Thomas Edison and Henry Ford had one thing in common: They loved to spend their vacation in the Sunshine State. Today, their original homes in Fort Myers rank among the city’s most popular attractions. At the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, you cannot only tour historic houses, but also admire antique cars and groundbreaking inventions. The Botanic Gardens with their exotic plant life are a perfect spot for nature lovers.
Edison and Ford Winter Estates – The House
American “Snow Birds” who spend the winter months in Florida are not a new phenomenon. Thomas Edison also preferred the warm climate of the Sunshine State, and so the inventor built a house on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River in 1886. After his friend’s death, the automobile pioneer Henry Ford bought the adjacent parcel and had a villa constructed there. Today, both properties are managed by a non-profit organization that tries to preserve the original architecture as well as the memories of these great American figures.
Edison and Ford Winter Estates – Exhibitions
You can either take a guided tour or visit the Edison and Ford Winter Estates with an audio guide. Starting point are the historic houses where the interior has not been altered since the lifetime of Edison and Ford. Here you can see the study room where Thomas Edison came up with his inventions, as well as the Fords´ cozy living room and the first swimming pool built in Florida.
Thousands of exhibits are displayed at the Edison Ford Museum – from groundbreaking cars to Edison’s famous inventions like gramophones, light bulbs and early movie projectors. Here, you can also admire lesser-known creations such as first toasters and flatirons. A movie informs visitors about the camping trips of Edison and Ford, and the Spark!Lab is a perfect place for little inventors. Here, children can design their own hovercraft and test it in the wind channel.
A highlight of the museum is the authentic laboratory with its multitude of flasks and tubes. Here, Edison and Ford tried to produce rubber in order to make the USA independent from foreign exports. A whopping 17.000 plant samples were collected to achieve this goal.
Edison and Ford Winter Estates – The Gardens
The Botanical Gardens of the Estates are home to 1.700 plant species that grow in an area of 11 football fields. The plants come from every part of the world: from one of the tallest banyan trees in the USA to magnificent palm trees and prehistoric ferns.
In Edison’s lifetime, his gardens were more than a feast for the eye. The plants served a practical purpose. Bamboo, for example, was needed for the production of light bulbs. Edison’s wife also left her mark here, as can be seen in the Moonlight Garden with its reflecting pool and the Butterfly Garden where colorful pollinators flutter about. Even today, you can still see the Edisons walk the gardens – in the form of costumed actors, that is. Hobby botanists should check out the official website edisonfordwinterestates.org to see which plants are blossoming at the moment.
Edison and Ford Winter Estates – Opening Hours, Ticket Prices and Events
The Edison and Ford Winter Estates are open daily from 9 am to 5.30 pm. Tickets are available on-site and online. An audio guide is included in the entrance fee of 15 USD.
For an additional 8 USD you can join a group tour of the Estates. German tours are available two times a week. In addition, there are two special tours:
- The Garden Tour lets you take a look behind the scenes in the Botanical Garden. (costs: 32 USD)
- On the Inside the Homes Tour you can see rooms that are normally closed to the public. (costs: 40 USD)
Bargains can be struck with coupons from websites like groupon.com, mecouponz.com and floridaadvertisingservices.com.
Events at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates include orchid sales, weekly talks about Edison´s and Ford´s inventions and workshops with fun experiments for children.
South Florida is not only known for beautiful beaches, but also for its world-class shopping opportunities. A popular place for bargain hunters is Sanibel Outlets. Thousands of positive reviews speak for themselves: This shopping complex near Fort Myers is one of the best outlets Southwest Florida has to offer. Guests who expect an anonymous concrete block are in for a surprise: At Sanibel Outlets, rows of beautifully designed shops stretch under lush palm trees – the perfect backdrop to purchase beachwear or souvenirs for your loved ones at home. Unlike many malls in the Sunshine State, Sanibel Outlets is rarely overcrowded and offers a pleasantly relaxed shopping experience. Free parking and WiFi are part of the customer service, as well as the exciting playground for young shoppers.
What stores are available at Sanibel Outlets?
