Image courtesy of Keiser University.
Everyone knows that Fort Myers is the destination spot for a fantastic Florida Gulf Coast vacation. Its sunny, warm climate and beautiful, shell-filled beaches beckon visitors from all over the world. But this city has so much more to offer than just beaches-- although those are definitely worth a visit! Fort Myers is also home to fantastic shopping and dining, and over the years has grown into a cultural hub in southwest Florida. From art museums, historical sites, and theater, Fort Myers’ cultural scene is something worth experiencing!
We’ve put together a list of the best cultural attractions waiting for you in the City of Palms, that should be as much a part of your visit as the beaches are.
2505 First St. | Fort Myers | burroughshome.com
When a cattleman from Montana came to Fort Myers on business at the end of the 19th century, he liked the area so much, he decided to buy property and erect this stunning house. The Murphy-Burroughs house was one of the jewels of Millionaire’s Row, and was one of the first with indoor plumbing and electricity. It was willed to the city of Fort Myers in the 1970s, and has even been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Tours are given of the historic home and gardens, and allow visitors to step back into the early 20th century and see what life was like for the wealthy families that lived here. If you can, visit the home during the holidays for a special show!
“Walked through both homes which were decorated for Christmas. Have wanted to see inside these homes for several years, and wasn’t disappointed. Staff very informative of the history of both homes!” - Trip Advisor Review
2268 Bay St. | Downtown | floridarep.org
If it’s live theater you’re looking for, stop in for a show at the Florida Repertory! This professional theater company has consistently been named one of the best performing arts groups in the country, and is a cultural gem in Fort Myers. The theater here has the support of the local community, who appreciate the dedication that the actors and the staff of the theater put into each and every production.
The Florida Rep also engages with the community, offering classes and workshops to help teach learners young and old. You never know what plays next season will bring, but you can guarantee they will be stellar performances!
“Great little theater with wonderful plays. They never miss a beat with their selection and performances.” -Trip Advisor Review
10091 McGregor Blvd. | Georgetown | artinlee.org
The arts are an integral part of a city, and Fort Myers’ Alliance for the Arts seeks to bring the arts to all those who are interested-- especially in underserved communities. They have all kinds of programs that are dedicated to including the arts in schools, and even offer space for young artists to exhibit their work. Their work also incorporates theater programs into schools as well, and they support an excellent youth theater program.
The Alliance for the Arts knows you’re never too young or too old to get involved with the arts, and they work diligently to keep the arts alive and well in Fort Myers.
“'I’ve been to a few of the exhibits, a lecture and I frequent the Market at least once a month. I love the local support from and for the Alliance for the Arts. It always feeds my soul with a smile.” -Trip Advisor Review
1936 Henderson Ave. | Roberto Clemente Park | leecountyblackhistorysociety.org
The LCBHS educates the Fort Myers community about the history of African-Americans, not just in Fort Myers, but in our country as a whole. It engages with the community so that this knowledge is known, so that the many contributions of African-Americans do not go unnoticed or unheralded.
It also is responsible for managing the Williams Academy Museum, which is a restored one-room school house where African-American children were once taught, segregated from their white peers. It displays memorabilia from the black community, and shows the deep contrast between the black classrooms and white classrooms of Fort Myers’ past.
“We visited the museum on a recent visit to Florida! You are immediately drawn in by Betty's passion for our history and the pride she has in this little gem!” -Trip Advisor Review
3450 Ortiz Ave. | Ft Myers | calusanature.org
This is a natural history museum and planetarium all rolled into one, and definitely worth a visit! The museum aims to engage the Fort Myers community with the beautiful natural spaces all around them, and educate them on the native flora and fauna. They offer many classes to the public, and even have a rescued animal shelter and aviary on site.
But don’t forget, this place also has the only planetarium in southwestern Florida! Visitors can learn all about the skies above Fort Myers by visiting the daily showings or by booking it for a special event or star viewing party.
