When you think of the word “staycation”, you may not be thinking about the city of Cape Coral. It’s a large primarily residential community atop a labyrinth of canals (the largest and most complex canal system in the world, by the way), but since it’s right on the other side of the Caloosahatchee River, it shares many of the perks and amenities that the city of Fort Myers enjoys. You may notice that many of the things you can do on a staycation in Cape Coral overlap from what you can do on a staycation in Fort Myers.
In case you’ve never been to Matlacha, it’s a mostly residential community on an island off the coast of Cape Coral and it’s well known for its fishing and boating. It’s not as touristy as Sanibel and doesn’t have any real beaches, but you can still have some fun out there.
With all the various waterways around the Cape Coral area, there’s lots of places for you to explore and one of my favorite ways to go out on the water is by kayak. While I wouldn’t recommend kayaking in the Cape Coral canals (it’s too boring and too easy to get lost), you could launch your kayaks from the southern canals in Cape Coral to go out onto the river.
If you don’t have a boat, but you want great fishing spots, then a fishing charter is the perfect solution for you. Everybody knows that fishing from a boat is just better than fishing from the shore.
- Fishing Charters, Inc.
- Crabby Charters
- Snook Blaster
- Venture Out Charters
- Chew On This
- Angling Adventures of SWFL
Sun Splash Family Waterpark
This water park has always had a soft spot for me due to nostalgia from my childhood. Local While it’s been a long time since I’ve been there, I’d like to visit it sometime again soon.
Be advised that this water park is only open seasonally and is closed during certain times of the year, but you better believe that they’re open for spring break. Make sure to check their website for more information regarding rates and schedule.
The Shell Factory
If you haven’t been to the Shell Factory in a while, this may be a fun little afternoon trip to rediscover this small, local attraction. It has a lot of variety for things to do like mini golf and a little nature park--a sort of smaller zoo. Your kids will have fun with all there is to see and do. If you or your kids like Christmas, then this is something you should check out since they have a section devoted to Christmas and where you can buy Christmas decorations all year round.
The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village
The Westin Cape Coral Resort is located in the heart of the Tarpon Point Marina community at Marina Village, which offers a variety of shopping outlets, dining options, galleries, and a spa and a salon. While it’s been awhile since I’ve been here, it was a fun experience. I arrived on by riding on my friend’s boat and we docked at the marina there to enjoy the resort in the afternoon. Cape Coral doesn’t have many resort hotels and this one is the most grand and luxurious.
Nearby Place to Shop and Dine: Cape Harbour Marina
While not a sprawling resort like the Westin, Cape Harbour has it’s own marina and can be a good destination if you have or rent a boat.
While Sanibel Island is a great place to go on a staycation if you live in Fort Myers, Cape Coral is close enough that you can visit Sanibel by just going over one bridge and being able to enjoy this island which could serve as the very definition of “staycation”. I’d recommend staying in a hotel for a more complete experience as you’ll have easy access to the beach and you won’t have to worry about loading up your car, driving to Sanibel, waiting in line on the causeway bridge (which can take upwards of an hour just to get on the island), only to enjoy the beach for a little bit to load up and rejoin the tourist rat race.
One of my favorite things to do on Sanibel is to get some friends together and rent bikes from Billy’s Rentals and then ride around the island and visit whatever you want. Bikes are about $20 per day, but that includes parking (which is very scarce on Sanibel). In addition, I’ve stayed at the Casa Ybel Resort and being able to hop on my bike and ride around the island with a place to return to, where my car is parked and where I’ll lay my head at night, and then enjoy the beach that’s available to people that are staying there is just the best.
The Cape Coral and Matlacha area have a lot of waterways ready for you to explore. One of the cool things about living in Cape Coral is that if you have a boat, you can go to any beach you want without the traffic and with all of the freedom that having a boat entails. But for the rest of us who don’t own boats, you can rent one for a relatively reasonable rate and enjoy the water while escaping the tourists.
Why do I say reasonably priced? Well, imagine the amount of money you’d need to spend to store, maintain, insure, and transport your boat in order to enjoy it (assuming you don’t live on a canal with a boat) and you can see the value in offloading all of that headache onto someone else.
If your extent of knowledge regarding farming ends at hydroponics, one of the most interesting places to visit in the North Fort Myers area is the ECHO Global Farm just off of Bayshore Road. What they do is they research and experiment with new and creative ways of growing food with found objects and materials that are available to low-income and third-world countries. It’s truly a fascinating thing to see all of the creative ways that you can grow food. Think about the old adage of one person’s trash is another person’s treasure as it applies to farming. They recommend that this learning experience is for children at least 4th grade and up.
Caloosahatchee Regional Park
While we’ve already discussed the Caloosahatchee Regional Park on our best things to do in Fort Myers on a staycation, it’s just a relatively short drive down Bayshore through North Fort Myers on the same side of the river from Cape Coral and you can enjoy a lot of the things that you can do outdoors from this one park.