Downtown Fort Myers: Visitor Guide to the River District

Located on the scenic Caloosahatchee River, downtown Fort Myers dates as one of the first bases during the Seminole Indian Wars. Today, this area preserves its past and houses a river district full of welcoming locals, shops, restaurants and things to do. And vacationers are taking notice. Read on to learn more about downtown Fort Myers and how to explore the area.

Guide to Downtown Fort Myers, River District

downtown Fort Myers river district itrip

Photo: Ebyabe

Where is the River District?

The River District, a.k.a. downtown Fort Myers, is the heart of the city and ranks as a top destination packed full of modernity paired with its historical charm.

Downtown Parking

To accommodate visitors, those parking in downtown Fort Myers may use valet, meters, parking and garages, all at affordable prices. One of the best options are the 10-hour meters that charge 25 cents per hour – that’s $2.50 for 10 hours.

The Zip Zone parking areas also offer free parking after 5 p.m. on Mondays-Friday and on weekends and holidays. Zip Zone includes areas of Bay Street, First Street, Main Street and Hendry Street. Other transportation options in downtown Fort Myers include public buses, trolleys, taxis, and both Uber and Lyft. View the parking guide.

downtown fort myers shopping

What to Wear

The River District offers guests a warm climate year-round with average July highs around 85 and January lows in the 60s. The area has a laid-back vibe, so dress according to the day’s activities. For example, those walking around all day should wear breathable fabrics, hats and sunscreen. If planning on spending several days in the area, also pack comfortable walking shoes and a light jacket for evenings out on the town.

Recharge at These Restaurants

Need a break? There’s no better way to do that than trying a new restaurant. From popular chains to local gems, the River District houses over 50 restaurants. Chains include Starbucks, China Express, First Watch, Subway and Wise Guys. For a more local food experience, head to Downtown House of Pizza, Steve B. Waterfront Cafe, Oasis Restaurant and The Lodge.

Spend Time Shopping

Looking for the latest fashions? What about a handmade souvenir to take home? Visitors will find those and more while shopping in downtown Fort Myers. Located throughout the city streets, guests can explore over 55 stores, including art galleries, boutiques, record stores, antique and thrift stores, and apparel shops. Those looking for pampering while shopping will also find salons and spas, perfect for enjoying with best friends or a significant other.

Before heading home for the day, stop by the Downtown Farmers Market. The market runs every Thursday year-round, until 1 p.m., and features local growers, farmers, artists, fitness classes and lots of locals.

downtown fort myers harbor boat

Photo: Euku

Must-see Attractions

Perhaps the highlight of Fort Myer’s River District is the attractions that are located in proximity to one another. For example, water lovers can’t miss the Legacy Harbour Marina and the Marina at Edison Ford, each with their own amenities. Families will have a blast at the Imaginarium Science Center where they can play and learn through hands-on exhibits. Other sites to see include: Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Florida Repertory Theatre, Southwest Florida Museum of History and Butterfly Estates.

Attend Family-friendly Events

While vacationing in Fort Myers, check ahead for family-friendly festivals in the area. The city hosts several signature events throughout the year that showcase art, music, food and even cars. Summer welcomes guests to enjoy the Art Walk on weekends and a downtown Car Cruise-In on every fourth Saturday evening from May through October. In the spring, guests can attend the Pet Walk, Bike Night, fashion shows, block parties and more.

Those who can’t attend an event still have fun ways to experience local culture and see the city. One popular option is True Tours, which hosts tours that discuss, history, important figures, ghosts and culture.

Download the App

Many people also visit Fort Myers in the winter to escape cold temperatures. These snowbird residents – and those who visit regularly – should download the Fort Myers River District app, available on both Android and Apple devices. The app features helpful information, including upcoming events, directions, maps and special offers.

Read to go? Check out the rentals available in Fort Myers Beach.

View a full map of the downtown Fort Myers River District.