“They have animal talks everyday and the planetarium shows are included. We listen to the animal show everytime and learn something new about the creatures in this area. It is a fun day rain or shine.” -Trip Advisor Review
9902 Gulf Coast Main St.| Gulf Coast Town Center | paintingwithatwist.com
Maybe you’ve visited a couple of museums in Fort Myers and are looking for something more hands on, but still on the cultural side. Stop in at Painting with a Twist and get the best of both worlds! You can sign up for classes ahead of time and reserve your seats according to your schedule.
These are such fun events, and really get you to think more creatively. It is also a BYOB event, so feel free to bring some wine with you as well to your painting session!
“We visited this place after Christmas and the two girls were stellar. We brought our own bottle of wine. Paintings turned out terrific. Would recommend it.” -Trip Advisor Review
1380 Colonial Blvd. | Ft Myers | broadwaypalm.com
The Broadway Palm Theatre is a great way to get to see a Broadway-caliber show, and enjoy a delicious meal too! This theater company strives to excel at both, and offers a variety of plays for the enjoyment of their audience. The company also has off Broadway Palm shows and childrens’ theater as well, and has continuously brought great theater to Fort Myers.
This theater company also puts on many concerts in the Fort Myers area as well, and even offers up their stage for private events and rentals. You’re in for an entertaining time when you stop in the Broadway Palm Theater!
“This dinner theatre was amazing. The show was awesome, The food selection included salad bar, soup station and full delicious buffet...the show and cast were excellent. Highly recommend.” -Trip Advisor Review
950 Dunlop Rd. | Sanibel | sanibelmuseum.org
Just a short drive from Fort Myers is the beautiful island of Sanibel-- which has its own interesting history. Learn all about how the island was populated and how thriving industries were built along the Gulf coast. There are historic buildings available to tour, including the Caretaker’s Cottage, the Sanibel Packing House, the Post Office, and the Old Bailey General Store. Most of these buildings are restored to their original appearance, which can range from the late 1800s through the 1920s.
Volunteers work hard to bring the history of Sanibel Island to life for curious visitors. There is also a well stocked gift shop where you can pick up local artwork and additional reading on the history of Sanibel, as well as the upkeep of the historical village.
“Have been coming to Sanibel for years and finally took the self guided tour. It was interesting to learn about the Sanibel of old and the people involved. The tour made me appreciate the island even more!” -Trip Advisor Review
1005 Estero Blvd. | Ft Myers Beach | petestimeout.com
You just can’t beat listening to live music. No matter what city you decide to visit, it’s always a great idea to seek out some venues that offer live local music. At Pete’s you’ll hear performers who are at the top of their game, and really want to get their music out there for the enjoyment of the public. Pete’s has live music every night of the week except Sunday, and the place tends to get pretty packed!
Live music says a lot about a city’s cultural scene, and Pete’s Time Out never fails to deliver to those looking for a little more culture with their beach vacation.
“This beach bar was inviting because of the artist playing guitar and singing.” -Trip Advisor Review
751 Tarpon Bay Rd. | Sanibel | towergallery.net
This artists’ cooperative is home to a roster of 23 artists, who produce original works in paints, ceramics, photography, wood, glass, and metal. Their artwork is on display for the public, but it is also available for purchase, should you simply fall in love with a particular piece.
This is a very special space that allows local artists to showcase their work for the public, and really is a wonderful addition to the Fort Myers culture scene. This gallery is definitely worth a look!
“Tower always has interesting things to see and to buy. Manned by the artists, you have a good chance to ask questions to the person who created the piece that interests you.” -Trip Advisor Review
Fort Myers is a fantastic place to visit, and as we’ve shown, not just for the sunny weather and pristine beaches! The arts are alive and well in this southwestern Florida city, from art co-ops, theater, museums, and historical sites, if you’re looking for a lot of culture, consider planning a trip to Fort Myers.