What began as a blessing of the shrimp boats 60 years ago has grown to a celebration of shrimp in this beach town.
The main attraction at the Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival was always the huge boiling pots of Gulf pink shrimp, which members of the Lions Club cooked and served.
The event could not be held in 2023 because of damage from a 2022 hurricane. But it’s back in 2024, much changed, as Fort Myers Beach rebuilds.
Here’s more about the condition of Fort Myers in the 2023-24 season.
Shrimp Boat Lane in Fort Myers Beach is where you can see the shrimp boat fleet. Many shrimp boats were destroyed in the hurricane but the fleet is rebuilding.
In the past, the Lions served more than a thousand pounds of shrimp, fresh from local boats, at each year’s festival.
This year, the shrimp will be served at area restaurants in what is being called a Shrimp Crawl from March 4-10.
- The festival still has a two-mile-long parade at 10 a.m. Saturday. The parade features floats and bands. It starts at School Street and proceeds north on Estero Boulevard to the Matanzas Pass Bridge and the site of other festival events.
- There will be an arts and crafts fair from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday along Old San Carlos Boulevard and between 1st Street & 3rd Street.
- From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 10, there will be a Blessing of the Fleet. Afterwards, “Peel & Eat Wild Caught Florida Gulf Pink Shrimp & Cocktail Sauce” will be for sale for 10 shrimp for $10. The location is 1100 Shrimp Boat Lane, Fort Myers Beach.
All proceeds from the Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival benefit the Lions charities.
Visit the official site for the Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival.
Tips on Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival parade
- Check the festival’s Facebook page for updates to these directions and details about the event.
- Saturday morning, the Matanzas Pass Bridge will close to traffic from 9 a.m. until noon, so to access the beach from San Carlos Boulevard, arrive before 8 a.m. (Locals warn that traffic starts backing up even earlier.
- During the parade, the only bridge open to Estero Island is from Bonita Springs, about 16 miles south.
Here’s a complete schedule of Florida seafood festivals.
Other things to do near Fort Myers Beach:
- Nearby Lovers Key State Park for paddling, beach and manatees.
- Manatee Park and kayaking the Orange River in Fort Myers
- Free trail maps for paddling the Calusa Blueway, which includes Fort Myers Beach
- Kayak trip to an archaeological island
- Koreshan Historic State Park preserves Florida quirky history.
- Barefoot Beach on southwest Florida’s wild side
- Corkscrew Swamp offers walk through exquisite cypress swamp
- Hiking and biking Naples Bird Rookery Swamp Trail
- Clam Pass Park, where you ride the tide in the inlet
Where to stay
Hotels.com: Hotels in Fort Myers Beach
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.