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Lee County Visitor’s Guide


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Table of Contents Welcome.........................................................8 Fort Myers Beach..............................................70 Shopping.....................................................14 Beaches...........................................................82 Cape Coral.....................................................18 Marinas.............................................................84 Fort Myers......................................................26 North Fort Myers...............................................30 Lehigh Acres.....................................................34 Bonita Springs.....................................................46 Boca Grande.....................................................48 Pine Island.............................................................53 Cayo Costa...........................................................54 Sanibel.....................................................56 Captiva.....................................................66 STAFF Raymond M. Eckenrode Publisher

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Valarie Harring

Laurie Ragle

Executive Editor

Advertising Director

Chris Strine

Susan Wilhelm

Executive Editor

Layout and Design

The Lee County Visitor’s Guide is produced by Breeze Newspapers 2510 Del Prado Blvd., Cape Coral, FL 33904 239-574-1110 • www.flguide.com For information about advertising or distribution please call 239-574-1110

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Welcome to Lee County W elcome to Lee County, home to some of the best beaches in the world — and so much more. With birding, shelling, fishing, boating, pristine parks and one of the longest paddling trails in American, Lee County offers an abundance of opportunities to kick back, relax and enjoy the surf, sun, shade or a sunset. Lee County offers 50 miles of beaches, from the top-rated — and secluded — beaches of Lover's Key north along the natural shores of Sanibel and Capitva, which also offer some of the best shelling in the world. For those who enjoy a more active beach experience, Fort Myers Beach takes it up a notch with parasailing and personal watercraft rentals while "the causeway beach" en route to Sanibel is popular for stand-up paddle boarding and wind surfing. Looking to kayak? The Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail offers 190 miles of marked canoe and

kayak trails through coastal waters and birdinhabited inland tributaries. Lee County doesn't lack things to do and see, either. From the historic Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers to the fun Florida kitsch of the Shell Factory and Nature Park (petting zoo, zip line and dinosaur walk!) in North Fort Myers, Lee County has its share of "must visit" attractions. It also offers a virtual plethora of places to eat, drink and enjoy live entertainment. Local "hot spots" include Times Square near the pier on Fort Myers Beach (make sure you take walking side trips down the beach and along Old San Carlos Boulevard); historic downtown Fort Myers; and the South Cape entertainment district in Cape Coral. We hope you enjoy your stay. And we hope you return again and again. There's simply no better place to vacation in Southwest Florida.

Bonita Springs Dog Beach. FILE PHOTO

Lee County Beaches Algiers Beach Bonita Beach Bowditch Point Regional Park Bowman’s Beach Cape Coral Yacht Basin Cayo Costa State Park Crescent Beach Family Park Lighthouse Park Beach Lover’s Key State Park Lynn Hall Memorial Park Sanibel Causeway Beaches Tarpon Bay Road Beach Turner Beach 8

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Shopping Options all over Lee County

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hopping in Southwest Florida is as varied as the tropical flowers you can see in abundance. With options all over the county, here are a few that will get you the most out of your day.

Miromar Outlets One of the larger outside shopping outlets that boasts a sincerely large selection of high end versus affordable with some fine dining options close by. 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Coconut Point The largest shopping district down here. Covering numerous acres of land, with book stores, electronics, clothing, eateries, a movie theater and more, it'll take up an entire day just to see the bulk of it. 23106 Fashion Drive, Estero 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. With reduced hours on Sundays.

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PHOTO BY TIFFANY REPECKI

Chadwick’s Square, 14830 Captiva Dr., Captiva Island.

Sanibel Outlets A smaller shopping outlet but within driving distance of Sanibel-Captiva, and with a small but select portion of shops. 20350 Summerlin Road, Fort Myers, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

River District Fort Myers Tons of choices for food and shopping in the Historic District of downtown Fort Myers. Museums and small community theaters as well as the Caloosa Sound Convention Center.

Lee County Visitor’s Guide


Things to take home: Chocolates Norman Love Confections is one of the premier dessert shops in the region, if not Florida. Having been named Best Premium Chocolate company six times since 2006, and having been featured in national newspapers and the Martha Stewart Living, this local chocolatier's nationally renowned confections are a treat for anyone in your life. Go to www.normanloveconfections.com/ for more info.

Citrus When people think of Florida, they think of oranges. They have been synonymous with each other for some time. A little known fact is Florida produces grapefruit as well. Sun Harvest is a local company that will ship fresh grown citrus to anywhere you're willing to put down the money for, and you'll receive it as if it were just plucked from the tree. 14601 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers, 239-768-2686 https://www.sunharvestcitrus.com/

Lee County Visitor’s Guide

Local art - or just something arty Leoma Lovegrove is a beloved local artist in the Pine Island and Matlacha area and has had many of her designs featured in Bealls locations all over Florida. With her design center in Matlacha proper, feel free to visit and take some of Florida's own style home, and bask in the truly unique atmosphere of the island. Leoma Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens 4637 Pine Island Road, Matlacha, 239938-5655

Custom jewelry that whispers sun and sand Looking to bring home something beautiful to remember your Beach vacation? Tropical Jewelry offers pieces that capture the essence of Fort Myers Beach with just the right amount of bling. Unique and highly customizable, the pieces are designed and made locally. Tropical Jewelry has two locations: • 401 Old San Carlos Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, 239-224-4085 • 1240 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, 239-224-4100

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A ‘waterfront wonderland’

ape Coral is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country and the largest between Tampa and Miami. With more than 400 miles of canals, the Cape has been dubbed a "waterfront wonderland" by residents, thanks to captivating — and remarkably affordable — waterfront properties with easy access to countless boating destinations. An abundance of marine life — including dolphins, manatees and other aquatic treasures — can be found playing about the canals and waters of the Cape. Surrounded by the Caloosahatchee, there are endless boating and water-themed activities to delve into. The city has several boat launches with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, as well as miles of freshwater canals and lakes. There's never a dull moment in the Cape, as the city is home to many of Lee County's major events and street parties as well as offering a plethora of concerts and night life in its downtown entertainment district; the South Cape along and around Cape Coral Parkway. Hop aboard an event trolley to tour local establishments in the South Cape, or go exploring along nature trails or the city's numerous bike trails. 18

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Cape Harbor, Cape Coral. Not enough to entice you to make a day trip? Catch a show at Cultural Park Theater or, during the summer season, hit Sun Splash Family Waterpark to cool down. With nearly 40 indoor and outdoor park facilities, the Cape provides something for all walks of life to enjoy. Lee County Visitor’s Guide


Burrowing owls The city of Cape Coral’s official bird

Cape Coral is home to unique species of owl that the city has made its own: the burrowing owl. Burrowing owls are the only species, of 171 owls, that live underground, making them more susceptible to predators and enhancing the risk of having their burrows destroyed. The owls dig these burrows for protection and, of course, nesting. Burrows can be spotted in usually dry areas, circular in shape, usually 3-6 inches in width, with debris decorating the entrance during breeding season (February-July). Burrowing owls may use abandoned gopher tortoise or armadillo burrows, as well as man-made structures. Other than vacant lots, you may see burrowing owls in dry prairies, pastures, agricultural fields, airports, parks and golf courses. The Florida burrowing owl is no stranger to Cape residents, with more than 2,500 burrows scattered around the city they call home. Cape Coral is home to the largest known population of the Florida burrowing owl, which is a threatened species. These pintsized birds burrow underground where they nest from early February through mid-July. In November 2016, these small birds were given the status of threatened by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Their eggs, their young and active nests are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Thousands of residents from across Southwest Florida attend the Burrowing Owl Festival each year to enjoy naturethemed activities such as bus tours to observe the burrowing owl habitats, interactive butterfly exhibit, nature hikes at Rotary Park, guest speakers and more. Cape Coral even has a play on Groundhogs Day — Burrowing Owl Day, where "Owliver" and "Owlivia" come out of their burrow to see their shadow, signifying six more weeks of "winer" in sunny Southwest Florida. Lee County Visitor’s Guide

PHOTO BY MICHAEL PISTELLA

The Florida burrowing owl is no stranger to Cape residents, with more than 2,500 burrows scattered around the city they call home. A local brewery even named a brew after the city's official bird—a Kentucky Common Burrowing Owl Beer.

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Bring your boat to the Cape Coral Yacht Club and drop it into the Caloosahatchee for a day of exploration on the water.

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A great place to relax

great spot to kick back, relax and enjoy a view is the city's original waterfront landmark: Cape Coral Yacht Club.

