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Are you looking for a great getaway to southwest Florida? Located on the Gulf Coast of Mexico between Naples and Fort Myers, Bonita Springs FL is often eclipsed by its more famous neighbors. But Bonita Springs (including Bonita Beach) is the perfect home base for your SW Florida exploration. Here are the best things to do in Bonita Springs, FL:
Best Things to Do in Bonita Springs, FL
Sun and splash on Bonita Beach
With ten beach access points along the length of Hickory Boulevard, you can’t miss an opportunity to enjoy the white sand along what is mostly private property. This 2.5-mile beach also delivers some of the best beachcombing in the area. Don’t skip a visit to Bonita Beach when in the area.
PRO TIP: Shelling is permitted as long as the shells do not contain living animals. Please leave sea creatures that are alive, like sand dollars and starfish, alone!
Cool down with a scoop or two.
With four locations in the area, Royal Scoop is a local tradition. The original store in Bonita Springs is a crowded location with a large parking lot for such an unassuming locale. Serving fresh-made ice cream since 1979, Royal Scoop has become a generational destination – we used to go there when I was a kid-type place.
From some basics to some extraordinary flavor combinations (Death by Peanut Butter as an example – a peanut butter ice cream with peanut butter cups mixed in), there is sure to be something to please even the pickiest ice cream fan. Check their website for an idea of flavors before you go or be tempted by all the flavors you’ll see upon arrival.
During the busy season (fall to spring), the store is open from 11 am to 10 pm, so it’s always the right time for a scoop or two!
PRO TIP: Occasionally, you’ll find discount coupons in the local Bonita Banner – a FREE publication.
Learn about the Everglades at Wonder Gardens.
First opening in 1936, the Everglades Wonder Gardens is a 3.5-acre botanical garden waiting to be explored. In addition to both local and world plants, the Gardens’ biggest draw is their flamingos. The Gardens also provide shelter to rescued birds and reptiles. Orchids, bamboo, and other flowers were soon added to the mix.
More recently, the Gardens transitioned to non-profit status. With each new visit, guests will see updated enclosures and improved facilities. Feed the flamingos, and get up close at the re-designed Alligator Encounter, expected to re-open soon. The prior Alligator Encounter saw guests perched over a swinging bridge over the alligator enclosure.
The Everglades Wonder Gardens’ new botanical gardens format is much more welcoming and worth a visit.
Watch the Sunset.
Facing the Gulf of Mexico, many spots along Bonita Beach offer optimal sunset watching. Bonita’s Doc’s Beach House and several of the state parks make for some of the best places to watch the sunset in SWFL.
Enjoy a tall cool draft.
Opening its doors in November 2014, Momentum serves as a gathering place for young and old alike. Having moved from its original location on Bonita Beach Road to Hunters Ridge Boulevard, Momentum’s new location can now accommodate more guests than ever. Check out my review of Momentum!
Try your luck.
Located on the former Greyhound Racing Track is Bonita Springs’ Poker Room. Whether you’re a poker player or looking to watch and wager on sports events and races, you’ll find lots to keep you occupied for a fun outing. The facility includes a Brass Tap, making food and small-batch craft beer.
Watch an acclaimed film at the Center for the Arts.
From classes and performances for visitors to Bonita Springs, the Center for the Arts offers exciting offerings for visitors, especially fans of films. On Monday nights, the Center hosts Films for Film Lovers. Viewers watch some of the best movies, and guests are encouraged to participate in a lively discussion following the showing.
Putt around at Safari Mini Golf.
Open seven days a week, Safari Mini Golf is the place to make family memories. A great place to spend an evening or an afternoon if the sky is overcast, Safari Mini Golf has entertained visitors for over 30 years. While there may be larger, fancier miniature golf options nearby, this is the original!
If you might be interested in playing more than one time, join their Safari Club for free to receive $6 per person rounds for the first month in addition to other discounts. During the summer, $5 Wednesdays are the way to go. For the remainder of the year, it costs $11.50 per adult, including extra rounds. In other words, the day pass can be used the entire day – even if you leave and come back.
PRO TIP: A mobile-friendly coupon is usually available on their website, so no printer is needed!
Get some fresh products at the Bonita Springs Farmers Market.
From October through April, spend Saturday mornings from 8 am to noon visiting the Bonita Springs Farmers Market. Stroll through the stalls selling fresh local produce and products. This is the best place to buy tropical flowers and bouquets. Dogs are welcome on a leash. The market gets crowded later in the morning, so go early if you prefer to avoid the rush.
Best Things to Do in Bonita Springs for Outdoors Lovers
Enjoy the relaxation at Lover’s Key.
While technically the address is in Fort Myers Beach, geographically, Lovers Key State Park is located on one of the four barrier islands that comprise Bonita Springs.
Once upon a time, this two-mile stretch of beach was so hard to access that only lovers would make an effort, hence its name. Now a state park, Lovers Key makes the list of best beaches in Florida time and again and is easily accessed from both Bonita Springs and Fort Myers Beach. With restroom and shower facilities, and plenty of parking, this stretch of white sand beach is a can’t-miss-spot in Bonita Springs.
To enter the park, there is a fee of $8 per vehicle. Those holding an individual annual state park pass ($60) pay $2 per additional passenger. Those having a yearly state park pass ($120) pay $2 for any passenger over 8 in their vehicles.
