Back in January, my husband and I drove to the West Coast of Florida to explore some areas we had on our Florida bucket list. Fort Myers was the first stop on the itinerary, and we specifically wanted to see the Edison and Ford Winter Estates. We had heard from friends and family how pretty it was, but words nor pictures really do it justice. It was definitely on the chilly side when we went, by Floridians standards at least, but by mid-afternoon the sunshine washed over us, forcing us to roll up our sleeves and pray for a slight breeze. The Edison and Ford Winter Estates is comprised of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison’s homes, botanic research laboratory, museum, and luscious gardens on a sprawling 20-acres!
Upon first arriving, you can’t help but observe the colossal trees on the property, specifically the gigantic banyan trees. Their trunks so wide and roots almost vein like throughout the ground, oh the things these trees have seen. You are greeted by a garden shop, housing some of the diverse plants they grow on the property. It was a nice taste of what was to come on a much larger scale. You have several tour options to choose from, but my husband and I always choose the self-guided tours. We like to explore at our leisure. As mentioned, the grounds include botanical gardens, nine historic buildings, and a museum that houses inventions, artifacts, and galleries. I can only speak highly of how well maintained this property is kept and how perfectly they showcased the ingenuity and efforts of Edison and Ford – they spearheaded change for American business and industry and left a lasting impact on the city of Fort Myers as well.
Despite sincerely loving every minute of my time there, I think my favorite part was walking through the gardens. They hold more than 1,700 plants (and over 400 species)! The historic homes are nice to peer into, delivering a fun glance into history and a bygone era. Note: you can’t walk inside but can easily see their interior through glass paneled doorways. I would be remiss if I didn’t add that the view of the Caloosahatchee River is quite magnificent as well. The laboratory was so interesting to walk through with all the books, tools, and quirky sketches scattered about. Edison and Ford feverishly worked on finding a viable domestic source of rubber (latex) to grow in the region. At the time, America was solely dependent on foreign sources. Goldenrod was the winning plant, out of 17,000 plants that were tested mind you. The museum itself was a stroll through their journeys and lives. It was informative and equally entertaining. Learning was made fun in the way the details were portrayed and offering an interactive exhibit for adults and children.
It is the perfect day trip for locals and non-locals alike!
Reference: factual information via the Edison and Ford Winter Estate website