The Cape Coral Yacht Club is a great place to kick back, relax and enjoy the view. PHOTOS BY MICHAEL PISTELLA 20

Complete with a public waterfront beach, newly renovated, Jr. Olympic size community pool, kiddie pool and restaurant— relaxation awaits. Bring your boat and drop it into the Caloosahatchee for a day of exploration on the water. Or, bring your fishing rod and cast off the pier. The Boathouse Tiki Bar & Grill on site serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. They also offer a unique experience: "Hook and Cook" You catch it, they cook it. Grab your racket and play a match of tennis at the courts on site. The community park also offers racquetball and shuffleboard courts, as well as a beach playground area. Also on the property is the Tony Rotino Center, providing life enhancing opportunities, primarily for adults age 50+. Their staff is committed to encouraging personal growth, fostering new friendships and helping individuals maintain independent, healthy lifestyles. The park is open 7 days a week and offers swill lessons, exercise programs, lap swimming, a Master Swim Program and summer youth camps. 5819 Driftwood Pkwy, Cape Coral. Lee County Visitor’s Guide


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A massive Iwo Jima Memorial catches the eye right way, as the iconic 20-foot statue depicts five Marines and a Navy hospital corpsman raising the American Flag on the highest point in Iwo Jima.

Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve The second largest preserved green space in Cape Coral

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ape Coral is a Purple Heart City, with a rich veteran population. If you head into the Cape via the Midpoint Memorial Bridge, you'll be welcomed by one-of-a-kind, stunning statues and dedications to the United States Military at Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve. The 365-acre preserve is the second largest preserved green space in the city, located by Veterans Parkway. A massive Iwo Jima Memorial catches the eye right way, as the iconic 20-foot statue depicts five Marines and a Navy hospital

Lee County Visitor’s Guide

corpsman raising the American Flag on the highest point in Iwo Jima. The monument in Cape Coral is not a replica, but one of three originals created by sculptor Felix de Weldon. Other memorials include an Iraq War dedication, bricks in the ground that honor Vietnam Veterans, a Merchant Marine and Navy Armed Guard memorial and a Gold Star Mothers memorial. Flags of nearly every branch of the military fly high over these monuments that represent all of the sacrifices made by those in times of war. 21


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Approximately 6,600 feet of nature and walking trails await along boardwalks, taking you into shaded areas that lead to a canal where you can rent kayaks. Mangrove roots along the trails almost give the appearance that the ground is "alive and walking." Wildlife sightings are also abundant, including eagles, ibis, herons, wading and migratory birds, raccoons, snakes and more. A visitors center is on site to provide information on programs offered, wildlife and trail guides. The park is open from 8 a.m. till dusk year-round. 2500 S.E. 24th St, Cape Coral. Park Office: 239-549-7395

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Cape Coral is home to nearly 40 different parks scattered throughout the city, offering different adventures and activities. Popular parks include: • William “Bill” Austen Youth Center & Eagle Skate Park; 315 SW 2nd Ave. • Jaycee Park; 4215 SE 20th Pl. • Four Freedoms Park; 4818 Tarpon Ct. • Rotary Park Environmental Center; 5505 Rose Garden Rd. • Jim Jeffers Park; 2817 SW 3rd Ln. • Sirenia Vista Park; Corner of Ceitus Parkway & Old Burnt Store Road. For a full list of Cape Coral parks, visit cape coral.net/department/parks_and_recreationhome.

Lee County Visitor’s Guide


Not Your Ordinary Chocolate Shop

The Perfect Gift EVERYTIME! Free Delivery $15 two day Shipping

1309 SE 47th Terrace Cape Coral 239-793-3859 noelachocolate.com $5 off $25 Purchase or $10 off $50 Purchase Lee County Visitor’s Guide

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Cape Coral Art League is at 516 Cultural Park Blvd., Cape Coral.

Cape Coral Art Center and Cape Coral Art League

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he Cape Coral Art Center has been an artist community resource in Southwest Florida since 1977. Located in Rubicond Park on Coronado Parkway in SE Cape, the Art Center offers classes for all skill levels in fine arts and fine crafts year-round for residents and guests of all ages. New renovations in 2019 were made possible thanks to $100,000 in grant money from the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs, which the city matched and doubled. The nearly 14,000-square-foot space that includes galleries, studios/classrooms and a specialty art supply store received grant money to freshen the look of the gallery and other areas encompassing the two-building layout.

PHOTO BY MICHAEL PISTELLA

For more information on the Cape Coral Arts Studio and a full list of classes and hours, visit www.cape coral.net. Cape Coral Arts Studio is at 4533 Coronado Parkway. 24

The Art Center features a main gallery and side galleries usually featuring local artists. Inside of the Cape Coral Arts Studio there are all new floors, ceilings and lighting — which Art Studio supervisor Julie Gerhard said is so crucial to students perfecting their craft. For more information on the Cape Coral Arts Studio and a full list of classes and hours, visit www.capecoral.net, select the Parks & Recreation Department and find the studio under “Recreation Facilities.” Cape Coral Arts Studio is at 4533 Coronado Parkway. The Cape Coral Art League (CCAL) was chartered in 1965 as a not-for-profit 501(c)3 and 501(a)2 charity organization that promotes the advancement of art throughout Southwest Florida. CCAL was incorporated in 1966 to promote the advancement of art in Cape Coral and other local areas. The current studio location on Cultural Park Boulevard was built and opened in the fall of 1984 with a beautiful gallery addition joining the fold in April 1991. With the help of a state grant, a second art room studio was built in 2002 that provides more space for art classes, workshops and a multitude of art events. The Cape Coral Art League offers yearround classes for adults, youth and children; features eight major art exhibits each year in their gallery; other art shows, including our annual art fair and workshops with worldrenowned artists. For more information visit capecoralartleague.com. CCAL is at 516 Cultural Park Blvd. Lee County Visitor’s Guide


Cultural Park Theater The 184-seat community theater is the largest in Southwest Florida, and puts on a dozen productions each season. Along with its own shows, Cultural Park hosts second stage productions from local acts and performers. Its Broadway season, which begins each September and lasts until May, brings classic and contemporary musicals and plays to life. Shows usually run Friday, Saturday and Sundays, with tickets being $21 for adults, $18 for seniors, $15 for students and $10 for children under 12. 528 Cultural Park Boulevard

Cape Coral Historical Museum The museum features a picture display of the history of Cape Coral, as well as a large mural of the former Cape Coral Gardens — or Rose Gardens — a Native American Room, a Military Exhibit, prehistoric fossils, an authentic Cracker House and more. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday-Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Admission for adults is $5 an free for children under 17 and students with ID. Tours are available, as well as a gift shop. 544 Cultural Park Boulevard

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The Burroughs Home, located in the beautiful River District in Fort Myers, is the only home of its time still standing in its original location and open to the public. Walk among live oaks and lush gardens and relax in a rocking chair on the verandah as you watch the river roll gently by. The Burroughs Home is at 2505 First St., Fort Myers. FILE PHOTO

Fort Myers

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The City of Palms

ort Myers is known as the City of Palms, but the majestic array of palm trees that line city streets only tells a piece of the overall story — Fort Myers has a unique vantage as the commercial and creative center of Southwest Florida by thriving on its storied history, all while building toward an exciting and prosperous future. It’s this eclectic vision that has drawn people to Fort Myers over the years. Whether it’s sports, ecological activities, shopping, world class dining, fun in the sun, artistic expression or peace and quiet, there is truly something for everyone, every dream, every interest. Any visit to "old Fort Myers" starts in the River District. Nestled in downtown Fort Myers, several blocks of fun and exciting activities and opportunities are available: The Harborside Event Center, the Fort Myers Yacht Basin, Florida Rep Theatre, Burroughs Home & Gardens, the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, Lab Theater of Florida and more including a wealth of shops, galleries and dozens of dining and entertainment options. 26

Take a walking tour along the brickpavered streets, or visit the historic Downtown Fort Myers Yacht Basin where day cruises are offered. Visit www.myriverdistrict.com for what's trending. Other options in and around Fort Myers include:

Alliance for the Arts 10091 McGregor Blvd, Fort Myers Event, education, fairs, exhibit and theater and arts, green market and other cultural activities. Nonprofit and user funded. artinlee.org 239-939-2787

Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall 13350 FSW Pkwy, Fort Myers Off-Broadway, live performances, holiday events. www.bbmannpah.com 239-481-4849

Florida Repertory Theater 2268 Bay St, Fort Myers Downtown Fort Myers is home to the Florida Repertory Theater. Founded in 1998, the venue and troupe has become a perennial favorite among art and theater lovers, Lee County Visitor’s Guide


blending humor, drama, dance, with productions of classics alongside the newest voices of modern play writing. www.floridarep.org 239-332-4488

The Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium 3450 Ortiz Ave, Fort Myers, The Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium, a not-for-profit environmental education organization, is located on Ortiz Avenue, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The center is located on 105 acres and offers a museum, three nature trails, a Planetarium, butterfly and bird aviaries and picnic areas. The jam- packed calendar of activities offers such events as live animal presentations and solar observing. www.calusanature.org 239-275-3435

PHOTO COURTESY OF LEE COUNTY VISITOR & CONVENTION BUREAU

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is located on more than 3,500 acres of wetland ecostyem.

