It’s not just golf courses and beach umbrellas in Fort Myers. Here are three unique things to do in Fort Myers, Florida.
Edison and Ford
Some of the greatest industrialists the world has ever known had homes in Fort Myers. Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone spent half the year in Southwest Florida – as neighbors. Their lavish properties near downtown now serve as museums in their own right as both great architectural landmarks and the industrialists that occupied them.
The properties are in downtown Fort Myers, a few miles from Cape Coral.
The Edison and Ford winter estates (Firestone was excluded from the mix despite being presented throughout the exhibits) encapsulate a time and place these men were titans yet each winter visited Fort Myers to escape the wintery north. The site features 20 acres of botanical gardens, 15,000 square feet of museum space, and both of the homes.
For both adults and kids alike, this expansive complex that spans both homes and encompasses restaurants, a garden, and shops, is worth the stiff price of admission ($25/adult, $15/child 6-12 years old.)
Spring Training Baseball
Each year, Fort Myers hosts two Major League Baseball teams (MLB) – the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins. They both have their own stadium at side-by-side facilities less than a mile from Regional Southwest Florida International Airport.
As part of the “Grapefruit League” these two teams compete at JetBlue Park (Fenway Park South) for the Red Sox and Century Link Sports Complex for the Twins. They play against 13 other teams that have positioned to Florida for the winter and play at stadiums across the state.
Games are played nearly every day in March annually (sometimes twice daily for each team) and typically a few days toward the end of February. This family-friendly fun is a great way to see a favorite team from home (if visiting during this period) with inexpensive tickets, and not a bad seat in either stadium.
Sanibel and Captiva Islands
While many may know Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel and Captiva islands are where beachgoers should spend their time. A viaduct bridge connects the two very close islands to the mainland.
Sanibel Island is the first and nearest of the twin islands. Immediately across the bridge, parking is available where locals and visitors alike stand on white-sand beaches fishing on the Gulf coast. Continuing inland, boutique shops and restaurants dot the main road, Periwinkle.
As a long time visitor to Fort Myers, some personal favorites are the Sanibel Bean coffee and ice cream shop, as well as Schnapper’s Hots for burgers, hot dogs, fresh-cut fries, and hand-battered onion rings. Many ride their bikes to the island, but for visitors that want to cycle (solo, in tandem, or even four-seat carts) Billy’s Rentals has hundreds.
Continuing through Sanibel to Captiva (the only way to reach the island by car) the smaller island offers a gilded view of southwest Florida. Million-dollar homes line either side of the street through thick foliage, most estates are named. Captiva is home to an incredible beach with some of the best shelling in the Fort Myers area.
Toward the end of the island, the marina has a pair of streets offering iconic restaurants and access to the beach. The marina has paid parking available, the restaurant lots are reserved for guest parking-only and this does not extend beyond your dining experience. Favorite spots include the Bubble Room for ridiculous chatzkies and even more ridiculous cakes. The Mucky Duck for beach view eats, and Keylime Bistro are on the opposite road and lead to beach access.
The cost to cross the bridge onto the islands is $6 to enter from Fort Myers, though you can use your Sun Pass for automatic processing if you have it. The small expense thins out the crowd and makes the experience more exclusive.
What do you think? Have you been to Fort Myers, Florida? What unique things do you like to do?