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Scenic Fort Myers Beach, nestled on Estero Island in southwestern Florida, is usually teeming with tourists, and for good reason — with blue-green, translucent waters and powdery white sand, the beaches here are hard to beat. However, Fort Myers is still quieter than its hard-partying neighbors on the eastern side of the state, rendering this a wonderful, family-friendly alternative to Florida’s spring break hot spots.
In addition to relaxing on the beach, travelers should make time to check out nearby Manatee Park, a non-captive warm water refuge where you can view the endangered Florida Manatee in its natural habitat. Rent a bike and go for a spin in pretty Cayo Costa State Park, visit the postcard-worthy islands of Captiva and Sanibel, or go kayaking or canoeing at the Great Calusa Blueway, a 190-mile stretch of water that links Lee County’s coastal waters and inland tributaries. Then, when all that oceanside activity leaves you ready for a nap, take your pick among the plethora of upscale luxury resorts and cozy boutique hotels in the area.
Best Overall: Tiki on the Beach
Located smack-dab in the middle of the action, right on Fort Myers Beach, Tiki on the Beach somehow manages to feel like a peaceful, oceanside oasis away from the noise. (Though rest assured, there are plenty of local restaurants and activities nearby.) This award-winning, newly remodeled hotel is consistently ranked by travelers as their #1 favorite place to stay in town, and rooms are usually booked several months in advance.
There’s just something special about Tiki on the Beach, from the hotel’s enchanting tropical courtyard and charming, bright yellow exterior to its airy, candy-colored guest rooms with commanding ocean views. Rooms come equipped with a living area, kitchenette, and private screened-in balcony, in addition to basic amenities like Wi-Fi, TV, fridge, hairdryer, microwave, free in-house movies, coffee maker, and beach towels. The idyllic property also has a BBQ pit and beachside communal area, so guests can grill fresh seafood and sip cocktails as the sun sets below the glittery blue waters of the Gulf.
Need ideas on what to do while you're in town? Check out our guide to Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island
Best Budget: Dolphin Inn
When it comes to traveling on a budget, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice style and comfort, which is why the Dolphin Inn is the perfect place to stay. Situated just steps away from the pristine white sand at the ocean’s edge, this affordable, popular hotel has a unique charm all its own.
With just 20 rooms, the Dolphin Inn is cozy and intimate, although the property’s amenities are more akin to a hotel twice its size. Guests particularly adore the free kayak and bike rentals and swimming in the hotel’s picturesque pool ringed by bright tropical flowers. Rooms vary in size and style — there are spacious one-bedroom apartments, poolside units, and a bay-view unit — but all feature a full range of amenities including a full kitchen, TV with premium movie channels, concierge service, beach towels, direct beach access, free Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, and gas grills. Apartments can accommodate up to six people and have a king bed, separate living area, full kitchen, and front alcove with double and single beds.
Best B&B: The Hibiscus House Bed & Breakfast
The historic Hibiscus House Bed & Breakfast is unlike most lodgings you’ll find in Fort Myers — rather than a sleek resort or chic boutique hotel, the Hibiscus House is a longtime B&B with a reputation for personalized, friendly service. The house itself was built in the early 1900s, when Henry Ford and Thomas Edison lived just down the street, and today, the property has been lovingly restored with warm, natural woodwork and tasteful, homey decor.
Guest rooms feature truly luxurious linens, spa showers, large flat-screen TVs, movie channels at no additional cost, free Wi-Fi, bottled water, and snacks. Each room has its own special perks, as well — Room 102 (The Bougainvillea) features an oversized bubble massage bathtub with 120 relaxing air vents and a HydroRail shower column, plus three stained glass windows commissioned from a local artist. Room 202 (The Orchid) overlooks the lovely garden area and has a king-size four-poster bed. Best of all, owners David and Pam McCurrach cook up a full breakfast every morning.
Best for Families: Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina
Families vacationing in Fort Myers should look no further than Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina for their lodging needs. First of all, this premier beachfront resort is in a prime location, on an immaculate strip of sand, away from the crowds and tourist traps that tend to clog up the beaches. The reason the Pink Shell is so popular with families, specifically, is because of the hotel’s jam-packed activities calendar.
On any given day, guests can play in a beach volleyball game, catch a “Dive-In” movie, enjoy a campfire by the ocean, take an arts and crafts class, and more. Guests can choose between several different villas, though all rooms are beachfront and come with two breakfasts every day, Fiji water, daily beach lounge chair access, an umbrella rental, and a Pink Shell Resort beach bag. Other family-friendly amenities include three on-site restaurants and a massive, lagoon-style pool complete with giant shells, waterfalls, and underwater speakers.
Looking for other activities that will keep the kids entertained? Take a peek at our guide to fun, family-friendly things you can do on Sanibel and Captiva Islands
Best for Romance: Cornerstone Beach Resort
With just 12 condo rentals on site, Cornerstone Beach Resort offers peace and quiet for couples looking to get away from it all. Located just a few steps away from the glimmering Gulf, Cornerstone is tucked away from the commercial part of the island, though the newly renovated Santini Plaza is nearby.
