Boasting white sand beaches, wildlife refuges and world-class museums, southwest Florida offers nature enthusiasts a chance to explore some of the state’s most beautiful natural wonders. It’s an area that offers a wide variety of attractions, where you can dig your toes in the sand in the morning, then spend your afternoon exploring a museum full of clown memorabilia or admiring colorful garden displays. From family-friendly water parks to picturesque state parks, here are some of the best things to do in southwest Florida.
Dig your toes in the sand at Siesta Key Beach
Siesta Key is one of the most prestigious beaches in the state, consistently awarded the top spot for the most beautiful beaches in the country. The sand feels like powdered sugar and is made of 99% pure crushed quartz, while the beaches clear turquoise waters makes it obvious why it is a popular spot for enjoying water sports and a day of fun in the sun.
Visit the historic Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers
The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is the perfect place to learn more about Florida’s history, as it is a designated Florida Historic Landmark and one of the most visited historic home sites in America. Tour the 20 acres of historic buildings, gardens and museum to see inventions, artifacts and special exhibits that date back to 1929.
See clown memorabilia at The Ringling in Sarasota
One of the most unique museums in Florida, head to The Ringling in Sarasota to see John and Mable Ringling’s former winter mansion. You’ll have the chance to browse the collection of clown memorabilia, squeeze into a clown car, and try your hand at walking the tightrope. There’s also a fine art museum and picturesque garden area to explore.
Birdwatching at J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge
Birdwatchers will want to explore J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, as its 6,300 acres of natural landscapes are home to a variety of birds, from herons and cuckoos to ospreys. You can enjoy quiet natural landscapes by hiking or biking through the trails, or you can take a scenic ride along Wildlife Drive.
Enjoy a sunset from the Naples Pier
A local landmark in Naples Beach, take a stroll along the iconic Naples Pier and soak up the surrounding views. This historic pier was built in 1888 and is a great spot for watching local fishermen reeling in the day’s catch, admiring a colorful Florida sunset, and watching dolphin pods along the Gulf.