Municipal Airport which is only 10 minutes from the downtown area. However, Fort Myers Airport is also the nearest one outside of Naples.

How Far Is Naples From Fort Myers Airport?

Naples is approximately 26.9 miles (43.2 km) from Fort Myers Airport.

Naples to Fort Myers Airport Transportation

You can get to Fort Myers Airport by train, bus, ferry, car, and plane.

Naples to Fort Myers Airport by Taxi

You can easily find taxis that will get you to Fort Myers Airport from Naples. The drive typically takes more than 30 minutes and will likely cost around 70 to 85 USD.

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