Granted, there are bigger malls in Florida – Sawgrass Mills and Miromar Outlet, for example. However, the 42 shops at Sanibel Outlets make up for this with exclusive, high-quality products at fair prices. The focus lies on clothing: from renowned brands like Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren to children’s apparel, designer swimsuits and shoes. Fitness fans feel right at home at the Nike Factory Outlet, Sunglass Hut provides the perfect accessories for your beach day, and the Guess Factory sells elegant watches and jewelry. Want to buy healthy supplements? Then look no further than Vitamin World. In case you feel thirsty, there are soda machines at the mall.
- S10 Jewelry Outlet
- Aveda Salon
- Banana Republic
- Bath & Body Works
- Blue Wave Lobster House
- Butterly Beach
- Calvin Klein
- Carter´s Babies and Kids
- Famous Footwear
- Golf 4 Less
- Guess Factory
- Loft Outlet
- Polo Ralph Lauren
Sanibel Outlets Offers – Essential for Bargain Hunters!
Today, the name “outlet” is no guarantee for outlet prices anymore. Fortunately, this shopping paradise is an exception to the rule. At Sanibel Outlets, you can still strike amazing bargains. The stores offer discounts of up to 70%, in addition to weekly specials as well as summer and winter sales. If you want to stay up to date on deals and offers, you should join the VIP Club on the official website www.sanibeloutlets.com. And if you really want to save money, get the free Coupon Book at the Mall Office and enjoy additional discounts of 10–20%.
Sanibel Outlets Restaurants – A huge selection for every taste guaranteed!
For a little snack, you should stop by at the Island Java Café serving muffins, coffee and ice-cream. And if your shopping spree has left you starved, just visit the Asian restaurant Shanghai Chinese on the other side of the street.
- Blu Wave Lobster House
- Dantes Coal Fired Kitchen
- Island Java Cafe
Sanibel Outlets Quick Tour Video
Sanibel Outlets – Location, Directions, Parking and Hours
Vacationers in Cape Coral are quite lucky: They can reach Sanibel Outlets in just 15 minutes via the Cape Coral Bridge. For guests based in Fort Myers, the ride is even shorter. Sanibel Outlets is also a perfect stopover if you want to go shopping on your way to the scenic islands of Sanibel and Captiva. The outlet is open Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 9 pm. On Sundays, it opens at 10 am and closes at 6 pm.
20350 Summerlin Rd, Fort Myers, FL 33908
weekdays 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
Sunday 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
Overview of travel times from other cities
- Cape Coral – 0,25 hours
- Captiva Island – 0,5 hours
- Daytona Beach – 4 hours
- Fisher Island – 3 hours
- Fort Lauderdale – 2 hours
- Key West – 5 hours
- Miami – 2,5 hours
- Naples – 0,75 hours
- Palm Beach – 3 hours
- Pine Island – 0,5 hours
- Sanibel Island – 0,25 hours
- Venice – 1,25 hours
Sanibel Outlets FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
How many stores are there in the Sanibel Outlets?
In the Sanibel Outlets you will find more than 40 shops and restaurants.
Are dogs allowed in the Sanibel outlets?
Yes, you are welcome to take your dog with you to the Sanibel Outlets.
Is there a coupon book for the Sanibel Outlets?
Yes, the Sanibel Outlet has a VIP Club where you can get a free coupon book.
Which hotels are near the Sanibel Outlets?
The La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham is right near the Sanibel Outlets. Alternatively, we offer you many holiday homes in Fort Myers and Cape Coral.
When the Edison Mall first opened in 1965, there were hardly any shops nearby. But the mall not only served as a forerunner for other businesses in the area. It has also shown a remarkable development and was renovated three times. Countless positive reviews on sites like Tripadvisor clearly show: There is more to do at the Edison Mall than just shopping. “Eat, Shop, Play” is the mantra of this retail haven.
What stores are available at Edison Mall?
The Edison Mall is the only air-conditioned shopping outlet in Fort Myers. However, the amenities do not stop there. Parking at the extensive parking lot is free, complementary WiFi is available across the mall and you can even charge your cellphone here. Families with children can rent strollers for free, and little guests spark their creativity at painting and crafting workshops offered by the “Kidx Club”.
