Tampa and Fort Myers are one of the best places to live and visit in the Sunshine State. Tampa is obviously the bigger city, while Fort Myers is more of a big small town. It’s worth checking these two cities out.
If you are looking for attractions or want the small-town feel, both cities can offer that. Besides, you can explore the local culture and try something new.
Tampa vs Fort Myers for vacation, where should you go? That’s what we’ll explore so that it’ll be easier to make your decision.
Choose Tampa over Fort Myers for a vacation if you want a lively Big Beach city vacation with vibrant beaches, fine dining restaurants, excellent theme parks, and a culture infused with Cuban and Spanish flavors with historic and modern architecture. If you’re looking for laid-back beaches, tranquil settings, breathtaking vistas, and fascinating eco-tours, Fort Myers is the place to be.
Tampa Vs Fort Myers
Table of Contents
What is the best time to visit Tampa?
Early September to late December is the best time to visit Tampa because the weather is ideal, ranging from sunny days to mild cold nights, with the fewest tourists. This is also an excellent time to avoid the raucous spring-break crowds and expensive lodging options for those on a tight budget.
What is the best time to visit Fort Myers?
The months of March and May are ideal for visiting Fort Myers. Despite the fact that the sun is shining and rates are low, visitors looking for a quiet vacation should be on the lookout for spring breakers.
Summer months are the busiest, especially for families, so plan to book at least three months in advance if you’ll be traveling during that time.
Tampa vs Fort Myers for a family vacation? Which is better? 👨👩👧👦
With its lively beaches, outdoor activities, variety of lodging options, world-class theme parks, diverse restaurants, and plenty of activities that cater to people of all ages, Tampa, the “Cigar City,” is without a doubt a better destination for family vacation than Fort Myers.
Accommodation options 🏨
The average hotel cost per day ranges from $75 to $500 a night, depending on your luxury needs and budget.
However, you can also rent an Airbnb in the city, which may see you save even more. For a single person, it costs $120-300 a day for food and entertainment.
Best accommodation options in Tampa 🏨
Grand Hyatt, Downtown Tampa– If you’re looking for a luxurious hotel in the heart of Tampa, look no further than the Grand Hyatt.
Offering luxurious suites for longer stays, as well as every amenity to make you feel at ease and at home. The Grand Hyatt is ideal for honeymooners and families on a luxury vacation.
Comfort Suites at Fairground-Casino, Fair Oak Blvd– The Comfort Suites is a great option for families and couples on a budget vacation to Tampa, offering budget-friendly lodging options with a family-friendly environment, heated pool, free breakfast, free parking, and fresh seafood.
Tampa Marriott, Water Street– A luxurious waterfront hotel conveniently located adjacent to the convention center in Tampa’s vibrant downtown, with the Tampa Riverwalk, Florida Aquarium, and other attractions nearby.
The average hotel cost per day ranges from $70 to $300 a night, depending on what luxury needs you have and your budget.
Airbnbs can get you even cheaper accommodations if you choose to go that route. A single person needs $100 to $200 a day for food and entertainment.
Best accommodation options in Fort Myers🏨
Manatee Bay Inn– The Manatee Bay Inn, located in the heart of dreamy Fort Myers Beach alongside the Old San Carlos Boulevard entertainment district, is ideal for honeymooners.
This magnificent Inn provides a vibrant beachfront nightlife, a variety of seafood cuisines, a fully equipped kitchen, and a private outdoor space for some private romantic outings in the sun.
Sandpiper Gulf Resort– This British West Indies-styled hotel, located on Estero Blvd, is ideal for both couples and families.
The Resort Hotel has two heated pools, WaveRunner rentals, parasailing, and fantastic dolphin tours.
Pink Shell Beach Resort and Marina– This opulent resort has been named one of the top resorts in Florida for five years in a row and features a relaxing spa, marina, two restaurants, and fun activities for the entire family.
The best part about staying at the Pink Shell Resort is that you have direct access to the white-powdery beach and breathtaking views.
