Things to Do in Southwest Florida for Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Weekend

Posted by Katie Egan on Wednesday, November 27th, 2019 at 12:05pm

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One of our favorite things about the holiday is that there are always things to do in Southwest Florida for Thanksgiving—and not just the day of—there are events all week. From 5ks, to cruises, nature hikes, to a fun day at the beach, Southwest Florida doesn’t disappoint on Thanksgiving. Come visit us and celebrate Thanksgiving Florida style.

We’ve compiled a list of Thanksgiving 2019 events in Southwest Florida for you. There are a variety of events from Naples to Fort Myers, and there’s something for each member of the family. There are other super-Florida ways to celebrate the holiday, too. The weather will be nice so you can go to the beach for a picnic or to watch the sunset. Or you can look for seashells. And then there’s always shopping! Southwest Florida has a ton of malls and shopping centers with all of the big brand name stores you can take advantage of. From the Promenade at Bonita Bay to shops on Sanibel Island, you should be able to find whatever you’re looking for!

Things to Do in Southwest Florida for Thanksgiving – Bonita Springs and Estero

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  • There Will be a Thanksgiving Day 5k Run and Walk at 7 a.m. on Nov. 28 at Hertz Arena in Estero. The family-friendly event is a professionally chip-timed 5k and it features finisher medals and dry fit tech shirts. After the race there will be refreshments, snacks and music.

  • Learn About the Origins of Koreshan State Park. All state parks are open on Thanksgiving weekend, and this is your chance to see how the Koreshans used to live. They built their settlement in 1893 and they believed they would live forever. See 11 restored buildings and get a glimpse into their lives.

  • Experience the Real Florida Landscape at Lovers Key State Park. This is what the Sunshine State looked like before people began to build things and develop the land. There are hiking trails, kayaks, the beach and so much more. Enjoy a picnic with your loved ones or just get back to the simple things and enjoy the natural surroundings.

Things to Do in Southwest Florida for Thanksgiving – Cape Coral

  • Grab your Family and Friends and Visit Eight-Foot Brewing at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 29 for Thanksgiving Trivia. The game goes until 9:30 p.m. There will be three rounds. Winners will get prizes and bragging rights. 

  • Visit the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve. There is a nature trail, seasonal kayak rentals, picnic areas, Veterans Memorial area and it’s the second-largest preserved green space in the city. You may even see ibis, eagles, herons, and other migratory and wading birds. 

  • Check Out the Rotary Park Environmental Center Near Tarpon Point. It has a playground, nature trails, butterfly house, native and butterfly gardens, an observation tower and picnic shelters with barbeque grills. The center is used for a mix of programs, activities and classes. If you want to go for a walk and enjoy the weather, one of the trails snakes through mangrove wetlands and ends an area of shallow flats and oyster bars called at Glover Bight, which is a wheelchair accessible boardwalk. The park is also part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.

Things to Do in Southwest Florida for Thanksgiving – Fort Myers

  • Adventures In Paradise Will Offer Thanksgiving Sunset Cruises, Dolphin Cruises and Wildlife Cruises From 4:30 to 6 p.m. Out of Port Sanibel Marina. There will be bottled water and soft drinks. Learn about estuaries, mangroves and the land where the Calusa Indians lived. You’ll probably see dolphins, too! For reservations, call 239.472.8443 or email info@adventuresinparadise.com. Tickets are required.

  • Visit the Calusa Nature Center for a Planetarium Show or Live Animal Presentation. On Nov. 27-30, there will be a planetarium show at noon and at 2:30 p.m. On those days, there will also be a live animal presentation from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m.

  • Visit the Edison and Ford Winter Estates for Holiday Nights. See the property lit up with thousands of lights. There will be live music, crafts, Inside the Homes tours and food and beverages. The homes will be adorned with historic decorations, too.

Things to Do in Southwest Florida for Thanksgiving – Fort Myers Beach

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  • Check Out the American Sand Sculpting Championship. It is the largest sand sculpting competition in the U.S. and more than 30 artists from eight countries will compete in a sequence of contests to see who will be crowned the winner. Trust us; you’ve never seen sand castles like these before! On Nov. 30., there will also be a special new viewing. “Sand Under The Stars” is from 6 to 9 p.m. Look at the sand sculptures in a new light as they’re illuminated and displayed under the night sky.

  • Go to the Beach! One of the greatest perks about staying on Fort Myers Beach is that you’re not far from a fun-filled day at one of Southwest Florida’s greatest attractions. There’s plenty of space for everyone and when you want to get up and cool off, you can walk up and down the pier. Feel the sun on your face and the sand between your toes. 

  • Take a Tour of the Mound House. Tours of the 2,000-year-old shell mound are offered every Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. There are also engaging and interactive activities for you to learn about the Calusa Indians and their culture. They made the shell mounds and were the area’s first settlers. 

Things to Do in Southwest Florida for Thanksgiving – Naples

  • Enjoy the Thanksgiving 5K at Cambier Park at 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 28. There will be apple cider and pumpkin pie after the race. All pre-registered participants will get long sleeve shirts and everyone who finished the race will get a medal. There is also a free 100-yard dash for children six-years-old and younger. Children who are 14 and younger can participate in the 1K fun run. The race benefits St. Matthew's House. Canned goods and clothing are also being collected to donate to the nonprofit. Additionally, Moe's Southwest Grill has pledged to donate one-pound of rice and beans to St. Matthew's house for every participant who registers.

  • Go to Night Lights in the Garden at the Naples Botanical Garden. It’s the only time of the year the garden is lit up and open after dark. It looks absolutely magical when everything is illuminated under the night sky. Those who choose to go can also try specialty menu items from the Garden’s Fogg Café. Don’t forget to make a wish on the Wishing Tree, too!

  • See a Movie! Thanksgiving is the perfect excuse to turn off your phone and get lost in a movie. Silverspot Cinema at the Mercato has comfortable seats and great food and beverage options. You’ll have everything you need to sit back and enjoy the show.

Things to Do in Southwest Florida for Thanksgiving – Sanibel Island and Captiva Island

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  • Peruse the Sanibel Masters Art Festival at the Sanibel Community House. Visit the art festival on November 29 and 30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You never know what type of souvenir you’ll find to take home!

  • Check Out the Clyde Butcher Photographic Exhibition. This event is in conjunction with the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s 75th Anniversary Celebration through Feb. 5, 2020. Clyde Butcher’s large-format photography is a magical treat. He tends to focus on Florida’s Everglades and coastal islands. He is known as “the Ansel Adams of Florida.”

  • Rent a Kayak or Standup Paddleboard with Tarpon Bay Explorers. They're open on Thanksgiving from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and rentals end at noon. The following require reservations: breakfast cruise, kayak trail tour, tram tour, nature and sea life cruise and pontoon rentals. 

Staying in Southwest Florida for Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving holiday is a time for cold weather, fall leaves and scarves and chunky sweaters, but there are plenty of things to do in Southwest Florida for Thanksgiving and tons of reasons why it’s a magical place to be during the holidays. The palm trees are lit up and it feels even more like paradise. The weather is favorable so you can get out and explore this beautiful tropical jungle. Or you can take the boat or kayak out and explore the tranquil emerald-turquoise water of the Gulf of Mexico.

Thanksgiving is about getting back to the simple things and spending precious time with your loved ones and there are countless things to do to make the holiday and Thanksgiving weekend even more memorable. 

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