Of course, the most important question is: Does the Edison Mall offer enough variety to satisfy its customers? The answer is a wholehearted “Yes”. The mall’s 133 stores provide the right kind of product for everybody: The huge anchor stores Macy´s, JCPenny and Dillard´s sell clothes for every occasion, and at Sears, you will find everything from textiles and home deco to electronics. In addition, the Edison Mall features a Footlocker and a Victoria´s Secret Shop as well as jewelry, perfume and sporting goods stores.
Little guests will love the Disney Store, and if you are looking for video games, the mall’s Gamestop has you covered. On the official website shopedisonmall.com you will find a list of all stores.
- American Eagle Outfitters
- Champ Sports
- Edison Custom Ink
- Foot Locker
- Footaction USA
- G by Guess
- JD Sports
- New York Company
Edison Mall Offers – Essential for Bargain Hunters!
The Edison Mall would not be an American shopping center without its amazing bargains. Just visit the official website, and you will find discounts of up to 50%. If you really want to save money, you should arm yourself with coupons. Luckily, you do not have to cut them out of newspapers anymore. Instead, websites like shopular.com and groupon.com let you download the coupons directly to your phone. These websites also tell you which stores are having special sales at the moment.
For more information, visit the mall’s official Facebook page.
Edison Mall Food Court and Restaurants – A huge selection for every taste guaranteed!
Hungry customers get their fill at the extensive food court: Here you can choose from 18 restaurants serving fast food and steaks as well as Mexican and Asian dishes. Get your freshly brewed coffee at Starbucks, or enjoy a probiotic dessert at Yogurt Mountain.
- Alex´s Pretzels
- Auntie Anne´s
- Bresler´s Ice Cream and Yogurt
- Burger King
- Charleys Philly Steaks
- China Max
- Churrico Factory
- Great American Cookies
- Yogurt Mountain
Edison Mall – Location, Directions, Parking and Hours
The Mall is directly at the Highway US-41 in southern Fort Myers. The mall can be reached quickly from Cape Coral. If you take the Midpoint Bridge, you will only need 15 minutes. Public transport is another viable option thanks to a bus stop right in front of the mall. Generous opening hours make the Edison Mall a perfect place for long shopping trips.This outlet in Fort Myers, near Cape Coral Beach, is open Monday to Saturday from 11 am to 7 pm (12.00 am to 6.00 pm on Sundays). For more detailed information, visit the official website: Edison Mall opening hours.
4125 Cleveland Ave, Fort Myers, FL 33901
weekdays 11:00 bis 19:00 Uhr
Sunday 12:00 – 18:00 Uhr
Overview of travel times from other cities
- Cape Coral – 0,25 hours
- Captiva Island – 1 hours
- Daytona Beach – 4 hours
- Fisher Island – 2,5 hours
- Fort Lauderdale – 2 hours
- Key West – 5 hours
- Miami – 2,25 hours
- Naples – 1 hours
- Palm Beach – 2,5 hours
- Pine Island – 0,5 hours
- Sanibel Island – 0,5 hours
- Venice – 1,25 hours
Edison Mall FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
How many stores are there in Edison Mall?
In the Edison Mall you will find more than 130 shops and restaurants.
Who founded the Edison Mall?
The Edison Mall was founded by the Washington Prime Group.
Are pets allowed in Edison Mall?
No, animals are not allowed into Edison Mall.
Is there enough parking space at Edison Mall?
Yes, there is enough parking space. When parking the car, it should be noted where the car is due to the large number of parking spaces.
Which hotels are near Edison Mall?
We recommend the Residence Inn by Marriott. For vacation homes in and around Fort Myers you will find it here.
If you want to explore the diverse landscapes of South Florida, see alligators up-close, visit a 200 year old ranch and learn more about the cities of tomorrow, Babcock Ranch is the perfect place for you.
BABCOCK RANCH IN A NUTSHELL
The Babcock Ranch was named after Edward Babcock. In 1899, this lumber baron bought the 90.000 acre area in today’s Lee County from a wealthy family of bankers to use it for forestry, cattle farming and mining. In 2006, the state of Florida purchased this stretch of land known for its great biodiversity. 90% of the area now form the Babcock Ranch Preserve. No buildings are allowed here. Instead, the area is used for tours by Babcock Ranch Wilderness Adventures. On the remaining land a model city powered by renewable energy has been constructed.