Here, every condo features living rooms with full sliding glass doors and stunning views of the beach and the water, plus a fully-equipped kitchen, coffee maker, blender, flat-screen TV, stereo system with iPod docking station, washer and dryer, king-size bed, and a tiled walk-in shower. Beach towels, a small cooler, beach chairs and an umbrella are also included. Guests will love sipping coffee in the screened lanai in the morning while watching dolphins frolic in the waves, as well as grilling out on the gas BBQ alongside the ocean. Perks abound here: Due to the small size of the resort, the pool area is almost never crowded, and unlike most other condos, Cornerstone offers true flexibility with its three-day minimum stay.
Best for Luxury: Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa
If it’s luxury you’re after, it doesn’t get any better than Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa. Nestled at the tip of Fort Myers, this sprawling waterfront resort boasts spectacular views of the Gulf, as well as Sanibel and Captiva Islands. The amenities here are seemingly endless: Sanibel Harbour has a private fishing pier, a state-of-the-art, 40,000-square-foot fitness center and spa, a well-stocked game room, five swimming options (two indoor and three outdoor), and six top-notch dining options including the highly-regarded Courtside Steakhouse. Embark on a romantic sunset cruise on the Sanibel Harbour Princess Yacht (yes, there’s a private yacht), indulge in a soothing therapy bath treatment at the Spa at Sanibel Harbour, take yourself out to dinner, or simply relax on your private balcony overlooking the ocean.
Guest rooms are spacious and elegant, and feature deluxe bedding, coffee makers, minibars, plush bathrobes, flat-screen TVs, floor-to-ceiling windows, and balconies; suites have living spaces with sofa beds and four-person dining tables. Shuttle service conveniently transports guests around the three resort buildings and complimentary Wi-Fi can be accessed throughout the property.
Best for Singles: The Lighthouse Resort Inn & Suites
For single travelers, the Lighthouse Resort Inn and Suites offers plenty of fun and excitement, as well as opportunities to meet and mingle with new people. The Lighthouse is located right in the middle of the bustling Times Square district, with its clusters of great shops, restaurants, and outdoor Key West-style bars, but the hotel itself is also a hub of activity and nightly entertainment. In fact, the on-site, poolside Lighthouse Tiki Bar and Grill is one of the most popular bars on the island, serving up refreshing cocktails, snacks, and meals to guests all day long. Guests also get great discounts at the Yucatan Beach Stand ($40 buys a $50 gift card), an open-air restaurant and bar that sits just across the street from the hotel.
Standard rooms at the Lighthouse offer your choice of king, queen, or two double beds with or without kitchenettes; other amenities on the property include two heated pools, on-site laundry facilities, BBQ grills and picnic area, a patio, and over 35 outdoor flat-screen TVs. Single guests will love making new friends and relaxing here.
Meet even more people by taking a trip to these top Fort Meyers attractions
Best for Business: Hampton Inn & Suites Fort Myers - Colonial Blvd
In-the-know business travelers prefer to stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites Fort Myers, conveniently located downtown, between I-75 and US 41, just off of Colonial Boulevard. Though the beach is just minutes away, this 102-room hotel is next to all the sights and sounds of downtown Fort Myers, including the famed Edison & Ford Winter Estates, the Harborside Convention Center, and the Red Sox and Minnesota Twins spring training fields. All 28 studio suites and 74 guestrooms are complete with the new Cloud 9 bed experience (a good night's sleep is essential when you're a business traveler), comfy linens, fridge, microwave, and all other basic amenities.
For corporate events, the hotel has three meeting rooms and banquet halls — the Colonial Meeting Room, Executive Boardroom, and Combined Meeting Room — of varying sizes, as well as a 24-hour business center, to accommodate your needs. Add to the list a complimentary continental breakfast, an immaculately landscaped outdoor pool area, and a friendly and reliable staff, and it’s clear that the Hampton Inn is a top choice for business travelers staying in Fort Myers.
Best Downtown: Hotel Indigo Fort Myers River District
Situated in the heart of downtown Fort Myers, Hotel Indigo is a great pick for travelers who’d prefer to stay somewhere central, rather than right on the beach. The hotel is within walking distance of several notable cultural attractions, restaurants, and shopping districts, including the buzzing Post Office Arcade, which runs adjacent to the property.
Hotel Indigo features a lively rooftop bar and pool area where guests can sip craft cocktails and take in the views of historic Fort Myers. Amenities in each room include cable/satellite TV, spa-like bathrooms, a spacious work desk with lamp, double-glazed windows, coffee maker, and complimentary Wi-Fi. The hotel is a true fixture on the urban scene; it's even a stop on the town’s monthly Music Walk, a community event that features local musicians. The unique hotel boasts modern, bold aesthetics and distinctive local flair, and is the top choice for travelers who want to be near everything that lovely downtown Fort Myers has to offer.