Map of Estero

Estero

Estero, Florida

Our knowledgeable staff can offer advice on the best things to do in Estero along with tips on the beaches and where to stay. With something appealing for everyone, your Estero stay can be customized to meet your requests.

What sets Estero, FL, apart from Florida vacation spots?
Estero lies between Fort Myers and Naples and boasts natural charm, exquisite shopping and family-friendly fun. The white sand beaches of Lover’s Key State Par, Miromar Outlets and Germain Arena, home to the Florida Everblades hockey team, are Estero’s popular attractions.  The heart of Estero is the spring-fed Estero River which flows to Estero Bay. The river was the site of most settlement an development up until the 1970s. Estero’s name is Spanish for “estuary.”

What are the best beaches in Estero, Florida?
Dip your toes in Southwest Florida’s best beaches and start with Lovers Key State Park and its 2.5-miles of gorgeous Gulf of Mexico beach. The park has three distinct beaches with north beach accessible at the north honor gate, the middle portion of the beach which does not have facilities and south beach which is perfect for families because it has a gazebo, picnic area and restroom. Within a 40-minute drive from Estero, find more than a dozen beautiful beaches including Bowditch Beach Park at the northern end of Estero Island, Bonita Beach Park in Bonita Springs, and Lowdermilk Beach Park in Naples.  If you are traveling with your canine, head out for a morning at Dog Beach in Fort Myers Beach. Florida State Parks charge an entrance fee and many county beaches charge a parking fee. 

Estero Things to do

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Estero Places to stay

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Estero Eat and Drink

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Where is the best place to parasail in Estero, FL?
Parasailing is one of the few activities where you feel like a bird soaring in the sky. The best place to parasail in Estero is on nearby Fort Myers Beach where there are top-rated service providers. Choose to fly solo or make it a tandem flight with a significant other or friend.

What is the history of Estero, Florida?
Estero’s history dates back at least 2,000 years when the area was inhabited by the indigenous people called the Calusa Indians. Their kingdom inhabited Southwest Florida with a population in the thousands. Archeologists believe the center of the Calusa kingdom, which was composed of hundreds of shell mounds, was Mound Key which is located in Estero Bay. The mound is composed of pottery, shells, animal bone and fish. With the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s, the Calusa population dwindled to extinction due to the diseases they brought with them and the Calusa did not have the immunity or resources to fight them. Many settlers lived on Mound Key including San Antonio de Carlos in 1566, the location of Florida’s first Jesuit mission.

The first homesteaders arrived in Estero in 1882 and more than a decade later, the Koreshan Unity, a utopian society, moved their commune from Chicago to Estero, and were active until the early 1960s.  During the mid-1890s, citrus growers settled along the Estero River and the area was incorporated in 1904. Homes built around 1919 by Portuguese and Spanish fishermen who settled in the area can be viewed on Highlands Avenue. 

The Tamiami Trail, connecting Tampa to Miami, was built in the 1920s as well as two railroad lines resulting in changing how the shipping industry and visitors arrived to the area, shifting transportation by river to rail and road. Motor home parks arrived in the 1940s and the first subdivisions were built in the 1950s and 1960s followed by gated communities and condominiums in the 1970s. Modern-day developments of Miromar Outlets, Florida Gulf Coast University and Germain Arena in the 1990s led to residential and commercial growth.

What are things to do in Estero, FL?

Boating – Water is a way of life in Estero and experiencing it by boat is the best way. This can be done during a leisurely paddle on the Estero River in a kayak or an eco-tour in Estero Bay. Bring your boat or rent one to explore the Bay or venture out to the Gulf of Mexico. Plenty of marinas and boat ramps are available if you will be bringing your watercraft to Estero.

Canoeing, Kayaking and Standup Paddle Boarding – Since Estero is located on the Estero River and Estero Bay, it’s an ideal area for paddlesports. The Great Calusa Blueway, a system of paddling trails inspired by the Calusa Indians, passes through Estero Bay.