BABCOCK RANCH ECO TOURS
In an area of 26 square miles – more than your average small town – Babcock Ranch Eco Tours offers the perfect chance to explore Florida’s wildlife. Here are some highlights visitors can look forward to at the preserve:
SWAMP BUGGY ECO TOUR
On this tour, guests jump aboard a camouflaged bus and discover ecosystems between water and land that are teeming with wildlife: Alligators and turtles are found in the rivers, herons hunt for fish on the shores, and owls can be spotted in the cypress canopy. The extensive prairie is home to Caracaras: birds of prey that feed on little rodents. If you are lucky, you might even spot a Florida panther in the undergrowth.
Included in the tour is a trip to the Crescent B Ranch. Cattle, pigs and horses are not the only animals raised here. The ranch is also home to baby alligators that you can pet during your visit.
The tour costs 24 USD for adults, 23 USD for senior citizens and 16 USD for children aged 3–12. Younger children take the tour for free. During main season in winter and spring, it is a good idea to reserve your ticket in advance on the official website babcockranchecotours.com.
If you want to explore South Florida’s beautiful forests on lesser-known paths, the Walking Tour is perfect for you. And do not forget your binoculars, as the densely wooded area is teeming with birds of prey like caracaras and swallow-tailed kites, as well as woodpeckers and cranes. A highlight is the Gator Bridge where you can spot Florida’s alligators in great numbers. It takes about 45 minutes to complete this easy loop trail.
DINING OPTIONS AND SHOPS
Spending the whole day outdoors can make you hungry. Luckily, the Gator Shack Restaurant serves hearty comfort food like sandwiches filled with meat and fish, tender steaks and crispy French Fries. The deep-fried cornmeal balls called Hush Puppies are particularly popular with fans of the Southern Cuisine. Visitors who always wanted to try real alligator meat should order the fried Gator Bites.
The Babcock Gift Shop offers a wide variety of souvenirs – from stuffed alligators and coloring books for children to stylish T-shirts and homemade chili sauce.
BABCOCK RANCH TOWN
After touring the preserve, you should also visit Babcock Ranch Town. There, you can see what the cities of tomorrow might look like. This sustainable and eco-friendly town features some remarkable innovations:
- The city gets its energy from solar panels and produces more electricity than it needs.
- The residential homes are equipped with Smart Home technologies that further reduce energy consumption.
- Public transport is done with noiseless, self-driving E-shuttles.
OPENING HOURS BABCOCK RANCH
The Babcock Ranch is open seven days a week from 10 am to 2 pm. During this time, Swamp Buggy Tours are available and the hiking path is open for visitors.
DIRECTIONS TO BABCOCK RANCH
The ranch is located north of the Caloosahatchee River and can be reached from Cape Coral in 45 minutes by car. This makes Babcock Ranch a perfect destination for guests in Cape Coral and Fort Myers who do not want to take the long trip to Everglades National Park.
Florida has no shortage of gift shops, zoos, theme-parks, waterparks and family-friendly restaurants. Rarely, however, do you find all these things in one place. This makes the Shell Factory and Nature Park one of the most diverse attractions in Fort Myers.
Beautifully decorated Christmas Trees in walking distance to a minigolf course, life-sized dinosaurs next to a petting zoo, real alligators and a climbing wall – the Shell Factory offers an astonishing variety of things to see and do.
SHELL FACTORY AND NATURE PARK – ACTIVITIES
Nature lovers of all ages will feel right at home at the Shell Factory’s Nature Park, home to 400 animals from turtles and iguanas to grown alligators. You are even allowed to feed Florida’s iconic reptiles – from a safe distance, of course.
Freshly hatched baby gators are displayed in the Touch Center. Cute raccoons, lemurs and sloths live in authentically designed enclosures, and behind glass walls you can observe lizards, snakes and a variety of insects. Even extinct animals can be found here: In the Dinosaur Park, guests take a walk under the watchful eyes of T-Rex, Triceratops and other primeval giants.
