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The Best of Fort Myers: From Edison’s Lab to the History of Pine Island

Program Number: 20395RJ
Start and End Dates:
2/3/2013 - 2/8/2013;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Fort Myers, Florida
Price starting at: $1,199.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: History & Culture Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 13; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Experience the best that the “City of Palms” has to offer as you immerse yourself in its historic sites and natural vistas. Go behind the scenes at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates and enjoy an exclusive exploration of the Edison Botanic Research Laboratory. Delve into the archaeology of Pine Island during a visit to the Randell Research Center, and hear about the Calusa people who once inhabited the region. Learn about Florida’s fascinating past at the Southwest Florida Museum of History, from Seminole culture to the influence of “cracker” pioneers.


• Spend a morning at ECHO’s Global Farm to delve into its role in innovating world farming techniques.
• Enjoy an Eco-Heritage boat ride around Pine Island Sound and learn about the evolution of the area’s fishing industry during an excursion to Pineland.
• Enjoy an expert-led exploration of historic Fort Myers.

Activity Particulars

Walking 1-2 miles over some uneven terrain; getting on/off a coach bus each day.

Date Specific Information


Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.

Fort Myers

The city of Fort Myers boasts beautiful beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, but it is more than a seaside resort. It is the site of a Civil War battle and was chosen by both Thomas Edison and Henry Ford as a location for winter estates. In late winter, Fort Myers welcomes baseball’s Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox, who hold spring training here.

Centrally located, state-of-the-art hotel featuring a roof-deck pool.
Meals and Lodgings
   Crowne Plaza
  Fort Myers 5 nights
 Crowne Plaza
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Crowne Plaza Fort Myers- The Place to Meet is the ideal hotel choice when visiting the Fort Myers area. The hotel is adjacent to the fabulous Bell Tower Shops anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue. The Bell Tower Shops also includes an abundance of boutiques, 12 restaurants and a 20-screen movie theater. The hotel is also near both the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins Spring Training fields, and Fort Myers Beach is just a short drive away.
  Contact info: 13051 Bell Tower Drive
Ft. Myers, FL 33907 USA
phone: 239-482-2900
  Room amenities: Each of Crown Plaza's newly renovated, spacious guest rooms is equipped for both business and pleasure. Well-lit work areas include data ports and voice mail. For extra comfort, Crown Plaza offers refrigerators, coffee makers with supplies, and other added amenities. All rooms have full-size ironing boards, make-up/shaving mirrors and hair dryers. Relax with a complimentary weekday newspaper or watch complimentary cable and movie channels on a 32-inch LG remote-controlled television. All local phone calls and credit card access are complimentary. Amenities Complimentary Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel Complimentary Morning Newspaper Delivered to Room 32-inch LG remote-controlled television with Cable / Satellite TV CD Player Stereo Refrigerators Coffee makers Irons/ironing boards Hair dryers Make-up/shaving mirrors Data ports Voice mail
  Facility amenities: Complimentary hotel-wide Wi-Fi Internet access 24-hour Fitness Center Outdoor pool
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Reduced rate upon availabilty Please contact Road Scholar Boston Programming Office for booking information at (617) 521-5373
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Reduced rate upon availabilty Please contact Road Scholar Boston Programming Office for booking information at (617) 521-5373
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
5:00 pm You will be staying at Crowne Plaza that night.
  End of Program:
11:00 am You will be staying at Crowne Plaza the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free On-Site Parking
To Start of Program
  Location:  Fort Myers
  From End of Program
  Location: Fort Myers
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

From Southwest Florida Airport to Crowne Plaza


From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
Crowne Plaza Shuttle
phone: 239-482-2900


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


20 minutes 


Upon arrival at the airport, call the hotel at (239) 482-2900 and request the hotel shuttle. Walk downstairs through baggage claim and meet the shuttle outside Door 5 or Door 6.


From Southwest Florida Airport


From Airport






Per Person/One Way:


Approximately $30
Prices are subject to change.


Taxi cabs can be found at Ground Transportation at the airport.

