The former winter residences of these two important Americans are today a cultural site that is worth a visit, whether you're interested in history, technology or nature: Thomas Edison set up a laboratory and a botanical garden which you'll be able to explore, together with the historical house interiors and a museum dedicated to the inventor.
Stretching across 10 acres on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River, Centennial Park is a good location for a walk or a picnic in town, offering a playground and a fishing pier. Here you will also find the Uncommon Friends, a sculpture commemorating the town's most famous visitors.
The area around Fort Myers offers beautiful, diverse landscapes, which you can admire in the many nature reserves. It's not only about the ocean - inland, you'll find river banks lined by woods, and coastal wetlands. Bird-watching lovers should head to J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge: established in 1945 on Sanibel Island, it hosts 245 different bird species, along with mammals and other sea creatures. It also offers activities for guests, such as kayaking, tram tours and fishing. 1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel, FL +1 239 472 1100 www.fws.gov/refuge/JN_Ding_Darling [email protected] The 3500-acre-wide Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve also makes for good hiking grounds. On its 1.2 mile boardwalk, between dense trees and bayous, you'll admire herons, egrets, alligators, turtles, and other typical fauna. 7791 Penzance Boulevard, Fort Myers, FL +1 239 533 7557 www.sloughpreserve.org
Another popular way of getting to know Fort Myers's landscapes and nature is choosing a boat trip. Eco River Tours provides trips along the Caloosahatchee and Orange rivers, with a naturalist on board to provide explanation on the local flora and fauna. Different options are available, such as manatee tours (only December to March), which allow visitors to get close to these uncommon sea creatures, and sunset tours. Book your trip on their website. Sweetwater Landing Marina, 16991 State Rd. 31, Fort Myers, FL +1 239 693 1434 www.manateeandecorivertours.com [email protected] Magic Wind Adventure Sailing is run by an enthusiastic couple and offers sailing trips on the gulf for up to 6 passengers. It is possible to book on their website or by phone. Salty Sams Marina, 2500 Main Street, Fort Myers, FL +1 800 975-5824 www.sailmagicwind.com [email protected]
For some cultural entertainment, add Fort Myers's Art Walks and Music Walks to your agenda: these free happenings animate the social scene of the downtown River District at fixed times every month, while shops, art galleries and restaurants stay open until late at night, providing drinks on the sidewalk. The Art Walk takes place every first Friday of the month, 6pm-10pm, and features 13 art galleries which offer self-guided tours and meet-ups with the artists. www.fortmyersartwalk.com The Music Walk starts every third Friday of the month at 7pm, with bands and singers taking over the streets, performing in a wide range of music genres. facebook.com/fortmyersmusicwalk
This luxury mansion was a well-known social event venue among Fort Myers's elite at the turn of the century. Built in 1901 in an imposing Georgian Revival style, it is now open for historical tours, and it's also a popular location for marriages and private ceremonies.
A good introduction to Fort Myers's beach panorama, and an easy-to-reach spot if you're based on the mainland, Bunche Beach is part of a green natural preserve south of the Fort Myers town center. The natural scenery is wonderful, and the beach offers different amenities such as kayaking and canoeing equipment.
This town on Estero Island has a relaxed summer party atmosphere, with its colorful Times Square and a more residential southern area. One of its best beaches is Lover's Key State Park: a bit away from the city center, it offers two miles of white sand lined by vegetation. It's great for swimming, and its shallow water is safe for children.
Three miles away from the mainland, the island of Sanibel is known worldwide by conchologists for being covered in an extraordinary amount of seashells washed up by the tides: that's because of its peculiar position, stretching east to west in the middle of sea streams. While the island's beaches are some of the best in the area, the urban scene is also charmingly underdeveloped, and looks frozen in time at the start of the 20th century. Inland lie the Six Cypress Slough Reserve and the Bailey-Matthews shell museum.
With its gaunt, rusty presence, Sanibel's lighthouse adds to the offbeat atmosphere of this beach, tucked away in a natural park on the eastern part of the island. With its clean and shallow water, and seashells everywhere, the beach is a good spot for children. Since there are no bars or restaurants nearby, make sure you bring your own food for lunch.
Particularly romantic at sunset, this less-crowded beach on Sanibel island is completely enveloped in nature, with no buildings in sight. It is not the best place for swimming - sea currents can be quite strong - but it's great for collecting shells and fishing, and it has a memorable atmosphere.
Pirate José Gaspar's coven and, in more recent times, winter home of artists Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, this narrow island north of Sanibel is also covered in shells, and its beaches give the same impression of detachment from modern life. You might start your exploration with Turner Beach, wider, lesser known and undeveloped. Sea currents are often strong here, so swimming is not recommended.
One of the main attractions of Cayo Costa Island is the possibility to mix regular beach life with different activities: the shore is lined by a forest of pine and mangrove trees, ideal for hiking and cycling, and the area teems with fauna, such as dolphins, manatees and a wide range of birds. Snorkeling and surfing are also very popular here. The island is only accessible by private boat or ferry, but it's worth the trip.