Winner: Tie. Tampa being a big city has lodging options for all budget types, from budget family vacations to a luxury honeymoon vacation. That said, Fort Myers is significantly cheaper in, so if you’re on a budget it’s the perfect place for you.
We are going to talk about the beaches that are a short distance from both cities and that are less crowded. Clearwater and St. Pete’s beaches are the most popular that is near Tampa. However, they are at least an hour away and can be extremely busy.
In the Tampa area, there are a variety of smaller beaches. Some of the most popular beaches in Tampa are Ben T. Davis, Sunset Beach, and Madeira’s Beach.
All of them are sand beaches with access to the Gulf of Mexico to cool off. There are, of course, many other nearby beaches, but these are the ones that are closest to Tampa.
Fort Myers also has beautiful beaches that are nearby. Aside from the world-famous Fort Myers Beach (16.5-mile drive), these other beaches deserve some attention too.
Lynn Hall Memorial Park Beach and the Pier is a nice little beach you can go to in Fort Myers. It’s the beach to go to if you don’t mind there’s a lot happening on the beach.
If looking for something quieter, head on over to Lover’s Key State Park. The beach stretches 2 miles long, and it’s rarely crowded.
You can also rent kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddle boards in this area. There’s lots of natural vegetation in this area and there’s even a dog-friendly area next to the beach, called the Dog Beach.
Winner: Fort Myers hands down. There’s a beach for everyone and there’s even a beach that’s dog friendly.
Tampa and Fort Myers have their own version of nightlife. It depends on what someone may be into. Let’s find out what nightlife these cities offer.
If you’re looking for a true nightlife scene, Tampa is your best bet.
The historic Ybor City and downtown Tampa are the party hub in Tampa.
From actual dance clubs to cocktail bars, Tampa has it all. Speaking of cocktail bars, EDGE Cocktail Lounge has a rooftop where you can enjoy a cocktail on while looking over the city. How cool is that?
If dancing is more your scene, Club Prana is the place to be. Club Prana offers VIP service and bottle service on different levels if that suits you.
To make things better, there is a dance floor on the rooftop where you can dance under the stars almost all night.
If the bars aren’t your scene, there are comedy clubs and casinos that you can go to that will keep you busy at night.
Fort Myers has more of a causal nightlife scene compared to Tampa. There’ are a few noteworthy bars, especially in the downtown area.
Want to go to a wine bar?
The Wine Room may be what you’re looking for.
How about a bourbon bar with live music?
The Barrel Room sometimes has big artists playing there.
If you’re wondering where to go dancing, the four-level The Firestone is the hottest place in town. It plays a good mix of music and the building has something for everyone, all in one place.
If dancing isn’t your scene, you can escape to the rooftop bar for a more chill environment.
Winner: Tampa. Even though Fort Myers has some decent nightlife, there isn’t a huge variety one could do when the sun goes down.
Tampa vs Fort Myers: Popular attractions and things to do🗽
Tampa and Fort Myers have a ton of options that will keep you busy.
It truly depends on what you like to do. Are you more of the person who wants to visit attractions and get in on the excitement? Tampa may be for you. If you want to enjoy the quieter side of things, you may like Fort Myers better.
Let’s dig in deeper.
Best things to do in Tampa🎢
The Tampa Riverwalk is an excellent place to become acquainted with the vibe and spirit of Tampa.
The Riverwalk, a well-kept pedestrian path that gently curves along the calm Hillsborough River, takes you through mesmerizing scenes of Tampa citylife, including fine restaurants, stores, public parks and playgrounds, bike rental shops, and the world-famous Florida Aquarium and Glazer Children’s Museum.
Explore Tampa’s true essence by renting a bike, rollerblading, or taking a leisurely stroll.
Tampa not only has dreamy white sandy beaches and fascinating culture, but it also has some of the best theme and adventure parks in the world, including the world-famous Busch Gardens.
Busch Gardens is definitely worth it, with two fun parks to choose from, some of the most thrilling rides in the world, animal interactions, and fabulous, entertaining shows all at an affordable family-friendly price.
