I'm refusing to let go of Summer. 

While it's a bag of mixed emotions being home with the boys for two months during the summer, it's also such a great opportunity to go on new adventures and see what we can find. 

This week, we headed south to Ft. Myers Beach and it did not disappoint. I grew up nearly two hours north and had never set foot on the island so I was thrilled to make its acquaintance in my 30's with the boys in tow. Ft. Myers Beach is definitely made for families: the laid-back beach vibes gives you the opportunity to do as much or as little as you please. So before you jump to book your trip to the Gulf Coast here's everything you need to know...

This post was sponsored by The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. All opinions expressed here are my own.
Where To Stay
If you're going to Fort Myers Beach you absolutely have to stay at the Pink Shell Resort. I did a lot research on accommodations on the island and the Pink Shell always came out on top. After pulling in after a three hour flight and a 30 minute drive I know exactly why. The staff alone is reason enough to love the place. They. are. here. to. please. I have never been greeted with such an amazing staff all around.  From the valet having popsicles ready for the kids ready once we stepped out of the car, to the Bellhop who kept the baby's milk chilled until we departed on check-out day to the incredible Director of Operations who made a special point to check in and connect each day. They go above and beyond like it's just an ordinary day at the Pink Shell. Which is exactly what makes your time there simply incredible. FACT: I won't stay anywhere else on the island going forward.

The beautifully kept grounds spread across the northern beachside of the island to the marina across the street. The resort also boasts 3 pools, a spa, arcade, and library - just to name a few! The Octopool and the kiddie splash zone were our go-to spots when we weren't exploring the island. They have on-site rentals (kayaks and paddle board are free for registered guests) and 3 Restaurants. We ate at Jack's for a buffet breakfast with an omelette and waffle bar, every morning (included in your stay) and dined at Bongo's poolside the day we arrived. The food hits the spot and you can't beat the location and views. 
They constantly have activities for all ages lined up. And I'm talking everything from tie dying shirts to picture frames and ice cream socials to movies by the pool. They really have it all. If I weren't the exploring type I could have easily spent my entire trip on the grounds. But I do highly recommend you branch out and do at least a few things on my list. You won't be sorry.
Our White Sand Villa was an enormous 2 bedroom villa, so the four of us had plenty of room to stretch out in front of the panoramic gulf and pool view. With amenities like a kitchen and in-room washer and dryer you can't go wrong. It's definitely the place to go if you're bringing along your family. 
Up next...

What To Do & See 
As I mentioned before, your time spent on Fort Myers Beach can be as active or as relaxing as you please. I went with somewhere in the middle. I wanted to explore the sites & see a bit of nature while soaking up the final days of the summer sun. I didn't do absolutely everything on my list but that just means I have to go back for more...

At the northern point of Fort Myers Beach is the Bowditch Point Regional Park. It's the perfect spot to get away from the crowd for a bit and do a little bird watching. We even ran across a Loggerhead sea turtle nest that was due for hatching anyday. Squeee. We wandered the beach picking up shells and checking out the unique ecology washed ashore. We even spotted dolphin feeding about 50 feet out. Protip: pack a picnic and spend a couple hours exploring. It's absolutely beautiful at dusk.

Fort Myers Beach Times Square is nothing like my Time Square and I'm completely ok with that. It's the spot to catch some live music, grab a bite to eat and do a little shopping. We popped into a few stores and stocked up on puka shell necklaces, bracelets and sunglasses for the crew. After we did a little shopping we grabbed some Ice Cream and walked the pier before working up the appetite for a beachside lunch. We went back after dinner on our final night to find live music and dancing. It was so much fun. Check it out, you won't be sorry! 

Itching to take a day trip? Sanibel Island is the spot to go. It's just 20 minutes over the bridge and $6 will buy you entrance on and off the island. We stopped at the visitor center just off the bridge and he gave us a map and calendar of activities for the day on the Island. We had just missed the dolphin sightseeing boat tour but headed over to the Sanibel Lighthouse and beach. It. Was. Beautiful! If you're into shelling, this is where you need to go to bring home the prettiest, most unique shells that washed ashore. We came home with a handful of favorites for the boy's collection (I may or may not be taking a few to make some jewelry). We spied a few more turtle nests, took some pictures of the lighthouse and wandered the ground for another hour. This is another spot to pack a picnic and camp out for a few hours taking in the sights. The island is also home to the J.N Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve, which is a must-go spot for the area. But note, the Wildlife Drive is closed on Fridays, so plan accordingly. 