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve 7751 Penzance Blvd., Fort Myers The preserve is located on more than 3,500 acres of wetland ecostyem, complete with a boardwalk trail and an Interpretive Center. It is open from dawn to dusk every day, unless otherwise noted. www.sloughpreserve.org, 239-533-7550

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PHOTO COURTESY OF LEE COUNTY VISITOR & CONVENTION BUREAU

Edison & Ford Winter Estates

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Historical museum and 17-acre botanical garden

piece of history is located along the Caloosahatchee River in Southwestern Florida, which includes a historical museum, both Thomas Alva Edison and Hendry Ford's homes, a 17-acre botanical garden, laboratory and Garden Shoppe and Museum Store. The Edison and Fort Winter estates, 2350 McGregor Blvd. in Fort Myers is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with the last ticket sold at 3:30 p.m. The present site dates from 1885, when Edison first visited Florida and purchased the property to build a vacation home. His home, completed in 1887 and dubbed "Seminole Lodge," served as a winter retreat and place of relaxation until Edison's death in 1931. Edison's good friend Henry Ford purchased the adjoining property in 1916 where he purchased "The Mangoes" from Robert Smith of New York. Ford's craftsman style bungalow was built in 1911 by Smith. In 1947, Mrs. Mina Edison deeded the property to the city of Fort Myers in memory of her husband for the enjoyment of the public.

It was opened for public tours in 1950. By 1988, the adjacent Henry Ford winter estate was purchased and opened for public tours in 1990. The $10 million restoration of the grounds was completed in 2006. A separate fundraising arm, Edison-Ford Winter Estates Foundation, Inc., was created to assist the restoration project with no function in governance, programming or development, but rather to assist the governing board with the initial restoration. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all visitors are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines, which includes social distancing and wearing a mask. Those who would like to visit the estates are encouraged to purchase tickets online at www.edisonfordwinterestates.org. For more information, call 239-334-7419. There is also app visitors can download, called Edison Ford on Google Play and Apple. The free app includes audio narration, historic photos and facts. The tour is also accessible while visiting the estates by calling a phone number.

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Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre The Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre entertains more than 170,000 guests annually. The facility, at 1380 Colonial Blvd. includes a 450seat dinner theatre, a 100-seat "black-box" theater called The Off Broadway Palm Theatre, a 120-seat dining room called Cafe Cabaret and a 30-seat space just off the main lobby called, The Art Cafe. VisitBroadwayPalm.com for a complete list of upcoming show times, ticket prices and more, or call the box office, 239-278-4422.

IMAG History & Science Center 2000 Cranford Ave. IMAG History & Science Center is a fun and educational learning spot that features 28

live animal encounters in special guest appearances throughout the year, as well as question-and-answer sessions followed by meet-and-greet activities, giving IMAG guests an opportunity to get up close and personal with featured creatures. Visitors also have the opportunity to partake in an IMAG LIVE! Animal Show, stingray feedings, Science on a Sphere, IMAG LIVE! Science Show and Meet-the-Keeper during its daily special attractions. The IMAG History & Science Center is a particularly enjoyable location for children and families. Make sure to check out its website before visiting as there are new operating hours and safety precautions taking place. theimag.org 239-243-0043 Lee County Visitor’s Guide


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North Fort Myers offers some ‘old Florida’ attractions

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fter one of the craziest summers in most people’s memories, fall -- and season --have arrived . Some of Lee County’s oldest and best events and attractions may be found in the unincorporated part of Lee County known as North Fort Myers.

Shell Factory One of the most popular family destinations in all of Lee County. More than 80 years ago, the Shell Factory opened up as a kitschy tourist stop for vacationers going south for the winter. While many of those Old Florida “tourist traps” are no more, the Shell Factory & Nature Park in North Fort Myers has reinvented itself as one of the most popular family destinations in all of Lee County. While the COVID-19 pandemic knocked the Shell Factory on its knees, it has rebounded nicely, and will have a season packed with fun events, starting with the Nam Jam on Oct. 11 and highlighted by Gumbofest, which happens in January. Whether you’re on vacation or a native Floridian, it’s a place you can spend the day at for a fraction of the cost of going to Disney. Still true to its old-school roots, you can buy shell-related merchandise, check out the more than 400 animals in the nature park, ride bumper boats or the zip line and grab a bite to eat in the brandnew Southern Grill. Among the other new features set to open include Tommy’s Tiki Bar, an ode to the late owner of the Shell Factory, Tom Cronin, and the Player’s Circle Theater, which plans to hold a full 2020-21 season of Broadway-quality plays and musicals. Also, be on the lookout for special events and nightly fun, especially during season when things get really busy. The Shell Factory is at 2787 N. Tamiami Trail in North Fort Myers. For more information, go to www.shellfactory.com or call 995-2141.

ECHO Farm A farm dedicated to help feed people worldwide, is open for tours year-round and features plants and trees from all over the world. 30

PHOTO COURTESY OF LEE COUNTY VISITOR & CONVENTION BUREAU

At the Shell Factory you can buy shell-related merchandise, check out the more than 400 animals in the nature park, ride bumper boats or the zip line and grab a bite to eat in the restaurant. Its biggest annual event is the Global Food & Farm Festival, which has been expanded to three days, From March 11 to 13, 2021. It also hosts workshops, conferences and other events. ECHO is located at 17391 Durrance Road.

Lee County Posse Arena The arena typically features jackpot barrel racing the first Friday of every month, clinics and even the Cracker Day Rodeo, one of the oldest annual events in Lee County, scheduled for Jan. 15-17, 2021. Lee County Posse Arena is at 17401 Palm Creek Drive.

Lee Civic Center This 40-year old arena and the grounds surrounding it has hosted the Southwest Florida and Lee County Fair for decades and will host it again from Feb. 25 through March 7, 2021. When not hosting the fair, it hosts many special events, from Home Shows to RV shows and everything in between. Many of those events have been cancelled up to now. Check out the web site, leeciviccenter.com, for more information on events Lee County Visitor’s Guide


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Veterans Park is at 55 Homestead Rd S, Lehigh Acres.

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Lehigh Acres

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Plenty of outdoor recreational options

ehigh Acres continues to grow at a fast pace and is attracting both families and retirees who are drawn to Lehigh’s laid back lifestyle and its close proximity to nature. Having plenty of outdoor recreational options is especially popular now given the COVID-19 recommendations. Visitors of all ages can find a ton of great activities year-round at the local parks, trails and recreational venues.

ditional playground and a splash pad. The park offers a lodge with a full-kitchen for rent, as well as various pavilions for rent throughout the property. The park also includes tennis courts, basketball courts, softball fields and a skate park, and for the canine family members, Paws 4 Duty Dog Park is a great place to release some energy. Veterans Park is at 55 Homestead Rd S, Lehigh Acres.

Veterans Park A 95-acre park, which includes three playgrounds — a boulder playground, a tra-

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Veterans Park Recreation Center Veterans Park Recreation Center offers

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Lehigh Acres Community Pool Lehigh Acers Community Pool is another popular attraction. The 169,800-gallon, eight-lane, salt-water, heated pool is open to the public year-round. At press time the pool was open with limited occupancy and some restrictions. To check the status of water exercise and swim classes for kids and adults, please call. For more information or updates on classes call 239-369-8277.

Lehigh Acres Community Park North PHOTO PROVIDED

Lehigh Acres Community Pool. activities throughout the year including: classes, special events, open recreation sports such as pickelball, volleyball, basketball, and a game room. The fitness center remains closed to the public at this time. The rec center plans to restart its adult fitness and youth classes this year. All classes normally held inside the rec center will be moved to an outdoor location. For more information on the current classes available or youth camps, visit their website at www.leegov.com/parks /centers/veterans. The center is at 55 Homestead Rd S.

