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    What to see in Fort Myers? Itinerary between beaches, parks and Downtown

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    Lluis Enric Mayans
    @lluisenricmayans
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    Along the southwestern coast of Florida, the largest urban area is that made up of the union of Fort Myers e Cape Coral, which together represent a fundamental stage for an itinerary along the circumnavigation of the peninsula. With this article let's find out what we can see and do in the City of Palms, so nicknamed because the main streets of the city, in particular the very long McGregor Boulevard, are a veritable riot of palm trees.


    Index


    • How to get to Fort Myers
    • When to go to Fort Myers: climate and events
    • What to see in Fort Myers
      • From Edison to Ford: the residences of celebrities
      • Museums
      • The parks
      • Fort Myers Beach
    • Where to eat
    • Accomodation

    How to get to Fort Myers

    Fort Myers has its own airport, the South Florida International Airport, from which you can easily reach the city center thanks to the LeeTran bus number 50 (here you will find the map of all the lines), the transport company that serves the whole of Lee County. If you are coming to Florida directly from Europe, you will probably find the cheapest flight on theMiami airport. From here, if you hire a car, you can get to Fort Myers in just over two hours. The cheaper alternative by public transport is to take the bus which takes 2 hours.

    Whether you are traveling by rental car or choosing public transportation, if you land in Miami and are heading to Fort Myers, you can consider a stop in Naples. If, on the other hand, you are coming from the north, Tampa it is the closest large city. By car it takes almost two hours, while by bus you have an alternative between 2 hours and 20 minutes and, if you want to save on the cost of the ticket, a cheaper bus that takes 3 hours and 50 minutes.



    In both cases I suggest you take a look at the link below where you can find offers to save on the route.

    Look for a bus

    When to go to Fort Myers: climate and events

    From a climatic point of view, the winter months they are the best for visiting much of Florida. The hot and dry climate of the dry season is in fact preferable to the hot and humid days that can be found during the summer months. Surely your trip will also include other locations in the state, so the suggestion is to read our article dedicated to the climate of Florida, so as to have a more complete view.

    As in other cities in Florida, even in Fort Myers the biggest events take place precisely in the months where the possibility of bad weather is lower. Let's start from the sea: in November the Beach Sand Sculpting Championship, a great competition where you compete by making sand sculptures on the beach. It lasts ten days and it is possible to see real works of art made only of sand by the sea. For sports lovers, the City of Palms Classic, a major basketball tournament dedicated to high school students, during which young athletes are also observed by NBA recruiters.

    Moving to February, we can participate in theEdison Festival of Light, an event that lasts many days and which includes a series of events related to the famous inventor, who built his own residence right here. The peak evening is obviously the one dedicated to the parade of lights. In the same period we find theAsia festival, organized at the Alliance for the Arts. This lunar year celebration is a great oriental event where martial arts performances, cultural entertainment, music and typical Asian food are staged. Another manifestation linked to a foreign culture is the Greek Fest, linked to the local Greek Orthodox church, during which the goal is to keep Greek traditions alive.



    What to see in Fort Myers

    Fort Myers is one of the main tourist resorts in western Florida, popular mainly for the surrounding beaches. This does not mean that there is only the sea to see. We have in fact faced a nice and pleasant city, which in addition to the life of vacationers is able to offer some historical-cultural ideas. In addition, it is a good home base for visiting other nearby locations such as Sarasota, Naples and the natural parks of the area.

    The center of the city of palms is known as River District: it is in fact around the banks of the Caloosahatchee River and its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico that the most significant chapters of local history took place, in particular the different phases of the war with the Seminole natives. Thus, downtown is the area adjacent to the river, which is crossed by First Street, a street full of historic buildings, but also bars, restaurants and obviously many palm trees. All around, narrower and more characteristic streets, where there are some of the places worth visiting.

    From Edison to Ford: the residences of celebrities

    Not everyone knows that two great men who wrote important chapters of history had a winter residence in Fort Myers. Thomas Edison, father of the light bulb as well as of other inventions such as the phonograph, had here a villa with swimming pool and library. The winter residence, known as Seminole Lodge, is located at 2350 McGregor Boulevard and is close to that called The Mangoes, whose owner was Henry Ford, the one who transformed the auto industry to offer transportation to the middle class.


    The two houses, built in 1886 and 1915 respectively, are now part of one big property and can be visited through accompanied tours or with an audio guide: timetables and tickets can be consulted on the official website. These two beautiful winter residences represent Fort Myers's most visited attraction and indeed it is worth dedicating a moment to it during your stay in the city. In addition to the residences themselves, the museum itinerary offers videos and images on the inventions and also a laboratory in which Edison worked with his collaborators from 1928 to 1936. All around, large gardens with tropical plants enhance the beauty of the place.


    Another historic residence worth visiting, at 2505 First Street, is the Murphy-Borroughs House. Beautiful luxury property built in the Georgian Revival style in 1901 and richly furnished, it owes its name to the successive owners: first John T. Murphy and then Nelson Borroughs. Now it is a house-museum that can be visited and it is difficult to find such well-kept and detailed residences of this type.

    Museums

    In addition to the aforementioned historic residences, there are also some museums that can be interesting to visit.

