While Florida as a whole is known for its beautiful weather, its theme parks and its art deco architecture, the Florida of the southwest, particularly that of the Fort Myers area, is a step back into the simpler pleasures of life. Both a lively modern city and something of a throwback to old Florida, Fort Myers is an artful blending of both worlds – and while walking the banks of the Caloosahatchee River, there’s no denying this town’s charms. If you’ve got three days to spend in Fort Myers, you’ve got three days of sunshine, nature and relaxation ahead of you.
Day 1: Get Oriented
Part of the charm of this city is seeing Florida as it used to be. Step back in time for a bit and explore the houses of two of America’s greatest inventors – Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. The two friends built mansions along the banks of Fort Myer’s waterways and today visitors can explore the extensive grounds, tour the museums and lounge under the shade of the large banyan trees while imagining Florida as a simpler time. For more revelry in bygone times, head to the Burroughs House to see how Florida’s wealthy elite lived, stayed, and played.
Day 2: See Florida’s Wildlife
Florida has some of the wildest ecosystems on the planet. And while in Fort Myers it’s an easy trek to view some of the world’s most elusive creatures – the American crocodile and alligator tend to hang out in the murky swamps and mangroves, while the manatee prefers the open fields of sea-grass in the Manatee Park. Head over to the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve to walk the otter pond, spot some Florida Flamingoes and maybe even a python or two. Spend dinner at Veranda, a cornerstone of downtown Fort Myers dining. French cuisine in two historic Florida mansions will have you saying “oo la la.”
Day 3: Hit the Beach
There’s no doubt about it. One of the pinnacle activities for any time spent in Fort Myers is time spent at the beach. The sands here are powder-fine, white, and spread for miles. If you’re into deep sea fishing or resort living, head over to Fort Myers Beach, a small town about 20 miles south of Fort Myers. If you’d prefer the sleepy solitude of having few others around, try Sanibel Island. Both offer that flour-soft sand you’ve been looking for, and Sanibel has the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge which boasts the largest undeveloped mangrove swath in the U.S.