Driving Directions
  From I-75 Exit 131 (Daniels Parkway, South Florida International Airport) West on Daniels approximately 5 miles to Bell Tower Drive. Turn right to hotel (1/2 mile) to 13051 Bell Tower Drive.
  From US-41 US 41 to Big Pine Way. East 1 block to hotel.
  From the Southwest Florida Airport Turn right onto Treeline-Ben Hill Griffin Parkway, then left onto Daniels Parkway. Turn right onto Bell Tower Drive (before U.S. 41). The hotel is located on the right in the Bell Tower Shops.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Hospitality and Orientation
(Sunday, February 3)
 Afternoon: HOTEL CHECK-IN: Available from 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm. After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar desk in the lobby to pick up your arrival packet containing your name tag, the up-to-date schedule, and to confirm the time of the orientation session. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
 Dinner: Enjoy dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: ORIENTATION: We'll review the schedule and any changes; discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures; and answer any questions you may have. You'll also have an opportunity to meet the program staff and your fellow participants.
Accommodations: Crowne Plaza
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Edison & Ford Winter Estates
(Monday, February 4)
 Breakfast: At Hotel
 Morning: Presentation about Thomas Edison followed by a behind the scenes tour of his laboratory.
 Lunch: At the Edison Caretaker's House
 Afternoon: Lecture about Henry Ford, behind the scenes tour of homes & gardens and a presentation on the Edison & Ford Winter Estates: Past to Present including restoration
 Dinner: At local restaurant
Accommodations: Crowne Plaza
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Downtown Fort Myers
(Tuesday, February 5)
 Breakfast: At Hotel
 Morning: Stroll through historic downtown Fort Myers. Uncover the stories of the people that built the town and hear tales about Fort Myers. Learn about the rivalry that built at least six businesses and assorted establishments, and view historic buildings. Next visit the Southwest Florida Museum of History for a docent led tour.
 Lunch: Oasis Restaurant
 Afternoon: A unique afternoon spent at the Lee County ECHO Global Farm. Enjoy a fascinating 90-minute tour of the most creative working farm you have ever experienced. You will find demonstrations, plants, and techniques useful to farmers and urban gardeners in developing countries. Experience six settings of the Global Farm and taste leaves and berries while you explore rain-forest habitats, visit farm animals, stop at a simulated Haitian school, witness urban gardening techniques that allow gardens on rooftops and learn all about ECHO's mission of helping the poor help themselves. Continue the afternoon with exploration of the sights and sounds that are most interesting to you personally. Program staff will be happy to offer suggestions.
 Dinner: Dinner is on your own to try out the restaurants and cuisines of your choice.
Accommodations: Crowne Plaza
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Matlacha/Pine Island
(Wednesday, February 6)
 Breakfast: At Hotel
 Morning: Guided walking tour of the Calusa Heritage Trail at Randell Research Center. The Center features the archaeology of the Pineland, the site of a Calusa Indian village.
 Lunch: At Tarpon Lodge
 Afternoon: Take a narrated sightseeing boat tour on beautiful Pine Island Sound viewing six island locations of authenticated Calusa mounds and middens.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant
Accommodations: Crowne Plaza
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Sanibel Island
(Thursday, February 7)
 Breakfast: At Hotel
 Morning: Delight in the Ding Darling Refuge Tram Tour, where experienced naturalists can help you spot wildlife most visitors would never see. As the road meanders past tidal mudflats and mangrove forests, roseate spoonbills, white ibis, little blue herons, reddish egrets, brown pelicans, osprey, and other colorful birds can be seen feeding, resting, and preening. View many other species that make the migratory stopover of "Ding" Darling part of their annual flight corridor. And no trip on Wildlife Drive is complete without stopping by Alligator Curve, where you are almost certain to observe these prehistoric reptiles. It's not all about the wildlife, though. You'll also hear fascinating tales of the Calusa Indians and the early days of Sanibel and south Florida. Taking the Refuge Tram Tour also benefits wildlife. Reducing the number of cars along Wildlife Drive helps to protect the animals from polluting exhaust fumes and noisy automobile engines. Plus, by leaving the driving to us, you'll have your hands free to capture those amazing photos or to peer through binoculars and gaze at the wildlife. .
 Lunch: At local restaurant
 Afternoon: Visit the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum and enjoy a unique guided tour consisting of a slide presentation on the lifestyles of mollusks, and a hands-on display of Southwest Florida shells. Also highlighted are certain exhibits in the Great Hall of Shells, including live mollusks. Following the Bailey-Matthew's Shell Museum will be the Sanibel Village Tour. The story of Sanibel is told from the Calusa and Spanish eras to the early pioneer families who settled on the island in the 1800s. It tells of warriors, adventurers, fishermen, farmers and proprietors. Seven historic buildings were moved from their original island sites to the Historical Village. Each building has been restored to its original state. Volunteer docents share the stories of Sanibel with almost 10,000 visitors a year. Join us as we follow the footsteps of the past.
 Dinner: At Hotel
Accommodations: Crowne Plaza
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Program Conclusion
(Friday, February 8)
 Breakfast: At Hotel
 Morning: Presentation by Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) --- “Rescues and Releases: A History of CROW’s Patients” Learn from an insider about CROW’s efforts to save wildlife.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Fort Myers Art of the Olympians
Located directly on the waterfront in the historic River District, the Art of the Olympians Al Oerter Center for Excellence is a popular destination for art lovers, sports enthusiasts and people of all ages. Legendary four time consecutive Olympic gold medal in discus, Al Oerter envisioned a modern day arena that would be home to physical, educational and artistic excellence. Featuring the art of such celebrated Olympians as ice skating champion Peggy Fleming, javelin thrower Roald Bradstock, sprinter Florence Griffith-Joyner and more. Art of the Olympians is a memorable experience for visitors to Southwest Florida. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to visit the global headquarter of Art of the Olympians. For additional information, visit
  Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center
The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center offers a spectacular cultural experience in the historic River District of downtown Fort Myers with its wide array of dance, theater, music performances, film and art exhibitions, as well as guest lectures, workshops and educational arts programs. Please visit their website at for information on exhibits and performances. For additional information, visit
  The Butterfly Estates
The Butterfly Estates is an Eco-Attraction in the Downtown Fort Myers River District. Enjoy Caterpillars Ice Cream & Fudge Factory, Gift Shop, Cafe & glass butterfly conservatory. For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Remembering Fort Myers: The City of Palms

