Why Fort Myers Beach Should Be Your Next Family Destination

Fort Myers rebounds from Hurricane Ian with new resorts, family fun and fresh seafood.

In September 2022, Hurricane Ian touched down on the barrier islands of Florida as a category 4 storm. The resilient beach community of Fort Myers has since been rebuilding so that locals and visitors alike can again savor the soft, sandy beaches, luxurious pools and waterfront restaurants. While there still is a great deal of work to be done, many hotels and restaurants have reopened, figuring out ways to work while they’re making improvements.

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I visited Fort Myers Beach in early February 2024 and was encouraged to see how busy the island was with people so incredibly happy to be back. Here are some excellent reasons why your family should vacation in Fort Myers, not only to support the rebuild but to also enjoy a radiant time in the sunshine eating fresh seafood and splashing in the warm waters. Just like in Leo, the animated Adam Sandler movie, there’s natural wonder and adventure to be found in Fort Myers.

Margaritaville Beach Resort just opened and it’s awesome

Fort Meyers Beach Night
Photo credit: Fort Myers – Islands, Beaches & Neighborhoods

A colorful, new 5.5-acre upscale resort with a huge 250,000 gallon pool, Margaritaville Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach sprawls across prime real estate. Opened in December 2023, it’s the first new beach resort on Fort Myers Beach in over 20 years. Live music, a lagoon-style pool and vibrant restaurants make it the blissful place you’ll want to anchor your vacation. Purchase a ResortPass to visit for the day.

Pink Shell Beach Resort serves up an excellent family beach vacation

Fort Meyers Pink Shell Resort
Photo credit: Fort Myers – Islands, Beaches & Neighborhoods

Prepare to rejuvenate at the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina on a quiet side of Fort Myers Beach surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay. Pink umbrellas line the sandy beach where you can search for seashells. The heated outdoor Octopool gives off vacation vibes with a DJ, foam parties and cold pina coladas. It’s a quintessential family beach vacation with many multigenerational groups gathering, giggling and savoring the sunshine.

The villa room I stayed in had the most incredible floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the beach and pool. It felt like looking out into a postcard view of paradise every morning. The separate bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and living room make for comfortable family accommodations. Included morning breakfast at Jack’s Restaurant rotated between waffles piled high with fruit toppings, breakfast burritos, crispy hash browns, eggs benedict and other morning favorites.

Kids activities include tie dye t-shirts, temporary tattoos and movies by the pool. You can rent pink bikes or golf carts to cruise around the town. Rent kayaks or standup paddleboards to explore nature surrounding the resort.

There’s something for everyone from baseball to nature and special events

Fort Meyers Kayak
Photo credit: Fort Myers – Islands, Beaches & Neighborhoods

Baseball fans jump at the chance to see the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins crack the bat and crank out some home runs. Late February to March, catch a spring training game in warm, sunny Fort Myers.

If you’ve got some outdoor enthusiasts in your crew, there are plenty of options to view wildlife or simply savor some fresh air in Fort Myers. Head to Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve to stroll 1.2-miles of wooden walkways over wetlands for a chance to see otters, birds or alligators.

Lovers Key State Park received its name because the beauty of the barrier islands attracted romantic beach weddings.  Paddleboard or kayak with Lovers Key Adventures through the serene lagoons and mangrove forests. Peacefully paddle the 2.5-mile estuary with a friendly guide who tells stories of the history and inhabitants. If you’re lucky, you might see a manatee or pod of dolphins. I spied numerous birds and iguanas soaking in the rays.

One of the top attractions in Fort Myers is Edison and Ford Winter Estates. Inventor Thomas Edison and industrialist Henry Ford were friends who wintered in Fort Myers. Their homes, gardens, laboratory and museum make for a relaxing afternoon to stroll around and take in history.

Lakes Park is a sprawling public park full of life and laughter. Children and families enjoy the playgrounds, pavilions and walking paths. You can rent paddle boats, bikes or surreys. Take a miniature train ride or eat ice cream cones in the sparkling sunshine. My kids are always happier with a creamy ice cream in-hand.

Fort Myers features all sorts of fun festivals and events. I was there for ArtFest in the beginning of February. Over 200 artists representing mediums from ceramics to canvas to clothing displayed their works of art in tents along the waterfront for all to enjoy. There’s a hand-on art yard for kids to participate in competitions and create. My favorite part of the festival was the Art Under 20 high school competition and exhibit. Some extremely talented kids created impressive art for you to view.

Seafood extravaganza and key lime pie

Fort Meyers Seafood
Photo credit: Cortney Fries

If you like fresh seafood, you’ll find a bounty of it in Fort Myers. I enjoyed a shrimp salad with waterfront views at Matanzas on the Bay. They serve more than cheeseburgers in paradise at Margaritaville Beach Resort Fort Myers. I gobbled up Lobster Beach Bread with garlic butter, chives, parsley and melty mozzarella at La De Dah. The blackened fish tacos were topped with bright mango pico de gallo and shark sauce.

The bartender at Nervous Nellie’s encouraged me to try the “Lobstah” grilled cheese and I wasn’t mad about the indulgent deliciousness. A couple I met drove an hour and forty-five minutes to have dinner at the newly reopened restaurant and see a beloved server. Talk about heartwarming.

You simply must top off any meal in Florida with a tangy key lime pie with graham cracker crust, a favorite in the Sunshine State. While Fort Myers Beach might look a little different after Hurricane Ian, they’re ready to welcome visitors back for fun in the sun.

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Cortney Fries
Cortney Fries
An award-winning travel journalist, Cortney Fries (pronounced "freeze") has been writing about family travel for over a decade. She knows that parents planning trips are looking for all members to have fun and make lasting memories. Cortney believes that you should definitely try anything that makes you slightly nervous.


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