On Southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast, music is as ingrained in the local culture as sunshine and sand. That’s why on any given night you’d be hard pressed to find a bar or restaurant that wasn’t showcasing local tunes. But, if you’re looking for the cream of the crop of venues that rock – here are the area’s top five spots to hear live music near the shore.
For a beachside stop that swings until the early hours of morning, pull up a stool at The Cottage. This Fort Myers Beach staple has been a favorite among locals and tourists alike for more than four decades. Crack open a cold one as you take in the panoramic Gulf view and some homegrown tunes on the top deck. Be sure to try an order of their infamous beach bread. The Cottage is open seven days a week and features live music 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday. The Cottage is located at 1250 Estero Boulevard on Fort Myers Beach.
Just across Matanzas Pass Bridge, Nervous Nellie’s serves up island vibes in the form of licks and libations. Stop by Thursday through Sunday night to hear some of the area’s finest musicians playing a medley of reggae, rock and acoustic island music on Nellie’s massive open-air deck. This casual, family-friendly restaurant and bar features a full menu of traditional seafood dishes and a drink selection that will knock your sandals off, like their signature cocktail – the Nervous Nellie – made with six different-flavored tropical rums. It’s worth mentioning whether you arrive by land or sea that parking here is always free. Nervous Nellie's is located at 1131 First Street on Fort Myers Beach.
If you like your live music with a side of sports and barbecue, make a bee line for The Beached Whale. While it may look like a modest dive, The Whale backs up its reputation as one of the best spots on the beach with nearly 40 awards, including “Best BBQ” and “Best Sports Bar.” Head upstairs to the “Look Out Lounge” for intimate, yet high-energy classic rock, ska and reggae performances every weekend. The Beached Whale is located at 1249 Estero Boulevard on Fort Myers Beach.
Picture CBGB’s in the heart of a beach town and you’ll have a clear image of Buddha Rock Club. This former Chinese restaurant turned underground music venue is known for its fast-paced, rowdy shows where you’ll find beachgoers, businessmen and bikers shoulder-to-shoulder on the dance floor. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the giant statue of Buddha in the parking lot – and the insanely cheap drink specials on the board inside. Buddha Rock Club is located at 12701 McGregor Boulevard in Fort Myers.
The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel’s music scene culminates on the third Friday of every month at the Fort Myers Music Walk. Grab a comfortable pair of shoes and head to the River District where over a dozen restaurants, bars, and art galleries open their doors for a night of live local music. To make the most of Music Walk, get a room for the night at one of the River District’s hotels. Be sure to book your stay early – Music Walk attracts thousands of fans every month from across the state. The River District is located at 1400 Jackson Street in Fort Myers.
On Captiva Island, there’s no shortage of entertainment. Swing by the Crow’s Nest for great food, great fun and great music served up nightly. Almost every night of the week this restaurant features live music and chef-inspired menu specials. Plus, at this beach bar and grille, you can get a front row seat for the Captiva Crab Races! You gotta see it to believe it.
If you’re looking for great live music on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, check out the five venues and events listed above. South Florida’s music scene is rockin’, so pack your best dancing shoes and great ready for a vacation unlike any other.
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