Author: Prudy Taylor Board

Description: Known for its palm-lined boulevards and famous residents, Fort Myers is arguably the quintessential Florida destination. And although many people know the city was a winter getaway for the likes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, few know the story of “Wild Bill” Belvin who lived a year in the wilds of North Fort Myers, but was immediately arrested upon his return to civilization. Nor do they know that when Lee Memorial Hospital first opened in 1916, its surgical patients were as concerned about the agility of their stretcher-bearers as they were about their surgeons’ skills. In Remembering Fort Myers: The City of Palms, author Prudy Taylor Board has compiled a collection of historical articles about the intriguing, but little known, people and events in the city’s history. Board traces the development of the city’s prestigious neighborhoods and parks, while introducing readers to some of the most captivating and eccentric characters.

The Edisons Of Fort Myers: Discoveries of the Heart

Author: Tom Smoot

Description: In 1885, Thomas Edison, age thirty-nine and already a world-famous inventor, met the two great loves of his life: Mina Miller and Fort Myers, Florida. Mina soon became his second wife, and Fort Myers - a remote, almost inaccessible, village on Florida's southwest coast - became their winter home. Other tomes tell the global account of Thomas Edison, the American icon named by Life magazine as the Man of the Millennium. This book offers a look at his life in his tropical retreat, his jungle, where for forty-six years he and his bride sought refuge from the cold winters and the demanding lifestyle of his New Jersey home, laboratory, and business complex. While in Fort Myers he watched over his extensive botanical gardens, fished from both his boat and his long dock, interacted with the locals, and labored for many hours in his laboratory. Henry Ford and his family lived next door and many dignitaries came to visit, including President-elect Hoover and Harvey Firestone. The Edisons became an essential part of the Fort Myers story. They made lifelong friendships with townsfolk and joined in local activities until the love affair of the Edisons was cut short by the death of Thomas in 1931. Mina continued to live out her love for Fort Myers and its people until her death in 1947. She gave their winter estate, Seminole Lodge, to the grateful citizens of Fort Myers.

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