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Adjacent to the pool is Lehigh Acres Community Park North at 1400 West 5th Street. The park has three baseball fields; one softball field; one football field; one practice field; three pavilions; two tennis courts; a playground and ENERGI Exercise stations available for those 13 years and older.

Lehigh Acres Trailhead Park For those looking for a great place to walk their pups on a leash, Lehigh Acres Trailhead Park offers a 0.5 mile paved multi-use trail that encircles a 3-acre replicated prairie. Visitors can also take advantage of a beautiful view from the park’s boardwalk/observation deck, plus enjoy covered pavilions, an outdoor fit-

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ness area, benches and dog stations. Dogs must be leashed within the park. Trailhead is at 213 David Avenue, Lehigh Acres.

much more. For more information on camps, trail ride packages, or lessons visit www.stableandtrack.com.

Pelican’s SnoBalls and Mini Golf Pelican’s SnoBalls and Mini Golf at 601 Williams Avenue, has more than 100 fantastic snow cone flavors from which to choose. The New Orleans shaved ice chain is known for combining smooth, fluffy snow with bold flavors that keep its customers coming back for more. Guests can also play on an 18-hole of mini golf or grab a quick bite from a featured food truck every Friday night.

5 Star Tack & Stables

Lehigh Lanes Bowling Alley

Lehigh has the perfect place for equestrians and anyone who wants to take a ride on the adventurous side. 5 Star Tack & Stables offers everything from moonlight trail rides under the stars to Western and English riding lessons. The stable’s gentle, well-trained horses, and friendly-experienced staff guide guests on a scenic tour through the tall pines and lush hammocks. The stable also offers horse boarding, birthday party events, horse camps and

Lehigh Lanes Bowling Alley, formerly Bowland, is long-standing part of the community and a great place to escape the Florida heat with the family or friends. Each week they offer daily happy hour specials, a wide-selection of food, birthday parties, leagues for all ages and their famous “Extreme Glow Bowl,” which takes place on Friday and Saturday nights. Lehigh Lanes Bowling Alley is at 1244 Business Way, Lehigh Acres.

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For those who have a furry four-legged best friend, stop by the Bonita Springs Dog Park, which has a bridge spreading across Leitner Creek providing some peace and serenity. The wooded, spacious park gives dogs 6 acres to run some of their energy off in three separate enclosures depending on the dogs size. FILE PHOTO

Bonita Springs

Enjoy the outdoors at stunning parks along the water

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tep into Downtown Bonita Springs to see the historic Liles Hotel, a butterfly garden, bandshell and the artist cottages at Riverside Park. This park, off Old 41 Road right on the Imperial River, is used for a variety of town functions - everything from holiday celebrations, art shows, festivals, Movies in the Park to the annual Celebrate Bonita Festival held every spring. Amenities include sheltered picnic tables, park benches, and restrooms as well as a Veteran's Brick walkway and Veteran’s Memorial to honor all those who have served. A stunning fountain and an abundance of green space provide the perfect atmosphere for a bit to eat at one of the picnic shelters, or benches. Meanwhile, the historic Liles Hotel, built in 1926, offers exhibits in the public areas of the hotel while the Imperial River cottages, restored fishing bungalows, offer a selection of handmade jewelry, paintings, sculptures and other fine arts. The Artist Cottages are open to the public on Sundays during season and offer Art Nights the fourth Wednesday of each month. The city of Bonita Springs also provides other opportunities for individuals to enjoy 46

the outdoors at a variety of stunning parks along the water: • Stroll down to Bonita Beach Park, a 2.5-acres of beachfront featuring a boardwalk and ample areas to take a dip in the blue water. Need a break out of the heat? Stop by one of the eight gazebo and picnic shelters surrounded by sand dunes and coastal vegetation. • One of the last underdeveloped barrier islands on the southwest coast of Florida offers 342-acres of natural land where a shifting habitat of beach, dunes, coastal strand, maritime hammock and estuarine mangrove forest is located. Barefoot Beach Preserve, actually in Collier County, has 8,200 feet of sandy beaches for people to enjoy creating sandcastles, or splashing in the water. The preserve also is a popular attraction for avid fishermen who enjoy losing themselves in nature while trying to catch one of the many varieties of fish. • An isolated location, Little Hickory Island Park, is located just off Little Hickory Island. Take a dip in the water, enjoy a little meal at one of the shelters or — a local favorite— cast a line in the surf. It's also a great place to take in a beautiful Florida sunset. Lee County Visitor’s Guide


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Sandy beaches, an historic train trestle, high-end shopping and more fishing holes than anyone without a skilled guide can find. PHOTOS COURTESY OF LEE COUNTY VISITOR & CONVENTION BUREAU

Boca Grande T

Where presidents have played

he drive along the Boca Grande Causeway features turquoise-blue waters plied by boats ranging from yachts to kayaks. Completing the picture: Sandy beaches, a historic train trestle, high-end shopping and more fishing holes than anyone without a skilled guide can find. Boca Grande’s beautiful beaches, abundant world-class fishing, dynamically stocked There is no place in the world where fishing is more retail shops and gourmet abundant or varied. restaurants make for a fabulous day trip or elite island to view the famed Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum, the key to enjoying extended vacation. Tourist attractions begin just two miles over Gasparilla Island is to let cares slips away and the bridges at the North Village anchored by fall leisurely into island time. There is no place in the world where fishthe Boca Grande Resort. Some of the North Village businesses include Courtyard Hair, ing is more abundant or varied. Team with a Kappy's Market & Deli and Uncle Henry's member of the famed Boca Grande Fishing Marina. Seafood connoisseurs visiting the Guides Association to maximize your enjoyisland will find a plethora of restaurants to sat- ment in Boca Grande Pass, the Gasparilla isfy their taste buds. Some notable ones Sound or the saltwater flats — all within include Temptation Restaurant, Sisters moments of launch. They’ll take you out into Restaurant, and Eagle Grille and Miller's the Gulf of Mexico for deep-sea game as well. Gasparilla Island beaches are maintained Dockside restaurant. The island also is home to many rare ani- by the Florida Park Service and offer an mals, birds and fish. Raptors such as osprey incredible glimpse into the world-class estuarand bald eagles soar while multitudes of peli- ine habitat where hammerhead sharks mingle cans ply the waters giving onlookers a fasci- with red fish, hogfish, grouper including the nating insight into the workings of the wild massive Goliath grouper, and porpoises, mankingdom. Iguanas or alligators can often be atees and, of course, the famed silver kings — seen sunning after the rare cold fronts pass the tarpon. All beaches are swim at your own risk through. Whether you switch to a golf cart (highly because of the stream of underwater wildlife recommended), bicycle the island path or drive that runs through the treacherously swift curthe entire 7.5 miles to the south end of the rents of the Boca Grande Pass. Adventurers 48

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and shell-collectors alike know how much fun it can be. Others watch or fish from the safety of the sand, especially in prime spots such as nearby the South Beach Bar & Grille. Fishing is king on Gasparilla Island and the silver kings are at the top of the angler’s bucket list. Tarpon put up a brilliant fight making them a coveted gamefish to catch and release. With the tarpon habitat under pressure from developers, the Boca Grande fishing guides have teamed with the Lemon Bay Conservancy and Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce in working to conserve the species and its fisheries.

Lee County Visitor’s Guide

No mention of Boca Grande attractions can omit the famed Gasparilla Inn & Club, which also operates the Inn’s Dining Room, the Inn Bakery, The Beach Club and the historic Pink Elephant restaurant. The Gasparilla Inn & Club is the hub of the Boca Grande economy. It attracts visitors the world over to its Pete Dye-designed championship golf course, croquet and tennis courts, world-class cuisine, and the green, pink and white-striped rooms that take visitors back to the best of Old Florida. For more information on Boca Grande, go to bocagrandechamber.net.

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Bokeelia.

