For 15 miles, Fort Myers’ McGregor Boulevard is lined on both sides with statuesque royal palm trees, The first 200 of which were imported from Cuba and planted by Thomas Edison.
The first tourist to visit Florida’s Lee Island Coast was Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon, who deposited his stone marker on Pine Island in 1513 and was later mortally wounded in these same waters by a Calusa Indian arrow.
The beaches of Sanibel were ranked in 12 “Best Of” Categories in 2020.
The sport of tarpon fishing originated in Southwest Florida’s Pine Island Sound in the late 1880s and Boca Grande Pass, the opening between Cayo Costa and Gasparilla Islands, is considered the “Tarpon Fishing Capital of the World.”
Thomas Edison, who spent 35 winters in Fort Myers, is considered to be the most inventive man who ever lived, holding 1,097 patents for everything from light bulbs and phonographs to cement and the natural rubber he made from goldenrod.
Lee County beaches are ranked third best in the world for shelling, with more varieties found here than anywhere else in North America. The shelling posture is so common, it’s been given a name-the Sanibel Stoop! The other two beaches are in the Sulu Islands in the Southwest Pacific and Jeffreys Bay in Africa.
Florida’s West Coast, including Southwest Florida, was ranked among the nation’s Top 10 tourism destinations in 1987 in Rand McNally’s Vacation Places Rated.
You can boat straight across the state of Florida from Fort Myers to Palm Bach via the Caloosahatchee River and Okeechobee Waterway.
The banyan tree at the Edison Winter Home, a gift from industrialist Harvey Firestone, is the largest specimen in the United States. The tree’s aerial roots now have a circumference of more than 400 feet!
Koreshan State Historic Site in Bonita Springs commemorates an eccentric religious sect, which believed the world to be a hollow globe, with mankind residing on the inner surface, gazing into the universe below.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of the famous aviator, wrote her best- selling love letter, A Gift From the Sea, without ever identifying it as Captiva Island.
Legend has it that Spanish pirate Jose Gaspar made his home in Pine Island Sound, reportedly establishing headquarters on Sanibel Island, holding his female prisoners captive on Captiva Island, burying his booty on Gasparilla Island and imprisoning his beloved Mexican Princess Joseffa on Useppa Island. Rather than be taken prisoner by the U.S. Navy, the scoundrel drowned himself in anchor chains in 1821, the same year Spain sold Florida to the U.S. government for $13 million.
Cape Coral has more canals than the Italian city of Venice.
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, occupying more than one- third of Sanibel Island, was named for Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Jay Norwood Darling, who was also the first environmentalist to hold a presidential cabinet post (In Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration).
Some of the original settlers to Lee County were flower growers from the Benelux region of Europe and their diligent horticultural efforts made Fort Myers the “Gladiolus Capital of the World.”
Lee County is one of the few places in the world where a person can make a living as a shelling charter captain. Among the rare shells collected here are the brown speckled Junonia, sculpted lion’s paw, coveted golden olive, golden tulip and the Scotch bonnet.
Lee County has one of the world’s largest populations of bottlenose dolphins and West Indian manatee.
The southern most land battle of the American Civil War was fought in Fort Myers on Feb. 20, 1865, with both sides claiming a victory. North Fort Myers celebrates this historic moment annually, with a battle reenactment as part of its annual Cracker Festival.
Southwest Florida has more holes of golf per capita than any place in the United States.
Calusa Indian culture, carbon dated to 1150 BC, had its cultural center in Southwest Florida. Although the tribe is now extinct, ceremonial, burial and refuse shell mounds are found at Mound Key, Pine Island, Cabbage Key, Useppa Island and elsewhere in the vicinity.
The Sanibel Shell Fair is now in its 87th year.
Cayo Pelau is said to be haunted by the ghosts of Jose Garpar’s pirates who are said to have buried their personal wealth here and linger to prevent treasure hunters from disturbing their plunder.
The walls of Cabbage Key’s historic inn are papered in more than $10,000 autographed dollar bills? The inn, built by playwright Mary Roberts Rinehart and her son in 1938, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner to guests and boaters at its location at mile marker 60 on the Intracoastal Waterway.