Fort Meyers Florida is on Florida’s west coast. In addition to having many water/beach-based activities, it is the gateway to a stretch of islands including Sanibel and Captiva Islands.
As we are not beach or water people, we can’t say that we particularly enjoy this area. But we periodically visit family in the area. Besides, from Fort Myers, we can take a 4 hour direct ferry to Key West which is a Florida spot that we do enjoy. From all of our visits, we have found a few interesting activities that appeal to us and restaurants, of course.
What To Do Around Fort Myers Florida
Edison and Ford Winter Estates
Edison and Ford Winter Estates were the winter estates of Henry Ford and his friend, Thomas Edison. Thomas Edison came to the area as a winter retreat from the cold northern winters. In 1886 he purchased the property and built his winter estate. In 1914, Edison invited Henry Ford to visit. They liked the area so much that they bought a property next to Edison’s for their winter estate. The combined properties are now open to the public and consist of 20 acres of historical buildings and gardens and include the 1928 Edison Botanical Research Laboratory.
The museum itself contains Edison memorabilia and most interestingly, originals, models, and discussions of a number of Edison’s most famous inventions.
Everglades Air Boat Tours
Several companies provide boat tours through channels and grasslands where you can learn about the fragility of the region and its flora and fauna. As would be expected, the primary focus was on seeing and learning about the Everglade’s most famous residents, its alligators. At a stop at an alligator nest, we learned about the reptile’s life cycle and lives, including the role of water temperature in determining the alligator’s sex.
We have also taken a number of walks through some of the region’s swamps. Our favorite is the Six Mile Slough (a slough is a long, narrow wetland with slowly flowing freshwater). This huge wetland preserve has an interpretative center that provides an overview of the ecosystem of a cypress slough and its wide range of flora and fauna. Walking along its miles of interpretive boardwalk trails take you through the shallow (generally two-to-three feet) slough without getting your feet wet.
Naples is about 35 miles from Fort Myers and is usually on our list while we are in the area. It has a historic downtown area that is fun to explore. It also has some very good restaurants (see below). Its Gordon River Greenery Preserve provides a bit of exercise after enjoying lunch in the area. The pretty, roughly 4-mile trail goes through seasonal wetlands and a hardwood hammock offers interpretive signs describing local foliage including strangler fig, gumbo limbo, red mangrove, and even a cotton plant that appeared to be ripe for picking.
This hydrofoil service provides an easy, scenic (at least during the first and last 15 minutes of the trip) four-hour, cruise from Fort Myers Beach to Key West. While it offers late afternoon return trips for daytrippers, we usually take the ferry to Key West and rent a car to drive back from Key West to Miami.
Fort Meyers Area Restaurants
USS Nemo (in Naples)
Who would never think of finding a quality restaurant in a strip mall? That is what we found at U.S.S. Nemo in Naples. We shared lunch dishes at this wonderful seafood restaurant: a Bento Box with grouper tempura, salmon sashimi, salad and rice; grouper tempura with pineapple slaw, candied walnuts, rice, and lightly spiced mango sauce; and the restaurant’s signature dish of pan-fried miso sea bass with rice, asparagus, and citrus ginger butter sauce. Each, especially the latter two, was excellent.
Swan River Seafood Restaurant (Naples)
Right next door to the USS Nemo is Swan River. In addition to having a huge selection of fresh (much of it local) seafood in its market, it also has a delicious restaurant. We have been here multiple times for lunch and have greatly enjoyed a number of dishes including very generous and very fresh grouper and ahi sandwiches, fried belly clam rolls, and seafood linguini. Each dish comes with a choice of two sides of which we partook in standard offerings such as french fries (which were excellent) and coleslaw. The selections also included some unexpected items including creamed spinach, apple sauce, and beet and sweet potato salad. We’ve also stopped by during Happy Hour when we ordered some raw Duxbury oysters to accompany our drinks. And we often stop in the seafood market to pick up littleneck clams, crab claws, or fish for dinner at Tom’s sister’s home
Maks Asian Kitchen (Fort Myers)
This casual Asian restaurant offers a wide variety of typical asian sushi, sushi rolls, soups, salads, chicken, and noodle dishes.