PHOTO BY CHARLENE RUSS

Pine Island O

Southwest Florida’s hidden treasure

nce you cross the Matlacha (Mat-luhshay) Bridge into Pine Island you’re well on your way to one of the most unique destinations in southwest Florida. This small island town, filled with artists, musicians, and fisher-folk, breathes new life into the salt air coming off of Pine Island Sound. The colorful and quaint Matlacha style is just one of the many distinctive qualities that make this island such a rare find. This once upon a time commercial fishing village still boasts many daily deliveries from the sea to its family owned and run eateries. Boutiques and art galleries line the road with sights that are likely to fill your day. When you’ve shopped, perused, and studied the various artistic expressions of the locals, let them fill your belly with fresh shrimp, grouper, or trout. If education piques your interest, some of these destinations should top your list.

fishing artifacts. The museum is housed in a former library building. It opened in 1989. Museum hours are: May-October, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. November-April, Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Sunday, 1-4 p.m. 5728 Sesame Dr., Bokeelia

Pine Island Tropicals Pine Island Tropicals is a tropical plant nursery as well as an outdoor farmers market, specializing in organically grown plants and vegetables. Frequent visits to the nursery reveal the seasonality of the fruits and vegetables; therefore not all of the produce is available year-around. They continually do research and development of different plant cultivars to further not only their education but enhance the wide varieties they offer. 12870 Stringfellow Rd., Bokeelia

Randell Research Center The Calusa Heritage Trail is now open for walking from sunrise to sunset. The store, classroom and restrooms are still closed. Bicycles are not allowed on the trail. Visitors can tour this internationally significant site and learn about Calusa culture and their environment. 13810 Waterfront Dr., Bokeelia, 239283-2157

Museum of the Islands Located in Pine Island Center, is a working museum. This little gem’s exhibits include shells, dolls, household items, and Lee County Visitor’s Guide

If artwork is on your radar, you may enjoy a visit to one or all of the galleries Pine Island has to offer.

Bert’s Pine Bay Gallery Bert’s Pine Bay Gallery, open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. -5 p.m. and Sunday noon-5 p.m., is a charming historic cottage, overlooking Matlacha Pass. Visitors and locals alike enjoy the unique home decor, gifts, clothing, local and best-seller books, or shirts, hats and coozies. Many favorite local artists are proudly represented. 4332 Pine Island Rd., Matlacha 53


Bokeelia Art Gallery Bokeelia Art Gallery, hours are seasonal and subject to change. This unique Art Gallery set in beautiful Charlotte Harbor features many local painters, pottery, glass and jewelry. 8315 Main St., Bokeelia Whether you’re here to shop, eat, or play, from Matlacha to Bokeelia and Saint James City, Pine Island has something for everyone. Enjoy your visit to one of the most extraordinary finds in southwest Florida!

Wild Child Art Gallery Wild Child Art Gallery, open Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. -5 p.m, offers private classes and parties. It is a contemporary art gallery representing the works and the creations of 115 Florida Artists. The original fine art, canvas art,

paintings and jewelry have won many awards for the gallery. 4625 Pine Island Rd., Matlacha

Island Visions Gallery Island Visions Gallery, open Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., is an eclectic gallery of local art and curiosities from around the globe. 4643 Pine Island Rd #9782, Matlacha

Leoma Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens Leoma Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens, hours are seasonal and subject to change. This gallery presents colorful paintings by local resident artist Lovegrove herself in a brightly hued building with gardens featuring eclectic decor. 4637 Pine Island Rd., Matlacha

This former fishing ground of the Calusa Indians features undeveloped shoreline for swimming, snorkeling, shelling, fishing, bird watching and exploration along with several walking and bicycling trails throughout the island. FILE PHOTO

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iscover nine miles of lush Florida beaches where campsites and cabins are also available for overnight stays and a ferry service runs to the island from several mainland locations, including Pine Island and Captiva. This former fishing ground of the Calusa Indians features undeveloped shoreline for swimming, snorkeling, shelling, fishing, bird watching and exploration along with several walking and bicycling trails throughout the island. You are likely to spot manatees, porpoises, dolphin, and sea turtles offshore. The park’s 54

Citizen Support Organization (Barrier Island Park Society) has kayaks and stand up paddleboards available to rent at the camp store to get you started on your adventure. Be sure to visit Manatee Hole, a small lagoon just south of the park’s dock where manatees can be found nearly every day of the year. The world-famous Cabbage Key restaurant is also within paddling distance of the park. Tropic Star Ferry Service 239-283-0015, 13851 Waterfront Dr., Bokeelia Lee County Visitor’s Guide


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PHOTO COURTESY OF LEE COUNTY VISITOR & CONVENTION BUREAU

Sanibel S

Lee County’s world-renowned barrier island

tunning sunrises and sunsets, beautiful white beaches perfect for swimming, diving or snorkeling the Gulf of Mexico’s warm waters, a vast assortment of shells, endless shared use paths for exercise, resorts, restaurants and art galleries galore continue to bring visitors to Sanibel and Captiva Islands. An abundance of wildlife can be seen on the island due to its conservation efforts, resulting in nearly 70 percent of undeveloped grasses, marshes, back bays and rivers, all mostly kept as wildlife and natural preserves. The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which is approximately 6,400 acres, consists of mangrove forest, submerged seagrass birds, cordgrass marshes and West Indian hardwood hammocks, providing the perfect habitat for animals and more than 245 species of birds. The history of the islands is steeped in fishing tradition, specifically sport fishing. Even more specifically, tarpon fishing. It was the Silver King that put Southwest Florida on the map. W.H. Wood became noted as the first to catch a Silver King on rod and reel off the shores of Sanibel in 1885 while visiting from New York. Thomas 56

Edison was a noted tarpon angler. Before Wood, there were the indigenous Calusa Indians, followed by the SpanishCuban fishermen and the Punta Gorda Fish Co. with its fish houses dotting Pine Island Sound. Many fish houses remain and are viewable by local boating tours. Fly fishing is instantly recognizable with the casting action fishermen use and it has become a common sight on the shorelines of Sanibel and Captiva, as well on the bays and at the refuge. Although fly fishing has been around for many decades, it is a growing popular activity in Sanibel, which is quickly becoming known as a hotbed for the water sport. The islands are recognized around the globe for shell collecting along the white sand beaches. It is simple geography that created the wealth of shelling. The islands bend like an elbow instead of lying parallel to the mainland. The shape acts like a vacuum, collecting shells that are deposited in abundance on the beaches. Shelling created the famous “Sanibel Stoop” and “Captiva Crouch” as the official stance of visitors bending over to pick up a treasure of shells (non-living only, please). Lee County Visitor’s Guide


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Coral reef exhibit at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum.

Places to go on Sanibel Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum features the “Beyond Shells: The Mysterious World of Mollusks,” which includes 11 aquarium exhibits, two 15-footlong touch tanks and interactive interpretive exhibits, plus 30 permanent exhibits, several temporary exhibits and educational programs for all ages. Visitors can build their own shell creation with Shell Crafting, which is offered daily. Take home a treasure that's sure to be a favorite reminder of your visit. Other daily programming includes a Scavenger Hunt, Outdoor Story Walk and Mollusk Movie, along with Aquarium Tours and Great Hall of Shells Tours. There is also Trivia Tuesdays and Bingo, It's Friday! Museum admission is $23.95 for adults, $14.95 for ages 12-17 and $8.95 for ages 511. For more information visit www.shellmuseum.org. The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is at 3075 Sanibel-Captiva Road.

BIG ARTS BIG ARTS, or the Barrier Island Group for the Arts, was started by a group of island residents and artists in 1979. It has expanded every year to offer artistic and educational experiences for all. The education series features workshops and classes, including the Winter Academy, painting and drawing, fine crafts, photography, discussion and writing, pottery, and music. There is also the FORUM of nationally recognized speakers and the Talking Points series dialogue that encourages audiLee County Visitor’s Guide

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ence participation with recognized thought leaders on a broad range of topics. In addition, BIG ARTS hosts a Monday Night Films series, along with art exhibits. For more information or to register, visit bigarts.org . BIG ARTS is at 900 Dunlop Road.

Botanical Gardens at Sanibel Moorings The Botanical Gardens at Sanibel Moorings are a must see for all garden lovers. Built in 1974, the garden was enriched by the first gardener, who was an avid botanist. Each succeeding gardener continued the quest and contributed their specialties to the garden. The current extensive, mature and diverse tropical collection is a result of the never-ending quest for unusual tropical plants. In 2009, it officially became a botanical garden with the American Public Garden Association and is a reciprocating member of the American Horticultural Society. Enjoy hundreds of native plants and noninvasive tropical species, which include collections of bromeliads, roses, hibiscus, orchids, palms, fruits, and cycads. Do not forget to observe (at a distance) the resident butterflies, turtles, rabbits, birds and more creatures in their wildlife garden home. The Garden Tour Guide offers guided 90minute light walking tours to the public on Wednesdays at 9 a.m. Cost is $5 cash, plus tax; check in at the front office. Reservations required at 239-472-4119. For more information, visit www.sanibelmoorings.com/sanibel-botanical-garden. The Botanical Gardens at Sanibel Moorings is at 845 East Gulf Drive. 59


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Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife is a teaching hospital and visitor education center dedicated to saving wildlife through state-of-the-art veterinary care, research, education and conservation medicine. Each year, CROW cares for approximately 3,500 wildlife patients, including more than 200 species of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife in its veterinary hospital, which is one of the nation’s leading rehabilitation facilities for native and migratory wildlife. It also provides educational fellowships and externship programs for undergraduate students, and internship programs for veterinarian graduates. The Visitor Education Center offers behind-the-scenes views into CROW's animal care through live camera feeds, interactive displays and daily presentations by students, staff and volunteers. Admission is $12 for ages 13 and older, and $7 for ages 4-12; children 3 and under are free.

