2017-02-22 / Outdoors

Don’t be daunted by the traffic — there are easy ways to get around

EXPLORE SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

As season kicks into high gear, the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau encourages everyone to get out and enjoy the cool weather and warm sunshine. Traffic can be daunting this time of year, but don’t let that keep you homebound. Here are some tips on where to go, what not to miss and how to get around during your season’s explorations.

Step away from the car

Just park it and use feet, bikes, skateboards and paddlecraft to get around. Skateboarders and cyclists love parking on the east side of the Fort Myers Beach sky bridge and zipping past all the traffic.

Explore downtown Fort Myers by foot rather than car — it’s often faster and always more personal. Had enough of U.S. 41 stop-and-go? Pull into Koreshan State Historic Park (992-0311, floridastateparks.org/park/koreshan) and rent a canoe for a peaceful interlude on the Estero River.

Tip: The Koreshan site hosts a thriving farmers market on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., which makes for a nice outing but can cause traffic jams.

Celebrate art down by the riverside

If you have missed the first two Bonita Springs National Art Festivals (495- 8989, artcenterbonita.org) this year, mark your calendar for March 4-5 and head to Riverside Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tip: Festival organizers recommend that if you are driving, you approach the park from the south via Bonita Beach Road to Old 41, then make your way to parking to the east and west of the downtown park.

Stop and read about the roses

Bring the family to the new Children’s Garden at Lakes Regional Park (533-7575, leeparks.org) and follow the Story Walk Trail. Signage along the short walk illustrates the book “Plants Can’t Sit Still” by Rebecca E. Hirsch, illustrated by Mia Posada.

Tip: Reserve a pavilion (533-7578) for large groups if you plan to visit on a weekend.

Get around the world

To celebrate its 80th anniversary, the Sanibel Shell Festival (472-2155, sanibelcommunityhouse.net) has chosen the theme “Around the World in 80 Shells.” This year’s three-day event takes place on Sanibel Island March 2-4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tip: Download the city of Sanibel’s free Street Cam app (mysanibel/livestreet cams) to monitor the island’s six traffic camera feeds and avoid traffic congestion. The city also suggests to avoid leaving the island between 3-7 p.m. Stop for shopping or dinner instead.

The value of visitors

Consider the value to our economy of the visitors who flood Lee County this time of year.

Bed tax collection alone brings millions to local coffers — $39,694,021 in fiscal year 2015-2016, to be exact. That reflects a 5.04 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.

For more information on peaceful places and getting around The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, visit www.fortmyers-sanibel.com. ¦

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