Fort Myers is a booming town with great weather, entertainment and a casual feel in Southwest Florida. It was historically the winter home of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, and it remains a popular spot for "snowbirds" from northern states.
According to a handbook authored by Francis Asbury Hendry who lived from 1833–1917, Fort Myers first appears in about 1841 when it was first manned as Fort Harvey. The military fort was abandoned in 1842 then, re-established in 1850 and named in honor of a U.S. Army officer named Abraham C. Myers, a Colonel. The fort was a center for command and control operations during war against the native Indian tribes that lived in Florida until they were defeated and, relocated out of the state to regions of western United States. However, some of the Seminole Indian tribe never surrendered and remained in the Florida wilderness. Colonel Myers reportedly resigned his commission and joined the Confederate army when the Civil War started. Under Confederate control, African slaves were transported to the area from Virginia to support cultivation of crops.
During the Civil War, the fort changed hands between forces of the North and South once or twice more. An African-American Infantry of Union soldiers was stationed in Fort Myers during the period of 1863 to 1864. Under the authority of Monroe County, the first school for African-Americans in the area was formed near Fort Myers, on the property an emancipated slave by the name of Nelson Tillis in 1885. Although Thomas Edison operated telegraph services for the northern side of the Civil War, in 1886, Edison purchased a winter home in Fort Myers after marrying his second wife earlier that year (National Park Service, 2012). In 1890, the first female African-American school teacher (Annie Moore), was hired to teach in the area (Lee County Black History Society, 2011).
A county entitled Lee County, named so in honor of the southern commanding General, Robert E. Lee was established in 1887. By about 1908, the population of Fort Myers was approximately five to six thousand (Captain F.A. Hendry Reunion Committee, 2002). In 1912 the first local Black population only public school was established in Lee County (Williams Academy). Henry Ford bought the home and land next door to Thomas Edison in 1916. In 1920 the Jones-Walker Hospital was opened for the Black population only. Bunche Beach was dedicated as the first local beach intended for the Black population only, in 1949. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled to end segregation in public schools. However, this decision was not implemented by integrating local Lee County schools until 1969. The Williams Academy was relocated to Clemente Park located in the Dunbar section of Fort Myers in 1995 and, is the primary center for African-American history in Lee County. The museum and administrative offices are established at 1936 Henderson Avenue (Lee County Black History Society, 2011).
The 2010 total census population of the city of Fort Myers was 62,298 (United States Census Bureau, 2010). This population figure does not include seasonal residents or, residents of Lee County outside of the city limits.
The climate of Fort Myers is tropical.
Peak hurricane season is August through October, with hurricanes possible as early as June and as late as the end of November. Fort Myers has significant experience with hurricanes, as a damaging event happens every few years. In August 2004, Fort Myers was sideswiped by Hurricane Charley, a category 4 hurricane that made landfall north of the area. In October 2005, Hurricane Wilma struck south of Naples, but caused extensive damage nonetheless in Fort Myers and its southern suburbs. In October 2018, there was Hurricane Michael. In September 2022, Hurricane Ian destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses, especially in Fort Myers Beach. Travelers should be prepared to leave early, and as soon as evacuations are planned.
- 1 Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW IATA), 11000 Terminal Access Rd (16 mi (26 km) South of downtown via Exit 128 from I-75 on Terminal Access Rd), ☏ . . Non-stop service is available from most major U.S. cities, intrastate flights from other parts of the state (Southwest Airlines from Orlando), and a few international flights from Canada (Air Canada and Westjet) with the following:
- Concourse B: Air Canada, Alaska, Avelo, Discover, Frontier, Southwest, Sun Country
- Concourse C: Delta/Delta Connection, United, WestJet
- Concourse D: American, JetBlue, Spirit, Breeze Airways
Onsite car rental is located in a separate 2 Car Rental Building across the street from the baggage reclaim doors (lower level). It is accessible by crossing the street from outside Doors 3 (Delta Airlines) or 4 at lower level. Bus stop for LeeTran Rt#50 (Airport to Sanibel Outlets) is located outside Door #2 (WestJet), on the island, across the road. Click here or inquire with the 'Transportation Information' booth outside of Door #3 at arrival for additional info regarding other shuttle/taxi (ground transport) services, hotel shuttles, off site rental car companies, and their pick up locations.
Miami International Airport (MIA IATA) and Ft Lauderdale (FLL IATA) are the next nearest airports for a wider range of domestic and international flights. From Miami International Airport, Greyhound offer direct bus service to downtown Ft Myers (5 hr) (see below under 'By bus') or rent a car and drive over along I-75 or US Hwy 41.
