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Stay Sharp and Have Fun With These Local, Online Activities

Local artists, businesses and nonprofits continue offering Southwest Floridians a taste of the good life with virtual music, nature and learning.

BY April 9, 2020
Courtesy of Everglades Wonder Gardens

A shelter-in-place order can send extroverts into a full-on existential crisis.Those who can’t fathom the idea of staying cooped up for more than the eight hours required by sleep experts can take heart in knowing that many of their favorite activities are still available to some degree online. We’ve already told you about great virtual nature opportunities, online learning, art offerings and yoga classes. Many of these are still available, and as the weeks go on, more businesses and nonprofits are joining the virtual bandwagon, expanding our queue of options to pass the time. Since it looks like we’ll be holed up for at least another month, we rounded more things that have come across our radar that are worth adding to your agenda.

Sure, in many cases there is no substitute for the real thing, but we think these classes, tours, performances and views come pretty close. And since they’re all local, they provide a great opportunity for us to keep supporting our favorite institutions from home.


Everglades Wonder Gardens: Wondering what your pink pals are up to during this quarantine time? The Wonder Gardens set up a FlamCam, so devoted flamingo fans can still get a glimpse of the birds. On the YouTube live stream, you’ll see peacocks, flamingoes and other pretty birds pecking at their door, wading in the water and otherwise exploring the garden’s gorgeous campus. It’s a totally zen way to spend a few minutes.


Mercato: Although some shops in the Mercato are open with limited hours, we know that many are missing the Mercato experience, including the music and animated chatter. Not much can be done about the latter, but the upscale shopping center has solved the music problem. Tune in to the Mercato’s virtual concert series on Facebook Live to get a little taste of the entertainment we all love and hope to enjoy (in person) again soon.


Edison and Ford Winter Estates: The historical and educational facility recently launched a new series, “Edison Ford Goes Virtual,” where the site leaders take viewers on a tour through different sections of the estates via Facebook. The videos are narrated with snippets of fun facts so you can learn something new from your cozy little nook at home.


‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa: Even when the resort isn’t able to share its quaint beach cottages and crystal clear blue waters, it’s still making sure to keep its devotees entertained—even if it’s through the web.‘Tween Waters has launched a video concert series on their Facebook page that features local talent. And if you’re missing the Gulf views, check out the resort’s beach and marina cams.


Dance Dimensions: The Cape Coral dance studio vows to keep children moving. Using Zoom video software, the instructors are hosting classes in a variety of studies, including ballroom, hip-hop, tap and jazz, to help students stay fit, interact with other kids and shed any pandemic-related anxieties. To learn more, contact the team at


Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum: If you have a bucket of beach shells lying around and some littles looking for a fun project, Bailey-Matthews has published a shell-crafting activity on their webpage. Kids can create a sweet trinket that they can be proud of (hint: it’ll be a hoot). Keep posted on more fun activities to come on the museum’s Instagram page. 


Rookery Bay Research Reserve: Rookery Bay has launched a virtual education program to continue sharing the importance of Southwest Florida’s wildlife and coastal habitats. Each week features a new theme, like Shark Research or Coastal Resilience, and those who are interested can tune in to Rookery Bay’s website or Facebook page for related videos, tours, interactive activities and quizzes that will make them a master of Rookery’s 110,000 acres without ever leaving home.


Tiny Theatre: Rachel and Brendan Powers, two of Florida Repertory Theatre’s actors, can’t perform in their usual downtown Fort Myers digs due to COVID-19. Instead, they opted to launch Tiny Theatre, a series of miniature performances, from their home closet. A cell phone camera and a white bed sheet backdrop prove enough to keep the arts alive. 


Laugh-In Comedy Cafe: One thing’s for sure—we’re all looking for a little more levity right now. The popular Fort Myers comedy club kicked off a season of laughter on their Facebook page, having already shared a Cooking with Comics segment and a full-length streaming of The Almost All Lady comedy show. Check back to the page and be prepared to get your laugh-on.


Marco Island Historical Society: Even if history wasn’t your strongest subject, you now have  a chance to redeem yourself. The Marco Island Historical Society recently launched its virtual History at Home program. Designed for all ages, the program includes crossword puzzles, printable coloring pages, Mad Libs and other interactive activities created to sharpen your understanding of historical figures and events. Don’t forget to check out MIHS’s online database, with access to over 19,000 objects, photos, artwork, books and other archival materials from different collections.

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