Rent a kayak.
With all the back bays and mangroves, Bonita Springs’ waterways beg to be explored. The best ways to do this are by renting a kayak (or a paddleboard). Several providers will deliver kayaks to your rental. Many businesses are also ideally located at a starting point near the waterways. Nature and eco-tours by kayak are also available where you may spot dolphins and manatees.
Rent a jet ski or parasail
Conveniently located next to the main public beach in Bonita Springs, Bonita Jet Ski rents jet skis and parasails for those who would like a little bit of excitement or adventure for an hour or so.
Where to Stay in Bonita Springs, FL
Barefoot Beach is a 2-minute drive away. Complimentary kayaks and bicycles for guests are a major draw for this hotel located on a back bay. Spend an evening relaxing in the plunge pool or sitting by the purple flame fireplace.
This elegant hotel receives significant points for its fun backyard bar. Because of its location away from major roads, you won’t hear any traffic noise – you’ll enjoy a getaway that feels like an escape from the daily grind.
Located near the intersection of Bonita Beach Rd and Imperial Parkway, the Fairfield opens to travelers in July 2021. Marriott Hotels offer an excellent place to put your head down in a setting that consistently delivers a great experience. Don’t forget to use your Marriott Bonvoy card for extra benefits.
Or consider an Airbnb! There are some great rentals in the area, depending on whether or you want to be on the beach or don’t mind walking or driving. Get a discount on your first Airbnb rental.
Here is the magnificent view from the VRBO, where I stay during my visits to Bonita Springs.
Best Places to Eat in Bonita Springs, FL
Bonita Springs offers a variety of meal options, including some unexpected treasures. Here are some of our favorites:
Coconut Jack’s Waterfront Grill: 5370 Bonita Beach Rd SW
Offering views of the back bay, Coconut Jack’s Waterfront Grill is a hotbed of activity. This restaurant offers complimentary valet parking to reduce backups on the main road. The coconut shrimp basket is fabulous. Don’t miss a slice of key lime pie for dessert!
Doc’s Beachhouse: 27908 Hickory Blvd
The only restaurant located directly on the beach, Doc’s offers the best view of the sunset while enjoying dinner or a refreshing drink. The laid-back atmosphere is perfect for beachgoers visiting the neighboring public beach. You can even order a pizza to take home if you prefer.
Angelina’s Ristorante Fine Italian Dining: 24041 S. Tamiami Tr
Are you looking for an upscale experience? Angelina’s is the answer. Offering an expansive wine list that complements the dining experience, you’re sure to find a unique selection. The Fra Diavolo Risotto is a personal favorite.
Big Hickory Waterfront Grille: 26107 Hickory Blvd
Whether you arrive by boat to one of the restaurant’s 24 slips or drive, you’ll enjoy waterside dining by the back bay. Mike’s Bayou Shrimp offers a unique twist on peel and eat shrimp. Consider their daily specials for fresh offerings.
The Fish House Restaurant: 1523 Periwinkle Way
Boaters and beachgoers enjoy this pet-friendly restaurant. Paddleboarders, kayakers, and other boaters can be seen from the waterfront seats. You may even catch sight of the occasional manatee! Their fried shrimp basket serves up delicious bites. The menu offers gluten-free and vegetarian options too.
Aji Limon Taste of Peru: 26455 Old Rd 41, #19
Offering a huge selection of plates featuring Peruvian cuisine, this local favorite (they have 5 locations in SW Florida!) serves good food and huge portions at reasonable prices. The lomo saltado is my favorite, though they offer several variations as well. Even your picky eater will enjoy something here!
Doug’s Seafood: 3411 Bonita Beach Rd SW
This family-run fish market serves some of the best New England seafood around. Whether you’re in the mood for clam chowder, a Maine lobster roll, or just excellent seafood, you’ll find it here. Judging by the lines that are frequently out the door, visit during in-between meal times. It may take a little longer to get your meal, but you’ll have avoided waiting in long lines.
Getting to Bonita Springs, FL
The nearest airports for those traveling to Bonita Springs are the Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers and the Naples Municipal Airport. Access Bonita by vehicle from the airports by Interstate 75 or Highway 40. There are plenty of hotels near the main highway intersections. Guests wishing to stay on or near the beach, consider a vacation rental such as VRBO, Airbnb, or a rental property.
Bonita Springs is Worth the Getaway!
There is so much to do in Bonita Springs, for the lover of the outdoors and of exploration. Bonita Springs is the perfect getaway to relax and appreciate life in general. And the lack of hotels in Bonita Beach makes for a much more private experience to calm the mind.
PRO TIP: Pick up a copy of the Bonita Banner (it’s FREE!) when you arrive to find valuable coupons to local establishments.
Do you have a favorite activity or place you’d enjoy? Let me know in the comments below!
Looking for more Southwest Florida getaways? Check out these other great posts (many of which are the perfect day trips from Bonita!):
- Best Places in SW Florida to Watch the Sunset
- Best Things to do in Naples
- Best Things to do in Fort Myers
- Everglades Vacation Guide: Everglades City, Chokoloskee, and Ochopee
Annick, The Common Traveler
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