- 3 Greyhound Lines, (bus stop) Rosa Parks Transportation Center @ 2250 Widman Way (Rosa Parks Transportation Center on Widman between Jackson & Hendry St), ☏ , toll-free: . Travels primarily on Interstate 4/75 (Orlando, Tampa, St Petersburg, Sarasota, Port Charlotte, Ft Myers, Naples); SR-80/US98/I-95 (Ft Myers, Clewiston, Belle Glade, W Palm Beach, Ft Lauderdale, Miami). Passengers transfer in Orlando, West Palm Beach or Miami to reach additional destinations. Direct connections to LeeTran buses at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center, next to the Greyhound bus station, for onward local public transportation.
- Flixbus, (Greyhound bus stop) Rosa Parks Transportation Center @ 2250 Widman Way. Travels primarily on Interstate 75 (Miami, Ft Lauderdale, Naples, Ft Myers, Sarasota, Tampa). Additional stops at McDonald's on 13600 Indian Paint Ln at Daniels Pkwy; and at Entrance D of Edison Mall, 4125 Cleveland Ave, between JCPenney & Macy's. Check tickets as to where your bus will be boarding at.
- 4 Redcoach, (bus stop) 7 Eleven at 5951 Enterprise Pkwy (The bus will stop at the curbside, behind the convenience store (by the trucks pumps).), ☏ , toll-free: . Redcoach has one route that passes through Ft Lauderdale, Naples, Ft Myers and Tampa on its way between Miami Airport and Tallahassee.
- 5 Key West Express Ferries, 1200 Main St, Ft Myer Beach, ☏ , toll-free: . Daily passenger only ferries between Ft Myers Beach and Key West. Journey time takes 3.5 hours.
- 6 Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach (Operated by Martz First Class), (bus stop) 6050 Plaza Dr (Pilot Travel Center off of Exit #139 of I-75). The Amtrak Motorcoach bus operates as an extension of Amtrak's Silver Star train from Tampa to Ft Myers via St Petersburg, Bradenton, Sarasota and Port Charlotte.
- The tropical climate is perfect for bicycling, and Fort Myers is a very bicycle friendly city. But watch out for those occasional pop up showers, especially during the wet season. When cycling, be sure to bring plenty of water, wear light weight, light colored clothing, and wear sunscreen.
- Lee trans is the local bus service and has numerous bus lines criss-crossing the city.
- The Midpoint and Cape Coral Pwky/Colonial Bridge is $2 going from Fort Myers to Cape Coral only. Other direction is non toll. The bridge is generally unavoidable unless you go through downtown Fort Myers and US41 around.
The Sanibel Causeway to Sanibel Island collapsed during the hurricane in 2022.
- 1 Butterfly Estates, 1815 Fowler Street, ☏ . 9AM - 5PM. This butterfly conservatory, set in the Fort Myers river district, is home to all the species of butterfly native to Florida. The enclosure features a cascading waterfall and many exotic species of plants. Every Friday at 1:30PM new butterflies are released into the exhibit, which makes this the best time to visit. $15.
- 2 Edison and Ford Winter Estates, 2350 McGregor Blvd, ☏ . Every day 9AM-5:30PM (during Dec until 9PM). Guided tours through 15,000 ft² (1,400 m2) museum with hundreds of Edison and Ford inventions and objects, video theatres, and changing special exhibits. Beautiful and interesting plantings on the grounds. $25 for adults, $20 for teens 13–19, $15 for children 6–12, free for children 5 and under.
- 3 Minnesota Twins Spring Training, 14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway (Hammond Stadium), ☏ . If you are in Fort Myers during the spring, you may be able to see the Major Baseball League's Minnesota Twins' during their preseason training period. (2007 prices) Dugout Box, $35; Box Seats, $21; Reserved Seats, $19; Deck Rail, $15; Lawn Seating, $10; Standing Room, $10.
- 4 Boston Red Sox Spring Training, Fenway South Dr (JetBlue Park at Fenway South), ☏ . The Boston Red Sox also have their spring training in Fort Myers.
- 5 Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (Hammond Stadium). Professional baseball in Fort Myers doesn't stop with spring training—the Minnesota Twins have a minor-league affiliate based in their spring training complex. The Mighty Mussels, newly renamed from the Miracle, play in the Florida State League, an "Advanced A" league (three levels below Major League Baseball) mainly featuring younger players a year or two out of high school or college baseball.
- 6 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (FGCU Eagles). Sports teams of Florida Gulf Coast University, competing in 15 NCAA Division I sports (6 men's, 9 women's) mainly in the ASUN Conference, featuring a mix of mostly regional universities in the southeastern quadrant of the country (as well as one outlier in New Jersey). With no football team, the most popular sports are men's and women's basketball. The mapped location is Alico Arena, home to both basketball teams, women's volleyball, and the main athletic ticket office.
