Cape Coral is a town that’s located along the southern Florida Gulf Coast, and it’s filled with beautiful streets lined with palm trees and views of the rivers, canals, and the sparkling Gulf of Mexico. It’s a friendly, quiet town that welcomes tourists and is situated just east of the Sanibel and Captiva Islands. The downtown area of this tropical paradise offers fun, festivities, entertainment, and shopping. Or, if you prefer a more secluded getaway, the outskirts of town on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River provides a rural retreat. To help you plan your getaway, here’s a list of the top 12 locations to look for Cape Coral vacation rentals.

1. Cape Coral, Florida

Cape Coral appeals to active families who relish the opportunity to enjoy boating, fishing, and watersports along more than 400 miles of canals. It’s near the crystal aquamarine waters of the Gulf of Mexico with all of the beauty of southwestern Florida coastal towns. When taking a break from the beach and watersports, take advantage of the golf courses, tennis courts, and abundant nature preserves in the area. Indulge in the modern amenities, including shopping, dining, specialty shops, and entertainment at your leisure. If you’re looking for some excitement, Sun Splash Family Waterpark offers multiple water slides, a kid’s play area, and a lazy river.

2. Fort Myers Beach, Florida

When you decide to use those vacation days for a beach retreat, Fort Myers Beach gives you access to water adventures, such as parasailing and kayaking. Or, you can just spend some time on the beach, relaxing and working on your tan. It’s a little island, but the sugar-white sandy beach is wide. If you want to go looking for dolphins on an eco tour, WaveRunner watercrafts and boat tours can take you there. What would your family think about going on a whale watching tour? The island also includes beautiful Bowditch Point Park with picnic tables and lovely hiking trails.

3. Bokeelia, Florida

Besides featuring pristine beaches, Bokeelia is at the northern end of Pine Island just above the Big Jim Creek Preserve. Enjoy self-guided or guided tours through the preserve to observe the abundant wildlife, including the large and beautiful roseate spoonbill, which is a wading bird of the Ibis family that flourishes on the island.

4. Sanibel, Florida

Sanibel is known for beaches lined with beautiful seashells, a fishing pier, and a boardwalk that winds through the marshes. The 19th-century Sanibel Lighthouse is a great historic site to visit and photograph from the outside. Spend a day viewing rare wildlife at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which covers about half of the island and is best known as a bird sanctuary.

5. Captiva, Florida

Captiva is a small island with a big menu of exciting adventures. YOLO Watersports can set you up with rentals for jet skis, sailboats, surfboards, motor scooters, and bikes. They can also equip you with beach chairs, strollers, beach wagons, and GoPro camera rentals to catch your adventures on video. The height of excitement can be found above the surface of the water either parasailing or flyboarding.

6. Fort Myers, Florida

When you stay in Fort Myers, you’re in the epicenter of shopping, dining, arts, historical sites, and entertainment before you even start for the beach. The Edison and Ford Winter Estates are combined to form a significant historical site complete with the original homes, gardens, and museum. Tour the site at your own pace, or participate in a guided tour and learn some interesting facts about the area. You can take advantage of stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking along the Caloosahatchee River at the edge of town or travel to the beach in minutes.

7. McGregor, Florida

Situated along the banks of the Caloosahatchee River, McGregor offers easy access to freshwater fishing and kayaking. Within 15 minutes, you can get to the beach for scuba diving with Scubavice Diving, swimming, saltwater fishing, and sailing. Enjoy your preference of both kinds of watersports on any given day, or make the rounds in the local gift shops and art galleries to browse for special mementos.

8. Bonita Beach, Florida

Fido knows who’s been a good dog, and he’s ready for a Florida vacation at the Bonita Beach Dog Beach. Dogs are welcome to frolic in the water off-leash and run freely along the sandy shore with the kids. Dog-friendly vacation rentals in the area make the deal sweet and convenient for the entire family.

9. Barefoot Beach, Florida

Barefoot Beach is every bit as casual and laid back as it sounds. You can fill your days strolling along the waterfront, helping the kids build sand castles, and relaxing in your folding beach chaise. When you’re ready to step up the pace, try out windsurfing or parasailing for some adrenaline-pumping adventures.

10. Whiskey Creek, Florida

You can find a sweet vacation rental in Whiskey Creek that puts you within mere minutes of four golf courses and the beach. Boat tours and charter fishing boats wait to show you the local wildlife and help you catch some fish. If you’re interested in a day tour to the Everglades, just drive five miles north to Fort Myers to make your connections.

11. San Carlos Island, Florida

If you want to find a quiet little place to hideout, San Carlos Island gives you the privacy to do just that. Imagine stepping off your doorstep right onto the beach for morning strolls, daily swims, and searching for seashells at your leisure. It’s a little piece of island paradise made for your vacation, and it’s just a matter of crossing the bridges to reach the mainland or Fort Myers Beach for shopping and dining.

12. St. James City, Florida

St. James City is situated at the southern tip of Pine Island, bordering the St. Jude Trail. A stroll through the mangroves of St. Jude Harbor gives bird watchers opportunities to see egrets, terns, and herons. It’s a great opportunity to capture some lovely photographs of the birds and their habitats. When you want to soak up some sunshine or go sailing and kayaking, head to one of the local beaches.