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Look for the yellow and green dinosaur next to the water tower and you'll know you have found the Imaginarium, a hands-on science museum for kids of all ages. Try your hand at being a weatherman, excavate a T-Rex in the "dig pit" or chart a course on a boat. The simple explanations make learning fun and easy to understand. There is even a living coral reef and alligator lagoon.
The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center is located in the heart of downtown Fort Myers. The center is not just a vibrant forum to hosts art talks, art walks, functional exhibits and much more, but it's also a catalyst and benefactor to the entire art scene in Southwest Florida. Another highlight is the stunning neoclassical design of the building, with its impressive coral and limestone Ionic pillars. The Sidney & Berne Davis should be a definite stop for anyone interested in the local movements and happenings in the Fort Myers art community.
The downtown historic district runs along the Caloosahatchee River at Edwards Drive and is bordered by Monroe and Lee Streets to the north and south. Fort Myers was first established as a bulwark during the Seminole Wars which finally ended after three different campaigns in 1858. Thereafter, the city became incorporated in 1885. Although there are very few remnants of this era in the area, there is still plenty to see-and-do. From attractions like the historic Burroughs Home and Gardens or the First United Methodist Church to a plethora of bars and restaurants, there is something for all ages. Throughout the year, special events like art walks, musical acts and other happenings occur in this pedestrian-friendly district.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Fort Myers, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates highlight the lives of two American intellectual behemoths that are Thomas Alva Edinson and Henry Ford. Spread across 20 acres (8 hectares) of pristine estates, this site was where legendary inventor Thomas Edison began spending his winters along the Caloosahatchee River from the comforts of his beloved Seminole Lodge in 1886. In 1916, Edison's dear friend Henry Ford built his Craftsman-style holiday home, known as 'The Mangoes' right next door. Edison's house is engulfed in a blanket of spectacular beauty thanks to the botanical garden designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman that houses Florida's largest banyan tree. The Rubber Laboratory is one of the sight's prime exhibits that showcase the facility exactly how it was left by Edison.
Robert Rauschenberg is sometimes considered as the progenitor of the early 60's Pop-Art Movement due to his work created in the 1950's. Here on the campus of Florida SouthWestern State College in the suburb of Cypress Lake, this gallery features all aspects of Rauschenberg's art, from sculpture and photos to paintings and mixed-media. The gallery also presents rotating exhibits from different artists throughout the year as well as posthumously highlighting everything Rauschenberg.
The mission of the Ostego Bay Foundation is to promote a better understanding of marine life and the delicate balance of ecosystems through education and community involvement. At the Marine Science Center, exhibits, touch tanks and aquariums allow visitors to see and feel marine life. There are also exhibits on fossils, shells and endangered species that educate and entertain at the same time. Additionally, the center offers a walking tour which includes visits to a Coast Guard station, the waterfront and aboard a shrimp boat.
Fort Myers namesake beach is the real reason why tourists from across the country flock here especially during spring break and summer. Water sports in the form of jet skiing, wave runners, para-sailing and diving along with fishing charters keep the adventurous visitors occupied, while others can dine at one of the many ocean-facing bars and cafes. Concerts and festivals are a regular occurrence at this beach which assures something exciting to people of all ages. It is also the home-base of the annual American Sand Sculpting Championship.
Anyone who has ever returned home with a pretty seashell from the beach will find something of interest at Sanibel's Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. The Shell Museum is the only one in the United States devoted to amateur and professional conchologists. It houses more than two-million specimens and is constantly growing with new, unidentified species every day. Usually, there is a professional that can help you identify the shell as well as learn about the history and how they form. In the gift shop, adults can buy fossils, shells-in-art, jewelry while the kids have fun in the Children's Learning Lab.
The J.N. "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge is 5,000 acres (2,023 hectares) of tidal wetlands and mangroves, home to more than 200 species of birds, 50 different species of reptiles and 32 mammals. The best (and busiest) times to come (especially for bird-watching) are November through April. Visitors can explore the park on a two-mile foot trail, hop aboard a canoe or ride their bike along the Wildlife Drive which has views of the water on both sides. Moreover, the drive to its location on Sanibel Island is a treat unto itself.
Captiva Cruises offers daily cruises around Pine Island Sound, the Captiva Islands as well as Sanibel Island. There are several excursions available, some of which include dolphin tours, sunset cruises and half-day trips to nearby beaches. Captiva also offers private charters for corporate receptions or private parties and each vessel has cash bars. Some of the other highlighted attractions are the Nighttime Astronomy Cruise and the Marine Naturalist Adventure.