• MustDo.com | Edison & Ford Winter Estates Fort Myers, Florida USA. Must Do Visitor Guides.
  • MustDo.com | Moonlight Garden at Edison & Ford Winter Estates Fort Myers, Florida USA. Must Do Visitor Guides.
  • MustDo.com | History museum and garden tours are offered at Edison & Ford Winter Estates Fort Myers, Florida USA. Must Do Visitor Guides.
  • MustDo.com | Edison & Ford Winter Estates Fort Myers, Florida USA. Must Do Visitor Guides.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers

Historic Edison & Ford

In 1886, inventor Thomas Edison purchased land along the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers and constructed a winter home dubbed Seminole Lodge where he and his wife Mina wintered until the inventor’s death in 1931. Wanting to spend the winters with the Edison’s, their friends Henry Ford and his wife Clara purchased the adjacent property in 1915 and built a bungalow-style house naming it The Mangoes.

Today, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates features over 20 acres of lush botanical gardens boasting over 1,700 plants and one of the largest Banyan trees in the U.S. Read our blog article about our visit to Edison & Ford.

Exploring Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Visitors can explore nine historic buildings including Henry Ford’s home and Thomas Edison’s main house, guest house, caretaker’s house, the ahead of its time pool complex and the pier built to deliver materials for construction. There is a wide range of tour options available to experience the Edison & Ford Winter Estates.
Also, unique to the estate is Edison’s Botanic Research Laboratory, which was built for researching a domestic source for organic rubber and is now filled with the actual equipment Edison used to conduct his research. A 15,000 square foot air-conditioned museum displays some of Edison’s inventions, artifacts, and exhibits as well as a Model-T Ford, which was a gift from Henry Ford. Costumed actors portraying the Edison’s, the Ford’s and their friends can be found milling about, giving visitors a glimpse into how these wealthy residents lived during that time period.

Thomas Edison’s Research Laboratory

Go inside Edison’s Laboratory on a 60 minute Inside the Lab Tour to learn about the operation of the historic Edison Botanical Research Laboratory, a National Historic Chemical Landmark, which has undergone an extensive two-year restoration. Inside the Lab Tour is an exciting, in-depth tour that is not combined with any other Edison Ford Estates tour. Tours are offered on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. Admission is $10.00 for members, $40.00 for adult non-members and $16.00 for children ages 6-12.

The final major research project of Thomas Edison was the search for a domestic source of natural rubber. Visitors can see and experience the new Edison & Rubber: A Scientific Quest exhibit in Edison & Ford Winter Estates newly remodeled museum hall. The exhibit presents the beginnings of Edison’s interest and the importance of natural rubber, as well as the formation of the Edison Botanic Research Corporation, Edison’s successful experiments with plants, and the conclusion of the project after Edison’s death in 1931. The exhibit also includes a rubber floor, the original lab results of how much rubber each tree and plant produced, samples of rubber in various stages of completion, and a video depicting a re-creation of Edison’s rubber experiment.

Smithsonian Spark! Lab Interactive Exhibit

The Smithsonian Spark! Lab is a hands-on, interactive exhibit for families and children. A series of rotating stations with themes from vehicle construction to understanding sound waves will challenge visitors to place themselves in the mindset of an inventor.

The Timeline of Innovation Exhibit at Edison & Ford Winter Estates

The Timeline of Innovation is a chronological exhibit of both Edison’s and Ford’s major innovations. The timeline highlights achievements in dozens of fields and will showcase some of the most interesting artifacts. It will also provide visitors with a narrative on how Edison, Ford, and others built on earlier innovations to create their own inventions.

Edison and Tesla Exhibit

A new Edison and Tesla exhibit in is now on display in the Edison Caretaker’s House!  “DC vs. AC: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify America, this fascinating exhibit explores the differences and similarities of the inventors as well as the differences between alternating and direct current.  The exhibit will be on display until January 5, 2020.

May 18 (Armed Forces Day ) through Labor Day, September 2, 2019 Edison & Ford Winter Estates is teaming up with more than 2,000 museums nationwide to offer free admission to active duty military families with qualifying identification. A National Endowment for the Arts initiative, Blue Star Museums is a collaboration with Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and thousands of gardens, zoos, aquariums, and history and science museums throughout the country. It’s all part of a national effort to say “thank you” to our military community. Visit Blue Star Museums for more information.

Be sure to stop by the Museum Store or Garden Shop and bring home something from your visit.

Daily Activities and Presentations Schedule

10 a.m. Phonograph Demonstration
10:30 a.m. Inside-the-Lab Tour ($5 additional charge)
11 a.m. Ask the Expert
1:30 a.m. Guided Tour of Museum and Research Gardens ($5 additional charge)
12 p.m. Hands-On Science with the Wild Wizards
1 p.m. Phonograph Demonstration
2 p.m. Hands-On Science with the Wild Wizards
3 p.m. Ask the Expert Presentation
3:30 p.m. Phonograph Demonstration

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is the winner of the 2009 National Stewardship Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is an official project of “Save America’s Treasures” at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a Florida Historic Landmark, and a National Register Historic Site.

Explore The Caloosahatchee River

Learn about the ecology and history of the river that the Edison and Ford families loved so much with a river cruise from Pure Florida. Enjoy an exciting 90-minute river cruise on Pure Florida’s M/V Edison ExplorerSunset, sightseeing, or eco-cruises are also offered daily. The Marina at Edison Ford is located at 2360 W. First Street in downtown Fort Myers (or Marker 54 by boat). For reservations and additional information call 239.919.2965.

COVID-19 UPDATES: Edison and Ford’s riverside botanical gardens, Museum Store, and Garden Shoppe are open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

See what’s blooming and walk through more than 20 acres of gardens in a park-like setting with large shade trees and a scenic river view. You will also be able to stroll outside under the porches of the historic homes and view into the interior lifestyle of Edison and Ford.

A new app is offered that will allow visitors to take a self-guided tour with narration and explore at your own pace. To ensure social distancing, guided tours are not being offered at this time. The riverside will be open Friday through Monday each week, through June.

Discounted admission tickets are available for visitors and member’s guest through June 30, 2020:

Adults: $15, Teens (13-19): $10, Children (6-12): $5, Children 5 years old and younger will be admitted free.

The museum and laboratory will remain closed through June 30, 2020. No coupons or other discounts will be accepted. Members get in free.

Beginning July 1, 2020: Edison and Ford Winter Estates will open the 15,000-square-foot air-conditioned Museum and historic Botanic Research Laboratory. With the opening of the Museum and Laboratory, regular-priced admission tickets are in effect.

Purchase tickets in advance online at Edisonford.org.

The Museum will feature a returning exhibit, “DC vs. AC: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify America.” The exhibit illuminates the relationship between Edison, Tesla, and Westinghouse and explores their contributions to electricity. The curatorial staff are also giving two existing galleries in the museum a makeover, so there will be several new areas for visitors to view.

The children’s Spark!Lab is currently closed.

Guided tours will be available and limited to groups of 10 people to ensure everyone can adequately practice social distancing. Guided tours: adults, $30; teens, $25; children, $18. Members get in free.

Self-guided tours are also available, and allow visitors to use an app on their personal phones along with a printed map of the site. Guests will learn about Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, while strolling more than 20 acres in a park-like setting. The gardens offer large shade trees, a scenic river view, and plants and trees from around the world. Admission tickets for self-guided tours are as follows: adults, $25; teens (13-19), $20; children (6-12), $15; children 5 years old and younger will be admitted free.

Specialty tours, including Inside-the-Homes, Automotive and Garden tours are also available. These guided tours offer visitors the chance to see and explore behind-the-scene areas with a knowledgeable site historian. To ensure that people will have room to stand six feet apart, a maximum of 10 tickets will be sold for each tour. Garden tours (with a horticulturist) are available by appointment only. Visitors will be required to reserve tickets in advance.