If you wonder where to take your vacation, simply follow the happy visitors who enjoy returning to the Fort Myers area year-after-year. Situated on Florida’s sunny Gulf Coast, this destination gives families more activity and adventure opportunities than you can cram into one vacation. It’s at the beach, and that means tanning, swimming, diving, snorkeling, and surfing. Add fishing in saltwater and freshwater, arts, entertainment, and museums and the to-do list fill up easily and quickly. While you work on that, here’s a list of the 12 best Fort Myers vacation rental locations.

1. Ft. Myers, Florida

When you aren’t frolicking on the beach with the kids, make your way to the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, where 20 acres of botanical gardens and historical buildings feature impressive exhibits. Enjoy guided tours of the homes, gardens, and laboratory on different days. Browse the museum store and Historic Ford Cottage Shoppe to look for collectibles to take back to your vacation rental home.

2. North Fort Myers, Florida

Set out for a wet and wild adventure when you stay in North Fort Myers. Rise above it all with a ride on equipment from Sky High Jet Packs and Fly Boards where the power of water propels you several feet into the air for a thrilling ride. There’s also a fun house with gigantic indoor inflatable slides, arcade games, a kids’ dance club, and toddler play area. The kids will be glad to crash in their beds when you return to your comfy vacation rental house.

3. Cape Coral, Florida

Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature in the 97-acre Rotary Park Environmental Center in Cape Coral. Explore salt marshes, walking trails, open parks, and the fabulous Tom Allen Memorial Butterfly Garden. The center also features a large dog park for your fur kid. After all of that walking and exploring, retreat to the comfort of your cozy vacation rental cottage to relax and recharge your batteries.

4. Whiskey Creek, Florida

Slip out on the porch of your vacation rental home in Whiskey Creek one quiet morning to enjoy a few moments of first daylight. Enjoy your coffee and wait to hear the delighted squeals as the kids awaken and realize they’re on a beach vacation. Get ready to make some sand castles and inflate some armbands for the morning at the beach. For a change of pace, check into guided kayak excursions along the Caloosahatchie River.

5. Fort Myers Shores, Florida

Excitement awaits around every bend in Fort Myers Shores. Experience a half-day shelling and dolphin watching trip with Banana Bay Tour Company to score some cool souvenirs to take back to your vacation rental condo. For some excitement, board the Murder Mystery Dinner Train to enjoy a live murder mystery play and a five-course dinner. The three-and-a-half hour train trip runs from Fort Myers across the Caloosahatchee River.

6. Lehigh Acres, Florida

Enjoy a well-appointed vacation rental Lehigh Acres home, just 12 miles east of Fort Myers. Visit any of the plentiful canals and lakes for freshwater fishing, and take advantage of saltwater fishing opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico as well. Experience fishing for grouper, mackerel, snapper, and snook on a chartered fishing tour. When you’re ready for a change of pace, hit the greens at one of the four championship golf courses in town.

7. Matlacha, Florida

Matlacha is the biggest tiny town that you can choose for a vacation getaway, accessible by the bridge between Cape Coral and Pine Island. Browse antique shops, art galleries, and collectibles shops to scoop up local wood and metal art, handmade jewelry, pottery and blown glass. Then take your treasures back to your neat vacation rental cottage where you can lounge on the porch to watch dolphins playing nearby.

8. Punta Rassa, Florida

One way to shake off stress is to make Punta Rassa your vacation destination. Step into a different world and delight the kids when you take them on Salty Sam’s Pirate Cruise ship. Immerse yourself in the 90-minute interactive comedy aboard a 65-foot Spanish galleon replica. You take the pirate oath, join a mutiny, and engage in lots of fun and games while the ship cruises about the Gulf of Mexico.

9. Iona, Florida

Pick a vacation destination that makes your reality better than most peoples’ dreams when you stay in Iona. Picture yourself stepping out the back door of your vacation rental waterfront home on the Caloosahatchee River and enjoying your morning coffee as you watch the sunrise. Then you rally the family for your Everglades Day Safari adventure that includes an airboat tour through sawgrass prairies and a drive through cypress forests. Which kid wants to hold the little alligator?

10. Pine Island, Florida

Hide out in plain view when you cross the bridge from the mainland to Pine Island. Drop off the luggage in your vacation rental condo and take the kids for a barefoot stroll on the beach to unwind from your trip. Pick a day to experience travelling by water taxi to Useppa Island for a visit to the Barbara Sumwalt Museum. Enjoy trying your luck on the Bokeelia Fishing Pier at the northern end of the island where you don’t need a fishing license.

11. Fort Myers Beach, Florida

It’s your turn to cut loose for a sunny vacation at Fort Myers Beach where the sand is sugar white and the water is crystal blue. Break out the bathing suits, boogie boards, buckets, shovels, and sunscreen and get ready for a day of family fun. Fling open the door of your tidy vacation rental beach cottage and watch the kids dash just a few yards into the surf, putting smiles and smiles between you and your humdrum daily grind. The last one in is still a happy camper.

12. Sanibel Island, Florida

Explore your vacation paradise on Sanibel Island where 22 miles of paved trails meander through a wildlife refuge and to the 1884 Sanibel Lighthouse. Enjoy biking the trails or rent a golf cart for getting around the island as you explore, find places to eat, and enjoy the beaches. Gather seashells at the lighthouse and then relax to watch the dolphins play. Take your treasures back to your vacation rental cottage to save as souvenirs of your island getaway.