Fort Myers—the “City of Palms”
Fort Myers owes its nickname “City of Palms” to Thomas A. Edison, who had his winter residence in the city and who commissioned the planting of royal palms from Cuba along McGregor Boulevard, the city's old main street in 1880. Edison was responsible for Fort Myer's transformation from a small fishing village to a city.
The famous inventor's winter estate has been transformed into a museum and is one of the most popular attractions in Fort Myers. The Mangoes estate, owned by Edison's friend and automobile tycoon Henry Ford, is also worth visiting. It features the first modern swimming pool, which was built in 1900.
The two friends and their families used to spend the winter months in southwestern Florida. For the most part, Edison's home, his laboratory and the botanic gardens remain untouched. The museum showcases many of Edison's inventions and definitely merits a visit. The admission is also valid for the adjacent estate of Henry Ford, where a few of Ford's early automobiles are exhibited.
A model representing the city expansion around the turn of the century can be viewed in Fort Myers Historical Museum. The “Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium” showcases species of Florida's flora and fauna.
Fort Myers and Cape Coral are separated by the Caloosahatchee River, the perfect location for boat trips to the Everglades and to Lake Okeechobee. Apart from Thomas Edison's estate and other attractions, you may want to visit the many shops and restaurants in the district around First Street. The district has been rebuilt and features many old-style Florida buildings.
Edison Mall, one of the biggest malls in Florida, located at U.S. Highway 41, invites you to take an exhaustive shopping trip. Those who like flea markets can rummage through Fleamasters Fleamarket in the North of Fort Myers to their heart's desire.
If you are tired of shopping or visiting the city’s attractions, take some time to unwind at Fort Myers Beach or refresh your spirit at the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva Island. Sanibel and Captiva islands are easily accessible from Fort Myers via the toll bridge ($6.00 bridge toll as of December 2013).
The white beaches of Estero Island, off the coast of Fort Myers, invite you to sunbathe and relax and offer a view of the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, you can also go para-sailing or jet-skiing.
The Manatee Park, located in the northeast of Fort Myers, is also worth a visit. A nearby power station keeps the waters of the tributary near the park at a pleasant temperature during the winter months, and if you are lucky, you might even spot a manatee around midmorning between November and April. The park itself is fairly small, but is beautifully landscaped with small trails. You can also rent a kayak on site.