Spend your winters in Southwest Florida.
Southwest Florida is blessed with white sandy beaches and some of the country’s best winter weather, making it a favorite destination for Snowbirds from across the U.S. and Canada. If you’re an RVer or want to be, spending the winters in Southwest Florida might be for you! Read on to see why we think so.
Winter visitors in Punta Gorda, Fort Myers, and San Marcos can keep busy visiting the area’s attractive mix of nature preserves, exotic wildlife rescue centers, and botanical gardens specializing in tropical plants.
There are also historical sites, including the winter estates of two of America’s most famous inventors and entrepreneurs: Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.
You’ll be surprised how much there is to see and do in Southwest Florida. And if this isn’t a good enough reason to rent an RV, I don’t know what is.
Winters in Southwest Florida For RVers
Here’s a sampling of some of the scenic and historical attractions in the greater Punta Gorda, Fort Myers, and Naples areas. We’ve included local festivals, nearby RV parks, and resorts that winter visitors can use as base camps. Also, it highlights several cool things to see and do in Southwest Florida this winter.
Babcock Ranch Preserve
This preserve includes everything from pinelands to dry prairie to cypress domes and cypress swamps. The preserve also provides habitat for wide-ranging species such as the Florida black bear and Florida panther. It is home to the native wild turkey, white-tailed deer, northern bobwhite quail, crested caracara, gopher tortoise, red-cockaded woodpecker, eastern indigo snake, and Florida burrowing owl.
The preserve’s wetlands contribute to aquifer recharge for Southwest Florida and help maintain the health of the western Everglades ecosystem, particularly the Caloosahatchee River and Charlotte Harbor Estuary. Visitors can access the preserve through a hiking trail, an equestrian trail, and eco-tours.
Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary
This sanctuary is a rescue center for exotic animals, including cougars, lions, hyenas, bears, birds, and reptiles.
Peace River Wildlife Center
Since its beginnings, it has treated over 50,000 birds and small mammals, offering highly skilled care by trained and permitted wildlife rehabilitation specialists with years of experience treating native fauna disease and trauma.
The Center typically has over 100 permanent wildlife residents on educational display. All of the permanent residents are available for viewing by the public in attractive, spacious aviaries and habitats suggestive of their native environments.
Among the birds available for viewing are bald eagles, hawks, owls, ospreys, crested caracaras, sandhill cranes, pelicans, herons, shorebirds, cormorants, songbirds, crows, and vultures. Tortoises, turtles, opossums, and rabbits are also on display.
Thomas Edison, the world-renowned inventor, purchased a 13-acre piece of land on the Caloosahatchee River and developed plans for his winter retreat, which included houses, a laboratory, and extensive gardens. He was later joined by his close friend, automobile magnate Henry Ford, who purchased the property next to Edison’s for his winter estate. Visitors to Edison and Ford’s winter estate homes can also see caretaker’s houses, a botanic research laboratory, and a 15,000-square-foot museum.
There are more than 20 acres of botanic gardens, including demonstration gardens for Florida native plants, succulents, and beautiful trees and plants worldwide.
Manatee Park is a seasonal location for viewing non-captive Florida manatees in Lee County. Manatees visit the park in search of warm water during the cooler days in winter when the temperature in the Gulf of Mexico is below 68 degrees. The warm water in the Manatee Park canal comes from the Florida Power and Light Power Plant across the street and is created as a byproduct of cooling off their equipment.
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
This preserve includes over 3,500 acres of wetland ecosystem with a boardwalk trail and interpretive center. The cypress slough catches and slowly filters rainwater on its way towards Estero Bay. Various animals live at the Slough year-round, including otters, alligators, turtles, and wading birds. Others, like migrating birds and butterflies, use the slough as a feeding area or winter home.
The Bird Gardens of Naples
The Bird Gardens of Naples is a non-profit organization primarily focused on education, the welfare of captive birds, and the conservation of wild species. The gardens have approximately 200 birds at any given time, including parrots, macaws, and cockatoos.
There is no admission fee, although donations are accepted. Tours must be booked online/
Crew Bird Rookery Swap
There are 12 miles of hiking and biking trails in this swamp area, which features a wide variety of wildlife, including alligators. Canoe and kayak rentals are also available.
Naples Botanical Garden: This garden conserves the plants and habitats of the tropics while offering lots of adult programming, including guided morning walks and tours and informative talks on various gardening topics. Subjects could include how to repot orchids, propagate succulents, and create a healthier, more resilient garden environment. The botanical garden partners with conservation organizations in Southwest Florida and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to identify and conserve threatened plants and conduct research.
2024 Winter Festivals In Florida
Fort Myers Seafood and Music Festival, Jan. 5-7 in Fort Myers: This festival is held on the waterfront in historic downtown Fort Myers. Foods are cooked fresh onsite with a variety of side dishes and desserts! Seafood is from Florida’s coastal waters, a sustainable and renewable resource.
Punta Gorda Seafood and Music Festival, Jan. 12-14 :
This three-day festival features live music and fresh seafood cooked onsite. The festival also features a marketplace with arts and crafts, gourmet food items, and specialty products.
ECHO Global Food and Farm Festival, March 12-16, in North Fort Myers: This festival offers to learn about tropical and international foods, sustainable living, and innovative gardening.
Fort Myers & Fort Myers Beach RV Parks
- — Blueway RV Village
- — Encore Fort Myers Beach RV Resort
- — Encore Gulf Air RV Resort
- — Encore Pioneer Village RV Resort
- — Encore Sunseekers RV Park
- — Indian Creek RV Resort
- — Orange Harbor
- — Raintree RV Resort
- — Southwind Village Mobile Home & RV Park
- — Sun-N-Fun MH Village & RV Park
- — Sun Retreats Estero Bay
- — Sun Retreats Siesta Bay RV Resort
- — Swan Lake Village and RV Resort
- — Tice Mobile Home Court and RV Park
- — Upriver RV Resort
- and many more RV Parks in Florida
About the Florida RV Park & Campground Association
Based in Tallahassee, the Florida RV Park & Campground Association is the trade association for Florida’s privately owned RV parks and campgrounds. The association provides business services, advocacy, and promotion for the industry and its members. The association also publishes free printed camping guides for Florida. For more information, visit the association’s website at CampFlorida.com.