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Fort Myers

The City of Palms

By Staff | Oct 6, 2021

Boardwalk at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve. Photo courtesy of The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel

Once a farming and cattle community in the late 1860s and 1870s, Fort Myers has now become a creative center of Southwest Florida by thriving on its storied history. The city offers four designated historic districts — Edison Park, Dean Park, Downtown and Seminole Park — and nearly 20 designated landmarks

It’s this eclectic vision that has drawn people to Fort Myers over the years. Whether it’s sports, ecological activities, shopping, world-class dining, fun in the sun, artistic expression or peace and quiet, there is truly something for everyone, every dream, every interest.

Any visit to “old Fort Myers” starts in the River District.

Nestled in downtown Fort Myers, several blocks of fun and exciting activities and opportunities are available: Caloosa Sound Convention Center & Amphitheater, the Fort Myers Yacht Basin, Florida Rep Theatre, Burroughs Home & Gardens, the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, Lab Theater of Florida and more including a wealth of shops, galleries and dozens of dining and entertainment options.

Take a walking tour along the brick-pavered streets, or visit the historic Downtown Fort Myers Yacht Basin where day cruises are offered.

Visit www.myriverdistrict.com for what’s trending.

Other options in and around Fort Myers  include:

Alliance for the Arts

10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers

Event, education, fairs, exhibit and theater and arts, green market and other cultural activities. Nonprofit and user funded.

artinlee.org, 239-939-2787

Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall

13350 FSW Parkway, Fort Myers

Off-Broadway, live performances, holiday events.

www.bbmannpah.com, 239-481-4849

Florida Repertory Theater

2268 Bay St., Fort Myers

Downtown Fort Myers is home to the Florida Repertory Theater. Founded in 1998, the venue and troupe has become a perennial favorite among art and theater lovers, blending humor, drama, dance, with productions of classics alongside the newest voices of modern play writing. New COVID-19 protocols have been put in place requiring all patrons age 12 and up showing a negative PCR COVID-19 test administered by a healthcare provider, or official testing center, no earlier than 72 hours before a performance.

www.floridarep.org, 239-332-4488

The Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium

3450 Ortiz Ave., Fort Myers

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. Nestled on 105 acres, the center houses 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.

www.calusanature.org, 239-275-3435

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

7791 Penzance Blvd., Fort Myers

The great outdoor space stretches approximately 11 miles long and 1/3 mile wide on more than 3,400 acres of wetland, an ecosystem home to a diverse population of plants and animals. Complete with a boardwalk trail and an Interpretive Center, individuals can get lost in the wilderness for a few hours of outdoor exploring. It is open from dawn to dusk every day, unless otherwise noted.

www.sloughpreserve.org, 239-533-7557

Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre

1380 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers

The theater, which includes a 450-seat dinner theater, a 100-seat “black-box” theater called The Off Broadway Palm Theatre, a 120-seat dining room called Cafe Cabaret and a 30-seat space just off the main lobby called, The Art Cafe, entertains more than 170,000 guests annually.

Visit BroadwayPalm.com for a complete list of upcoming show times, ticket prices and more, or call the box office, 239-278-4422.

IMAG History & Science Center

2000 Cranford Ave., Fort Myers

IMAG History & Science Center is a fun and educational learning spot  that 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 IMAG guests an opportunity to get up close and personal with featured creatures. Visitors also have the opportunity to partake in an IMAG LIVE! Animal Show, stingray feedings, Science on a Sphere, IMAG LIVE! Science Show and Meet-the-Keeper during its daily special attractions.

The IMAG History & Science Center  is a particularly enjoyable location for children and families. Make sure to check out its website before visiting as there are new operating hours and safety precautions taking place.

theimag.org  239-243-0043

Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Historical museum and 17-acre botanical garden

A piece of history is located along the Caloosahatchee River in Southwestern Florida, which includes a historical museum, both Thomas Alva Edison and Hendry Ford’s homes, a 17-acre botanical garden, laboratory and Garden Shoppe and Museum Store. The Edison and Fort Winter Estates, 2350 McGregor Blvd. in Fort Myers is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with the last ticket sold at 3:30 p.m.

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.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all visitors are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines, which includes social distancing and wearing a mask. Those who would like to visit the estates are encouraged to purchase tickets online at www.edisonfordwinterestates.org. For more information, call 239-334-7419.

There is also an app visitors can download, called Edison Ford on Google Play and Apple. The free app includes audio narration, historic photos and facts. The tour is also accessible while visiting the estates by calling a phone number.