Tantalizing treats from Bennett's Fresh Roast — Photo courtesy of Bennett's Fresh Roast
When your skin is hot and burned, take a break from the sun and sand of Fort Myers' beaches. Go explore the charming streetscapes, facades and galleries of downtown, and be sure to include some delightful eats and shopping, too.
Start with breakfast at CRaVE Restaurant, a local favorite with an enormous chalkboard full of mouthwatering morning combos. This trendy diner is in a non-descript strip mall on the historic McGregor Blvd., a direct connect from the beach to downtown.
A leisurely drive down this scenic, palm tree-lined road takes you to the famous Edison & Ford Winter Estates. Spend the rest of the morning touring the lush grounds, checking out Edison's fascinating inventions and Ford’s original Model Ts.
This Edison Estate Banyan Tree is the third largest in the world, covering an entire acre. — Photo courtesy of Gina Birch
For lunch, exit through the back gate of the estates and find Pincher’s Crab Shack, which offers a spectacular view of the Caloosahatchee River and serves a menu full of seafood favorites.
Save room for homemade desserts or a hand-cut donut at Bennett’s Fresh Roast, just a few blocks east. Bennett’s also serves a great lunch if your taste buds prefer paninis and salads over crab and shrimp.
Keeping going a few more blocks still, and find the city parking garage, a convenient spot in the heart of downtown to leave your ride for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Take a stroll through Centennial Park, where you might catch an afternoon volleyball game. Or pose for photos around the popular Uncommon Friends statue, featuring Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone.
First Street is where most of the downtown action is and where you’ll find the Franklin Shops, an eclectic, local artist co-op. Across the street is Broadway Factory, a whimsical spot full of sweet treats from local chocolatier Justin Schaffer. Pick out an assortment to enjoy later or grab some ice cream for the rest of your First Street stroll.
Treats too pretty to eat, from local chocolatier Justin Schaffer — Photo courtesy of Gina Birch
There are so many unique shops to pop in and out of, but be sure to hit the Arts for ACT Boutique, a non-profit space benefiting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. In this eclectic gallery with creaky wood floors, you’ll find one-of-a-kind work from local artists in the front, and in the back, a den of fantastic vintage and gently used clothing as well as other treasures.
Amazing architecture and exhibits highlight the Sidney and Berne Davis Art Center, a former Federal Courthouse and post office dating back to the 1930s. The lighted sidewalk sculptures are the most photographed spots downtown, spectacular especially after dark. Check the calendar for shows or concerts when planning your evening.
Sculptures at Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center are the most photographed downtown. — Photo courtesy of Gina BIrch
Theater buffs may also catch a show at the cozy, historic Florida Repertory Theater.
There are all kinds of restaurants and bars to stop for refreshers and nightcaps, but for a local hideaway, search out the Spirits of Bacchus. This is a quaint gastropub tucked in the corner of Hendry and Bay Streets.
Right behind Bacchus is one for the best places to catch a sunset: the Sky Bar at The Firestone. Take the express elevator to the rooftop and enjoy a postcard view of the river basin. This becomes quite the party spot later in the evening, with the area’s hottest DJs spinning tunes.
Eat dinner across the alley at Twisted Vine Bistro; it’s a cool wine bar and restaurant serving locally grown produce and some of the most original cuisine downtown.
If you really want to experience all that downtown has to offer, visit on the first or third Friday of the month for Art Walk and Music Walk. Enjoy exploring the history, culture and cuisine found on these lovely city streets.