August 4, 2022

Six little-known places to explore this summer

ABOVE: Alva Library and Museum. COURTESY PICTURES

Bustling downtown Fort Myers and Cape Coral, the resort islands of Sanibel and Captiva, booming Bonita Springs and Fort Myers Beach are perhaps the headliners for where to spend the day or weekend. -end in Lee County, but if you look deeper into the soul of our region, you’ll find some sweet hidden secrets. Here are six lesser-known local destinations.

Alva

It may be hard to believe that little Alva once served as the hub and largest city of Lee County, thanks to its location on the Caloosahatchee River. At its heart, it remembers its heyday with the sweet, small Alva Library & Museum (www.alvaflmuseum.com), directly opposite Alva United Methodist Church dating from around 1886, Instagrammable with its cladding white clapboard and its bell tower. Stroll along the road for snaps of the river and its drawbridge.

In rural areas, farms and farms make Alva a foodie destination, but Caloosahatchee Regional Park (www.leegov.com/parks) is the crown jewel, a draw for mountain bikers, mountain bikers, campers, horseback riders and hikers. Paddlers often rent a kayak from the park to make the trip along a tributary to Hickey Creek Mitigation Park (www.leegov.com/parks).

RIGHT: The Calusa Heritage Trail in Pineland.

RIGHT: The Calusa Heritage Trail in Pineland.

Lehigh Acres

Keen birders head to the Harns Marsh Preserve, renowned for its sightings of snail and potato kites. Veteran’s Park and Recreation Center (www.leegov.com/parks) honors service personnel on an oak-lined driveway dedicated to veterans. It has a cricket ground among its lakeside sports facilities. Lehigh Acres is also a place to satisfy your appetite for Caribbean and Mexican cuisine.

Estero

Koreshan State Park (www.floridastateparks.org) and shopping are the stars of this town, often lost between Fort Myers and Bonita Springs. Leave the main Tamiami trail to discover the heart of the city at Estero Community Park (www.leegov.com/parks), home to a thriving historic park including the 1906 Hall-Collier House and the House of the 1904 Old Estero Schoolhouse. Drive Highland Avenue east of Tamiami Trail to see more historic homes.

North of Fort Myers

Home to one of Lee County’s premier attractions, Shell Factory & Nature Park (www.shellfactory.com), North Fort Myers is a city first and foremost. At its heart is North Fort Myers Park & ​​Recreation Center (www.leegov.com/parks), with a disc golf course, pickleball and shuffleboard courts and a full range of sports and picnic facilities. fuck. Plan to have lunch or dinner with a view of the river.

Isle of Pines

A trip to Pine Island is a detour to another era. What it lacks in tracks, it makes up for in character. Explore the galleries, shops and seafood houses of quirky Matlacha. For nature hiking, head south to Galt Preserve in St. James City, where 2.5 miles of trails take you through bird, bobcat and alligator habitat. Then delve into the past at the Museum of the Islands (www.museumoftheislands.com) in Bokeelia and the Calusa Heritage Trail (www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/rrc/visit/trail/) in Pineland.

Boca Grande

In the northern part of our county, the shops and restaurants of downtown Boca Grande have a sleepy, bygone feel. Explore it on foot, by bike or golf cart, and don’t miss the quaint Banyan Street and the grand dame Gasparilla Inn (www.the-gasparilla inn.com). Plan your beach trip to Gasparilla Island State Park (www.floridastateparks.org) and visit the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum (www.bips.org/portboca grande-lighthouse) for historical context.

For more ideas on exploring hidden gems in the islands, beaches and neighborhoods of Fort Myers, check out www.VisitFortMyers.com. ¦