A highlight for children is the petting zoo with its guinea pigs, goats and cows. And watching the animals is not the only activity at the Nature Park: Visitors can interact with colorful parrots, and see nocturnal animals on a guided camping trip.
In the adjacent Fun Park, children can dig for gold, or rather fool’s gold, have water balloon battles and feed turtles and fish on a boat ride. Guests looking for some vertical fun can master the climbing wall, climb up a 40 feet pole and zoom across the lake with a zipline. On hot days, there is nothing better than riding the motorized Bumper Boats equipped with water cannons.
If you want to stay dry, you can play minigolf, or enjoy yourself with exciting games at the arcade hall. History fans should visit the exhibit “Dark Days of American History”. Here, you will learn more about the Cuban Missile Crisis and the assassination of J. F. Kenney.
SHELL FACTORY AND NATURE PARK – RESTAURANTS AND SHOPPING OPPORTUNITIES
Hungry visitors should have a seat at Capt´n Fishbones, a family-friendly seafood restaurant serving comfort food like Fish and Chips as well as fried oysters, salmon and shrimp cocktails. If you do not like fish, try the generously topped burgers, prime steaks, Italian pasta or healthy salads. The park’s Subway restaurant is the perfect choice for delicious sandwiches.
If you are looking for a souvenir for your loved ones, you should visit the gift shop: Here, you can buy beautifully designed jewelry boxes, candles, windbells made from shells, shark teeth, corals and pearl necklaces. All year round, the Christmas House features Florida´s biggest collection of Christmas presents.
With its festive trees, cute elves and Santa’s sleigh, Florida’s biggest gift shop is a highlight for children. Fans of eccentric memorabilia will love the sleigh pulled by a zebra and the shell-covered gulf buggy. And do not forget to open the outhouse, where an animated Christmas robot tells stories from the old days of Fort Myers.
TICKET PRICES, OPENING HOURS AND EVENTS
Entrance to the Shell Factory is free. You only have to pay 13 USD for the Nature Park. Tickets cost 10 USD for senior citizens (55+) and 8 USD for children aged 4–12. Children aged 3 and under visit the park for free. If you want to save money, you should check out discount websites like Groupon. The Shell Factory’s shops are open daily from 9 am to 6 pm. The Nature Park and the Fun Park open at 10 am and close at 5 pm.
Thanks to a fun-filled event calendar, it pays to visit the park more than once. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, there is a flea market with 150 stalls selling artworks and trinkets, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Fans of Mexican Food should visit the Capt´n Fishbones on Taco Tuesday. In addition, the restaurant’s Dolphin Room draws in visitors with live-concerts, dances and karaoke parties. Memorial Day is celebrated with barbecues, and in the festive season, little guests can visit Santa Claus in the Christmas House. Thanks to its countless attractions, the Nature Park is a perfect place for birthday parties with pizza, camp fires and a night under the stars. At the Shell Factory’s event hall, you can host weddings and other big celebrations.
MAP & DIRECTIONS TO THE SHELL FACTORY AND NATURE PARK
The Shell Factory and Nature Park is located north of Cape Coral and can be reached in 20 minutes by car. Guests based in central Fort Myers need 15 minutes. To get to the Shell Factory from Estero, you should plan for a 40 minute ride.
Fort Myers Information & Travel Tipps – learn what makes Fort Myers the ideal place for your next vacation.
The Best Sights and Attractions
Fort Myers, the Seat of Lee County, has long been a popular retreat for guests from the Northern US, among them important figures like Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. To this day the city amazes visitors with its scenic beaches, interesting museums and family-friendly attractions, accompanied by a wide variety of restaurants and shopping opportunities.
Downtown Fort Myers is situated directly at the Caloosahatchee River, hence the name River District. This historic city center is the perfect starting point for your sightseeing trip. Here you can visit charming antique stores and get to know Fort Myers´ early days and architectural heritage on a guided tour. History fans should not miss the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, where business magnate Henry Ford and inventor Thomas Edison used to spend their vacation in Fort Myers. Inside, visitors can marvel at antique cars and Edison’s famous inventions.
