Things to do in Bonita Springs and Estero

Enjoy the sights, with options for the whole family—from tranquil nature preserves to fun activities–in Bonita Springs and Estero. 


1. Bonita Beach Dog Park 

Here’s one of the few beaches in Southwest Florida where you can bring your four-legged friend and even let them roam leash-free. Pups of any size are welcome. Just keep in mind that Bonita Beach Dog Park is affected by the tides, so during high tide, you may be wading through some water to get to the beach. Consult a tide chart online to time your trip perfectly. 


2. Bonita Jet Ski & Parasail 

A prime location to get out into (or above) the Gulf, Bonita Jet Ski & Parasail has its fleet of jet skis right on the sands of Bonita Beach. The popular dolphin jet ski tours take you through Estero Bay to see the playful water mammals. If you’re looking for a bird’s-eye view, the parasailing adventures fly you up to 1,200 feet above the water. 


3. Bonita Springs Historical Society 

Learn local history during the Bonita Springs Historical Society’s History Walks, which takes you through the city’s quaint downtown and to century-old sites like Shangri-La Springs and the Liles Hotel. Tour themes vary: some may focus on the Calusa’s presence in the region, others on the importance of Bonita’s waterways and the story behind how the city got its name. If you’re around for the holidays, don’t miss the festive lights tour through the downtown parks. 


4. Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs 

The Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs have evolved over the last 60-plus years to become a top spot for music, theater and art. Two buildings down the street from each other maintain their own focus: The Visual Arts Center hosts local and traveling exhibits, painting and drawing classes, and pop-up art shows; while The Performing Arts Center brings through Grammy-winning headliners, along with open-mic nights, live theater and indie films in its two theaters.  


5. CGT Kayaks 

Rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards from CGT Kayaks in Downtown Bonita’s Riverside Park, then make your way down the Imperial River—an untouched slice of Old Florida that’s part of the easy-to-navigate, 190-mile Great Calusa Blueway paddling trail. CGT also hosts paddle tours, and it partners with the Bonita Springs Historical Society for educational walks of the historic downtown and for programs focused on Calusa art. 


6. Estero River Outfitters 

For paddleboards and kayaks, it’s hard to find more knowledgeable people than those at Estero River Outfitters. Best of all, it’s located right on the Estero River, so you can demo many of the items before purchasing them. And you’ll have plenty to choose from, with more than 500 kayaks on site. A newbie to the water? Estero River Outfitters offers kayak and paddleboard training as well as guided tours. For a different view of Southwest Florida, book a nighttime paddle. 


7. Farmer Mike’s U-Pick 

This 100-acre farm started in the 1970s, is the place to go for fresh, organic produce—take your pick from rows of tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, lettuce and more, depending on the season. Sunflowers, snapdragons and other flowers are also available for picking at certain times of the year. Don’t miss their fall festivities. Locals look forward to the pumpkin patch, with hayrides, a haunted corn maze and plenty of family-friendly activities to celebrate Halloween. 


8. Koreshan State Park

More than 100 years ago, Cyrus R. Teed founded the Koreshan Unity Settlement among the oak trees along the Estero River. The religious cult is gone, but they left a secluded property with 200 acres of gorgeous greenspace (including trails) and 11 historic structures, some dating as far back as the late 1800s. Learn about the Koreshans–then stay to boat, fish or hike. Stop by every Sunday for a farmers’ market featuring local produce and arts and crafts. 


9. Mound Key Archaeological State Park

Mound Key is only accessible by boat or kayak—and it’s well worth the paddle. The shell mounds on this small island in Estero Bay once served as the spiritual center for the Calusa tribe. You’ll launch your boat from Lover’s Key or Koreshan State Park to get to this underrated gem. Once there, hike along the .75-mile trail with historical signs. It’s rustic—there are no other amenities there—making it the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of Southwest Florida.


10. Old Corkscrew Golf Club

Old Corkscrew was already a premier course in Estero. Then, the Hoffmann Family of Companies bought it, and now they’re pumping millions into sprucing up the Jack Nicklaus-designed course over summer 2022. Though, this place is already gorgeous: The par-72 maxes out at 7,393 yards and doubles as a certified Audubon International Silver Signature Sanctuary. The course has membership reciprocity with some clubs, and the public can tee off here through the “Member for a Day” program. 


11. Paddle Naples 

Paddle Naples focuses its guided kayak, stand-up paddleboard and fishing tours on the Estero Bay, where you get up close with dolphins, manatees and other marine life in the peaceful bay, which spills into the Gulf. Launching from Big Hickory Island, the tours take you to secluded beaches and mangrove hammocks. Serious fishers can book a kayak fishing trip to go in search of tarpin. Or, you can venture out on your own with kayak and paddleboard rentals. 


12. Promenade at Bonita Bay

The Mediterranean-inspired Promenade at Bonita Bay is a stunning outdoor shopping center with waterfalls and alfresco seating. Visitors will find a nice mix of upscale boutiques, salons and restaurants, including Kelly Chase Couture Bridal Boutique, Eden’s Closet for kids and DeRomo’s Gourmet Market & Restaurant, known for its authentic Italian delicacies. There’s also a farmers’ market on Saturdays.


13. Saltleaf Preserve (OPENING FALL 2023)

Formerly the site of the Raptor Bay Golf Club, Saltleaf Golf Preserve is situated on Estero Bay. The Troon-managed course will co-exist with the 144-acre uplands preserve. The new Raymond Floyd-designed 18-hole course will have no formal bunkers and minimally altered terrain—with lakes, indigenous plantings and trails. It is scheduled to open in Fall 2023 near the new Ritz-Carlton Residences.


14. The Wonder Gardens

What started as a roadside attraction in 1936 has become a prime naturalist center in Bonita Springs. In recent years, The Wonder Gardens has been undergoing a major revitalization, including adding new features, like the parasol-adorned parrot courtyard, where you can hold exotic birds. There’s also a gator pit, guided walking tours and animal encounters, and soon, an otter exhibit with a tunnel where kids can crawl through and ‘swim’ with the critters. 



Related Images: