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.
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.
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.
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.