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The Visitor Education Center offers behind-the-scenes views into CROW's animal care through live camera feeds, interactive displays and daily presentations by students, staff and volunteers. For more information, visit www.crowclinic.org or call 239-472-3644. CROW is at 3883 Sanibel-Captiva Road.

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J.N. 'Ding' Darling National Wildlife Refuge Named after editorial cartoonist and conservationist Jay Norwood Darling, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is one of 560 refuges across the United States. Wildlife Drive is four-mile long paved road where the common sightings include sandpipers, blue herons, roseate spoonbills and egrets. Visitors can also explore Indigo Trail, the Wildlife Education Boardwalk, Shellmound Trail and Wulfert Keys Trail, which can be accessed via Wildlife Drive. The Bailey Tract is a 100-acre parcel locat-

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ed off of Tarpon Bay Road. Admission to Wildlife Drive is $10 per vehicle, $1 per pedestrian and $1 per bicycle; Indigo Trail is $1 per pedestrian and $1 per bicycle; and the Bailey Tract is free for pedestrians and bicycles only. For more information, visit www.fws.gov/refuge/jn_ding_darling or call 239-472-1100. The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is at 1 Wildlife Drive. PHOTO BY RICHARD FORTUNE

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Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Founded in 1967, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation is dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on the islands and in the surrounding watershed. From its earliest days, it was known as a land trust with an impressive acquisition record. The grounds of the Nature Center feature an interlocking maze of four miles of trails allows visitors to choose a short stroll or a longer walk through the quiet heart of the island, paralleling low lying wetlands and the Sanibel Slough. Visit the Native Landscapes & Garden Center to learn how to encourage birds, butterflies, and other wildlife in your backyard, contribute to better water quality in local waterbodies, help fight the spread of invasive plants on wild lands and conserve drinking water supplies. Stroll through the demonstration gardens to gain inspiration for your property, or get answers to plant questions from an expert staffer. In addition, SCCF has six preserves open to the public. For more information, visit www.sccf.org or call 239-472-2329. The Nature Center is at 3333 SanibelCaptiva Road, Sanibel. The Garden Center is at the Bailey Homestead Preserve, at 1300 Periwinkle Way.

Sanibel Historical Museum and Village The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village was founded in 1984 with a mission to preserve and share Sanibel history. The story of Sanibel is told from the Calusa and Spanish eras to the early pioneer families who settled on the island in the 1800s. It tells of warriors, adventures, fishermen, farmers and proprietors. Nine historic buildings were moved from their original sites. Each building has been restored to its original state. The village also has a replica of a Packing House and a garage housing a 1927 Ford Model T truck. Volunteer docents share the stories of Sanibel with almost 10,000 visitors a year. The facility reopens to the public for season on Oct. 20. Admission is $10 for ages 18 and older. For more information, visit sanibelmuseum.org or call 239-472-4648. The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village is at 950 Dunlop Road. 64

Sanibel Sea School The Sanibel Sea School's vision is a world where all people value, understand and care for the ocean. Its mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. Dedicated to vibrantly teaching children and adults about marine ecosystems — animals, people, plants, land, ocean and weather — it gives students an opportunity to touch, feel and interact with the natural surroundings through a variety of programs and activities. The Sanibel Sea School offers one-day courses, educational classes for youth and opportunities for the whole family, as well as boat trips, film screenings, social events, speakers and more for adults. There are shelling programs, wetland tours, paddlesports, half-day programs for youth, guided beach walks, birding sessions and more. For more information, visit www.sanibelseaschool.org or call 239-472-8585.

Tarpon Bay Explorers Tarpon Bay Explorers is the official concession to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. It provides low impact, recreational and educational activities for refuge visitors, and a portion of its proceeds go back to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to benefit the national refuges nationwide. Some of its offerings include guided kayak and canoe tours, a variety of cruises, deck talks, touch tank exploration and stand-up paddle boarding, in addition to tram tours of the refuge. Rent a kayak, canoe, standup paddleboard or pontoon and explore; bike and fishing equipment rentals are also available. For more information, visit www.tarponbayexplorers.com or call 239-472-8900. Tarpon Bay Explorers is at 900 Tarpon Bay Road.

The Community House Historically, the Sanibel Community Association was one of the first non-profits on the island; since 1927, The Community House is still the gathering place of Sanibel. Many social organizations, civic groups, and clubs that first found a home there are still there to this day. The Community House offers an array of activities and programs, including yoga, painting classes, community socials and guest speakers, to cooking classes and demonstrations for all ages through the Culinary Education Center of Sanibel. For more information, visit sanibelcommunityhouse.net or call 239-472-2155. The Community House is at 2173 Periwinkle Way. Lee County Visitor’s Guide


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www.shutterstock.com

Captiva I

As captivating a place to visit as to live

t is easy to get hooked by Captiva, where there are incredible sunrise and sunset views from the white-sand beaches. There are also amazing opportunities to stroll, shop, recreate, pause from life’s work outside of paradise. Sister island to Sanibel, Captiva is just over a small bridge at Blind Pass that crosses Turner Beach, the ideal place to catch fish or discover colorful shells. The island's beaches stretch for five miles to the northern tip at Redfish Pass, which was created by a hurricane. From Blind Pass, Captiva Drive is a winding journey past lush tropical landscaping, gorgeous homes and vacation rentals. Dining on Captiva will fill a hungry soul with culinary treats. Andy Rosse Lane, named after a colorful islander of another generation, is home to fabulous restaurants like Key Lime Bistro, where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served with a touch of Key West in the atmosphere; and the Mucky Duck, where the sunsets are applauded, beer is always cold and the menu specializes in fresh seafood. Situated along the Roosevelt Channel, the historic Green Flash restaurant overlooks Pine Island Sound and the pristine beauty of Buck Key. One’s culinary journey wouldn’t be complete without a stop at The 66

Bubble Room, known for its large slices of delicious cakes. For seafaring folk, an adventure out on the water can be arranged by charters like Captiva Cruises, through some marinas, and with rentals from Sunny Island Adventures and YOLO Watersports. Those seeking to experience the true island living can also consider renting a golf cart to get around town. Fishing the Redfish Pass can produce memorable results. The Redfish Pass connects Pine Island Sound with the Gulf of Mexico and the perfect conditions to attract fish, especially redfish, which lends to its name. With the tidal currents strong from both directions, Redfish Pass acts like a funnel, which catches baitfish in its wake. That draws in the sport fish like redfish, sheepshead, tarpon and ladyfish. Captiva shops are clustered at the north end of Captiva Drive and on Andy Rosse Lane. Stroll along the village paths from shop to shop taking in the antiques, casual fashions, pottery, furniture and unique gifts for that special someone in your life.

Places to go on Captiva • Historic Captiva Cemetery, 11580 Chapin Lane • World's Smallest Fishing Museum, 15107 Captiva Drive Lee County Visitor’s Guide


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FILE PHOTO

The Fort Myers Beach Pier stretches out into the ocean to offer a more scenic view of the gulf.