- 7 Florida Everblades. Local hockey.
- FGCU Eagles Hockey. A club-level ice hockey team that competes outside the NCAA structure (and thus is not part of the overall FGCU athletic program), but nonetheless a popular winter diversion.
- 8 Sanibel Lighthouse.
- 9 Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium, 3450 Ortiz Ave (at Colonial Blvd), ☏ .
- 10 Koreshan State Historic Site, 3800 Corkscrew Road, Estero, ☏ . 8AM to sunset. Cyrus Teed, creator of the religion of 'Koreshanity' founded his 'New Jerusalem' community here. Various structures, many over a century old, are still preserved.
- Paint a coconut at one of the many art galleries on colourful pine island
- Head to Matanzas Pass Preserve on the 7 mi (11 km) long island of Estero and into the 60 acres (24 hectares) mangrove where crabs, lizards and birds live in abundance.
- Visit the Edison & Ford Winter Estates featuring 20 acres (8.1 hectares) of tropical gardens and the largest banyan tree in the US.
- Make the most of Fort Myers' Music Walk every third Friday of the month and hear the streets filled with live music.
- 1 Sky Zone Fort Myers. - located in Fort Myers.
- 2 Good Time Charters and Tours, 4765 Estero Blvd Ft Myers Beach (behind the Publix by the Bayfront Bistro), ☏ , email@example.com. A dolphin cruise with them is excellent. They have biologists on board and are laid back and fun. Free parking on site.
- 3 Paradise Charters LLC, 4765 Estero Blvd Fort Myers Beach (behind Publix by the Bayfront Bistro), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Friendly fishing charters.
- 4 Lagerhead Cycleboats, 2500 Main Street, ☏ , email@example.com.
- 5 Estero Bay Preserve State Park, The park is managed by Koreshan State Historic Site located at 3800 Corkscrew Road in Estero, ☏ . 8AM to sunset.
- 6 Lovers Key State Park, 8700 Estero Blvd, Fort Myers Beach, ☏ . 8AM to sunset.
- 7 Tribby Arts Center, 17291 On Par Blvd, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. The 44,000 ft² (4,100 m2) Tribby Arts Center features a 400-seat auditorium and three art galleries showcasing exciting work from residents as well as regional and national artists. Visitors can relax in the Tribby Café, reflect in the outdoor sculpture garden, and find something special in Gift Shop. Seasonally, the public is invited to lectures by the Academy of Lifelong Learning, as well as concerts, plays and a selection of art exhibits. Free.
- 8 Snappers Comedy Club, 8595 College Parkway #270, ☏ . Local comedy club that hosts a variety of visiting comics, local performers, and other events like drag shows.
- 9 Manatee Park, 10901 State Road 80. 8AM to sunset daily. Popular spot for seeing manatees, which like to come here in the winter because of the warm water from the power plant nearby. You're most likely to see them between December and March when the Gulf water temperature is below 68° F (20° C). Free, but parking is $2 per hour, $5 per day.
- 1 The Shell Factory, 2787 North Tamiami Trail. The complex features jewelry, and collectibles made from sea shells, carved coconut souvenirs, T-shirts, tropical ladies wear, a pirate exhibit, wild animal display of over 66 different animals, a small live animal Nature park, restaurants, entertainment for children, the largest year-round Christmas holiday shop, and other attractions. One reason The Shell Factory is a popular source of collectible conch shells is that, under Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) regulations, there is a restriction in Lee County for the collection of any sea shells along its beaches if there is a living organism inhabiting the shell, with the exception of oysters, hard clams, Sunray Venus clams and Coquinas.
One of its most recent and significant activity developments at the Shell Factory is its schedule of Flea-Market days. Every Tuesday, Thursday and, Saturday from sunrise until the heat of the day drives them away, you will find local people as well as, residents from all across the state, setting up tables and tents on reserved parts of the parking lots. They offer their personal goods, many interesting pieces and often, rare collectible items for sale to the public.
- 2 Miromar Factory Outlet Mall.
- 3 Gulf Coast Town Center.
- 4 Bell Tower.
- 5 Coconut Pointe Town Center.
- 6 Edison Mall, 4125 Cleveland Ave, ☏ .
- 7 Fleamasters Flea Market.
