The small Florida city has more canals than anywhere else in the world – including Venice. That’s why it’s known by locals as “Waterfront Wonderland.” The city of less than 200,000 residents was also just named a top summer destination, in Airbnb’s latest travel trends report, which found the most-searched destinations in the U.S. Cape Coral came in at No. 6, behind several other Florida enclaves, including Cape San Blas and Mexico Beach.
There are more than 400 miles of navigable waterways in Cape Coral that can take you to the Calooshatchee River, Matlacha Pass, and the Gulf of Mexico. Or you can journey via canalways down to Cape Coral’s downtown district. (If you don’t have your own boat, you can easily charter one — or try to befriend a local.)
Cape Coral’s downtown is relatively new (the city was founded only about 60 years ago), but it’s already thriving. In 2017, Forbes named Cape Coral the fastest growing city in America. Downtown, you’ll find everything that bigger cities offer, like restaurants, bars, shopping — and even an art gallery and history museum.
But there’s still a small-town charm to Cape Coral. The farmers market is still one of the city’s most-beloved attractions. Stop by to meet locals and savor fresh produce, homemade jams, and even made-on-site guacamole. Or you can book a tour of the nearby Wicked Dolphin Rum Distillery and sample the best spirits the area has to offer.
But no attraction can compare with the city’s access to nature and wildlife. Cape Coral sits on the Florida coast, right across the Calooshatchee River from Fort Myers. It’s a unique ecosystem, with rivers, bays, and estuaries aplenty. Opt to explore the coastline via kayak for up-close looks at the vibrant coast, filled with oyster bars, mangrove islands, and seagrass flats.
Journey to Matlacha Pass National Wildlife Refuge, where you might glimpse threatened and endangered species like the West Indian manatee, eastern indigo snake, or bald eagle. Or you can explore the 97-acre Rotary Park Environmental Center with its wetlands, salt marshes, and boardwalk. Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve is also a beloved local destination where you can chill out at sunset and maybe even catch a glimpse of dolphins in the water. Just remember to bring bug repellant. This is south Florida coast, after all.