1. Florida Repertory Theatre
You get a double hit of culture when you attend a production at the Florid Rep. This cozy theater is in the Historic Arcade and was built in 1908 when Fort Myers, Florida was just developing. Originally known as the Vaudeville House, the theater often showed films which were attended by famous families including Thomas and Myrna Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. As one of the top repertory theaters in the USA, this renovated gem has a full program including comedy and drama.
2. Art Walk Downtown Fort Myers
Venture into downtown Fort Myers on the first Friday evening of the month and you’ll find the streets lined with amateur art critics, restaurants doing a roaring trade and even live musicians on the sidewalk. It’s all part of the monthly cultural Art Walk in the historic Fort Myers River District. Art galleries, museums, and gift shops remain open until 10 p.m. and put on special exhibitions and activities. It’s a fun event to be part of, whether you intend to buy a new piece of original artwork or are simply looking for a social evening of entertainment.
Return to First Street on the third Friday for the Music Walk. It attracts dozens of live bands and performers on the street and many more jazz, country, and rock n’roll artists in downtown restaurants, wine bars, and public venues.
3. Burroughs Home and Garden
Delve into the early 20thcentury life of the wealthy Burroughs family by taking a guided tour of this Sears catalog home that once stood on Millionaire’s Row. The antique furnishings, artifacts, photographs and personal belongings of the family tell their own story. Photographs and an interesting letter from Edison to Ford about his thoughts on the dangers of smoking (blaming the cigarette paper rather than the tobacco!) make fascinating exhibits. There is also a Charles Lindberg display commemorating the first trans-Atlantic flight from New York to Paris in 1927. Outdoors there is a covered oval terrace and gardens where live oaks shade much of this riverfront property. High tea is still served in the “secret” garden next to the reflecting pool on some days.
4. True Tours in Downtown Fort Myers
Legends and Legacies is just one of the excellent historical walking tours offered in downtown Fort Myers. Get to know the history of the developing Southwest Florida city through some of its most famous (and infamous) residents. Meet the newspaper editor and hear the tale of the rancher’s grieving wife. Encounter the daughter of the sawmill and the courageous “woman of color” who helped convert Fort Myers from cowboy town to cultural haven. True Tours guided walking tours begin at the Franklin Shops on First Street and end at the Sidney and Berne Davis Art Center–another cultural must-see! Reservations are required.
5. Alliance for the Arts
Check out the program of events and classes at the Alliance for the Arts on McGregor Blvd. This vibrant arts complex includes a theater, art gallery, gift shops, and multiple classrooms. The impressive calendar includes over 200 affordable classes and workshops covering the whole spectrum of arts, from painting, drawing, and photography to drama, yoga. and music lessons. It also hosts fundraisers and a Saturday Green Market on the 10-acre campus. Whether you want to learn how to get the best from your camera, dabble in watercolors, or enjoy an evening out at the theatre, the Alliance for the Arts is the hub of Fort Myers’ cultural scene.