When you think of Florida, sun-kissed beaches and water sports come to mind. With over 50 miles of beaches and a broad range of aquatic activities, Ft. Myers and neighboring Sanibel and Captiva islands—situated on Florida’s southwest coast—don’t disappoint. You’ll find some of the best shelling in the world, excellent fishing for tarpon and marlin, and much more. In addition, opportunities to observe nature up close and personal (water birds, dolphins, manatees, turtles) are a big draw at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
What may surprise you, however, is the chance to step back in time at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, one of the most visited historic home sites in America.
We’re talking about the winter getaways of American industry icons Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, and Thomas Edison, the driving force behind such innovations as the light bulb, motion picture cameras, phonographs and more. Both spent winters in Ft. Myers, where they were neighbors, and left wonderful homes with adjacent gardens now open to the public. Did you know that Ford once worked for Edison before he founded his automobile company? That Edison, Ford, naturalist John Burroughs and tire entrepreneur Harvey Firestone loved to go camping together in Florida’s Everglades? Or that Edison, Ford and Firestone established a rubber research laboratory on the estate in 1928 to help reduce America’s dependency on foreign rubber? That lab, which you can tour today, was designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society in 2014.
Learn all this and more when you visit Ft. Myers. While there, don’t miss a stay at the luxurious Westin Hotel on Cape Coral (westincapecoral.com). For fine dining, check out Veranda (verandarestaurant.com) and The Twisted Vine Bistro (twistedvinebistro.com). For local color and southern comfort food, go to the Farmers’ Market Restaurant(farmersmarketrestaurant.com). You can even take a ferry to nearby Cabbage Key (cabbagekey.com) for lunch (or an overnight) and dine at the Dollar Bill Bar where Jimmy Buffet is said to have composed his famous song “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”
For more information on the historic site: edisonfordwinterestates.org