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What is There to Do in Historic Downtown Bonita Springs?

Tiana Burgos
March 18, 2020

With its stunning beaches, elegant homes, plentiful outdoor adventures and welcoming local community, it’s easy to see why Bonita Springs has become one of Southwest Florida’s most desirable beach-side locations. 

As well as the world-class restaurants, historic landmarks and murals of Downtown Bonita Bonita Springs, the impressive beaches and natural landscapes surrounding the town allow residents to enjoy a wide range of engaging activities, from fishing to golf, boat tours to scuba diving, and strolls through breathtaking natural parks

Bonita Springs really is a slice of natural paradise. But it is far from dull. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 41.0 square miles (106 km2), and a population of about 44,000 people. The local community knows how to have fun, making the most of Florida’s delightful tropical climate and Downtown Bonita Springs’ social culture and rich history.         

Does Bonita Springs Have a Downtown?

Oh yes, Bonita Springs has a Downtown. And more than this - it’s currently in the process of developing into something spectacular. 

This quaint and historic area has the charm and elegance of old-fashioned Florida but with the modern vibrancy of a town on the rise. Centered around Old 41 Road, Riverside Park and the Imperial River, Downtown Bonita Springs is slated for redevelopment with significant municipal support from the City of Bonita Springs. The vision is to create a walkable urban oasis patterned after Fifth Avenue South in Naples.

City Council has pledged its commitment to creating an original Downtown in Bonita Springs, voting to concentrate its efforts on the Downtown Bonita Springs redevelopment and instructing staff to make this project a priority. 

These exciting development plans will mean new restaurants, independent shops and a growing nightlife, incorporated between iconic historic buildings, looming palm trees and the Old Florida class we know and love.

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Landmarks in Historic Downtown Bonita Springs

Bonita Springs has long been inhabited. Archaeological discoveries place people here about 8,000 years ago and mound building was well underway by 4,000 years ago. 

In the early 1920s, Barron Collier extended his Fort Myers-Southern Railroad south to include Bonita Springs. Later, roadside attractions like the Everglades Reptile Gardens and the Everglades Wonder Gardens enticed visitors to the area. In 1957, the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track was also opened in the city.

So Downtown Bonita Springs is heaving with beautiful historic buildings and vintage homes, as well as some must-see historic landmarks that deserve a special mention: 

  1. Everglades Wonder Gardens - Travel back in time to Old Florida with a visit to this historic cultural icon. Established in 1936, the Everglades Wonder Gardens has a  rich history. Your journey begins inside the natural history museum, which showcases specimens collected by the founders of the gardens, brothers Bill and Lester Piper. Outside, you will discover a three-and-a-half-acre botanical jungle filled with native trees and plants as well as species from around the world.
  2. Bonita Springs Riverside Park - Beautiful gardens, outdoor movies and community events - including two large art shows hosted by Center of the Arts of Bonita Springs, the Bonita Brew Fest and the Bonita Blues Festival, all held during the months of January, February and March.
  3. Promenade At Bonita Bay - With some of the finest retail stores, unique boutiques, high-end salons, and delectable restaurants, The Promenade at Bonita Bay attracts both locals in Southwest Florida and visitors from around the world.
  4. Southwest Florida Event Center - A world-class live performance venue located in beautiful Bonita Springs, Florida, the SWFL Event Center is a state-of-the art, event facility serving Lee, Collier, and the surrounding counties. 

Downtown Bonita Springs Restaurants

Bonita might have more deliciously interesting restaurants per capita than any other area of Southwest Florida. There’s a huge variety of cuisines, ranging from all-American to Italian, Mexican and everything in between, all made more delectable by access to fresh, sea-caught fish from the local coast line:

  • Wylds Cafe - Opened by a trio of classically trained chefs in 2005, Wylds is a culinary wonderland. From the glossy red wine demi-glace made from slow-roasted veal bones, to the a "crepe brulee" finished with creme Anglaise, the whole menu will excite the senses. 
  • Petar's -  Chef Petar Al Kurdi is a master. His seasonal menu bursts with flavor, be it a from-scratch lasagna made with Al Kurdi's hand-rolled pasta and his slow-simmered Wagyu Bolognese, or whichever stunningly perfect risotto he's come out with that night.
  • The Other Side Bistro - an ambitious new-American menu, including fried green tomatoes cut thick and finished with horseradish and roasted-garlic aioli, scallops seared crisp atop an excellent quinoa, and French onion soup to beat just about any other French onion soup in town.
  • Jimmy P's Charred North -  From the founders of the acclaimed Jimmy P's Butcher Shop in Naples, this second Charred is a meat-lover's dream. It offers an impressive variety of steaks in an extensive range of Wagyu grades.

Whatever your tastes, you’ll find culinary delights to blow your mind in Downtown Bonita Springs. 

Check Out the Murals in Downtown Historic Bonita Springs

As part of Downtown Historic Bonita Springs’ extensive development, a number of stunning murals were commissioned across the city to record the towns’ past and visions for the future. Checking out Bonita’s colourful murals is a great way to spend a day - so here are a few highlights.

  • Reflections of Bonita - Located on the south wall of the Century 21 building, Reflections of Bonita provides a nostalgic look back on some of the historic structures that helped identify Bonita Springs, including the Liles Hotel, Everglades Wonder Garden and the Dome and Shangri-La Springs Spa.
  • The Secret Bench of Knowledge - The Secret Bench of Knowledge was Bonita Springs’ very first outdoor public artwork. The Secret Bench of Knowledge continues to be one of Bonita Springs’ most popular public artistic landmarks.
  • Rusty, The American Dog - American Dog is a 8-foot-tall by 10-foot long
    500-pound Cor-Ten steel sculpture that resides today in Depot Park in historic downtown Bonita Springs. Local residents have affectionately named the sculpture Rusty because of his rust-colored patina.
  • Mi Pueblo Bonito (My Beautiful Town) - Mi Pueblo Bonito is the first mural in the City of Bonita Springs new Art in the Sun Along Old 41mural initiative. Rendered by Cuban-born artist Alejandro Nunez, My Beautiful Town’s five tightly-rendered content-intensive 8-foot-tall by 8-foot-wide exterior panels span centuries of local history.

Explore Bonita Springs with Royal Shell

Every year, more than six million visitors from around the world flock to beautiful Southwest Florida seeking an escape from the ordinary. 

Family owned and locally operated since 1994, Royal Shell Vacations has managed more rental properties than any other company in the region. Our experienced and professional team of rental specialists know the market better than anyone else, and they are dedicated to offering the most comprehensive and around-the-clock hassle-free service.

So if you’re looking for a property in Historic Downtown Bonita Springs, get in touch with Royal Shell Vacations today - we’ll be delighted to help you find your dream home.

Need to check availability of a perfect Bonita Springs vacation rental?
Take a minute to complete a short form and submit it to us so we can check the availability of the property you desire.

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