Nature befriends Florida’s Lee County
Pictured above: Kayaking through mangroves is among outdoorsy activities found in Lee County.
Nighttime isn’t always the right time – at least when it comes to those who shun the nightlife scene when on vacation.
Tamara Pigott, executive director of Florida’s Lee County Convention & Visitor Bureau, says her Gulf of Mexico-fronting destination isn’t interested in becoming a lively and perhaps raucous destination.
“If you’re looking for nightlife, you need to go to Miami,” she says. “We have that up-with-the-sun lifestyle.”
Many associate Florida with theme parks, but Pigott says her county doesn’t have any, and instead invites visitors to “relax and enjoy Mother Nature. We’re the peaceful paradise of Florida. Lee County is laidback. It’s a slower pace.
“The gift of Mother Nature is the number one draw. We didn’t build on every square inch,” she continues. “There’s a lot of open space. We are certainly very attractive to people who are passionate about the environment.”
Lee County has under 750,000 people, fewer than some Florida cities, Pigott adds.
The natural side is, in part, demonstrated through what Pigott describes as “50 miles of white-sand beach.”
Among available activities for visitors is kayaking on both ocean and inland waters, with those opting for the ocean virtually certain to see some of the large number of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins found in the waters
off Lee County shores. Those going inland can explore mangrove tunnels, perhaps spotting a manatee while doing so.
Sunset and nature cruises are also available.
Most of the county’s Sanibel Island has been preserved, and Pigott reports that the island – which won’t allow the construction of any building that would be higher than the island’s tallest palm tree – attracts large
numbers of migratory birds.
Auto magnate Henry Ford and inventor Thomas Edison had side-by-side winter homes in Lee County, and those retreats can now be visited by tourists.Pigott says the county’s Matlacha Island is home to an “eclectic” artist colony. “It is a place with artists and authors – really creative people.”
The county’s September Island Hoppers Songwriters Festival features 10 days of predominantly country music in different locales, with almost all performances being free.
Meanwhile, Pigott notes Lee County has 12,000 hotel units. Visitors can choose between chain and independent hotels. Home and condo rentals are also available.