Cape Coral – waterfront wonderland
The city of Cape Coral is adjacent to Fort Myers on a large peninsula bordered by the Caloosahatchee River to the east and Matlacha Pass to the west. With an area of 122 square miles, it is the state’s second largest city by land mass. As of 2012, about 43 percent of the Cape was developed.
The city’s population is estimated at 160,000, and it is growing about 5 percent annually. The Cape features waterfront residential properties on more than 400 miles of canals and waterways, many with access to the Gulf of Mexico. It is among the safest cities in Florida with populations over 150,000.
There is access to a variety of Gulf beaches though the surrounding areas, such as Sanibel Island and Fort Myers Beach, as well as smaller tropical islands and fishing grounds. The Cape has its own beach and fishing pier at the Cape Coral Yacht Club, along with a sunbathing beach at Four Freedoms Park.
The city features a water park, more than 35 recreational parks and facilities, several golf courses, a mix of festivals and more. The Cape’s cultural assets include the Cape Coral Historical Museum, Cape Coral Art Studio and Cape Coral Art League, and 187-seat community-based Cultural Park Theatre.
Sun Splash Family Waterpark (closed during the winer season) has more than 14 acres of wet and dry attractions, including three speed slides, a Lazy River, Tot Spot for small children, family pool, and open and enclosed water flumes.
Other hot spots in the city are the Marquee Coralwood 10 Cinemas, Mike Greenwell’s Family Fun Park, Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve and Rotary Park Environmental Center. There is the Wm. “Bill” Austen Youth Center, along with Eagle Skate Park, which caters to skateboarders and bikers.
Shoppers looking for clothing, collectibles and essentials have a variety of choice locations peppered throughout the community. Check out the Coralwood Mall, shop along the Pine Island corridor or drop by the Mid Point Center, at the Santa Barbara Boulevard and Veterans Parkway intersection.
Cape Harbour Marina and Tarpon Point Marina offer waterfront shopping, dining and recreation.
The downtown Cape, known as the South Cape, is home to unique retailers, dozens of independent restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. The area is evolving as a regional dining and entertainment destination, with local ethnic fare, fresh seafood, fine jewelry shops, baked goods and deli delights.
Club Square is home to the Farmer’s Market, open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays from mid-October to mid-May. Fresh veggies, local seafood and live music draws crowds every weekend. From mid-May to mid-October, the Farmer’s Market at Cape Harbour kicks in, running from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays.
There is a multitude of dining choices in the city, from fine dining to take-out. With the selections ranging from waterfront dining to fresh local seafood, spicy Mexican or succulent steaks, everyone is sure to find an eatery that fits their tastes. There is something for a wide range of food connoisseurs.
Ariani’s Restaurant and Lounge serves fine Italian dishes and has been rated in Florida’ top 500 restaurants and one of the top 24 by Southwest Florida Trend Magazine. Sports fans can head over to Stevie Tomato’s or Richee B’s, while seafood lovers can check out Crazy Fish or Lobster Lady.
For exotic cuisine, look to the Sakura Japanese Steak House or the Siam Hut Thai Restaurant. Local favorites on the casual side include Paesano’s, Annie’s, Rib City and Anthony’s on the Blvd.