If you want to immerse yourself in the world of science, you should visit the IMAG History & Science Center. Exhibitions on tropical storms, exciting physics experiments and virtual reality tours to the early days of Fort Myers await you there. Want to learn more about the history of Florida’s railway system? Then visit the Railroad Museum with its historic locomotives and go for a ride with the miniature train.
The heritage of Florida’s native inhabitants is not only apparent in place names like “Caloosahatchee”, “Tampa” and “Miami”. Fort Myers´ Mound House marks the place where the Calusa Indians erected huge shell mounds to overlook the area. Here, children can test their skills at spear throwing workshops and create their own jewelry out of sea shells.
A Beach Lover´s Paradise
Fort Myers Beach not only attracts visitors with its fine, white sand, palm trees, turquoise waters and charming boardwalk. A shallow drop also makes this beach ideal for families with children. Whether you want to ride jet skis, go surfing or sailing – a wide variety of watersports is available. Looking for peace and quiet? Then take a trip to nearby Sanibel Island with its famous Lighthouse Beach. On the way, you can watch fishermen at work and observe water birds like pelicans. Lighthouse Beach features white, powdery sand and a huge variety of colorful shells. For more beautiful beaches, take a boat trip to islands like North Captiva and Cayo Costa.
A World of Shopping Opportunities
Fort Myers is a true paradise for shopping fans and bargain hunters, so better leave some room in your suitcase for clothes and souvenirs. Open-air shopping is highly popular here, as are the elegantly designed boutiques. More than 140 stores grace the shopping complex Miromar Outlet with its beautiful fountains, and if you want to go shopping in the heart of Fort Myers, Times Square is the place for you. Here, you will find a huge variety of fashion shops with a focus on swimwear, as well as international restaurants. Looking for local products? Then visit the Downtown Farmers Market with its seafood, baked goods, nuts, cheese and many other types of food. A main institution in Fort Myers is the Fleasters Market. In addition to toys and paraphernalia of every kind, this market also offers fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as fast food stalls in case you get hungry.
The administration of Fort Myers places great importance on the protection of its natural surroundings. Take the Six Miles Cypress Slough Preserve, for example: extensive wetlands that visitors explore on elevated boardwalks. Here, you can observe turtles, raccoons, otters and even alligators if you are lucky. Bird Watchers should visit the 689 acre Lakes Park south of Fort Myers. And you do not even have to stroll far to see animals in Fort Myers: The Butterfly Estates is home to myriads of colorful pollinators, and at the Manatee Park visitors get close to Florida’s famous sea cows (manatees) that come here in the winter months.
Restaurants – Delicious Treats Everywhere
In Fort Myers, hungry guests can choose from a variety of international restaurants for every taste and budget. Seafood ranks high on the menu, for example at the Parrot Key restaurant known for its delicious shrimps. Afterwards, you should try Key Lime Pie, a local dessert with condensed milk and lime juice. Fort Myers is also home to excellent breakfast restaurants: pancakes, bacon and doughnuts will give you plenty of energy for your sightseeing day. Of course, freshly made fruit shakes and salads are available as well. If you love Italian specialties, you should dine at Osteria Celli, where the Italian chef from Milano still prepares the pasta by hand. No vacation in Florida would be complete without trying the Cuban Sandwich, for example at the top-rated Fat Katz Sports Bistro.
Accomodation in Fort Myers
Fort Myers offers a wide range of accommodation options, from luxurious hotels and vacation homes to budget-friendly hostels. Boutique hotels attract guests with their beautifully designed rooms and their intimate atmosphere. If you want to sleep near the ocean and enjoy the sunset from your balcony, you should book a hotel in Fort Myers Beach. The Best Western Hotel Inn & Suites is your perfect starting point for trips to Captiva Beach and also features its own fitness-center and swimming pool.
Climate and Weather
If you are looking for warm temperatures, plenty of sunshine and low precipitation, you should visit Fort Myers during main season from November to April. Keep in mind, however, that hotels are more expensive and sell out quickly during that time. Booking in advance is highly advisable. From June to September temperatures rise to over 30 degrees Celsius. Rainfall also increases, although the showers rarely last long. If you want to enjoy pleasant weather with only 10 rain days per month while avoiding the expensive main season, you should visit the city in May or October.