Bonita Springs is a city located in Lee County, Florida. It covers an area of forty-one square miles and has a population of over forty-two thousand residents. Bonita Springs is situated on a barrier island that is on both the Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay. It is the northernmost city on Florida’s west coast and has a distinct tropical climate. Temperatures in the winter months are around sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit and during the summer months the average temperature is around one hundred degrees Fahrenheit.
Tourism is the main economic activity of the city and is supported by the many attractions that are located there. A popular attraction in Bonita Springs is the Art League of Bonita Springs. This institution was founded in 1959 by Ruth Hardy, who gathered together fifteen artists and started the first community art classes at the Community Center. The art league then provided a range of classes for students of every age. In 2000, a ten acre campus was opened and provided art studios, galleries and a gift shop. In 2002, several new features were added. These new amenities included a kiln room, the Morean Clay Studio, photography studio, computer lab, sculpture studios and Braniff Library. Today, the league offers many programs for aspiring artists and holds two National Art Festivals on an annual basis.
Another popular attraction in Bonita Springs is Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park. This beach park is one of the last barrier islands on the southwest coast of Florida and covers an area of three hundred and forty-two acres. Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park is a prime example of the changes in habitat that occur within a small area of land which has only slight changes in moisture and elevation. The park has over eighty-two hundred feet of sand dunes and beach which foster the growth of seat oats. These seat oats provide a prime habitat for turtles nesting during the summer. Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park also has sea grape trees, sable palms and other tropical trees. This beach park is very popular with tourist and is well known for its natural surroundings and the opportunities it affords to fishermen looking to bag beautiful and elusive fish specimens. The mangrove swamps and tidal creeks provide a breeding area for many different types of fish and shellfish.
Everglades Wonder Gardens is another attraction that is gaining popularity with tourists. This family owned zoo was first founded in 1936 by two brothers, Wilford and Lester Piper. These two brothers were retired bootleggers who owned a large tract of land and had plenty of time on their hands. Today, the zoo contains over two thousand species of plants and wildlife which include alligators, crocodiles, panthers, exotic birds, birds of Florida, flamingos, reptiles and snakes of all kinds. They also have a botanical garden, live otter shows and have the biggest American Crocodile in captivity, measuring over fifteen feet in length and weighing in excess of a thousand pounds. This crocodile is known affectionately as ”Big Joe”. Carl E. Johnson State Park is another place to visit during your stay in the city. This state park covers an area of seven hundred and twelve acres and is situated on four barrier islands; Lover’s Key, Inner Key, Black Island and Long Key. Wildlife in the park include over forty species of birds, manatees, dolphins, marsh rabbits, osprey, egrets, bald eagles, woodpeckers, hawks, owls, spoonbills and American Kestrel. The park has a two mile beach, playgrounds, picnic areas, kayak rentals and gazebos. Favorite visitor activities in the park include sun worshipping, picnicking, boating and swimming.
Other attractions in the city of Bonita Springs include Bonita Springs Public Beach, Bay Water Boat Rentals, Dog Beach, Stillwater Spa and For Goodness Sake Marketplace & Cafe. Prominent hotels and restaurants in the city include Bonita Springs Hotel & Suites, American Inn Lodge & Suites of Bonita Springs, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort, Hampton Inn Naples North, Doc’s Beach House Restaurant, Vincenzo’s On the Bay, Buffalo Chips Restaurant, Iguana Mia Mexican Restaurant, Pincher Crab Shack, Maria’s Restaurant and Roy’s Restaurant.