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Exploring Fort Myers
First established as a military outpost during the Seminole Wars of the 1830s, Fort Myers grew thanks to its proximity to the Caloosahatchee River.
Cattle barons drove herds down the Kissimmee to Lake Okeechobee and on along the Caloosahatchee, loading steers onto Spanish galleons that paid top dollar in gold.
Today, visitors can hop a hydrofoil to Key West, a ferryboat that whisks you to the southernmost tip of Florida in three hours.
Water plays a large part in recreation in the region, both on it and in it, with the city fringing the massive Big Cypress Swamp ecosystem to the east.
Six Mile Cypress Slough is a must-see for a dip into Big Cypress. Thanks to these wetlands, Fort Myers has extensive natural lands preserving pockets of important habitats.
Most lie to the north of North Fort Myers, a buffer against the spread of suburbia north of Pine Island Rd. But others are tucked among subdivisions within the city and its surrounding communities.
After the Civil War, the city of Fort Myers became a winter destination for tourists hopping steamships down the Gulf Coast. In 1889, inventor Thomas Edison built a grand estate on the Caloosahatchee.
He used it to create a laboratory devoted to the study of tropical plants. As his industrialist and scientist friends visited, the town gained a cultural core and a great deal of botanical interest.
Edison oversaw the planting of hundreds of royal palms along McGregor Boulevard, the original cattle drive route.
The “Avenue of Palms” is still a delight today, a must-drive on a visit to the extensive gardens at his winter home and that of his friend Henry Ford.
Featured Trails and Parks near Fort Myers
At the Koreshan Unity in Estero, Florida, a group of believers gathered in 1894 to build their paradise. It is now a National Historic Site and a Florida State Park. Walk the trails and streets of “New Jerusalem” to learn its story.
Here’s a little proof positive that the younger generation still finds the outdoors a thrill. Late last year, I had an email from a reader planning a trip to Florida looking for a way to day-trip the Everglades while visiting family in Punta Gorda. Given the vast distance between the two spots, I suggested, as …