Situated between Fort Myers Beach and North Naples, Bonita Springs is a beautiful place to visit on the Imperial River. It has excellent cultural facilities including a twin-campus Center for Visual and Performing Arts. From January to March each year, downtown Bonita Springs hosts the highly regarded Bonita Springs National Art Festivals and in late November the Taste of Bonita is one of Florida’s most popular food festivals.
Historic Attractions in Bonita Springs
One of the earliest international visitors to Bonita Springs was probably Ponce de Leon, who made contact with Calusa Indians along this coast. More recent history is celebrated in the three restored historic homes on Pennsylvania Avenue: The Packard Home, The Haldeman Home, and The Nutting Home. The renovated Liles Hotel, now the local history center, and the old cottages in Riverside Park are also worth seeing.
Beaches and Islands in Bonita Springs
Most things to do in Bonita Springs focus on the city’s beautiful coastline. Bonita Beach Park is a popular 2.5 acre beachfront recreational area with sand dunes and coastal vegetation surrounding picnic shelters and amenities. Boardwalks provide easy access to the swimming area and there is a sand volleyball court, playground, shady shelters and restrooms.
Those looking for a quieter beach in an idyllic setting will appreciate Barefoot Beach Preserve Park in North Bonita Springs. This 342-acre area of undeveloped land is on a beautiful barrier island accessed from Bonita Beach Road. Local inhabitants include gopher turtles living in the sand dunes. This beautiful beach is a top place for sunset-watching and shelling; there’s even a shell identifier chart in the parking area.
Little Hickory Island is another barrier island offering swimming, sunbathing, coastal walks, fishing, and shelling. Public parking, good amenities, and a series of beach access points makes this family-friendly beach very easy to access.
Another highlight of Bonita Springs is Lovers Key State Park. Spread over four offshore islands that once were only accessible by boat, Lovers Key is now accessible by boardwalk or free tram. It has hiking and biking trails, watersports rentals, and a canoe launch for exploring the mangroves and quiet inter-island waterways. It’s a great place for birdwatching and nature-spotting so visitors should keep their eyes open for manatees, dolphins, herons, marsh rabbits, bald eagles, egrets, and roseate spoonbills.
Natural Wildlife Attractions in Bonita Springs
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is on the outskirts of Bonita Springs. Managed by the National Audubon Society, this reserve has a long boardwalk for exploring various natural Florida habitats including a significant forest of Bald Cypress trees.
The Everglades Wonder Gardens is a historic roadside attraction that served early Florida visitors when it opened in 1936. Recently revamped, this Old Florida park has wildlife exhibits, a sanctuary for injured wildlife, natural history museum and a well-established botanical garden. It’s a great place for out-of-state visitors to see lots of large alligators along with birds, tortoises, and snakes.
Sports Activities around Bonita Springs
Bonita Springs has a few surprises such as the Bonita Disc Golf Course. This 18-hole course is set around a lake and has the same rules as golf but using a Frisbee. It’s a fun activity for all the family and it’s free to play.
Of course, there’s a choice of traditional golf courses including Bonita Fairways Golf Club, Spring Run Golf Club and the private Pelican’s Nest Golf Club at Pelican Landing.
Kayakers and standup paddleboarders can enjoy the Great Calusa Blueway that runs up the scenic Imperial River from Estero Bay. You’ll also find plenty of fishing charters, cruises and boat rentals in the area.