Edison & Ford Winter Estates Fort Myers, Florida
As the weather down here in Florida finally becomes agreeable, it’s time to get out there and see what Florida has to offer. This summer I was able find a gem that I didn’t know existed. One that I am so glad I found, The Edison & Ford Winter Estates. The Edison & Ford Winter Estates recently restored many of their buildings including the Edison Main House, Guest House, and Caretaker’s House and the Ford House. I knew that this along with the beautiful Moonlight Garden and the special exhibits in the Winter Estates would help shape a great day for my family.
In the spring time my 3rd grade son Kyle did a report on Thomas Edison. He read multiple books and put together a really clever power point presentation. From all that he read he became inspired by all that Thomas Edison was able to accomplish in his lifetime.
Fast forward to the summer and our family vacation down to Sanibel Island in beautiful Southwest Florida. We spend most of our time beach combing but try and take a day or two to explore. This year we headed off island and North into Ft Meyers to visit The Edison & Ford Winter Estates. In all my busy-busy-beeness I did not do a lot of research on what it was besides a home for both families and a place where Edison worked. Little did I know that we were in for so much more.
We went as a group of 4 adults and 5 kids. It was pretty hot outside that day. Kids and heat sometimes don’t mix but we went forth and conquered promising the kids a great meal when we were finished. Upon arriving at the estates, we parked in front of what looked like a small building surrounded by massive trees. We noticed a large group of children all winding down from a field trip. They all seemed very happy so it was a good sign that we were going to have a great time.
The staff at the museum was top notch. From the ladies working the front desk that were both friendly and informative, to the workers in the museum that answered questions and lead tours, to the very informed grounds workers who were able to tell us about tree and plant specimens, it was truly a place you could tell people loved to be. And most of them were volunteers.
Self-Guided Audio Tour
We did a self-guided audio tour thru the estate. The audio tour was really detailed and helped you create a picture at each listening location of what life was like when Edison and Ford lived on these grounds. You leave the museum check in area with a map of the grounds and walk across the street and go number by number thru the estate listening to a detailed audio that tells about each area including the Edison home, Ford home, pool area, offices and much, much more.
The area is fairly open so we didn’t all stay together. The girls went off by themselves at times to listen and the boys went between participating and running around like maniacs in the grass areas. The place wasn’t that busy since it was mid-week so we were able to be a bit more lax about the kids. It was a great benefit to me as I was able to really enjoy myself and take in the place.
One thing I really liked was that they gave the kids a piece of paper with fill in the blanks. Your job was to listen to all the audios and explore the entire grounds to find all the answers for a prize at the end. They gave one to all the kids including Wyatt. He obviously wasn’t going to do it so I took his and had a lot of fun filling it out. It really helped enhance the learning experience for the kids and even got them all competing to see who could get all the right answers.
I really love gardening. I enjoy exploring gardens and trying to find plants that are out of the ordinary and the Edison & Ford Winter Estates proved to be some serious sensory overload for me. As you walk thru the estate you see the most amazing collection of plants and trees from around the world all labeled. Many of which I have never seen before. There is a fantastic array of textures and smells, it is intoxicating. To see all these specimens To see all these specimens so perfectly living in harmony and creating this most amazing landscape was truly inspiring.
Edison Botanic Research Laboratory
Toward the end of the tour is where you see the laboratories where they ran experiments. As I stood there I could imagine lots of men hustling and bustling around trying to create a rubber substance. I could see them all working tirelessly trying to invent something to help all of mankind and hoping to make that one major discovery that would allow them to shine in front of Edison.
As the tour wound down we entered the museum. It was a welcomed blast of air conditioning to the 90 plus degrees we had been walking around in. The large collection of Edison and Ford memorabilia were very neatly displayed with ample amounts of information posted. There were many inventions and pictures displayed. There were videos to watch outlining more information about both families and their lives including many names and faces we would see in our history books.
Exit Thru the Gift Shop
As you leave you exit thru a cool little gift shop full of books, gifts, home items, and kids stuff. I was really hoping to find a book detailing all the plant and tree specimens on the property but I was unable to find one. I think that would make a great addition to their gift shop.
With the weather finally cooling the Edison and Ford Winter Estates would make a great day trip for any Florida family as well as a great daytime adventure for the tens of thousands of tourists to the Sanibel Island/Ft Myers area. We all had an amazing time, especially Kyle and we plan to visit again in the future.
*I received media tickets in return for review. All opinions are our own.