- 8 Community Thrift Store, 15501 Old McGregor Blvd (next to Planet Fitness in Miners Plaza on the corner of McGregor Boulevard and Gladiolus Drive), ☏ , email@example.com. 9:30AM-4:30PM. Slightly-used items at fair prices. The shop carries furniture, clothing, collectibles, fine china, crystal, jewelry, holiday decorations, housewares, books, CDs, DVDs, artwork, bedding, pillows, linens, electronics, sporting equipment, appliances, and an array of building supplies.
- 1 Plakka Greek Restaurant.
- 2 Iguana Mia Mexican Restaurant.
- 3 Siam Hut, 4521 Del Prado Blvd S, Cape Coral, Florida 33904, ☏ . M-F 3PM-9PM, Sa 5PM-9PM. Thai.
- 4 Ford's Garage, 2207 First St. 11AM - 11PM.
- 5 Cabos Cantina, 2226 First Street, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-Th 11AM–10PM, F Sa 11AM-11PM. Tex-mex restaurant serving generous portions of burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and the like, as well as margaritas. Vegetarian options available. $20.
- The Cigar Bar (Two locations).
- Blu Sushi (Two locations).
- 5 Anthonys Junkanoo, 3040 Estero Blvd. Nice beachclub with full bar.
- 1 Best Western Waterfront, 13021 N. Cleveland Avenue, ☏ , toll-free: . Right on the river. Private pier, high-speed internet and heated outdoor pool.
- 2 Cypress Trail RV Resort, 5468 Tice St, ☏ . Luxury RV resort with aquatic center and recreation that includes two private lakes and paddleboats.
- 3 DiamondHead Beach Resort, 2000 Estero Boulevard, toll-free: . Fort Myers Beach. All suite luxury resort with conference facilities. Right on the beach.
- 4 GullWing Beach Resort, 6620 Estero Boulevard, ☏ , toll-free: . Suites and condos on Fort Myers beach as well as meeting and banquet space.
- 5 Howard Johnson Inn, 4811 S Cleveland Avenue. Old motel located in the center.
- 6 Hyatt Regency Coconut Point, 5001 Coconut Road (Bonita Springs), ☏ , fax: .
- 7 Lover's Key Resort, 8771 Estero Boulevard, ☏ , toll-free: . All-suite resort adjacent to the Lover's Key State Park with views of Estero Bay, lagoon-style pool, and on-site dining
- 8 Pink Shell Beach Resort & Spa, 275 Estero Boulevard (On Estero Island).
- 9 Pointe Estero Beach Resort, 6640 Estero Boulevard, toll-free: . A beachfront suite hotel located on the peaceful southern end of Estero Island.
- 10 Santa Maria Harbour Resort, 7317 Estero Boulevard, toll-free: . A resort on Estero Bay, a fishing harbour on Estero Island.
- 11 Suburban Extended Stay Hotel of Fort Myers, 10150 Metro Parkway, ☏ . Rooms have refrigerators, microwaves, coffee makers, utensils, irons, ironing boards, computer hook-ups, voice mail and satellite television. King suites are also available.
- 12 Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa, 17260 Harbour Pointe Dr, ☏ , toll-free: . Check-in: 4:00 PM, check-out: 11:00 AM. Oceanfront resort on private 85 acres (34 hectares) of land and offers free WiFi, full service spa, and guest rooms with water views.
- 13 Hampton Inn & Suites Fort Myers-Estero/FGCU, 10611 Chevrolet Way (Estero), ☏ .
- 14 Luxury Vacation Rentals of Fort Myers, 276 CAROLINA AVE, FORT MYERS BEACH, FLORIDA, 33931, ☏ , email@example.com.
While Fort Myers is mostly safe, there are a few scattered neighborhoods, especially east and southeast of downtown, where it is wise to use a bit of caution, especially at night. The most reliable method of identifying what portions of the area are least safe is to consult the Lee County Sheriff Department. They provide Web services that graphically depict all of the high crime areas. Visitors will find that opinions not supported by statistics from the Lee County Chamber of Commerce or, Lee County Sheriff Department may not be based in fact. The Lee County Sheriff Department web-site address is: http://www.sheriffleefl.org.
- Fort Myers Florida Weekly – local version of a weekly newspaper published in several Florida cities. Includes extensive information about upcoming local events. Available for free at newspaper racks downtown.
- The News-Press – daily local newspaper, available at some supermarkets.
- Cape Coral, the wealthier town right across the river
- Everglades National Park – the most popular parts of the park are easier to get to from Miami than from Fort Myers, but Shark Valley and the islands near Everglades City are within day-trip distance.
- Naples, to the south
|Routes through Fort Myers|
|Tampa ← Punta Gorda ←||N S||→ Naples → Miami|
|Tampa ← Punta Gorda ←||N S||→ Naples → Miami|
|END ←||W E||→ LaBelle → West Palm Beach|