Cape Coral is the perfect destination for any outdoor enthusiast. This vibrant waterfront city is home to an enormous variety of family-friendly activities and attractions. The best part? Many of these things are cheap or completely free!
To help you make the most of your next vacation, we have compiled a list of the best cheap and free things to do in Cape Coral! Whether you’re looking for an action-packed experience or a relaxing retreat, the majority of these activities won’t cost you a dime!
Things to do in Cape Coral
1. Visit the Cape Coral Farmers Market
Completely free to visit, the Cape Coral Farmers Market is one of the most popular events in the city. Held every Saturday, from 8am-1pm, the market is packed with fresh local produce, handmade crafts and delicious homemade food. If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation in Cape Coral, this is the best place to pick up supplies for your stay!
2. Drive to the beach
If you fancy a scenic road trip, there are a number of amazing beaches just a short distance away from Cape Coral. Around half an hour from the city, Sanibel Island and Fort Myers offer some of Florida’s finest coastline. With beautiful beaches and crystal clear water, both destinations are great for swimming, shelling and sunbathing. Most beaches near Cape Coral are free to visit, although parking costs may apply.
3. Spend a day at the Cape Coral Yacht Club
The Yacht Club Community Park is home to Cape Coral’s only public beach. Situated directly on the Caloosahatchee River, this family-friendly beach offers a huge stretch of white sand and some amazing views across the water! Although the river is safe to swim in, you may prefer to swim in the heated community pool just behind the beach. Open every day, admission for adults is just $3.50.
4. Get lost in nature
Free to visit, the Rotary Park Environmental Center is one of the best places to explore Cape Coral’s natural landscape. Spread over 97-acres, this enormous nature reserve has a fantastic variety of walking trails and waterways to explore.
During your visit, you should be able to spot some of the native wildlife that lives within the reserve. As well as tortoises and snakes, Rotary Park is one of the best places to see wild alligators. The many nature trails here are also home to a number of unique bird species, including the official bird of Cape Coral – the Burrowing Owl.
5. Visit the Tom Allen Memorial Butterfly Garden
Also situated within Rotary Park is the Tom Allen Memorial Butterfly Garden. A fun and educational place to visit with kids, this beautiful garden is dedicated to preserving the area’s native butterflies.
There are free guided tours around the butterfly house on Monday, Friday and Saturday mornings. During the tour, you will be able to witness all 4 life stages of a butterfly – from birth to full growth. You will also have the chance to learn about each different species, as well as the garden’s ongoing preservation project.
6. Rent a private villa
Hiring a private villa for your vacation is not as expensive as you may think. Staying in a self-catering home is actually one of the most cost-effective accommodation options in Cape Coral. All of our vacation rentals come with a range of amazing amenities – from private boat docks to private swimming pools. With rates starting at just $197 per night, you can enjoy luxury living – at an affordable price.
7. Explore the past
If you want to find out more about the city’s fascinating past, the Cape Coral Museum of History is packed with interesting artefacts, information and memorabilia. Permanent exhibitions at the museum cover everything from the arrival of the earliest pioneers, to the development of the city in the 1950s. Open Wednesday through Saturday, admission is free for children and students ($5 for adults).
8. Support the local art scene
Running for over 35 years, the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts showcases the work of over 300 artists and artisans from across America. Taking place over the second weekend in January, over 120,000 visitors attend this free festival each year.
The main event is a juried art show, where you will see six categories represented: painting, photography, digital art, mixed media, sculpture, fine arts, and jewelry. Away from the competition, the festival also has a large marketplace, with hundreds of vendors selling their own one-of-a-kind creations!
9. Visit an exhibition
If you can’t make the Festival of the Arts, don’t worry, the Harbour View Gallery exhibits art all year round. An artist-owned co-op, the gallery showcases only local artwork and is staffed entirely by artists. Every month, Harbour View highlights a different artist, displaying an exhibition of their work on-site. Free to visit, anyone can browse the gallery’s extensive range of art – there’s no pressure to purchase!
10. Take a boat tour
With over 400 miles of canals, the best way to see Cape Coral is definitely from the water! Although chartering your own private boat can be expensive, there are a number of public boat tours available that won’t break the bank.
There are so many different boating companies in Cape Coral, it’s a good idea to shop around to get the best deal before you book. Most companies offer a large range of tours, so you can choose an experience to suit your budget. Depending on how far you go out, dolphin cruises generally start at around $30 per person.
11. Cycle the city
A designated Bicycle Friendly Community, there are over 90 miles of interconnecting bike routes in Cape Coral. A great way to explore at your own pace, these easy-to-navigate journeys will take you across the city, passing landmarks, nature reserves and canals along the way. If you need to borrow a bike, there are a number of hire companies in Cape Coral. Rentals start at just $9 – and most companies will throw in a child seat for free!
12. Go fishing
With over 295 miles of freshwater, and direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, Cape Coral is an angler’s paradise! As the canals that run through the city are full of fish, you don’t have to charter a boat to make a catch. There are a number of docks, piers and marinas that will allow you to fish, free of charge.
If you prefer a more solitary fishing experience, a number of our vacation homes in Cape Coral benefit from their own private boat docks. If you need to hire equipment during your stay, our Guest Experience team will be on hand to arrange everything!
13. Hit the skate park
If you (or your kids) are hoping to be the next Tony Hawk or Jason Lee, the Eagle Skate Park in Cape Coral is a must-visit! One of the largest skate facilities in the region, the park has over 26,000 square-feet of pure skate space.
Suitable for both pros and beginners, this extensive skate park has a large bowl, as well as a number of ramps, rails and half pipes. Entry to the park is just $5 for skaters, and $1 for spectators. As safety here is paramount, helmets are essential!
