Head to sunny southwest Florida for a Ft. Myers vacation full of sand, surf, and adventure with your family. Nestled along the coast, Ft. Myers gives you access to perfect shell-hunting beaches, fun cruises, and kid-friendly museums to fill your vacation itinerary. With so many Ft. Myers vacation rentals within minutes of the beaches, museums, and Florida’s natural beauty, the area makes it easy to maximize your vacation time.

1. Visit the Beach

When vacationing in Ft. Myers, a trip to the beach is a must. Ft. Myers Beach offers gentle waves with beautiful sandy shores that slope gently toward the water, so it’s ideal for young kids. Bowditch Beach gives you a more natural option that’s quieter and calmer. Pack a bag of beach toys and floating devices to enjoy your day at the beach. When you return to your vacation rental, you have a warm shower waiting to wash off all the sand and salt water.

2. Hit the Water Park

If you prefer pools over open ocean water, spend a day at Sun Splash Family Water Park. Spend time at the Tot Spot or float leisurely on the Main Stream River Ride with your little ones. For the older kids in the family, Sun Splash features plenty of thrills on speed slides and a slide over five stories tall that feels like you’re free falling. Grab snacks at the concession stand to keep up your energy levels. At the end of the day, you can lounge around your vacation rental to rest after all of your watery excitement.

3. Check Out Nature

Spend time wandering the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium to get closer to nature. Trails and elevated boardwalks lead you through the 100-acre facility. An interactive museum gives you close encounters with native Florida wildlife. Check out the beautiful creatures in the butterfly aviary, and learn more about hawks, bald eagles, owls, and other birds of prey in the Audubon Aviary, where injured birds reside. Spend some time learning about the stars, or catch a laser light show at the planetarium. When you get back to your vacation rental, look for the constellations you learned about while at the center.

4. Visit the Islands

Take a day trip to Sanibel Island and Captiva Island for more coastal fun. Sanibel Island is a popular place to look for seashells, so your kids can find their own free souvenirs while on the island. Visit the lighthouse, or spend time at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, which features nature trails, a butterfly house, and a nature center. Next door, Captiva Island offers several children’s programs, such as a sailing school, beach day camps, and fishing programs. Both islands cater to outdoor-loving beach fans.

5. Go on a Cruise

Its proximity to the water makes Ft. Myers an ideal launching point for family-friendly cruises. One popular option for families is the Pieces of Eight pirate cruise. Board a ship styled after Spanish galleons for swashbuckling adventure. Crew members dress as pirates and put on an interactive, comedic show to keep kids of all ages entertained for the 90-minute cruise. Dolphin cruises are also readily available in the area. Kids enjoy spotting dolphins as they pop out of the water.

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6. Learn About Science

Beat the Florida heat with a trip to the Imaginarium Science Center. The exhibits disguise learning with kid-friendly interactive displays covering everything from tropical storms and dinosaurs to sports science and marine life. Spend time at the “Sea to See” touch tanks, where all ages get to touch horseshoe crabs and yellow spotted stingrays. The Fisheye Lagoon offers additional marine life learning in an outdoor exhibit. If you have a young history buff in the family, check out the Hall of History area.

7. Play at Lakes Regional Park

A trip to Lakes Regional Park is the perfect way to stretch your legs and find entertainment for all ages. Paved and unpaved trails let you get a little exercise and explore Florida’s natural beauty. Pack a swimming suit before leaving your vacation rental, so your kids can cool off at the park’s splash pad. A 15-minute ride on the miniature railroad is another favorite of young kids. Rent boats and bikes at the park, or bring your own nonmotorized or electric boat to take on the freshwater quarry lake in the park. A vacation rental with a garage gives you the perfect spot to store your watercraft. The lake is a popular fishing spot, but beware the alligators that also call the lake home.

8. Visit the Zoo

The nearby Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens boasts a range of animals from near and far, including the African honey badger, which is only on display in four zoos in the United States. Other animals on exhibit include parrots, leopards, black bears, panthers, and porcupines. Glass enclosures let you get very close to the animals, so your little ones see their favorite species in great detail. The Primate Expedition Cruise takes you on a catamaran ride around the primate habitats. Learn more about alligators during a hand feeding presentation.

9. Visit an Amusement Park

Zoomer’s Amusement Park offers a day of play with a variety of attractions. The park features bumper boats, go-karts, mini golf, roller coasters, games, and more family-friendly entertainment. While many attractions are geared toward older kids, the midway ride area features several rides for young kids.

10. Visit the Shell Factory

The Shell Factory and Nature Center is a Ft. Myers classic that appeals to the whole family. Spend time with animals in the nature park, which serves as home to over 400 animals. See alligators in Gator Slough, wander through the aviary, or pet farm animals. Dinosaur Park delights your little dino fans with fun statue. In the Fun Park area, you can find a rock climbing wall, trampolines, a zip line, bumper boats, mini golf, and an arcade to occupy all of your kids. Pick up shells, fossils, coral, and other Ft. Myers souvenirs to take back to your vacation rental at the Shell Factory shop.

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