A Visit to Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Edison & Ford Winter Estate's beautiful property sits right on the Caloosahatchee River Fort Myers, FL

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Self-guided audio tour are offered at Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

I recently had the opportunity to visit The Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers. This beautiful property sits right on the Caloosahatchee River and includes beautiful gardens, Edison’s Botanical Laboratory, a museum, Seminole Lodge; the winter home of Thomas Edison and The Mangoes; the winter retreat of Henry Ford.

Gardens at Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers were planted to support much of Edison’s botanic research

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

I began my visit by purchasing an admission ticket and an audio guide; this is offered in several languages, and they do offer a guided tour as well. I received a guide map and after a brief explanation of how to use the audio guide device, a group of us were escorted across McGregor Blvd. (the property spans both sides of the roadway) to begin the tour.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates historical museum tours Fort Myers, Florida

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

The expansive gardens (over 1,700 plants!), which were planted to support much of Edison’s botanic research, are truly beautiful. Edison’s Little Office, Moonlight Garden, the family swimming pool, Edison’s caretakers home, Seminole Lodge and The Mangoes all sit just yards from the Caloosahatchee.  You will also find a small car exhibit displaying some antique Ford models, restrooms as well as a small gift shop. Although visitors are not allowed to enter Edison’s office or either of the homes, access to view much of the main floors in each is done nicely via open doorways with clear dividers blocking entrance to the rooms allowing one to view the fine collection of furniture and personal belongings. Even though the Edison’s spent their last winter here in 1931, it appears they’ve just gone for the afternoon.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Banyan Cafe

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

The audio guide concludes on this side of the property. After returning my guide I crossed McGregor and toured through the Garden Shoppe, Edison’s Lab and concluded with the museum. The Estates Museum includes a gallery and exhibits with an impressive collection of photographic equipment, photographs and other Edison inventions as well as a children’s educational activity area. I made a stop at the Banyan Café for a sandwich and drink under the tree canopy before heading home.

Visitors should keep in mind that the gift shops and Estates Museum are the only buildings with air conditioning. There is a fair amount of shade on the property but Florida’s summer heat and humidity should be taken into consideration so dress comfortably and be sure to stay hydrated.

Written by:

Nita Ettinger is Co-publisher for Siesta Publications Inc. and the Editor in Chief for Must Do Visitor Guides. Must Do Visitor Guides provides Southwest Florida visitor information through printed magazines and the website MustDo.com. Must Do magazines are published bi-annually and are available at no cost in Sarasota, Lee, and Collier County Chamber of Commerce, visitor information centers, select Southwest Florida hotels, and wherever free publications can be found.