The Gulf Coast of Southwest Florida is home to some of the most magnificent attractions and beaches, like Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, as well as Sanibel and Captiva Islands. On September 28th, 2022, this region got hit by Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm that affected many businesses and beaches. However, in the midst of this tragedy, these cities showed great resilience in recovering and rebuilding after the storm.
Tourist season is upon us and if you are planning a trip to these cities, you may be concerned about what is open. To help you plan your trip, here is a guide on what to expect from Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, and Sanibel and Captiva Islands.
A Community Coming Together
Since Hurricane Ian, the community has truly come together to help people and businesses get back on their feet. Hundreds of people came together to clean up beaches and roadways, donations have been rolling in to help with the relief efforts, and charities have been helping around the clock to bring back these wonderful areas. If you are interested in learning about how you can help, learn more here.
What Businesses Are Open?
Since rebuilding is still heavily in progress more and more businesses, attractions, and beach areas are reopening so please check ahead to see the latest info. Click here to learn more about what’s open at Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island.
The following are some businesses that are open for tourists:
Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf
Smugglers Cove is one of the most popular attractions in the Fort Myers area. It's a special place that offers an exceptional mini golf course with fun, pirate-themed décor, and thrilling obstacles. This makes golfing on this course a true adventure that hundreds of locals and tourists love.
When Hurricane Ian struck the region, the team at Smugglers Cove was determined to rebuild and reopen as soon as possible. They understood the course's importance to the community and wanted to continue creating a safe and fun environment for families to enjoy. The team removed debris and repaired structures damaged by the hurricane. Thanks to their dedication and hard work, this mini golf course is now open to delight locals and tourists with an unforgettable golfing experience.
Hurricane Ian caused a severe amount of damage to our local beaches. Although there has been a tremendous amount of clean-up done, most public beaches throughout Fort Myers, Sanibel, and Captiva Island are still currently closed.
Beach access currently is limited to Gasparilla Island State Park, Blind Pass Beach Park, and Tarpon Bay Road Beach access area. Click here if you want to learn more about the tentative opening plans for beaches and beach parks.
Pinchers Crab Shack
If you're looking for the best seafood restaurant in Fort Myers, Pinchers Crab Shack is a perfect spot. The restaurant is famous for its fresh yet delicious seafood and comfy, laid-back atmosphere.
After Hurricane Ian, Pincher's quickly repaired the damaged roofs and structures, repainted the walls, and sandblasted the floors. This enabled the business to reopen just a few days after the storm. Pinchers is now serving tourists and locals fresh and delicious seafood cuisines. They still offer a beautiful and relaxed atmosphere that visitors know and love.
Parrot Key Caribbean Grill
Parrot Key Caribbean Grille has been voted the Best Waterfront Dining since 2004 and is the perfect place to grab some delicious Caribbean-inspired seafood. Although the hurricane caused them to be closed for several months, they are now back open for business! They have a limited menu, but the same tropical drinks and paradise vibes are back!
Florida Native Butterfly Society
The Florida Native Butterfly Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of Florida’s native butterfly species. They hand-raise every butterfly there as a part of their breeding program and have education programs to teach others how to build butterfly gardens.
Hurricane Ian damaged a lot of the fencing around the property, but left the glass butterfly conservatory unscathed thankfully! They are now open their regular hours of Nov - May: Tuesday - Sunday 10 am - 3 pm and June - Oct: Tuesday - Sunday 9 am - 2 pm. Keep in mind if the heat index is high they close early.
Edison and Ford Winter Estates
Thomas Edison and Henry Ford left an incredible legacy for the Fort Myers area, where they spent their winters. When you visit the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, not only do you get to their winter homes but also acres of botanic gardens, a museum, a laboratory, a Garden Shoppe (Garden Center), and a Museum Store. They are also a 2022 top-rated destination based on TripAdvisor visitor ratings so this is a definite must-visit.
Hurricane Ian caused extensive damage to the gardens and landscaping, but thankfully the elevation of the estates saved them from flooding. Now they are back open for business and although there are still some areas of the property that are still closed, they are ready for visitors again.
Hurricane Ian caused much destruction in the Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, and Sanibel Captiva Island areas. Thanks to the hard work of businesses and locals, some areas are ready for tourists and locals. If you are interested in a fun activity for all to enjoy, come to Smugglers Cove for a round of mini golf. Contact us today for any questions and we hope to see you soon!