The owners of this well-loved sandwich shop keep it casual, but are friendly and attentive to everyone's needs - they provide toys and fully equipped changing rooms for kids, and have earned good reviews by vegetarian guests. Eggs Benedict and the Impossible Burger are recommended.
With a good view of the sea on Captiva Island (which means great sunsets during dinner time), and often live piano music, this charming restaurant has an intimate ambiance and specializes in seafood - their crab bisque and seafood lasagna are well-loved, and they also serve sushi.
This relaxed coffee shop in downtown Fort Myers focuses on organic products: their offer includes local brews of tea and coffee, smoothies, fresh salads and wraps. Coming here can also be a good opportunity to try out some lesser-known tea flavors, such as their lychee green tea.
Offering a fun and creative experience, Vino's Picasso embodies the artsy and friendly atmosphere of Fort Myers, and is one of the most popular hangouts in the area. This art bar is operated by local artists, who will guide you through painting your own work while sipping on drinks and mingling with locals and fellow tourists.
Adorned with works by local artists - which you can also buy from the bar's Art Gallery - Space Bar has an elegant atmosphere and a sophisticated choice of drinks. Here you'll be able to dance to live music in a range of different styles, such as funk, reggae and blues.
One of the best shopping malls in the Fort Myers area, this complex on Sanibel Island offers a relaxed atmosphere and pleasant setting, with designer clothing items and accessories for men, women and children, as well as perfumery products and a wide range of souvenirs. Beachwear is, of course, omnipresent.
Small-scale plastic boat reproductions, whimsical gift ideas, unlikely message plaques, bold shirts which might require some bravery to be worn back in the motherland - this souvenir shop in Fort Myers Beach will provide shoppers of every taste with a perpetual memory of their trip to Florida.
At the end of June 2018, Florida Healthy Beaches Program has released a health advisory regarding the presence of two types of algae which can make it unsafe to sea bathe in some areas of Fort Myers and the Lee county. Blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria) has been found in some inland parts of the Caloosahatchee River (namely, Alva Boat Ramp, Davis Boat Ramp, and Franklin Locks). When this algae is visible it's better not to touch water at all. There have also been cases of 'red tide' in Lee County. Caused by a microscopic algae which discolors the water into red or brown, this phenomenon can cause skin and eye irritation and it's dangerous for people with chronic respiratory problems. Please stay safe and full informed during your visit, and reach for further information at the following links: www.fortmyers-sanibel.com/current-beach-conditions - dedicated page on the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau website floridadep.gov/dear/algal-bloom - dedicated page on the Florida Department of Enviromental Protection www.sfwmd.gov - website of South Florida Water Management District
Citizens of the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Kingdom of Brunei can visit the United States for up to 90 days without applying for a visa (as well as citizens of Andorra, Lichtenstein, Monaco and San Marino). Citizens of these countries must obtain an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) before traveling. All other travelers must obtain a visa before visiting the United States. International travelers need a passport that is valid for at least 3 months after the end of their intended trip in order to enter the country.
The Southwest Florida International Airport is located less than 17 miles from the Fort Myers town center. Taxi service at the airport is provided by MBA Airport Transportation, LLC. The fares vary depending on zones, not meters. +1 239 482 2777 - www.mbaairport.com Alternatively, you can rent a car at the airport's Rental Car Service Center, which is found on the ground level of the parking garage. Avis: +1 239 225 2700 - www.avis.com/en - open Mon-Sun 5am-12:30am Hertz: +1 239 768 3100 - www.hertz.com - open Mon-Sun 4am-1am To reach the town by public transport, you can use the Route 50 bus service provided by the Lee Tran Company. The service is available seven days a week, but it usually does not work at night. The working hours change seasonally. +1 239 533 8726 - www.leegov.com/leetran
The most pleasant months to visit Fort Myers are probably January to April, when days are usually dry and sunny. The hurricane season is between June and November, and it can get very rainy. If your priority is having a quiet, relaxing holiday, keep an eye on academic calendars: Fort Myers Beach becomes a popular destination for college students during their Spring breaks (usually the first days of Spring), which can get very loud.
Public Transport in Fort Myers and the rest of Lee County is operated by the LeeTran company. Different pass solutions are available if you're planning to use public transport for one or more days. There are discounts for students, people over 65 and passengers with disability. You can purchase your ticket online at their website, or at one of LeeTran's Pass Outlets across town. For more info, visit www.leegov.com/leetran/fares-passes.
If you don't want to search for a post office, you can buy stamps at supermarkets, pharmacies, some ATMs, or online on the website link below. To send a letter or a package under 16 oz., look for the blue post boxes around town. Make sure the mailbox has pickup times posted on top. Find a post office here:
Find a pharmacy at: Fort Myers Prescription Shop 3594 Broadway, Fort Myers, FL +1 239 939 0249 - www.therxshops.com Open Mon-Fri 9:30am-5pm Or, alternatively: Walgreens Pharmacy 12749 South Cleveland Avenue, Fort Myers, FL +1 239 939 2142 - www.walgreens.com Open daily - check hours on website