I personally LOVE Trolley rides, they're a great way to get around the island- especially if you don't want to drive or pay for parking. At just $4 for an unlimited three-day pass (we purchased ours at the Pink Shell) you can hop on and off as you please and go from each end of the island to the other with ease. Of course, kids love them because they're so unique-looking (who am I kidding, I love them because of that too!).  

Because you are at the beach, you definitely have to do something water-related right? I saw a lot of Sailing, Parasailing and Jet Skiis, and they looked amazing! A lot of spots also offer Kayak tours where you can catch an up close peek at manatees and dolphins. Which, I think, we can all agree is pretty much the coolest thing ever. 
Sightseeing Tours
If you didn't go on a sunset dolphin tour did you even have a beach vacation? If you're going to splurge for only one activity, have it be a 1.5 hour sunset tour (around $20-25 a person). The gulf coast sunsets never disappoint, and no two are ever the same. Hello cotton-candy-pink skies one day and fiery-orange the next! That plus a dolphin sighting or two? On the water? It's like heaven.

and last but not least...

Where To Eat
If you're a longtime reader you know I love food. I especially love trying new local foods- It's one of my favorite things about traveling. So when in Ft. Myers, you eat the local seafood - everything from fresh jumbo Key West Pinks (shrimp) to Paella and fish tacos. 

Located on the bay, this cozy little spot (which also happens to be an Inn) serves up fresh seafood with their own twist: they hand dip their coconut shrimp in rum and coconut and serve it with their homemade red pepper cherry sauce - Oh Em Gee! The staff is super friendly and it's fun to watch the boats go in and out of the marinas.
What To Order: Coconut Shrimp & The Crab, Lobster and Artichoke Dip

Probably the most family restaurant of the bunch, this rainbow-hued restaurant offers a lengthy menu with delicious offerings. It also just so happens to be on the Northern side of the bay so you can catch the sunset views even from inside. I went all-in and ordered a Nellie's Famous Ultimate Steamed Pot with oysters, mussels, shrimp and crab clusters. It did not disappoint. 
What To Order: Nellie's Famous Ultimate Steamed Pot 
(definitely share this meal, plenty for two!)

Grab yourself a Pina Colada and have yourself a beachside lunch while taking in the sights. Located in the prime spot of Times Square and The Pier, you get to watch fishermen ply their trade while parasailers and beach-goers soak up the sun. Unwind to live music and peel-and-eat fresh shrimp until your heart is content. 
What To Order: Peel and Eat Shrimp (on Ice) and Conch Fritters

Don't let the poolside atmosphere fool you, this place is a must-stop spot, especially with kids in tow.   They're unique Viewmaster kids menu kept them occupied for the entire meal, giving me a little quiet time after a long trip. Sit back and people-watch while you nibble on Blackened Fish Tacos (per my waiter's suggestion). I also recommend the cuban sandwich! 
What To Order: Grilled Fish Tacos (but blackened) & Cuban Sandwich.

Ok, this was my absolute favorite place to dine for the trip. It's a huge Bayfront restaurant located just before the bridge to Fort Myers Beach. We caught the most incredible candy-hued sunset as we relaxed to ambient music from the live music downstairs. The food was incredible! Jumbo Panko Shrimp the size of my palm, cooked to perfection. I don't think I've ever had fried shrimp this good, ever. The Paella was delicious, hearty and with just the right amount of heat. It was impossible to finish the entire plate. This is the spot to go if you just want to settle in and spend the evening. 

While it is technically off the island, it is super easy to get to and from. We hopped on the trolley there and walked the bridge back to our resort after dinner (about a 30 minute walk- which was much needed after stuffing ourselves like that). 
What To Order: Paella & Jumbo Panko Shrimp

Obviously, ice cream cones are essential when it comes to a summer vacation and Loveboat's homemade Ice Cream hit the spot. My only regret? We didn't try every flavor. 
What To Order: Key Lime Pie Ice Cream & Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

This one was a totally accidental breakfast stop but we're glad we stumbled upon it. Located right on the beach with the most perfect panoramic view, Shucker's offers Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. We rolled in at around 10am and ordered a huge stack of fluffy pancakes with fruit and maple syrup. The food was good and reasonably priced. 
What To Order: Pancakes and Beach Muffins

That all being said, I hope you find yourself on Ft. Myers Beach in the future. It's one of those spots you'll want to visit annually for a unique, laid-back experience. 


- PIN IT FOR LATER -