Exploring Riverside Park in the heart of East Fort Myers
Fort Myers is a beautiful place with tons of to do. The city has a great variety of parks spread all throughout.
Having lived here for over 20 years, I got to experience many of these parks as a young girl and now I get to enjoy them with my children. One of our favorite parks to visit is the Riverside Park near downtown Fort Myers.
The park is close enough to our house and it has some beautiful views. If you are looking for different ways to spend your time in Fort Myers and looking for things to do that are also budget friendly, here are a few things you can do at the Riverside public park and also a few things you should know before visiting.
Riverside Public Park in Fort Myers, Florida
The park's physical address is 1820 Hendry St., Fort Myers, FL33901. It is located right behind the Oasis high rise apartments, right off State Road 80. The park is a bit hidden but not hard to find.
Alcohol is not allowed in the park so leave your wine glasses at home but do bring your coffee and a good book because this park is usually fairly empty so it is a nice spot to enjoy some quiet time.
Pets are allowed in designated areas so be aware of signs where domestic animals are not permitted, one of them being the playground. I would also be very careful and keep your pet on the leash at all times for their own protection, there might be gators lurking, keep on reading...
Things to do at the Riverside Park
Riverside is one of those parks that you can spend an entire day if you plan ahead of time. There are really beautiful spots for pictures and different activities to enjoy. This list will help you to plan better for your visit and also give you an idea of what to expect during your visit.
Also, keep in mind that the park in located in a very natural environment which can sometimes change, for example, the tide of the river, the trees and wildlife may all be different at the time of your visit.
1 -River views
Riverside park has some breath taking views of the Caloosahatchee river as well as the Downtown Fort Myers - North Fort Myers Bridge and North Fort Myers. The park opens at 6 am and closes at 10:30 pm so you can catch the sunrise and sunset on the river.
We are planning a sunset picnic at the park so we can see the sun going down on the river. If you have never seen the sun being swallowed by the gulf, it is truly one of the most amazing sights to see, go to my Fort Myers beach sunset article to see exactly what I am talking about.
2 - Enjoy a good book
The park has different benches throughout but there is a particular one that over views he river and it is pretty close to the water to the point you can hear the tiny little waves crashing on the shore.
That's honestly the best seat in the house, especially if you have your favorite book in hands.
Now, if you want to start reading but need a little help with inspiration, here is a list of 100 books you should read in your lifetime.
3 - Photo OPS
I love me an aesthetically pleasing location, and if they have unique features than even BETTER! I call those unique features Photo OPS = photo opportunities. These are areas that aren't common such as plain walls, or a tree.
At Riverside Park there are three different photo ops that I would recommend if you are looking to take eccentric pictures. The first spot is the vibrant pink flower arch that is located near the parking lot.
My second recommendation for pictures would be either and/or both bridges using the high rises, bridge or city as a background. The third favorite spot is the lighthouse replica - quick tip: turn your phone sideways, switch to panoramic mode and snap, this will allow you to get the entire lighthouse in the picture.
4 - Picnic
You can bring your own cooked food or buy some take out and go enjoy at the park. Use the picnic tabes that are available ( total of four ) or bring a big towel and have a real old fashioned picnic.
Remember, no alcohol allowed, so bring juices, sodas and water but leave the beer.
5 - Fishing
If you are in the area and looking for a spot to fish, there is fishing pier located on the east side of the park. Look for Riverside Pier on Google Maps to find exactly where it is.
I have heard that you may not find really great catches other than catfish but hey, each day is a different day in the river and you just never know what you may find.
6 - Kayak
You can see in my Youtube video the ramp where you can use to launch your kayak, small boat or canoe. You may even be able to launch your jet skis from this location, I didn't see any warnings against it.
However, swimming is not allowed so make sure you don't fall off your kayaks or jet skis lol
7 - Look for gators
But in a place like Riverside park, where there is water and vegetation everywhere the chances escalate to even higher than usual.
Best time to catch some gator action is during the winter times when the sun is out. Gators come out to store energy from the sun so they can keep themselves warm even during night hours. Their top shells literally work as a solar panel.
8 - Wildlife watching
Bring your binoculars and spy on nature. You can even turn it into a scavenger hunt game and see who can spy the most animals. Here a few you may find:
Birds (Here's a list of birds you may get a glimpse of)
9 - Trail Walk
There is a beautiful nature trail walk that leads your to the fishing pier. Although I didn't include this area in the photo ops part of this article, I also believe it is a beautiful area for pictures if you are looking for a green scenario with the water in the background or maybe even a shoot in the water.
You will be able to see a lot more of it on my youtube video and you can also follow me on Instagram where I share the live details of these beautiful places I visit.
10 - Run and Play Games
Apart for the playground, the park also has a big area that is perfect for kids to run, play hide and seek and other games. Here are a few toys and games that you can bring to the park for the kids and even adults to play.