Surrounded as it is by the likes of Sanibel Island and Fort Myers, Cape Coral sometimes gets overlooked in favor of its glamorous neighbors. But anyone who's ever been there will tell you that it's one of the friendliest and most attractive cities in southwest Florida. With glorious all-year-round sunshine, 400 miles of canal, and an endless variety of activities to enjoy, it's a superb destination for the whole family. If you're planning to visit, be sure to check out these 20 best things to do in Cape Coral, FL.
20. Watch the Cardboard Boat Regatta
Cape Coral has a great lineup of special events during the year. The Cape Coral Cardboard Boat Regatta is one of its most popular. Each April, groups come together to make a cardboard boat and then race them in the water. You wouldn't think that cardboard and water mix, and ordinarily, you'd be right - but Cape Coral residents are canny, and know exactly what to do to make it work. Regardless of whether you take part or simply watch, it's always a lot of fun.
19. Enjoy the nature trails at Sirenia Vista Environmental Park
As capecoral.gov says, the 8 acre Sirenia Vista Environmental Park is an excellent place to watch the manatees playing, especially in the cooler months, as well as fishing throughout the year. There are also several excellent nature trails to enjoy, along with a kayak launch that allows visitors to access the Calusa Blueway.
18. Stock up on fresh veggies at the Cape Coral Farmers Market
If your kitchen is looking bare, head to the Cape Coral Farmers Market to stock up on some of the freshest local produce in Florida. You'll be dazzled by the selection of goods on offer, which includes fresh fruits, vegetables, homemade jams and chutneys, pickles, bread, cheese, dips, baked treats, and much, much more besides. It's also a great place to find some handmade souvenirs to remind you of your visit.
17. Enjoy a round of golf at Coral Oaks Golf Course
Golf and Florida go together like love and marriage, and at Cape Coral, you'll find plenty of places to enjoy a round or two. One of the best golf courses in town is the 18-hole, Arthur Hills-designed Coral Oaks Golf Course. With its perfectly manicured grounds, eight lakes, 37 bunkers, and astonishing views, it'll bring out the hidden golfer in anyone. Attached to the main course is a very impressive practice facility with a chipping area, putting green and driving range. If you need a few hints on your technique, the course offers private lessons and golf clinics with PGA professionals. If you get peckish, the onsite restaurant is a great place to grab a light bite and a beverage.
16. Enjoy a performance at the Cultural Park Theatre
If you're in town between September and May, why not enjoy a performance at the Cultural Park Theatre, southwest Florida's longest-running theater? With a roster that includes Broadway favorites like “Chicago” and “South Pacific,” you're always guaranteed an entertaining evening.
15. Visit Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens
Ranked as one of the best things to do in Cape Coral by travelcrog.com, Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens serves as the international headquarters for Florida artist, Leoma Lovegrove. A riot of color, art, and creativity, it's a glorious way to step into Lovegrove's technicolor world. Not only do you get to enjoy Lovegrove's art, but you can even create some of your own. Before you leave, be sure to indulge in some homemade ice cream, which comes served in a real coconut shell that you can take home as a memento of your visit.
14. Tuck into some seafood
If you're on the Gulf Coast, it would be remiss not to enjoy some freshly caught seafood (unless you have an allergy, in which case, you're excused). Cape Coral is bursting with places to tuck into some tasty fish, from upscale, swanky fine dining restaurants to old-school seafood shacks. If you're staying in a condo with a kitchen, you could even hit up one of the city's markets to buy some to cook yourself. If you'd rather leave someone else to sweat over the oven, you might want to take the advice of Trip 101 and book a table at Twisted Lobster. As one of the finest seafood restaurants in the city, you're guaranteed a memorable meal - the lobster mac and cheese comes particularly recommended.
13. Check out the art at Harbour View Gallery
If you've got a passion for art, don't miss a visit to the Harbour View Gallery during your visit to Cape Coral. Not only does it display the work of local artists, but it's also owned and staffed by the artists themselves. If you've got any questions about any of the displays, there's a chance you might be able to get an insight from the very person who created it. According to Trip Advisor reviewers, it ranks as one of the best attractions in Cape Coral, with its relaxed vibes, helpful staff, and expansive range of exhibits standing out for particular praise.
12. Take a boat out on the Caloosahatchee River
When the sun is out, there's no better way to enjoy a day in Cape Coral than by taking a boat along the water. The city's waterways can be accessed via one of five public boat ramps - BMX Boat Ramp, Burnt Store Boat Ramp, Horton Park Boat Ramp, Rosen Park, and Yacht Club Boat Ramp. Once you're on the canal, you can float upstream to enjoy the delights of the Caloosahatchee River, or even venture out onto the Gulf of Mexico. If you'd rather leave the technicalities to someone else, consider booking a place on a boat tour instead. While someone else takes care of the steering, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy spotting the area's ocean wildlife. To add a bit of romance to the experience, book a sunset cruise for two.
11. Take the kids to Sun Splash Family Waterpark
As The Crazy Tourist says, if you're more into water parks than you are seawater, treat the kids to a visit to the Sun Splash Family Waterpark. On a hot day, there's nowhere better to cool off. Boasting 14 acres of aquatic fun, its thrilling selection of slides is perfect for adrenaline junkies. There's also a toddlers section with pint-sized slides and inflatables for little ones, along with a relaxing lazy river, an ecological boardwalk, and a family pool.