Bring your canoe, kayak or standup paddle board to paddle through some of Southwest Florida’s scenic waterways. Paddle through Koreshan State Park along the brackish river which leads to Estero Bay or join the College of Life Foundation for a historic paddling tour. Or, paddle the nearby Imperial River. Estero Bay is popular for spotting Southwest Florida wildlife such as dolphins, Western Indian manatee and a host of birds. Join an outfitter for a guided ecotour to learn about the estuary and sea life living in the sea grass. Canoe, kayak and standup paddle boards are available for rent if you don’t have your own.

Day Tripping – Estero’s location makes it the perfect hub to base a Southwest Florida vacation because in less than an hour, you can visit popular attractions. These include the Florida Everglades, Edison & Ford Winter Estate in Fort Myers, the soft sand beaches of Fort Myers Beach, and Sanibel Island with its beautiful, shell-strewn beaches and the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. 

Dining – Everyone needs to eat and Estero offers a nice collection of restaurants for every palate and every budget. Dine at an eatery with a familiar name as California Pizza Kitchen, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and Ted’s Montana Grill or choose to eat at a hidden gem as Restoratives Café and Rusty’s Raw Bar and Grill. Choose from waterfront dining or grab a bite while shopping. Of course, being so close to the water, seafood is easily found on local menus.

Fishing – Fishing is popular in Southwest Florida and Estero offers plenty of opportunities to fish for a variety of species including bonnethead sharks, grunts, pompano, redfish, sea trout, and snook, to name a few species. Estero Bay is fed by 10 rivers, is shallow and 15 square miles of primarily brackish water. Fish the Gulf of Mexico from Lovers Key State Park. In the rivers, fish for freshwater fish such as largemouth bass. Boats can be rented by vendors for a day of the water, or hire an experienced fishing guide who knows the waters and regulations for an enjoyable Estero fishing trip.

Golf – Tee up on one of more than a dozen Estero golf courses with play for all skill levels.  Select from a championship course listed as one of the best by Golf Digest Magazine or an Audubon certified course to enjoy a day on the greens and appreciate some of Southwest Florida’s wildlife. If you won’t be bringing your clubs, rent them at many of the local courses.

Shopping – Of all the things to do in Estero, it’s the shopping that attracts many visitors, specifically, the exquisite shops and restaurants at Miromar Outlets. Shop more than 140 designer and brand names such as Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, Ann Taylor Factory Store and Bloomingdale’s The Outlet Store while saving up to 70 percent.  Shop for apparel, beauty products, home goods and electronics. Coconut Point Mall is about 15 minutes from the Southwest Florida Airport and offers a fine collection of retailers including Chico’s, Lilly Pulitzer and Michael Kors. You’ll also find a nice selection of restaurants.

What tips for vacation rentals should we consider in Estero?
Estero offers hundreds of vacation rental options throughout the year including those managed by a third-party rental agency to those that are privately owned. The best Estero vacation rental is determined on what you’re looking for in a Florida vacation and your budget. Choose something with a waterfront or beach view for an exotic, tropical feel or something inland to experience Estero like a local.

Whatever you choose, protect your vacation investment. We recommend you spend some time researching the rental property by reading reviews on peer review sites and contacting the owners. There are many scams out there, especially online, so protect yourself and your vacation with the right information by asking the right questions. Never wire transfer money for a rental, especially to someone overseas. If a vacation rental seems too good to be true, it probably is, and don’t be afraid to walk away from the deal. 

Is Estero, FL a good spring break destination?
Estero is primarily a residential area and offers a mix of solitude, outdoor activities, and the latest in shopping in dining. Everyone is welcome to visit Estero as their Florida Spring Break destination and the area is popular with families and older couples. Some college students visit during that time and are typically visiting relatives, although they enjoy the beaches, kayaking, fishing, shopping and sunshine. Traffic is typically heavier during this time of year and beach parking is at a premium so plan accordingly.

Is Estero, Florida safe?
Safety is an important factor when planning a vacation or new place to live. The best advice we offer is to check crime levels yourself and stay on alert during your vacation.

