Are you looking for a vacation close to home this year? Great news, – the Fort Myers River District, and surrounding areas of Fort Myers, offer a plethora of activities for the entire family to enjoy.
Stop by the Fort Myers River District this summer for such reoccurring activities such as the Art Walk, which takes place from 6 to 10 p.m. the first Friday of the month, as well as from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
There are self-guided walking tours are throughout the Downtown Fort Myers River District core, as well as the Gardner’s Park area. The music lovers can enjoy Music Walk the third Friday of the month beginning at 6 p.m. The Car Cruise In lines the streets the fourth Saturday of the month from 4 to 8 p.m.
Take a trip to the Fort Myers Public Library, visit a cafe, or explore Centennial Park, on West First Street, which offers benches, boat docks, a fishing pier, launching ramp, playground, volleyball court and a pavilion.
Another great family fun attraction is onboard J.C. Cruises, which departs from the historic Downtown Fort Myers yacht basin. The cruise takes passengers on the Caloosahatchee, the Intracoastal Waterway and Gulf of Mexico. The daily cruises include the Franklin Lock Cruise, Gulf of Mexico Cruise, Dinner Dance Cruise and the Intracoastal Waterway Cruise.
A drive down McGregor Boulevard offers additional activities at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates. The 20 acres offers botanical gardens and nine historic buildings. The estates is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with guided and self-guided tours available. In July, Henry Ford’s birthday will be celebrated at the estates with programs, presentations and a cake.
Want to learn about the Downtown River District? Check out True Tours: Historical Walking Tours at truetours.net. The tours are said to be fun, moving and history-rich. The tours include the Haunted History Tour, Legends and Legacies Tour and the River District History Tour.
Those history buffs should also stop at the Southwest Florida Museum of History. The Jackson Street location houses the former Atlantic Coastline Railroad depot, as well as the history of Southwest Florida.
The Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium, a not-for-profit environmental education organization, is located on Ortiz Avenue, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The center is located on 105 acres and offers a museum, three nature trails, a Planetarium, butterfly and bird aviaries and picnic areas. The jam- packed calendar of activities offers such events as live animal presentations and solar observing. Yoga in Nature is offered from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. on Sundays. Youngsters also have the opportunity to partake in Summer Camps from May 31, through Aug. 9.
Broadway Palm, a dinner theater located on Colonial Boulevard, is offering entertainment for the whole family to enjoy this summer. Such shows as “School of Rock,” “The Lion King,” “Frozen” and “Mean Girls” are a few of the many featured shows to take place.
Additional details on the major attractions:
Edison & Ford Winter Estates
The Edison and Ford Winter estates, 2350 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, contain a historical museum and 17-acre botanical garden on the adjacent sites of the winter homes of Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford beside the Caloosahatchee River in southwestern Florida. It is located along historic and scenic McGregor Boulevard. The homes are open daily and include optional guided tours.
The present site dates from 1885, when Edison first visited Florida and purchased the property to build a vacation home. His home, completed in 1887 and dubbed “Seminole Lodge,” served as a winter retreat and place of relaxation until Edison’s death in 1931. Edison’s good friend Henry Ford purchased the adjoining property in 1916 where he purchased “The Mangoes” from Robert Smith of New York. Ford’s craftsman style bungalow was built in 1911 by Smith. In 1947, Mrs. Mina Edison deeded the property to the city of Fort Myers in memory of her husband for the enjoyment of the public. It was opened for public tours in 1950. By 1988, the adjacent Henry Ford winter estate was purchased and opened for public tours in 1990. The $10 million restoration of the grounds was completed in 2006. A separate fundraising arm, Edison-Ford Winter Estates Foundation, Inc., was created to assist the restoration project with no function in governance, programming or development but rather to assist the governing board with the initial restoration.
For further information on touring the estates, call 239-334-7419, or visit www.edisonfordwinterestates.org.
Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre
The Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre is now celebrating its 25th season, entertaining more than 170,000 guests annually. The facility, at 1380 Colonial Blvd. includes a 450-seat dinner theatre, a 100-seat “black-box” theater called The Off Broadway Palm Theatre, a 120-seat dining room called Caf Cabaret and a 30-seat space just off the main lobby called, The Art Caf.
Running all season and off season long, enjoy fantastic shows throughout the summer this year, including “My Fair Lady,” “Annie,” and “Seussical,” among others. Pair the shows with a full meal and it’s a perfect, relaxing night out during the summers of Southwest Florida. VisitBroadwayPalm.com for a complete list of upcoming show times, ticket prices and more, or call the box office, 239-278-4422.
Imaginarium Science Center
This fun and educational learning spot at 2000 Cranford Ave. features live animal encounters in special guest appearances throughout the year, as well as question-and-answer sessions followed by meet-and-greet activities, giving Imaginarium guests an opportunity to get up close and personal with featured creatures. Visitors also explore and have the opportunity to touch a stingray, hold a horseshoe crab, and meet an assortment of sea animals including hermit crabs, sea stars, urchins, marine snails, and even some featured fish specimens such as flounder and puffer fish. The Imaginarium is a particularly enjoyable location for children and families.
For summer rates, scheduled exhibits and other information, call 239-243-0043, or visit theimag.org.