From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
A place whose name literally means beauty, Bonita Springs is a lovely Gulf Coast gem located along southwestern edge of the state of Florida, brimming with marvelous things to see and do. Meander along the white-sand beaches, explore local state parks, and so much more. Here are our favorite things to see, do, and experience in Bonita Springs, Florida.
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
While the beach may be the first thing to spring to mind (no pun intended), Bonita Springs actually has plenty more where that came from. Here are just a few of the coolest state and national parks and preserves in the Bonita Springs, FL area.
A unique stretch of land with access to both the Gulf of Mexico and the Cocohatchee River, Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park is a beloved destination down towards Naples, where visitors enjoy sunbathing, paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, picnicking, and checking out the local birds and wildlife. The park also includes a variety of designated fishing spots for those looking to reel in some dinner.
Offering more than 11,000 acres of pristine, preserved Florida countryside, Estero Bay Preserve State Park is a one-of-a-kind destination that offers visitors the opportunity to see “real” Florida. A variety of designated trails creates hiking opportunities for those willing to brave the weather (bring plenty of sunblock, mosquito repellent, and water), and waterfront areas provide opportunities for paddling, boating, fishing and more.
Want to know what life was like in this part of the United States more than a century ago? Koreshan State Park offers you the opportunity to find out, preserving the grand structures and well-manicured gardens of the Koreshans, a unique religious group that settled here in Estero back in the late 1800s. Along with its historical significance and intrigue, Koreshan State Park is also known for its playground and picnic facilities, and offers waterfront access for boaters and paddlers.
Even if you’re not in love yet, one visit to Lovers Key State Park might change the game. A 700+ acre preserve that stretches across its namesake key as well as three other barrier islands, the park is a perfect place to walk along the endless white sand beaches, take in the sunset, launch your kayak or canoodle with your cutie. You can also take pleasure in the fact that this land survived its original fate: being developed into yet another bevy of waterfront luxury condos. No thanks!
Unlock the past and dive into Florida’s ancient history at Mound Key Archaeological State Park, a fee-free site that’s been found to contain artifacts and remains from the prehistoric Floridian Native Americans known as the Calusa. The Calusa were the ruling tribe in these lands and waters for more than 2,000 years, and Mound Key is believed to have been their ceremonial headquarters. Visit to both discover and become a part of this place’s unique history, as well as to take on hiking trips and other outdoor ventures.
You don’t have to be in the mountain west to find some incredible hiking opportunities — and better yet, hiking in Florida is flat! (It can also get seriously hot, though, so do take plenty of water and sun protection.) Here are some of the best hiking trails in the Bonita Springs area.
A short and sweet trail nestled into Bonita Nature Place, Cullum’s Bonita Trail is less than a mile altogether and sees only 13 feet in elevation gain — which is to say, basically none at all. Easy and quick enough for an after- or before-work romp, this trail is also a great one for those exploring with families or bringing pups along for the journey. (Although dogs are welcome, they are expected to remain on-leash for the entirety of the tour.)
One of the best-loved trails in the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Trail is a mile-and-a-half-long adventure, part of which takes place on an elevated boardwalk that meanders through the swamp and trees. Along with its unique wildflowers and wildlife spotting opportunities, this trail is beloved for its stroller- and wheelchair-friendly nature.
Crew Flint Pen Trail proves you don’t have to go far from town to enjoy some seriously “out there” hiking adventures. Offering stunning Florida forest and waterside views, this hike is easy enough for most skill levels to give it a whirl, and is also open to well-behaved dogs who remain leashed for the entirety of the trip.
Running less than a mile and a half altogether and seeing — of course — very little in the way of elevation gain, Pine Lake Preserve Loop is a dense and green jungle of Florida flora and fauna. From palmetto palms and beauty berries to gopher tortoises and waterfowl, this trail is well-known for its wildflower and wildlife spotting opportunities, and is also short and easy enough to bring kids along.
