Fancy a great Florida weekend getaway? Look no further than Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach’s beautiful offerings in Lee County, Florida. This southwestern Florida Gulf Coast city is an exceptional place to go for sun, fun, rest, and relaxation. It also houses one of Florida’s most special historical treasures, the Edison and Ford Winter Houses, along with a killer singer-songwriter festival.
With plentiful outdoor opportunities and favorable weather year-round, Fort Myers is a great place to visit. Based on my previous travels to this delightful Florida city and in partnership with hotels.com, here is what to do on a Fort Myers weekend getaway.
Historic Homes Tour
Way back in 1916, friends Thomas Edison and Henry Ford bought neighboring properties to make Florida their winter estate addresses. Today, the Edison and Ford Winter Estates provide one of Florida’s best historic attractions in this incredible living history museum, beautiful 21-acre botanical garden, and the most impressive 1928 Edison Botanical Research Laboratory.
Guests can tour the beloved homes on the National Register of Historic Places, Ford’s being a rustic two-story riverfront home, and Edison’s charming main house and guest cottage containing nearly all original and authentic Edison furnishings. The gardens were my favorite part of the attraction, with 1700+ trees and flowers, plus a garden shop you can purchase some of the things you see. Be on the lookout for costumed interpreters for your photo ops.
Fun Fact: You can see what’s in bloom in the Edison and Ford Winter Estates garden through this link.
Where to Stay in Fort Myers
Fort Myers has accommodations ranging from chain and luxury hotels to upscale RV parks and everything in between. For those craving a birds-eye view of the stunning Gulf Coast sunsets, Sundial Beach Resort and Spa is an excellent choice. A second choice would be the Pink Shell Beach Resort and Marina.
If you are looking at downtown hotel rooms, the Hotel Indigo Fort Myers Downtown River District is a perfect choice. We love the straightforward comforts of Hotel Indigo and the stylish rooms and lobby. Or, choose between the 243 rooms at the Luminary Hotel & Co. (Autograph Collection) in downtown’s River District.
Luminary Hotel has two onsite restaurants (Ella Mae’s Diner and Silver King Ocean Brasserie), a fascinating rooftop bar (Beacon Social Drinkery), and a local coffee roaster. You can even take cooking classes at The Workshop, their culinary classroom. This boutique hotel overlooks the gorgeous Caloosahatchee River.
RVers will love the primo campsites at High Tide Lane of Gulf Waters RV Resort with great views of the sparkling lake. Gulf Waters’ 318 paved sites are usually spoken for during peak season, but offseason, there are several choices. The RV park is enormous, and many people have fancy porches, yards, and set-ups showing off their RV love.
Gulf Waters has a fantastic centrally-located heated pool and hot tub, along with a tiki bar & cafe that operates during the season. Amenities at Gulf Waters include a laundry facility, shower rooms, free Wi-Fi, tennis courts, and a host of planned activities such as these.
- Domino tournaments
- Potluck dinners
- Aerobics and water exercise
- Sewing circle
- Movie nights
- Weekly motorcycle rides
Things to Do in Fort Myers
We Floridians love our spring baseball training games, and you can enjoy a double-header in Fort Myers. Both the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox share the field at Hammond Stadium in the CenturyLink Sports Complex. Enjoy watching America’s favorite pastime in the warm Florida sunshine, our spring-time rite of passage, while eating a gourmet hotdog and drinking a cold beer. Life doesn’t get much better than this.
A unique shopping and nature attraction in Fort Myers is the Shell Factory and Nature Park, featuring 65,000 square feet of retail space for clothing, accessories, jewelry, and of course, shells. It is said that the Shell Factory has over five million shells for sale. Wow! I love the Christmas section, which is full of goodies and available year-round.
Enjoy a wide array of adventures and educational opportunities at the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium. The plants and animals are quite impressive, and the center focuses on connecting people with nature. Fort Myers also has an amazing arts scene, with touring musicals, symphonies, and other productions at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. Upcoming events include The Nutcracker, One Night In Memphis, and the Gulf Coast Symphony presenting The Music Man.
Fort Myers Beach (located on Estero Island) is a place you won’t want to leave as you sink your toes in the pure white Gulf Coast sand and order your favorite alcoholic beverage from the bars that have full service to beach patrons. How cool is that?
Other outdoor attractions include world-class fishing, boating, kayaking, and standup paddle-boarding. The recommended place for kayaking is Manatee Park, where you might also come in contact with one of these gentle giant sea cows that are Florida’s beloved mammal.
