When coming into central Fort Myers under the majestic swaying palms that line McGregor Boulevard, it’s hard to imagine the city being anything but perfect. The neat block houses give way to progressively larger and more unique abodes, and by the time you arrive at the city’s proudest property—the Edison and Ford Winter Estates—there’s little doubt as to why the famous inventor was so enthusiastic about living in the city.
Beyond that somewhat idyllic stretch of road, however, Fort Myers is a little rough around the edges. The city was hit hard by Hurricane Charley in 2004 and then again by the housing crisis that took hold in 2008. The economy has struggled, crime in the area is consistently above the national average, and unchecked sprawl has only compounded these problems.
Yet if you set yourself up in a cozy and friendly room on Fort Myers Beach and only head into downtown to grab a nice meal or see some of the historic sights, those problems will be all but invisible.
Getting to Fort Myers
Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW, 11000 Terminal Access Rd., Ft. Myers, 239/590-4800, www.flylcpa.com) is located just outside Fort Myers, 20 minutes southeast of downtown, and is served by most major U.S. carriers, including Southwest; a taxi from the airport to downtown Fort Myers will cost about $35.
I-75 and the scenic Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) both run through Fort Myers. Fort Myers Beach is about 20 miles (30 minutes’ drive) from downtown via Summerlin Road and San Carlos Boulevard. As in the rest of Florida, public transportation in Fort Myers is fairly abysmal; there is a Park-and-Ride trolley service that connects downtown to the beaches. Given the large distances between sights, and the pedestrian-unfriendly roadways, walking and biking are not recommended.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition