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Founded as a military base during the American Indian Wars and then abandoned, the town was revived in the 19th century by a ship captain who might also have been a pirate. Around 1880 it started attracting notable ‘snowbirds’, seasonal visitors who came here to escape the colder winters of the north and built elegant period villas. Among them, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were probably the most famous, and left winter estates that are now open to the public.
Today, despite its natural beauty, the Fort Myers area is still a lesser known holiday destination, but it's gaining more and more popularity thanks to its lively atmosphere and a recent restyling of the town center.
When planning a stay in Fort Myers, it can be practical to think of the city as subdivided into two parts.
The Fort Myers town center, in the northern zone, is home to different museums and historical houses. It is also a good starting point for trips to the many natural parks and reserves along the Caloosahatchee river.
For the most charming beaches, however, you’ll have to head south, to the barrier islands. The smaller town of Fort Myers Beach offers plenty of beautiful shores and every kind of facilities: separated from mainland Fort Myers, it sits on Estero Island and can easily be reached by a causeway. A trip to some other islands also comes recommended: many of them, like Sanibel, hold a more natural, fascinating atmosphere.
Cultural and social hubs are very present in the center of mainland Fort Myers, but you'll find some unexpected hot spots on the islands as well.