Enjoy fishing at its finest in these world-class waters where tarpon, grouper, cob, and Spanish mackerel are abundant, and many world records have been set from these catches. Fort Myers also has some of the best saltwater fly fishing in the country.
Though I haven’t been there, I hear great things about Lovers’ Key State Park, a fantastic place for paddling and exploring the mangroves and estuary. If you don’t have what you need for outdoor adventures, you can rent it here. Be on the lookout for gators. You are also close to the one-of-a-kind Everglades when visiting Fort Myers, so a safari or day trip exploring this unique Florida attraction is possible.
My husband and I grabbed an Uber during our visit and rode over to Fort Myers Beach for the annual Island Hopper Songwriter Fest. Each September, FMB welcomes thousands of guests for several days of music, fun, and activities. Some of the class acts we saw perform were Bobby Tomberlin (“One More Day” -Diamond Rio), Maggie Rose (a recent Highway find), and Tim James (“Love Like Crazy” -Lee Brice).
I was lucky enough to hear and meet songwriters Danny Myrick (“She’s Country”-Jason Aldean) and Even Stevens (“I Love a Rainy Night”/ “Suspicions” -Eddie Rabbitt) sing two of my all-time favorite country songs.
Incredible Neighboring Towns
If you’ve never experienced the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva Islands, you are in for a real treat. These are two of Florida’s best beach areas, with a laid-back vibe, picturesque scenery, and white-sand beaches. Captiva is world-renowned for having a unique seashell beach that’s captivating (get it!) for shell hunters and beach lovers.
Besides beach activities, you’ll also find popular shopping malls like Sanibel Outlets, with brand name and designer stores like Coach, Guess, and Nike. Periwinkle Place, another Sanibel shoppers delight, is the largest on the island and the address for upscale men and women’s apparel. You’ll also find the Original Chico’s store there. The mall is really gorgeous, with a picturesque water feature and aesthetically pleasing fixtures. Put the cherry on top of your Florida vacation with an indulgent massage or body treatment from Sanibel Day Spa.
Not to be left out of the Fort Myers proximity is Miromar, home to the Miramar Outlets, an open-air mall with the feel as if you are in the Mediterranean, not Florida. Stores range from Aldo to Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, and Bloomingdale’s The Outlet Store to Vineyard Vines.
The Historical Downtown Fort Myers
I love strolling through downtown Fort Myers for the cool shops and local businesses, but mostly for the beautiful architecture displayed at the Old Lee Company Bank, Edison Theater, and Pythian Building. Wow, they are gorgeous! Hang out sipping margaritas and munching on chips and salsa at Cabos Cantina Taco & Tequila Bar as you people-watch in downtown Fort Myers.
Sashay through the Franklin Shops, a small indoor mall, circa 1937 hardware store, with art exhibits, retail space, and unique gift ideas. Often local artisans are there working on their trade so you can watch…and admire.
A Special Dining Option
The one place that I wholeheartedly recommend visiting in Fort Myers is The Veranda, a beautifully decorated fine-dining venue (going strong since 1978) with yummy food and professional service. If you’ve never tried a Southern Grit Cake, you should try it—bursting with Pepper Jack cheese and grilled Andouille sausage. But make no mistake, the Fried Green Tomato Salad is what The Veranda is known for. This beautiful salad is topped with crispy ham, crumbled Bleu Cheese dressing, and those fantastic sliced and fried green tomatoes. Both dishes are exquisite!
Two other excellent dining spots in downtown Fort Myers are Wisteria Tea Room and the auto-themed Ford’s Garage. At Wisteria, enjoy a proper afternoon tea or order straight from the menu, loaded with tempting treats like the Southern Flair Duo (egg and chicken salads) and the Strawberry Spinach Salad.
Ford’s Garage, named after Henry Ford, who wintered in Fort Myers, serves up gourmet prime burgers, palate-pleasing appetizers, and craft beers. The hand-battered Fish N’ Chips is one of the best items on the menu, but for those craving a juicy burger, the Jiffy Burger (with creamy peanut butter and Applewood bacon) is just what the doctor ordered. Oh, and did I mention the entire Mac Bar menu options, meaning upscale macaroni and cheese creations? I wish every restaurant had as many appealing offerings as Ford’s Garage.
Be sure to wander over to Love Boat Ice Cream for a decadent cone of classic or seasonal flavors, such as Birthday Cake, Pistachio, Chocolate Chunk, or Peppermint. Or, if you prefer salty, try the Everything Bay, Buffalo Ranch, or Strawberry Cheesecake gourmet popcorn at Wild About Popcorn.
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