10. Birdwatch at the Rotary Park Environment Center
Like birds? Then you're going to love the Rotary Park Environment Center. As part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, its diverse ecology provides a safe haven for thousands of birds. With wetlands, salt flats, uplands, and ponds to discover, it's a lovely place to spend a day, regardless of the season. If you visit on a Monday, Friday, or Saturday, it's worth taking a free tour of the Tom Allen Memorial Butterfly House, a gorgeous garden that boasts dozens of varieties of colorful butterflies.
9. Get on your bike
If you want to give your legs a workout, jump on a bike (if you didn't bring your own, you'll find several bike rental companies scattered around the city) and explore the 90 miles of interconnected bikes routes that run alongside the canal. Along the way, you'll pass by nature preserves, golf courses, marinas, pristine mangrove forests, and stunning views over the Caloosahatchee River. The routes are exceptionally well maintained, and there are plenty of spots along the way for you to get off your bike and take a picnic, a hike, or even enjoy a spot of kayaking.
8. Relax at Jaycee Park
If you're looking for somewhere to kick back and relax, head for Jaycee Park. A longstanding favorite with locals and tourists alike, it's ideal for a picnic, a game of frisbee or simply lying back and soaking up some rays. If you feel like working up a sweat, you'll find several fitness stations dotted around the park that are free to use and come with much better views than any gym you'll ever visit.
7. Visit the museums
If you get bored of soaking up the sun on the beach, get your culture fix with a tour of Cape Coral's museums. There's plenty to choose from, but some of the most unmissable ones include the Cape Coral Historical Museum and the Southwest Florida Military Museum. The Cape Coral Historical Museum boasts three exhibit buildings that chronicle the history and development of the town and its surrounding area. It also has a historic rose garden that, come summer, transforms into one of Cape Coral's most beautiful and fragrant destinations. The Southwest Florida Military Museum, meanwhile, offers a fascinating insight into US military history from the 18th century through to the present.
6. Soak up the sun at Cape Coral Yacht Beach
The beaches of Cape Coral don't get as much attention as some of their bigger neighbors along the coast, but they're no less worthy of a visit. As capecoralforum.blogspot.com notes, the Cape Coral Yacht Beach is a gem, with enough attractions and activities to keep the whole family happy. Along with the beach, there's a public pool, a swanky restaurant that does a great menu and even better live music performances, a covered kids playground, a boat launch, and tons of fishing spots. There's even a ballroom that you can hire for parties or visit for the monthly Sunset Celebration craft shows.
5. Check out the exhibits at the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts
If you're in Cape Coral during January, be sure to check out the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts. Each year, hundreds of exhibitors descend on the city to show off their creative wares. Along with the displays, there's also plenty of food vendors, activities, and fun things for the kids, including a rock-climbing wall, an activity center, and a play area.
4. Enjoy some fishing
If you're a keen angler, be sure to bring your fishing tackle with you when you visit Cape Coral. Its long canal promises excellent fishing along its shoreline. If you want to get serious about things, you could even schedule a fishing charter to take you out into the water, where you'll have the opportunity to fish for snook, redfish, giant tarpon, and more besides. If you forgot your own gear, it's simple enough to rent. If you'd rather stay on dry land, try some shelling instead.
3. Take a tour of the Wicked Dolphin Artisan Rum
If you want to treat your tastebuds to some of the best-handcrafted rums you'll find this side of the Caribbean, head to the Wicked Dolphin Artisan Rum for a tour. Not only will you get to sample some of their award-winning limited editions, but you'll also get to support a local business - it's a win-win. Tours take place on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Friday nights and Saturdays, although advance reservation is advised. If rum leaves you cold, check out the Cape Coral Brewing Company instead. The brewery is happy to serve you up a cold one any time you want, but if you want to learn a little more about the mechanics that go into making craft beer, visit on the weekend to enjoy a guided tour.
2. Visit Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve
If you love the natural world, be sure to visit the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve while you're in Cape Coral. Located just a little north of Veteran’s Parkway, it's one of the largest preserves in Cape Coral that's open to visitors. Take a stroll through the marshy jungle to the waterfront via its boardwalk, visit the Veteran Memorial Area, spot wildlife (including eagles, ibis, herons, and even the occasional dolphin if you're lucky), take a kayak out onto the water... the opportunities are endless. Before you head out, stop by the visitor center to pick up some information about the preserve and what you can expect to see during your visit.
1. Visit the Yacht Club Community Park
The Yacht Club Community Park is one of Cape Coral's most popular recreation sites. Since 1962, it's been inviting visitors to enjoy its vast array of amenities, which include a public beach on the Caloosahatchee River, picnic shelters and BBQ grills, a marina, a fishing pier, tennis courts with a pro shop, racquetball courts, shuffleboard courts, and a beach playground area. If all that wasn't enough, it's also home to the Yacht Club Community Pool. Open 7 days a week from 10 am until 5 pm, the pool boasts a heated Jr. Olympic-sized pool along with a kid's pool with underwater bubblers and an interactive dewdrop fountain.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn