Fort Myers is a quiet city in South Florida that boasts a tropical flavor without the heavy tourist impact you find in other Florida destinations. Nearby beaches offer laid-back entertainment, but you can also watch Major League Baseball spring training, embarking on a sailboat or fishing charter, or boat or hike through the wetlands teeming with biodiversity. You also find a rich trove of family-friendly attractions such as the Railroad Museum of South Florida, the Southwest Florida Museum of History, and several amusement parks. Whether you’re looking for a sprawling beach resort or a charming boathouse, here are the 10 best neighborhoods for finding your Fort Myers vacation rental.

1. Downtown Fort Myers

parked car in front of the theatre
Source: Flickr / Tyler Small

Also known as the Fort Myers River District, this neighborhood is the center point for Fort Myers tours and attractions. Stroll down the streets to explore eclectic boutiques or see a performance at the Florida Repertory Theatre, and enjoy dinner at one of the waterfront seafood restaurants and crab shacks. Head to the marinas to book your fishing charter or dolphin-viewing cruise. For a lazy afternoon, check out the public art displays before enjoying a picnic under the bridge at Centennial Park on the river.

2. Fort Myers Beach

people at the beach

Located in the southernmost area of Fort Myers on a small barrier island, this vacationer’s paradise is teeming with colorful beach resorts and hotels with balconies overlooking the ocean. Kick back on the white-sand beaches, or stroll down the Fort Myers Beach Fishing Pier to watch the surf. Fort Myers Beach is a take-off point for fishing charters and bay cruises, so be sure to check out the options at the many marinas. You can also find hiking trails and more remote beaches at Bowditch Point Park. For more natural wonders, hike through the mangroves of the 60-acre Matanzas Pass Preserve.

3. Iona

beautiful lake

One of the southernmost river communities in the Fort Myers metro area, Iona offers lush, forested streets with affordable lodging options. It’s also just across the bridge from the beaches and nature preserves of Sanibel Island, offering easy access to the area’s best ocean-front entertainment at budget-friendly prices. The quiet community also boasts its own charm, from the rolling greens of Golf Harbour Yacht and Country Club to the lake-dotted courses of Kelly Greens Golf and Country Club.

4. Sanibel

white pelicans playing at the lake

Cross the bridge to this barrier island just off the coast from Fort Myers to discover remote beach resorts and cozy cottages that put you just steps from the sand. Get a few photos at Sanibel Lighthouse and enjoy some fishing off the docks. Step into Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge to take a canoe or kayak tour to see flamingos and more than 230 other bird species. This area also offers hiking trails and some great fishing.

5. McGregor

yachts parked at the pier

Find a rental in this riverfront neighborhood, located just south of downtown Fort Myers, and enjoy the luxury of a boathouse along one of the canals and marinas. McGregor is the perfect home base if you’re planning to cruise on the water on a yacht, enjoy some sailing, or take out a fishing boat during your laid-back vacation.

6. Whiskey Creek

floating lily pads

Just north of McGregor, this residential neighborhood boasts ranch-style homes on spacious yards dotted with palm trees. Check out the lush green of Whiskey Creek Country Club, and enjoy easy access to Fort Myers entertainment, from swamp buggy tours of the marshes to dolphin and sea life cruises on the bays.

7. Gateway

people watching sports at the stadium
Source: Flickr / jcsullivan24

Gateway is a quiet inland community where hotels mix with cozy homes featuring balconies overlooking the area’s vast collection of lakes and ponds. Staying here puts you at the footstep of Southwest Florida International Airport for easy travel, and it’s the closest access point to JetBlue Park, the spring training site of the Boston Red Sox. Traveling with your pooch? Enjoy an afternoon at Gateway Dog Park.

8. Villas

reflection of swamp trees on the water

This inland neighborhood just east of McGregor is the perfect rental spot if you’re looking for a natural getaway. Step into Lakes Regional Park to fish off the dock or rent a boat to take out on the water. You can also rent a bike or just take a lazy walk along the nature trails. Just east of the neighborhood, you reach Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, where you can stroll down the boardwalk through groves of Cypress trees. Be sure to check out the park’s butterfly garden. Villas also boasts its own downtown market area, featuring hotels, chain stores, and chic boutiques.

9. Eastwood Village

pond at the golf course

In this neighborhood, just inland of downtown Fort Myers, the hustle, and bustle of the metro area quickly dies down to the lull of South Florida suburbia. Practice your swing at the Eastwood Golf Course, or view alligators and more at the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium, a local family favorite.

10. North Fort Myers

boats at the waterfront
Source: Flickr / Vicki Lynne Bonham

Making up the area on the opposite side of the Caloosahatchee River, North Fort Myers is an offbeat community where you can find budget-friendly rentals and easy access to river entertainment. Enjoy fishing and water sports on the river’s edge, or head to Shell Factory and Nature Park to spot parrots and lemurs before hunting for fun souvenirs. You can also tour the Echo Farm to see groves of tropical plants or enjoy a game at Riverbend Golf Club.