Location: 26811 South Tamiami Trail | Bonita Springs, FL 34134
When you walk into the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time. You’ll not only see how people lived in the early 1900s, but you’ll get a glimpse into the lives of two of the country’s most well-known trailblazers, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.
The Edison and Ford Winter Estates is located on the Caloosahatchee River and is one of the most beloved attractions in the Fort Myers area. Without Edison and his friend, Henry Ford, we wouldn’t have cars, electricity, or a variety of other modern-day conveniences. The estates offer a wealth of knowledge about Edison and Ford’s time in Southwest Florida.
If you grew up here, you’ve probably visited this iconic home on a field trip. Or maybe you’ve stumbled on it during a rainy afternoon. If you’re a self-proclaimed history buff, you should make it a point to include the Edison and Ford Winter Estates on your next vacation to Southwest Florida. The famed vacation home and historical buildings are beautifully preserved and one of the area’s most prized treasures. Edison purchased the Edison and Ford Winter Estates land in 1885 and it’s been open to the public since 1947. It’s also a registered National Historic Site.
There is much more to do here than meets the eyes. There is general admission if you want to meander through the grounds yourself. There are also a handful of specific tours that vary by ticket price. Whether you’re more interested in science, home decor or gardening, there’s something here for everyone!
The great thing about the Edison and Ford Winter Estates is there are a variety of tours you can choose from depending on your budget and what your group is interested in.
Tour the beautiful gardens, homes and the Edison Botanic Research Laboratory. The 60-minute tours are run by a site historian and occur every hour. You can start your day off with the 10 a.m. option or end it with the last tour departing at 4 p.m. Historians can provide valuable insight and answer your questions. You can also meander the grounds on your own without a tour guide, too, if that’s more your style.
This is a great choice if English isn’t your first language, or you just feel comfortable with a different option. Edison Ford Audio Tours come in English, French, German and Spanish. These tours are self-guided, so you can take as long as you want to explore the grounds. Like the Guided Tour, this option will also take you through the gardens, homes and the Edison Botanic Research Laboratory. The last audio player is given out at 4:30 p.m.
Tickets for this tour are on a first-come, first-served basis. If you’re an auto enthusiast, this tour will be a special treat. View the historic site’s automobile collection and a handful of antique and historic vehicles. The 90-minute tour is led by an automotive expert who can answer all of your questions and provide some insight.
Offered three days a week, this tour lets you explore the laboratory Thomas Edison shared with Harvey Firestone and Henry Ford. What’s different about this tour versus the guided tour is that you get to go behind the barriers and get a closer look at what the three giants were working on. Like the Automotive Tour, the 75-minute Inside the Lab Tour is on a first-come, first-served basis.
This tour only runs on Wednesday mornings. Explore the propagating nursery and meander through 20 acres of the Edison and Ford Winter Estates’ botanic gardens. The tour is 90 minutes long, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the rest of the grounds, too. You’ll also get a 10% discount on purchases at the Garden Shoppe.
This tour is offered two days a week. On Thursdays, you’ll need to make reservations by calling 239.334.7419. On Friday, tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis. The 90-minute tour will take you to normally closed off areas of Edison and Ford’s winter homes. Expert historians and curatorial staff can answer your questions and offer additional information about the homes. You’ll see areas of homes not normally visible during other tours. It’s pretty unique and special!
This part of the River District is extra special during the holidays. The historic lab, gardens and buildings are decked out in thousands of lights and traditional holiday decor. It’s one of the only times the grounds are open past sunset. This time of year there’s normally live music and you might even get a visit from Santa Claus himself. The gift stores and museums also stay open later, if you need to do some last-minute shopping.
Where: 2350 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, Florida
Hours: Open Monday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Information: 239.334.7419 or http://www.edisonford.org/
The Edison and Ford Winter Estates is a great option for a rainy day adventure and there are always reasons to come back and explore it a second time. We also have the top 10 Southwest Florida museums you need to visit while you are here. There are a variety of different tour options the whole family will love. If you’re here during the holiday season, the home and gardens are lit up and more beautiful than ever, especially during sunset.
Feel free to browse our Fort Myers vacation rentals near the Edison and Ford Winter Estates. Give Royal Shell a call if you see something you like so we can try and secure it for you right away. If you have any questions before you choose a home, our Vacation Planning Specialists are more than happy to help. After all, our No. 1 goal is for you to have a memorable stay and create lasting memories.