One of the most important factors when deciding on a vacation destination or a new place to live is your personal safety and the safety of your possessions. In other words, how bad is the crime? The best advice is NEVER take a real estate agents’ or reservation clerk’s word for crime levels. Instead, research them yourself. Start by visiting  the Lee County Sheriff’s Office website to search for the crime rate in Estero then visit a site such as AreaVibes.com to see how that compares. There are additional resources available online. If once you arrive to your accommodations and do not feel safe, do not be afraid to check out and seek other options.

What are the points of interest in Estero?

According to the local Chamber of Commerce, here are the best places to visit and things to do in Estero: 

College of Life Foundation Historic Hiking and Kayaking Tours Established in 1894, the College of Life Foundation provides fun and informative hiking and kayaking tours with an emphasis on nature and history. Their mission is to “preserve and educate about the history and environment of South Florida with an emphasis on the communal Koreshan activities.” Source: http://www.collegeoflifefoundation.org/

Estero River Outfitters – In business since 1977, Estero River Outfitters is the go-to source for getting on the water in a kayak, canoe or standup paddle board. Rent one for a couple of hours or day to explore Estero from another vantage point. The outfitter is also a bait and tackle shop, offers free demos daily and is located on the Estero River.

Germain Arena – Catch concerts, a variety of events, and if you’re visiting during the winter, the Florida Everblades minor league ice hockey at Germain Arena. The facility is located right off I-75 making it easy to access and is near the Miromar Outlets. 

Koreshan State Park – Cyrus Reed Teed settled in Estero in 1894 to build the “New Jerusalem” for his new faith called Koreshanity. He brought his followers and the colony, called Koreshan Unity, believed the universe was within a giant, hollow sphere. In 1961 the final members of the colony deeded the land to the state establishing Koreshan State Park. Visitors can see 11 historic structures dating back to the 1882 – 1920 and exotic vegetation from around the globe. The state park is popular for boating, fishing, hiking and picnicking. Take a self-guided tour of the area or join a state park guided walk.

Miromar Outlets – Easily accessible from I-75, a day shopping at Miromar Outlets is its own adventure. Take your time to shop more than 140 designer and brand names such as LOFT Outlet, Neiman Marcus Last Call Store, and Marcus, Tommy Hilfiger while saving up to 70 percent.  Shop for apparel, beauty products, home goods and electronics. Recharge your shopping soul with a meal at one of the delicious restaurants such as Ford’s Garage, La Bamba Real Mexican Food Restaurant & Tequila Bar or Naples Flatbread & Wine Bar. Check their calendar of events for special happenings and sales. 

Mound Key Archaeological State Park – Rising more than 30 feet above Estero Bay is Mound Key, home to shell mounds created by Calusa Indians. The entire island is a historic site. Archeologists believe Mound Key was a ceremonial center for Calusa during the 1500s when the Spanish first attempted to colonize this part of Florida. Mound Key is only accessible by boat and does not have any facilities. A hiking trail less than a mile leads over shell mounds created by Calusa with the tallest being 33 feet. Guided paddling tours of Mound Key are offered by the College of Life Foundation.

What are the best hotels in Estero, Florida?
Estero is a modern Florida town and offers a comfortable selection of lodging to fit every traveler’s needs with chain hotels, condos, vacation homes and RV parks. The best hotel is a matter of preference as to what type of accommodations you prefer and your budget, whether it’s feeling like you are a million miles away from the real world or wanting to live like a local.

How is the weather in Estero, Florida?
Keep up to date with the current Southwest Florida weather by downloading a weather app or bookmarking a website, as well as 3, 5, 7, 10 and 15-day forecast. For averages, visit The Weather Channel website.

Estero has a sub-tropical climate making mild winters from January to March. The rainy season in is June – September and on average, these months receive 8.3 – 10” of rain. The “off months” will range between 1.7 – 2.9” per month. This makes a difference when planning a vacation. The rainy season also has the highest temperatures with highs averaging 90+ and the lows in the mid-70s.

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