    • South-West Florida Museum of History. The right place to better understand the history of Southwest Florida and how these lands have passed from native populations to Spanish explorers and early settlers, to this day. A collection of artifacts helps you walk through the chapters of local history step by step.
    • Railroad Museum of South Florida. A rich display of trains, including a small train that can be boarded for a 15-minute ride through a miniature village in Southeast Florida. Inside we also find scale locomotives and tracks: a museum for train and rail enthusiasts.
    • Imaginarium Science Center. Do you want to do a full immersion in the history of the world between earth, space and dinosaurs, but at the same time have a close encounter with live animals such as sea turtles, crabs and rays, feeding them? Here is the right museum, ideal especially if you are traveling with children.

    Tickets for the Imaginarium Science Center

    The parks

    In all of Florida, nature is the predominant element, whether we talk about the sea, forests or wild animals. Even in the cities or in the surrounding areas, contact with nature cannot be missing.

    • Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium. In addition to the planetarium, here you can see and study various animals, including birds and butterflies. Thanks to the network of paths, interspersed with picnic areas, it is easy to immerse yourself in the greenery of tropical plants. The name of the natural center, Calusa, is that of an Indian tribe that lived in this area, which is now extinct.
    • Lakes Regional Park. A large area with several lakes close to each other, perfect for long walks in the countryside. Among the most curious areas, we find the garden of fragrances, aromatic herbs and cacti.
    • Lee County Manatee Park. This natural park is the ideal place to observe manatees, the docile cetaceans that inhabit the lagoon waters of these coasts. Access is free and in the months between March and November it is easy to see them swimming in the long canal that runs through the 7 hectares of the park. There is also the possibility to rent a canoe or a kayak to venture out on the water by paddling, so as to admire these magnificent animals even more closely.
    • 6 Miles Cypress Slough Preserve. Much less docile than manatees, alligators are the main animals of this nature reserve. One of the many swampy areas in Florida, just a stone's throw from Fort Myers, is perfect for observing both alligators and turtles, otters, birds of various species and other animals. Thanks to the paths with wooden walkways and picnic areas, combined with an interactive information center, you can visit the area with ease.
    • Lynn Hall Memorial Park. On Estero Island, a long and thin island parallel to the coast, south of the city, we find this beautiful park overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Next to the green area, there is a large equipped beach.

    Fort Myers Beach

    The main beach near the city is Fort Myers Beach, located on Estero Island. This long-limbed island is also called barrier island, as it forms a sort of barrier between the mainland and the open sea of ​​the Gulf of Mexico, creating a sort of channel behind it. The island's beach is clear and very fine: perfect for spending hours lying in the sun. But the possible activities are different: here you can practice water sports or you can participate in boat tours to see the dolphins.

    If you want to live on the beach, you can also move further south, around Naples, where the choice of sandy coasts is greater. In any case, by reading our article on the best beaches in Florida you will have a complete overview.

    Are you planning a Florida tour?

    I recommend these articles:

    • How to organize a Florida tour on your own?
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    • Florida climate: when to go and what temperatures to expect
    • Miami Travel Guide: Useful Tips for Planning a Vacation
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    Where to eat

    The choice of places to eat in Fort Myers is quite large. We suggest some restaurants where in our opinion you will be sure to eat well.

    • The Lodge (2278 First St.). In the center, the wooden building of this restaurant resembles a mountain hut and inside you will also find a false glass window representing a mountain range. Grilled meat is the local specialty.
    • The Veranda (2122 Snd St.). A little expensive, but of a high standard, this restaurant is defined by the architectural charm "antebellum", ie pre-American Civil War. Open since 1978, it offers local cuisine, both meat and fish based.
    • Fancy’s Southern Cafè (8890 Salrose Ln.). A decidedly more casual atmosphere can be felt in this place, where it is still possible to taste excellent meat or fish dishes and delicious desserts, such as the Key Lime Pie typical of Florida, in particular of the Keys islands.
    • Salty Papa’s Shrimp House (15271 McGregor Blvd.). If you love shrimp, dine here at least once. Caught exclusively in the Gulf of Mexico, the shrimp cooked in this restaurant is excellent. But even for those who do not like shellfish, there is the possibility to taste other dishes.

    Accomodation

    The accommodation alternatives in Fort Myers are varied, ranging from upscale hotels to cheaper B & Bs. Here are some suggestions on where to stay overnight.

    • The Hibiscus House B&B (2135 McGregor Blvd.). A Bed & Breakfast housed in a historic twentieth-century residence with rooms with wooden walls, welcoming and bright. Definitely recommended.
    • Rock Lake Resort (2937 Palm Beach Blvd.). A very nice hotel, in whose park there is a small lake and where during your stay you can play tennis, swim in the heated outdoor pool or rent a kayak.
    • La Quinta Inn Central (4850 S. Cleveland Ave.). This, on the other hand, is a hotel belonging to a well-known chain, therefore certainly less personal than the previous ones, but equipped with every comfort and service.
    • Hilton Garden Inn (12600 University Dr.). Another hotel belonging to a chain, but equipped with every necessary service, including the swimming pool. Being outside the historic center and not far from the airport, it is ideally located for those who are passing through and need not waste too much time traveling.
    Are you planning a Florida tour?

    I recommend these articles:

    • How to organize a Florida tour on your own?
    • Car rental Miami and Florida: low cost practical tips
    • Florida climate: when to go and what temperatures to expect
    • Miami Travel Guide: Useful Tips for Planning a Vacation
    • Low Cost USA flights: how to save money for your flight to the United States
    • America health insurance: how to choose the best policy
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