The local county state fair will cost you more money. Don’t forget about the beer! Busch Gardens is the ultimate summer vacation destination for both children and adults.
Explore the historic Ybor City
Cigar enthusiasts will love this quaint little neighborhood infused with old and modern Spanish architecture.
Ybor City (pronounced ee-bore) is a northeast enclave of Tampa that was once a hub of coffee manufacturing and hand-rolled cigars, with millions of cigars rolled annually.
Today, this historic section of Tampa serves as a cultural and nightlife hub, with lively bars and pubs, brick streets, and a historic streetcar that pays homage to the neighborhood’s past.
Learn about marine life at the Florida Aquarium
A trip to Tampa would be incomplete without a stop at the fantastic Florida Aquarium.
Over 250,000 acres, the Florida Aquarium houses a massive collection of over 20,000 animals from all habitats.
The massive underwater domes and simulated wetlands filled with sharks, stingrays, moray eels, sea turtles, and hundreds of other creatures will leave you speechless.
The touch tanks and jellyfish exhibits, which are also two of the Aquarium’s must-see attractions, are especially noteworthy.
The Aquarium also has a Splash pad area, which is a 2 acre outdoor area with geysers, dump buckets, and spray zones for the kids and their parents.
Hillsborough River State Park
Hillsborough River State Park is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, biking, and bird watching.
This lovely Park, which surrounds the gently meandering Hillsborough River, is also a great place to go fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and camping.
Rent a kayak or walk the trails in tranquil surroundings, where you’ll see beautiful Florida birds, pop-up turtles, lazy gators, and the occasional manatee.
Best things to do in Fort Myers🏄🏼♂️
Discover Fort Myers’ history at the Edison and Ford winter estates
Even the greatest American inventors and businessmen, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, couldn’t resist the enticing rustic beauty of Fort Myers.
Both spent their summers in Fort Myers and frequented this small fishing village, so much so that they built spectacular winter homes for themselves.
The winter residences of Edison and Ford, located along McGregor Boulevard’s lovely road, transport you back in time to the lives of these great people of their time.
Visit Lovers Key State Park and enjoy island hopping
Are you a fan of outdoor activities?
If so, Lovers Key State Park is the place for you. Because of its protected inland rivers, the Park is popular with tourists for canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and shelling.
Away from the crowds on Fort Myers Beach, the park also has some of the best beach lengths in Fort Myers.
If you’re visiting FMB with your four-legged companion, the park’s south end has a dog beach where you and your dog can spend some quality beach time together.
Visit the Lee County Manatee Park
Manatees visit Lee County Manatee Park during the winter months to enjoy the warmth of the protected inland canal, as the name implies.
In their natural habitat, hundreds of these lovely gentle giants catch their prey and laze alongside water banks.
Pro tip: Rent a pair of polarized sunglasses from a rental shop to easily identify manatees from a distance.
Take a cultural tour at River district
The River District is Fort Myers’ cultural center, with numerous cultural attractions such as fascinating museums, theaters, and fine art galleries.
This cultural district is set against a backdrop of Art Deco buildings from the 1920s and features fantastic restaurants and terraces where you can sample the finest cuisine available.
Don’t miss the world-famous Ford’s Garage, with its unmistakable service station theme and some of the most beautiful vintage cars on display.
Catch a game of baseball at Jet Blue Park
The crack of the bat and the cries of the umpire fill jetBlue Park and Hammond Stadium every spring as Major League Baseball’s Spring Training, also known as the Florida Grapefruit League, visits town.
The Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins are the two teams that call Fort Myers home.
The first game usually takes place in the third week of February and lasts four weeks.
Because games are played almost every day, getting tickets is never an issue, though a schedule is published each November for those who want to plan ahead of time.
Winner: Both. Tampa caters to people who want the city experience while Fort Myers caters to those who want to be in nature. With that said, there’s something for everyone.
Depending on your vibe and budget, both Tampa and Fort Myers are great options for a great Florida vacation. Since you can get from one to the other in less than 4 hours, why not try a few nights at both and decide for yourself!