Fort Myers

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Fort Myers

Chosen as a winter refuge by Thomas Edison at the turn of the last century, Fort Myers sits away from busier and more opulent Florida centers, maintaining the carefree, low-key atmosphere of a sea town. Assuming beach life is Fort Myers's only attraction would be a mistake: the town center boasts a vibrant street life, with a plethora of indie art galleries and interesting spots for history and science lovers. The area's natural beauty continues inland, where protected animal species take shelter among mangroves and narrow bayou bends.

The City

At first glance, Fort Myers obeys the clichés of Florida, with its palm-lined boulevards, colorful house fronts and white shores, but it's worth exploring further — there is much to discover. Founded as a military base during the American Indian Wars and then abandoned, the town was revived in the 19th century by a ship captain who might also have been a pirate. Around 1880 it started attracting notable ‘snowbirds’, seasonal visitors who came here to escape the colder winters of the north and built elegant period villas. Among them, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were probably the most famous, and left winter estates that are now open to the public. Today, despite its natural beauty, the Fort Myers area is still a lesser known holiday destination, but it's gaining more and more popularity thanks to its lively atmosphere and a recent restyling of the town center. When planning a stay in Fort Myers, it can be practical to think of the city as subdivided into two parts. The Fort Myers town center, in the northern zone, is home to different museums and historical houses. It is also a good starting point for trips to the many natural parks and reserves along the Caloosahatchee river. For the most charming beaches, however, you’ll have to head south, to the barrier islands. The smaller town of Fort Myers Beach offers plenty of beautiful shores and every kind of facilities: separated from mainland Fort Myers, it sits on Estero Island and can easily be reached by a causeway. A trip to some other islands also comes recommended: many of them, like Sanibel, hold a more natural, fascinating atmosphere. Cultural and social hubs are very present in the center of mainland Fort Myers, but you'll find some unexpected hot spots on the islands as well.

Beaches & Islands

The Fort Myers area attracts American "snowbirds" for a reason — you'll find a myriad of beaches surrounded by spectacular nature, especially on the islands. As the shores can be very diverse and offer different attractions, it's a good idea to plan trips to different beaches throughout your stay. Also, don't forget to bring a camera to document the best sunsets. Take into account that Lee County is still recovering from Hurricane Ian which struck Florida's coast in September 2022. Folks from Visit Fort Myers (www.visitfortmyers.com) are diligently documenting the reopening of each tourist attraction. Many beaches and beach parks have not been restored to pre-hurricane Ian conditions yet. You will encounter reduced facilities, limited access and occasional washed-up debris. Beach shoes are highly recommended. Another piece of advice: parking spots might be limited, so arrive there on time to find a place. Also, expect parking to be a bit expensive in the most popular areas.

Do & See

A beach holiday can feel monotonous after a while, but Fort Myers provides many different pastime alternatives, from inland nature trips to sights, art galleries and social events. Chosen as a winter refuge by Thomas Edison at the turn of the last century, Fort Myers sits away from busier and more opulent Florida centers, maintaining the carefree, low-key atmosphere of a sea town. Assuming beach life is Fort Myers's only attraction would be a mistake: the town center boasts a vibrant street life, with a plethora of indie art galleries and interesting spots for history and science lovers. The area's natural beauty continues inland, where protected animal species take shelter among mangroves and narrow bayou bends. In September 2022, Hurricane Ian pummeled the cost of Florida. Many local beaches and attractions are still being restored to their pre-hurricane conditions. Folks from Visit Fort Myers (www.visitfortmyers.com) are diligently documenting the reopening of each tourist attraction.

Dining

Southern Florida cuisine (also known as "Floribbean") is, naturally, well-represented in Fort Myers, where regular seafood dishes such as shrimp and oysters mix with more peculiar specialties like gator tail bites. Dining here can also be a good opportunity to discover a variety of world cuisines, listen to live music, or just relax while enjoying the sunset.

Cafes

Whether you're looking for a quick and casual lunch, some breakfast under Florida's palm lines, or a stylish tea time, Fort Myers will surprise you with some interesting spots. Take your time to try out different things.

Bars & Nightlife

Fort Myers might be quieter than bigger cities of Florida at night, but it offers something for everyone — from mainstream clubs to live music diners, cozy classic pubs and beach bars. The most vibrant nightlife happens on weekends, when locals and tourists gather in the quirky Times Square to admire the sunset while grabbing some cocktails. Monthly art walks and music walks also animate the social scene, and many art galleries offer drinks along the way.

Shopping

The Fort Myers shopping scene is pleasantly diverse. There are, naturally, some classic shopping malls that offer designer brands and outlet deals in a pleasantly air-conditioned setting. Many independent shops provide an alternative showcase of products, from local artwork and jewelry to vintage clothes and knick-knack souvenirs.

Tourist Information