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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Fort Myers Day Trip

A short while ago I received a DM from someone saying they had read my Fort Myers travel guide and were wondering what I would suggest for a perfect day trip. And as I responded I thought, I should share this on here! So here she is, I hope you enjoy — xoxo darling, Hayden.

Early-Morning: Downtown Walk

Welcome to Fort Myers! Downtown is adorable and feels like it could be the setting of a Hallmark movie...picture this: big city girl comes home, gets a smoothie at Green Cup Cafe and runs head first into a cute boat captain. It could happen! But in the meantime, take a stroll and see the sights along West First Street. Take a photo of the Edison Theatre marquee, pop into Naples Soap Company or see what's happening at the Sidney Berne Davis Art Center. Make sure you head out Hendry Street to walk along the Caloosahatchee River as well, Centennial Park is a central hub of town for good reason. 

Mid-Morning: Edison Ford Winter Estates

While Fort Myers might be known for its beaches, it's also known for being the winter estate of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Their vacation homes are lovingly preserved near downtown and the grounds are gorgeous...as in I took my prom photos there because it's so pretty. Take a audio tour or garden walk to learn more about the two men who revolutionized the world (although I will say, they weren't very good people) and the women who made the area their own. Pick up a native Florida plant on your way out and snap a photo of the epic banyan trees in the parking lot. 

Lunch: Ella Mae's or McGregor Cafe

Ella Mae's is in downtown Fort Myers in the brand new (five-diamond) Luminary Hotel. The interior looks like a classic diner but there's also tons of outdoor seating where you can see the water. They offer breakfast and lunch items all day, so get a hot chicken sandwich or yummy bowl. The diner is named after the late great Dr. Ella Piper, a visionary in the community. Want a more local restaurant? Drive down McGregor Boulevard and take in all of those Royal palms. McGregor Cafe sits under a massive tree with brightly colored umbrellas and massive Ball jars full of homemade lemonade. It's one of my favorite places ever and it's within walking distance of my childhood home. It's the classic ladies-who-lunch spot with great chicken salad (served with a slice of poundcake) and delightful sandwiches. 

Early-Afternoon: Lighthouse Beach

It's time to get on the road and drive out to Sanibel, aka a beautiful island with great beaches. If you're into shelling, do the Sanibel Stoop aka bend down to look for shells on the beach. My personal favorite is Lighthouse Beach, located on the tip of the island it combines the Gulf of Mexico with the bay. Plus, there's a historic lighthouse that's incredibly photogenic. Put your feet in the water, explore the walking paths or just lay in the sand for a while. 

Late Afternoon: Gene's Bookstore

Gene's began as one building (the mystery building that still exists today) and it was packed to the gills with books. Like, a huge fire concern packed. You could barely move in there. They've since expanded across the street to a beautiful new building but there's something about that original location that makes you feel like you're gonna learn something. It's the best bookstore I've probably ever been to. You can find books from Russia, Italy, Japan, the U.K., etc. It's amazing. My dad and I will always check Gene's before buying from Amazon because they usually have what we want (for cheap). Buy some books and support local before making your way to dinner. 

Dinner: Island Cow

My favorite restaurant on the island, Island Cow delivers personality. There will be a wait, so pop a squat on one of the many colorful Adirondack chairs in the yard and people watch. From sunburned midwestern tourists to locals trying to get their hands on the coveted muffins. Once you get a seat in the pastel-colored interior, or out on the front porch, feast on those confetti muffins. They are killer. The menu is massive, kind of feels like a newspaper in fact, but the Kristina's Angel Hair is my absolute favorite (Hannah, the best friend's too). 

Sunset: Tween Waters

The best sunset in Lee County, by far. Park your car at the hotel restaurant, maybe stop in for a horseshoe crab race (yes, truly a thing) before making your way across the street to Tweenies' private beach. You'll get to see the sun touch the water, and maybe see that classic green light. 

Dessert: Pelican's or Fort Myers Brewing

End your day with something a little sweet. Pelican's SnoBalls, not too far from the Sanibel bridge makes the softest ice you'll ever taste. I highly recommend trying one of their specials or ice cream with cream. You'll think you're eating ice cream! Plus, the employees are incredibly sweet and there are lots of Instagram opportunities. Want something a little more adult? Head back out to the interstate and stop into Fort Myers Brewing Co. Located in a classic warehouse, they have a beer for everyone. High 5 IPA is a big hit with my mom where as I like Get Lei'd and Gateway Gold. Grab a picnic bench and get a flight if you can't decide on just one. 

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