14. Hike a nature trail
Set on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River, the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve is the second largest natural space in Cape Coral. A 1.2-mile hiking trail loops around the preserve, winding through a jungle of marshes, mangrove trees and giant ferns.
As this wetland preserve is home to a variety of local wildlife, you can expect to see a number of interesting animals and birds during your hike. Before the trail loops back, you will also be able to steal a great view of Thomas Edison’s winter home, which is just across the river. Open all year round, admission and parking at the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve is completely free.
15. Pay your respects
Also situated in the Four Mile Cove Eco Preserve is the Veterans Memorial Park. Spread over 4.2 acres, this park is a great place to relax and reflect. Dedicated to those who have served in the US armed services, the park is home to a number of memorials, plaques and monuments. Ideal for a family day out, the Veterans Park also has basketball, bocci ball and shuffleboard courts, a children’s playground and a picnic area.
16. Go bird watching
Birdwatching is one of the most popular things to do in Cape Coral. Due to its diverse habitat, the city is home to a huge range of unique and exotic bird species. The best part is, you don’t even have to travel far to see them. In your backyard alone, you are likely to find a variety of songbirds, waterfowl and waders. Larger birds such as eagles, ospreys and owls are also in abundance in the city, but can be trickier to spot!
As many birds migrate to Florida for the winter months, there’s also a chance that you will be able to spot some rarer species during your stay. To increase your chances of a sighting, it is a good idea to head to one of Cape Coral’s many nature reserves. Rotary Park, Four Mile Cove and Sirenia Vista Park are all hotspots for birding, and are all free to visit!
17. Sample some spirits
The Wicked Dolphin Distillery in Cape Coral is the largest craft rum distillery in America. Established in 2012, Wicked Dolphin’s artisan rums are all made from natural, locally sourced ingredients.
Attracting over 20,000 visitors each year, the company offers free guided tours around the distillery. Available on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, each tour lasts around an hour. As well as learning about the cooking, fermenting and distilling process, you will also be able to sample some of the award-winning produce!
18. Spot manatees at Sirenia Vista Park
It’s not just birds that migrate during winter. Manatees also head to the warm waters of Florida and are frequently seen in the canals of Cape Coral. One of the easiest places to see these majestic mammals in the wild is at Sirenia Vista Park.
An 8-acre environmental park, Sirenia Vista is surrounded by water. Perfect for spotting all sorts of wildlife, there is a paved walking trail through the park, as well as a designated manatee viewing area. Although you can pay for a boat trip around the park, manatees tend to live in shallow waters so you can easily spot them from the shore – free of charge!
19. Cardboard Boat Regatta
Taking place every April, the Cardboard Boat Regatta is one of the most fun things to do in Cape Coral! Originally designed as an event for a local boat club, the Cardboard Boat Regatta now draws in thousands of spectators each year.
Free to attend, the regatta is a boat race with a difference – all participants must compete in a cardboard boat! Although the Cape Coral Rotary Club will provide you with a basic boat design, you can be as creative as you like with the exterior! Past entries have included viking longboats, US navy ships – even a Loch Ness monster!
20. Experience the magic of Matlacha
The waterfront village of Matlacha is located on a tiny island between Cape Coral and Pine Island. One of Florida’s hidden gems, this free-spirited community is full of colorful buildings, unique artwork and quirky residents. Although Matlacha is small, there are a number of interesting shops, bars and galleries to explore. As this is predominantly a fishing village, there are also plenty of amazing seafood restaurants to try!
21. Camp in the Caloosahatchee Regional Park
Spread over 768 acres, the Caloosahatchee Regional Park is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts. Ideal for hiking, horseback riding and biking, there are over 20 miles of different trails running through the park. If you’re up for an overnight adventure, there are a number of campsites within the park grounds, all equipped with BBQ grills, restrooms and showers. If you stay for one night, a family site will cost you around $15, plus $5 for parking.
22. Window shopping at Cape Harbour
Cape Harbour is a luxurious yachting community, located directly on the waterfront. Home to a number of boutique shops, restaurants and art galleries, this upscale neighborhood is considered to be the ‘crown jewel’ of Cape Coral.
You will find some of the city’s most exclusive real estate options here, as well as some pretty impressive boats and yachts. Offering exquisite views across the Gulf, this picturesque neighborhood is the perfect setting for a relaxing stroll in the sunshine!
23. Celebrate Christmas – Florida style!
If you’re visiting Cape Coral over Christmas, the annual holiday boat parade is not to be missed! This festive procession features over 100 boats, all adorned with Christmas lights, decorations and costumed characters.
Starting in Bimini Basin, the boats pass by Four Freedoms Park, before heading down various canals in South Cape Coral. In addition to the parade, Four Freedoms Park also hosts a holiday festival with live music, decorations, crafts and refreshments.
24. Admire the sunset
Offering amazing views across the Caloosahatchee River, the Yacht Club Beach in Cape Coral is one of the best places to watch the sun go down. Taking place on the first Wednesday of every month, October through May, the Sunset Celebration is one of the most popular events in the region.
Attracting hundreds of visitors each month, the Sunset Celebration starts at around 3pm, with live music, dancing and drinks. There will be a variety of local vendors along the beach, and food trucks will be on hand for refreshments until sundown. This event is free to attend, so arrive early to secure a good spot!
Where to stay
If you’re planning a trip to Cape Coral, we offer a huge variety of vacation rentals in the city. When staying in one of our waterfront homes, you will be able to enjoy a huge range of luxury benefits, from private boat docks and swimming pools, to amazing canal views.
With Top Villas, booking a stay couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is follow our simple online booking process and you can secure your dream vacation home instantly without any phone calls or fuss. Our website makes it easy to check availability, get a quote and book instantly online. Alternatively, you can submit an enquiry and we’ll get straight back to you.