Tucked inside Barefoot Beach State Preserve, Bonita Beach Walk is a hike of just under three miles altogether, and is best known for its wildlife spotting opportunities and beautiful seaside views. Although an easy trail without much elevation gain, do be aware that you’ll be walking in sand for a good portion of this trek, and plan accordingly.
If you’re going to keep up with all the wonderful adventures that await along the shore in Bonita Springs, you’re going to need some fuel! Here are the best restaurants in town for when you’re looking for a hot meal you don’t have to prepare yourself.
Sometimes, nothing satisfies the way Italian does — and at Angelina’s Ristorante, satisfaction is exactly what you can expect. A truly fine dining experience, this spot offers not only its normal dinner menu, but also a rotating slate of specials as well as a truffle menu, where you can choose from an array of authentic and exquisitely rare Italian truffles to season your meal. The wine list is also noteworthy!
It’s not Florida without a waterfront seafood restaurant, and Coconut Jack’s Waterfront Grille is an award-winning version of this southern classic. With a casual, comforting atmosphere, a menu full of all your favorites, and a full bar that regularly whips up concoctions like rum runners and pina coladas, there’s a reason this place is considered one of the best restaurants in town — and you’ll quickly understand for yourself once you visit.
No other cuisine straddles the line of heavenly and healthy in quite the same way Indian food does, and Ahana’s Bombay Grille is likely the best Indian food available in Bonita Springs. Offering a full range of classic and authentic dishes, like tikka masala, biryani dishes, and samosas, this spot is also a hit amongst the plant-based crowd for its vegetarian and vegan options.
Looking to go south of the border? You don’t have to travel to Texas or California to enjoy delicious, authentic Mexican food. Iguana Mia Mexican is a well-loved, homegrown chain that serves up classic, from-scratch meals throughout southwest Florida, including in Bonita Springs. Along with its range of must-have dishes, like enchiladas, tacos and fajitas, this spot is also known for the mean margaritas the bartenders mix up on the daily!
If you’re looking for the best Asian food in southwestern Florida, look no further than Sushi Thai Too, which, as its name suggests, offers both Thai and Japanese delights. Try innovative dishes like Japanese ceviche, or go with a classic sushi roll. No matter your approach, one thing’s for certain: you won’t be disappointed.
As delicious as the food is and as stunning as the outdoor spaces are, there are so many other fun things to see and do in Bonita Springs, regardless of who you’re adventuring with or what you’re into. Here are some of our top picks for this weekend — or whenever.
Southwest Florida is an amazing place to raise kids: all that sun, sand, and sea! Even without a trip to the beach, there are plenty of things for the family to see and do. Here are some considerations.
It’s no coincidence that the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples’ acronym is C’MON! Offering a range of hands-on, interactive exhibits that delight as they educate, this spot is fascinating even from the outside. Along with its permanent collection of attractions, the museum also regularly hosts events and special exhibits to keep things interesting all year round.
Looking for a wet and wild adventure the entire family will love? Sun-n-Fun Lagoon is a one-of-a-kind water park that offers both thrilling high-rise slides and more relaxed water-based adventures. Grab your swimsuit, slather on the sunscreen, and get ready for a delicious day in the cool waters, refreshing in the hot Florida sun.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to be motivated to do much under the sweltering Florida sun. Good thing it doesn’t stay up forever! Here are some of the best after-hours activities and options to add to your itinerary.
As its name suggests, this bar is at the center of it all: a beloved local drinkery where locals go not only to imbibe, but also to watch the wide range of live entertainment that The Center Bar brings to the stage. Set in an outdoor shopping center so that you can enjoy the temperate Florida climes year round, this place also features great happy hour specials.
Looking for a way to gather together with a little bit less toxicity? Kava is an ancient, natural stimulant derived from a root in the South Pacific, and while it will give you a buzz, it doesn’t have the same kind of nasty side effects that alcohol does. Kava Culture Kava Bar also offers a range of other alternative beverages, including kombucha and CBD-infused drinks.
