Fort Myers

Stay in the center of it all.

Some call it Downtown Fort Myers. Others know it as the historic River District or the City of Palms (drive down McGregor Boulevard and you'll know why). Whatever its name, since Thomas Edison and Henry Ford established their winter estates here, this Southern influenced town has grown into a city with attractions and atmosphere worthy of a bigger city's envy.

Fort Myers Community

"Fort Myers is a bustling metropolis with ecological, historical and cultural attractions."

Downtown Fort Myers, also known as the River District, forms the core of a city that stretches for miles south along the Caloosahatchee River and east to the rural interior. Named for a Civil War-era army colonel, Fort Myers' history parallels that of Florida itself.

Indigenous peoples, the Calusa Indians, inhabited the islands nearby. Later, pioneers settled the pine flatwoods, and cattle drivers escorted their charges down what is now McGregor Boulevard to ships docked at Punta Rassa. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford put the town on the proverbial map when they chose the City of Palms as their winter getaway.

Today, Fort Myers is a bustling metropolis with ecological, historical and cultural attractions, as well as shopping across the spectrum – high-end outlets, antiques, boutiques and outdoor malls. Dining and nightlife entertain when the sun goes down – watch a spectacular “show" as it sinks over the Caloosahatchee.

A Day in Fort Myers

"With a kids’ museum, a history museum, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates and plenty more, Fort Myers offers more than enough fun to fill a day."

Fort Myers’ movers and shakers will be seated all around as you breakfast at the Oasis downtown. No one’s a stranger here, and the homespun atmosphere is heartwarming. Try one of the sumptuous skillets.

Next, take a historic downtown walking tour (offered at 10 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays from December through April – reservation required) with the Southwest Florida Museum of History or take advantage of ample opportunities for antiques hunting. Eat lunch at April’s Eatery (cash only) inside the historic Arcade Theatre building.

Little kids in tow? Head to the Imaginarium Hands-On Museum & Aquarium for an afternoon of hands-on learning and exploration. Budding historians, scientists and inventors will want to take a narrated tour of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, just south of downtown. While children of all ages will enjoy the indoor/outdoor celebration of the prolific inventors’ and industrialists’ lives, staffers say kids ages 9 and older get the most out of the experience.

Dinner options abound, but try kid-friendly Joe’s Crab Shack, right on the water. For a more sophisticated evening out (sans kids), head to The Veranda.

River District Renaissance

"Art galleries, restaurants, attractions, events and a touch of vintage charm bring new life to the historic downtown Fort Myers River District."

Been to downtown Fort Myers lately? This historic city has been busy transforming into a hub for arts, culture, shopping, dining and entertainment.
Historic Downtown Fort Myers

Thanks to the preservation of many historic structures, it’s easy to picture the River District’s past. Buildings dating back to Fort Myers’s early 20th-century heyday are now home to colorful shops and galleries, restaurants and other businesses.

Recent streetscaping refinements have also added to downtown’s historic look, unifying the area with vintage-style lighting and brick thoroughfares. Some of the bricks are originals from the 1920s – the same ones walked upon by famous local snowbirds Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.

To learn more about the city’s history, head to the Burroughs Home, a circa-1901, Georgian Revival-style dwelling that offers Living History Tours on Fridays. Or check out the Southwest Florida Museum of History, where exhibits focus on everything from Calusa Indian settlers to the cattle industry that once thrived here.

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    “Great place!” - Reviewer

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    “Really cool!” - Florida

    “Beyond expectations.” - Florida

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