Fort Myers is a lovely coastal town that has been a winter resort destination since the late 1800s. One of the more famous snowbirds to land in Fort Myers is Thomas Edison. His friend Henry Ford eventually bought the house next door after visiting Edison in his vacation home. Their two vacation homes and out buildings on the combined estate allow visitors a glimpse into two of the most innovative minds of our country.
The Homes & Gardens
Edison first visited Fort Myers in 1885 and liked it so much that he bought over 13 acres before he left. The estate today consists of the Edison vacation home (Seminole Lodge), the Edison guest house and caretaker’s house, swimming pool complex (one of the first private residential swimming pools in the country), the Ford’s two-story Craftsman style vacation home (The Mangoes), and their caretaker’s house. Tours of the buildings’ interiors are available on certain days, but the grounds and gardens are always open.
There are over twenty acres of historic gardens with arbors and royal palm allees to wander through. Highlights include the formal Moonlight Garden, the Butterfly Garden, the Heritage and Community Gardens, and the Palmetum with over 60 different kinds of palms. And you can’t miss the largest banyan tree in the country, right here in the garden. The garden shop and museum stores sell many of the plants in the gardens, so you can take some history home with you.
The Research Lab and More
Also on site is the Edison Botanical Research Lab, preserved as it was when Edison, Ford and their friend Harvey Firestone worked side by side. It’s easy to imagine these creative minds inventing objects that we take for granted today. The lab was started when Edison, Ford and Firestone became concerned about the country’s dependence on foreign rubber and decided to find a rubber plant that would grow in the US and grow quickly.
The museum houses exhibits based on the two men’s lives, their experiments and their impact on our lives (such as “Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify America”), and provides an overview of everything these creative minds did. There’s so much more than just light bulbs, phonographs and assembly lines. There’s Edison’s 1916 Model T too! Kids will enjoy the Smithsonian SPARK!LAB, “Where museum visitors become inventors.” And, if that’s not enough, there is a theater too, which is currently showing PBS films on both inventors.
The estate is open daily from 9am to 5:30pm (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Days). For additional information, home interior tour availability, and current ticket prices, call them at 239-334-7419, or visit their website. The estate is located at 2350 McGregor Blvd. in beautiful Fort Myers, Florida.
Nearby Attractions to Discovery and Enjoy
Taking time to explore and experience the Edison and Ford Winter Estates is sure to satisfy those that travel to Fort Myers with a heart for history. This insightful stop is a great place to connect with the past and earn an insider’s view into how history has shaped the Fort Myers that’s known and loved today. A visit to the estates is bound to inspire, but it also gives guests the option to expand their itinerary and enjoy nearby attractions and landmarks as well. When you’re looking to make the most of every moment of your journey, be sure to include the following nearby stops.
Just down the road at 2000 West First Street, those visitors who have made the most of an afternoon at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates can enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee and a tranquil moment by making their way to Centennial Park. This popular meeting place includes access to playgrounds for those that are traveling with kids as well as several designated picnic areas if you’re in the mood for a bite in the fresh air. Take time to enjoy the view and greenery or simply sit back and people-watch for a while. Centennial Park is known for hosting a variety of live events throughout the year so keep your eyes open for live musical performances depending on when you arrive.
Sidney and Berne Davis Art Center
Looking to pair your perfect and historical afternoon with a touch of creativity? The team at the nearby Sidney and Berne Davis Art Center can help. Situated at 2301 First Street, this art center is known for its many musical lineups and art exhibits in combination with fun seasonal events such as the Festival of Trees and Lights. Whether you’re looking for a place to participate in an art workshop or can’t wait to sign up for a music lesson on a whim, this is the place to enjoy it all!
Joe’s Crab Shack
When the art, music, history, and fun has left you famished, take care of those cravings by indulging in savory seafood options at nearby Joe’s Crab Shack. Easily found at 20214 W. First Street, Joe’s Crab Shack is the place to be when you have a hankering for everything from crab and shrimp to the fresh-caught fare of the day. Dine indoors or on the patio and savor the view as well as the versatile mix of flavors waiting to please the palate.
While our luxury rentals may not be as historic as the Edison and Ford vacation homes, they are luxurious in their own right. We have rentals right on the river, right on the beach, and within walking distance to the beach. All are minutes away from the Edison and Ford Estates (the estate has free parking, so you don’t have to worry about that). Give us a call today and we’ll set you up in your own luxury vacation home!