Don’t want to spend a bundle on getting familiar with Bonita Springs? You don’t have to. Here are our favorite low-cost to-dos.
Want to hob-nob with flamingos, parrots, alligators and more? You don’t have to drive all the way to the actual everglades to do it… though we do recommend that day trip (which we’ll come back to below). Still, Everglades Wonder Gardens is an incredible in-town option for anyone looking for a wild adventure without having to go very far from home, and adult admission starts at just $12 per head (with discounts available for younger guests and seniors).
Want to spend a whole afternoon shopping without spending more than a few bucks — and while thoroughly enjoying yourself? The Flamingo Island Flea Market is home to a wide range of vendors, offering local arts and crafts, prepared foods, clothing, accessories, gift items, and so much more. The flea market also often hosts events and live music for a festive shopping atmosphere.
That’s right: there are some worthwhile things to do in Bonita Springs that don’t require spending a single slender dime. Here are some of our tip top options.
Got a dog — or just want to schmooze with others’? The Bonita Beach Dog Park is the place to be for off-leash fun with furry, four-legged friends. Basically, it’s like a dog park, but it’s a beach, which means you can sit back, relax, and lay in the sun while your furry kiddos romp around and tire themselves out for the evening. Win win!
As its name suggests, sections of Barefoot Beach, an extensive coastal preserve, are soft and sandy enough that you can kick off your flip-flops. That said, sections are also rich in sea shells, perfect for those looking to take home a little piece of the sea. While entrance to the beach itself is free, there is a $8 parking fee, but only for visitors who don’t already have a Collier County Resident Beach Parking Permit.
After all that tanning, your skin would probably benefit from a facial — and those sore muscles you worked swimming and hiking could certainly use a rub! Here are the best spas and salons in Bonita Springs, Florida.
An upscale oasis tucked into the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa, Stillwater Spa & Salon is a go-to destination for a wide range of body treatments. From massage in a variety of modalities to facial and body skin care as well as manicures, pedicures, and hair services, you can think of this as a luxurious one-stop shop for all things body work. They even have an on-site fitness studio!
Focused on haircuts, color, and styling services for men, women and children, Shear Unity Salon & Spa also offers nail services, facials, hair extensions, hair removal services, and makeovers — so if you’re truly looking to change your look, this is the place to go to get you set from head to toe!
A “beach body” is one thing — but truly, getting in shape and staying there can change your perspective and make your life an easier one to walk around in. Here are some of the best gyms and yoga studios in Bonita Springs for those looking to work it all out.
The gym of choice for fitness nerds around southwestern Florida, Smash Fitness is a quintessential workout palace offering a full range of cardio and strength training equipment, free weights, and more. As its name suggests, this place offers everything you need to meet and then exceed your goals, gaining strength, stamina, and agility.
Your yoga practice should be delicious enough to make you say, “Yes!” — and when you practice at Yes! Yoga, it will be. Along with its range of in-classroom sessions, this studio also regularly hosts beach yoga. How can you beat that?
While you could clearly while away a whole lifetime in Bonita Springs, there are also some very worthy day trips and weekend getaways in the area! Here are some to add to your “to visit” list.
Broad, white beaches, wildlife refuges, delicious seafood — while these are characteristic of much of Florida’s west coast, Sanibel Island really is something special. See for yourself when you visit from Bonita Springs; it’s just a quick 40-minute drive and a hop over the causeway away.
Home to alligators, Florida panthers, pythons, and some of the darkest skies you’ve ever imagined, Everglades National Park is truly a wilderness unlike any other — and it’s all just an hour away from Bonita Springs. Ride an airboat or take a hike on one of its terrestrial trails. Either way, there’s no shortage of amazing things to see and do in these swamplands.
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Bonita Springs that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Bonita Springs? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.