Fort Myers Beach

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A perfect piece of paradise

ith seven miles of beach spanning Estero Island and plenty of public access points, there’s room for everyone to find their perfect piece of paradise on Fort Myers Beach. On the north side of the island there is Lee County's Bowditch Point Park and Lynn Hall Memorial Park. The public beach at Lynn Hall Memorial Park intertwines with the town's Times Square. There, you will find eateries and shops as well as occasional street performers and live music. On Fridays and Saturdays there are sunset celebrations. The town is planning renovations at Times Square so depending on when you arrive, you may encounter the place in the midst of an overhaul, but enjoy -- the beach will still entice. The Fort Myers Beach Pier stretches out into the ocean to offer a more scenic view of the gulf and is also used by fishermen. Shops and restaurants line up and down Old San Carlos Boulevard nearby. Both ends of the island offer chances to take boat tours and cruises so scout around and pick a boating option that fits your comfort zone. There are sightseeing cruises, family cruises, dolphin tours, fishing charters and boat rental options. There are kayak tours and other tours which will take you out to small islands. Discover the 70

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At Times Square you will find eateries and shops as well as occasional street performers and live music. nature that Fort Myers Beach has to offer. On the south end of the island, you will find much of the bird action, including the Little Estero Critical Wildlife Area. Look out for osprey, pelicans, falcons, hawks, spoonbills, gulls, herons, egrets, black skimmers, terns and more. The birds will often get close, soaring from high above and searching the shallow waters for food. If you are walking the beach in the spring and summer, you will notice sections of yellow tape in the sand. Take care -- those mark turtle nests. There were 132 nests counted on Fort Myers Beach in 2020, a record. The turtles nest in the dark Lee County Visitor’s Guide


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and hatchlings will typically break free and head for the ocean in the darkness as well. If you happen to cross their path, avoid shining any lights on them. Outdoor lights are prohibited from shining on the beach from April through October in order to avoid disturbing the turtles. Fishing is a popular tradition at Fort Myers Beach and there is no shortage of spots. Inshore fishing supplies year-round opportunities to catch snook, redfish, snapper, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, jack crevalle, mangrove snapper, catfish and other species. Offshore fishing is a great way to find grouper, black fin tuna, and mackerel. Sport-fishing for tarpon has been a longtime favorite among visitors and residents alike and brings anglers from all over the world to Fort Myers Beach. One of the largest tarpon migrations in the world takes place annually off the shores of Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel. Some tarpon reside here year-round, but the best time to catch them is during their migration season which is April-June. For those looking to stay physically active on the beach and do more than

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swim, there are watercraft and bicycle rentals available. For the most adventurous, check into parasailing operators. If you have an eye for art, the Fort Myers Beach Art Association and Gallery is a must. Local artists are constantly working to produce new oil and acrylic paintings, watercolor and pastel portraits and other art which can be found on the walls of the gallery at Shell Mound Boulevard. Most are also for sale. Fort Myers Beach is known for its wide array of restaurants, many of which offer a full array of fresh Gulf seafood. You will find scenic views and can enjoy locally caught grouper and shrimp, as well as long menus of other popular fish. There’s no shortage of late-night spots, many of which host live music. The area is also popular for ice cream, with two new shops opening in the past year – so don't settle for anything less than the best. Whether you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to relax Gulf side, go on an outdoor adventure or just find the best happy hour on the beach – you’ve come to the right place.

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‘Must Do’s’ on Fort Myers Beach • Fort Myers Beach Pier: The perfect place to watch a sunset, to view the ocean and beach • Lynn Hall Memorial Park: A popular public access point to the beach

• Times Square: Centrally located near Lynn Hall Memorial Park and Fort Myers Beach Pier with shops, eateries and performances • Bowditch Point Park: A popular and quieter public access point to the beach

The Mound House An approximately 2,000-year-old shell mound is a relic of the Calusa tribe, an ancient Native American people who once populated the area. The site features a historic home and offers scenic tours for walking, observing the bay and kayaking. PHOTO COURTESY OF LEE COUNTY VISITOR & CONVENTION BUREAU

Dolphin tours Several boat tour companies can bring you out to see these wonderous creatures in their natural habitat in the bay. Learn about the area’s ecology and marine life on a guided boat tour. Some tours will take you to islands that are only accessible by boat. You may even spot threatened manatees. FILE PHOTO 74

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Lovers Key State Park encompasses 1,616 acres that include a stretch of 2.5 miles of white sandy beaches, 744 acres of mangrove-fringed waterways, and 8 miles of hiking and nature trails that thread through the beaches and islands. FILE PHOTO

Lovers Key State Park

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onsisting of four barrier islands, Lovers Key State Park encompasses 1,616 acres that include a stretch of 2.5 miles of white sandy beaches, 744 acres of mangrove-fringed waterways, and 8 miles of hiking and nature trails that thread through the beaches and islands. Originally named after University of Florida engineering graduate Carl E. Johnson, who helped design and build the causeway that connects the park to Bonita Springs along County Road 865, the park is now commonly referred to simply as Lovers Key. Like many of Florida’s state parks, Lovers Key is a day-use-only facility— opening every morning at 8 a.m. and closing at sunset 365 days a year. Because of its strategic location between the urban centers of Naples to the south and Fort Myers/Cape Coral to the north, Lovers Key State Park is one of the most visited parks in the state, topped only by Honeymoon Island in Dunedin, Florida. Although no camping is allowed, the park is a great place for fishing, biking, hiking, sunbathing, picnicking, swimming, and more. Lee County Visitor’s Guide

The name Lovers Key dates back to the turn of the last century when it was said that young couples favored the sunsets along the beach that extends between New Pass to the south and Big Carlos Pass to the north. In the early days Lovers Key was accessible only by boat, and the seclusion it offered was a welcome respite from the early Florida land boom of the 1920s. Black Island, which is where a 2.6-mile hiking loop and a 5-mile canoe and kayak trail are now located, was slated for a resort-style development in the late 1960s. The island was cleared of all native trees and mangroves and dredged in anticipation of this new subdivision. After a public outcry to halt the development, the state of Florida purchased almost all of the island and added its acreage to what was then the Carl E. Johnson State Park. Since the acquisition by the state, the mangroves and hardwood coastal hammocks have returned, and the land where houses were destined to rise is now covered in palm trees and native plants. 77


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Canoe and kayak launches in the park free to all paid park visitors. FILE PHOTO

One unique feature of Lovers Key State Park is that it has a nice two-slot boat ramp located on the bay side of County Highway 865 where anglers and boaters can launch their vessels to explore the backwaters of Estero Bay (Florida’s first aquatic preserve) and the numerous surrounding passes. There is a launch fee per boat. There are also canoe and kayak launches in the park free to all paid park visitors. One section of the park is part of the Great Calusa Blueway.

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Wildlife sightings may include roseate spoonbills, least terns, black skimmers, bald eagles, West Indian manatees, bottle-nosed dolphins, and the diminutive marsh rabbit. FILE PHOTO Another great feature of Lovers Key is the picnic area and children’s playground Lovers Key State Park located in the northeast corner of Black Admission Fees Island. Numerous picnic tables and covered kiosks are available for day-trippers. $8 per vehicle. Because of its name and its 100-year-old Limit 2-8 people per vehicle. reputation as a destination for romance, Lovers Key State Park is a particular favorite $4 Single Occupant Vehicle for beach weddings; a large covered gazebo and Motorcycles. and tram stop along the beach help to facili$2 Pedestrians, bicyclists, tate these events. extra passengers, passengers The sheer size of the park, coupled in vehicle with holder of with its dredged canals, backwaters, and Annual Individual Entrance Pass. passes, make it one of the state’s top-rated parks for anglers. The south side of the park abutting New Pass is known for pro- park offers food, beverages, ice cream, and ducing some of the largest record snook in bike, canoe, and kayak rentals along with an the state. Other catches include redfish, assortment of other amenities including sea trout, tarpon, and flounder, and visit- guided sightseeing and fishing tours. The ing anglers are encouraged to try cast-net- park has been working with Friends of ting for the plentiful black-striped mullet. Lovers Key (FOLKS, 239-463-4588) to Wildlife sightings may include roseate raise funds to build a visitors center near the spoonbills, least terns, black skimmers, main parking lot. Lovers Key State Park remains nearly as bald eagles, West Indian manatees, bottlenosed dolphins, and the diminutive marsh untouched and beautiful today as it was 500 rabbit. Because of its location along the years ago. Several times over the past coast, Lovers Key has shelling comparable decade this beach has made it into the top 10 in all of Florida, and once you’ve experito that found on Sanibel Island. A free tram ferries the visitors from the enced its white sandy beaches, you’ll underparking lot to the beaches and runs daily stand why. Lovers Key State Park at 8700 Estero from the park’s opening until 5 p.m. Wildlife tours and presentations are offered during Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, between Big the winter season. Contact the park directly Carlos Pass and New Pass for updates on these events. By Charles Sobczak Florida Realtor & a Florida Author The concession company operating in the Lee County Visitor’s Guide

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Trails/Paths

Swimming

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Showers

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Shelter/Pavilion

Shelling

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Sailing

Restrooms

Refreshments

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Playground

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Tarpon Bay Road Beach tarpon bay Road sanibel

Sanibel Causeway Beaches sanibel Causeway sanibel

Motel Row Fort Myers beach

Turner Beach sanibel-Captiva Road, Captiva

Picnic Area

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Lynn Hall Memorial Park north end of estero blvd., Fort Myers beach

Lover’s Key State Park County Road 865, bonita beach Road, bonita springs

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Lighthouse Park Beach eastern tip of sanibel from the Causeway

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Crescent Beach Family Park at the foot of the Matanzas bridge on estero blvd., Fort Myers beach

Cape Coral Yacht Basin Cape Coral Pkwy.. to south on Coronado, Cape Coral

Bowman’s Beach bowman beach Road, sanibel

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Bowditch Point Regional Park north end of estero Island

Bonita Beach hickory blvd. and bonita beach Road, bonita springs

beaChes

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Barefoot Beach us 41 to bonita beach Road then West, to boca Grande

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Algiers Beach Gulf side City Park sanibel

Parking (Metered)

Parking

Handicap Access

Grills

Fishing Pier

Fishing

Boat Launch

Benches

Lee County

Lee County Visitor’s Guide


'Must Do’s' at Lovers Key Lovers Key State Park has more than two miles of pristine white-sand beachfront and was featured on the Travel Channel in “10 Stunning Florida Keys you don’t know about.” The park is also a National Gold Medal Winner and is America’s first threetime state park winner. The park has over five miles of multi-use trails through a maritime hammock, and inner waterways for paddling. Some things to try: • Go bicycling or hiking. Go on a hike or ride through the Black Island Trail and/or the Eagle Trail through a maritime hammock. The Black Island Trail is 2.6 miles long and the Eagle Trail is 1.5 miles long. There are plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing on each trail. Maps are available with highlighted observation points. You can rent a bike on site or bring your own. • Paddle through the mangrove estuary. Rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard on site and see why people call Lovers Key “the real Florida.” You may get a chance to see manatees, dolphins, alligators, osprey, and/or bald eagles while paddling through the 2.5-mile mangrove estuary. • Pack a picnic. There are several picnic

Lee County Visitor’s Guide

areas in the park. You can choose to have a picnic on the beach, the inner waterways or the backwaters. Many of the picnic areas have grills and trash cans. If picnicking isn’t your style, the concession serves food and drinks. • Sunbathe on the beach and go for a swim. The water is beautiful, and the sun is shining. Get comfortable on the beach and take a dip in the clear gulf waters. This beach is far less developed and less crowded than Fort Myers Beach, so the relaxation is top notch. • The shelling on Lovers Key is some of the best on Southwest Florida’s Gulf beaches. • Gopher tortoises can be spotted along the trails typically in the morning hours • In the winter, there is a “Songwriters at Sunset” show which brings out talented musicians. This past winter, local resident and music legend Charlie McCoy performed on stage at the park. • A new $4 million welcome and discovery center is being built at the park and is scheduled to open in 2021. There will be educational exhibits, an observation deck, bookstore and catering kitchen.

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Lee County Marinas ∫ In-water Marina Facility ∫ Service & Repairs ∫ Boat sales & rentals

∫ Storage ∫ Charters ∫ Fishing Guides

∫∫∫∫Bonita Bay Marina, 27598 Marina Pointe Dr. SW, Bonita Springs (239) 495-3222 www.bonitabaymarina.net ∫∫Burnt Store Marina, 3192 Matecumbe Key Rd, Punta Gorda (941)637-0083 www.burntstoremarina.com ∫∫Calusa Jack’s Marina, 2200 Marina Park Drive, Ft. Myers (239)694-2708 www.calusajacksmarina.com ∫Cape Coral (Godman) Yacht Basin, 5815 Driftwood Pkwy., Coral (239)574-0809 www.capecoral.net ∫∫∫Cape Coral Marine Centre, 1503 SE 46th Ln., Cape Coral (239)541-2988 ∫∫Cape Harbour Marina, 5828 Cape Harbour Drive, Cape Coral (239)945-4330 www.capeharbour.com ∫∫Castaways Marina, 6460 Sanibel-Captiva Rd., Sanibel (239)472-1112 www.castaways-cottages.com/marina/ ∫City of Fort Myers Yacht Basin, 1300 Lee Street, Ft. Myers (239)321-7080 www.cityftmyers.com/381/Yacht-Basin ∫∫Diversified Yacht Services, 751 Fishermans Wharf, Fort Myers Beach (239)765-8700 www.dysinc.com ∫∫Diversified Yacht Services, 2455 Fowler Street, Fort Myers (239)765-8700 www.dysinc.com ∫∫∫∫Everest Marina, 1838 Everest Parkway, Cape Coral (239)458-6604 www.capecoralboatrepair.com ∫∫∫∫∫Fish Tale Marina, 7225 Estero Blvd., Ft. Myers Beach (239)463-3600 www.thefishtalemarina.com ∫∫∫∫∫Four Winds Marina, Inc., 16501 Stringfellow Road, Bokeelia (239)283-0250 www.fourwindsmarina.com ∫∫∫Getaway Marina, 18400 San Carlos Blvd., Ft. Myers Beach (239)466-3600 www.getawaymarina.com ∫∫∫Gulf Star Marina, 708 Fisherman’s Wharf, Ft. Myers Beach (239)209-0285 www.gulfstar-marina.com ∫∫∫Gulfside Marine Services, 4440 Pine Island Rd, Matlacha (239)282-0443 www.gulfsidemarine.com ∫∫∫Jensen’s Twin Palm Resort and Marina, 15107 Captiva Drive, Captiva (239)472-5800 www.gocaptiva.com ∫Legacy Harbour Marina, 2044 West First Street, Fort Myers (239)461-0775 www.legacyharbourmarina.com ∫∫∫Marinatown Yacht Harbour, 3446 Marinatown Lane, North Ft. Myers (239)997-7711 www.marinatown.net ∫∫McCarthy’s Marina, 11401 Andy Rosse Lane, Captiva (239)472-5300 www.mccarthysmarina.com ∫∫∫∫Monroe Canal Marina, 3105 Stringfellow Road, Saint James City (239)282-8600 www.monroecanalmarina.com ∫∫∫∫Moss Marine, 450 Harbor Court, Ft. Myers Beach (239)765-6677 www.mossmarine.com ∫∫Mullock Creek Marina, 18501 Mullock Creek Ln., Fort Myers (239)267-4932 ∫∫∫Owl Creek Boat Works and Storage 18251 Owl Creek Dr, Alva (239)543-2100 ∫∫∫Pineland Marina, 13921 Waterfront Dr., Bokeelia (239)283-3593 www.pinelandmarina.com ∫∫∫∫Port Sanibel Marina, 14341 Port Comfort Road, Fort Myers (239)437-1660 www.portsanibelmarina.com ∫∫Prosperity Pointe Marina, 1016 N. Tamiami Trail, North Ft. Myers (239)995-2155 www.prosperitypointemarina.com ∫∫∫∫∫Salty Sam’s Marina, 2500 Main Street, Ft. Myers Beach (239)463-7333 www.saltysamsmarina.com ∫∫∫∫Sanibel Marina, 634 N. Yachtsman Drive, Sanibel (239)472-2723 www.sanibelmarina.com ∫∫∫∫∫Snook Bight Marina, 4765 Estero Blvd., Ft. Myers Beach (239)765-4371 www.snookbightmarina.com ∫∫∫South Seas Resort and Yacht Harbour, 5400 Plantation Road, Captiva (239)472-5111 www.southseas.com ∫∫∫∫Sweetwater Landing, 16991 S.R. 31, Ft. Myers (239)694-3850 www.sweetwaterlanding.net ∫∫∫Tarpon Point Marina, 6095 Silver King Blvd., Cape Coral (239)549-4900 www.tarponpoint.com ∫∫∫The Boat House of Cape Coral, 1516 SE 46th St, Cape Coral (239)549-2628 www.boathouseh2o.com ∫Tween Waters Marina, 15951 Captiva Drive, Captiva (239)472-5161 www.tween-waters.com ∫∫∫York Road Marine, 3446 York Rd, St James City (239)283-1149 www.yorkroadmarine.com 84

Lee County Visitor’s Guide


Lee County Visitor’s Guide

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Lee County Visitor’s Guide


Lee County Visitor’s Guide

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Profile for Breezecorp

Lee County FL Visitors Guide  

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