Don't miss Gulf Shore and Vanderbilt beaches. The former is more quiet - in particular around the area called "The Clams" where few bathers are found. Access is safe (e.g. by bike). Generally showers are available at the entrance to the beach. White sands abound and shells can be found by the bucket load. The tide is not too strong and swimming can be practiced.
Difficult to Pack for One Month's Stay
Because of the new regulations that you pay for 1st bag checked, you need to be economical in what you take with you. We each had to check two bags because we had our golf clubs. On AMERICAN AIRLINES, we paid $15.00 for first bag, and $25.00 for 2nd bag [out golf clubs]; thus, it cost us $80.00 x 2= $160.00 for checked bags, and we were being quite conservative in our packing. We needed summer clothing in January because the temperatures ranged between 60-80's for the highs; yet, we needed a jacket and a sweater because it would be in the 40's some evenings. We also needed sport's shoes for our daily walks, scandals for the beach and pool, one nice outfit for the Philharmonic, and outfits for daily excursions. Plus we needed sun hats. We took rain gear, but did not need it. We took bandaids [which we needed], lots of sun screen, prescription drugs, vitamins, and an extra pair of prescription glasses. It's obvious that you need photo equipment if you are gone for a month in such a beautiful environment. I also took my battery charger for my camera. Took cell phone and cell phone charger. I took cards, stationery, and stamps
Edison & Ford Winter Estates
One of the best places to visit while in Naples, Florida is the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Ft Myers, Floriday You really need an entire day to do it justice. The tours includes homes, gardens, Laboratory, and Museum. There is also a Museum Store, Garden Shoppe, Cottage Shoppe, and an outdoor Banyan Cafe.
This is a VERY busy place so be sure to get there early; we had a difficult time finding a place to park.
The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is a :
a. Florida Historic Landmark
b. on the National Register Historic Places
c. Restore America site for its excellence in restoration by the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Save America's Treasures program [whew!]
The tour guide that we had was extraordinary with her enthusiasm and knowledge. She gave thorough information about Edison's Seminole Lodge Winter estate"[ Photo 1] and Ford's "Mangoes [Photo #3]. We did not go inside the homes, but plexiglass across the doors gives you a way to see and to take photographs. While we were there, the Mangoes was being renovated, including a new tin roof.
We learned about the Caloosahatchee River Walk. The river [See Photo #4] provided the region with the primary transportation for most of its history. [The train didn't come to Fort Myers until 1904] She told us that all of the materials for Edison's estate were brought by boat. Today you can see the Edison Pier. We also got a view of The Lily Pond landscape, his swimming pool [which was supplied with water from the artesian well on the east property], the Rock Fountain, and the famed large Banyon Tree. By the way, that Banyon Tree is an acre in diameter and his some 350 roots! It's the largest in Mainland USA. see Photo #5
We took a separate tour of Edison's Botanic Research Lab. He built it so that Edison could find a source of natural rubber from a plant that could grow in the United States!
Ford's "The Mangoes, Winter Retreat of Henry Ford and Family was built in 1911, originally for Robert Smith of New York. Ford purchased it in 1916 at the cost of $20,000. It's a Crafsman Bungalow; Ford added on 2 wings during the 1920's. The City of Fort Myers purchased it in 1988 for $1.2 million.
At the museum, we learned about Edison's 1,000 pattens and about Ford's cars. [see Photo #2 The Ford Model T]. We saw more cars in the historic Ford-Biggars Cottage and Garage. It was originally used as a Caretaker's Cottage and Garage for the Ford Estate. After Edison's death, Ford seldom visited Fort Myers and sold it to the Biggars family who enlarge the building and used it as a guesthouse. Today it's a Cottage Shoppe.
I was especially fond of the Moonlight Garde edison's wife [Mina] created the garden in 1928 for her husband. It has a pool and lovely flowers meant to reflect the moonlight.
We learned so much during our visit and highly recommend it.
Fine Dining By The Marina
At the east end of the Cove Inn was the Boat House, an excellent over-the-water restaurant, with fine dining & a spectacular view of Naples Bay. This spot would offer a lovely sunset dinner, but make sure to get reservations in advance.
You have your choice of open air dining on the upstairs deck, or airconditioned comfort in the dining room downstairs - both with equally lovely views.
Best Meal of our Month's Stay
The last night that we spent in Naples, Florida, we decided to "splurge" and so we went to Cedar Hammock Country Club to partake of their famous Seafood Buffett. No wonder it is so popular...their are not enough positive words to describe the experience.
First off, the atmosphere is excellent...the dining room is just beautiful; the people who work here are well trained and focus their efforts on service.
The displays of food are breathtakingly lovely. The is set up in four main areas:
1. The cold foods and salads
2. The seafoods such as shrimp, crab legs, and lobster tail [yes, lobster tail!]
3. The hot foods with beef, pork, chicken, vegetables and freshly made pasta
4. The dessert table
I'm usually not very interested in buffets because I am not a big enough eater to obtain my money's worth. Nevertheless, I was awed by this buffet. Photographs:
1. What most impressed me was having cold Lobster Tail for the taking. You could eat as much as you liked. That is unheard of in this day and age.
2. My second choice would be the freshly made pastas. Their were two chefs who were stationed in front of fresh items such as mushroom, onions, peppers,olives, cheeses, etc.; they had a small skillet over a gas fire; you selected what items you wished to be in your pasta sauce; then you selected the type of pasta you wanted [I chose the bow-tie pasta]; the chef would place olive oil in the skillet, then the onions, mushrooms, and olives; next, they took a handfull of my chosen pasta with a marinara sauce [which I chose]; finally, they cooked this all together, put it onto a heated plate and topped it off with the cheese of my choice [mozzarella]. It was just perfect.
3. The third photograph shows one of Allan's plates with the PRIME RIB on it. I do not like prime rib, but it is a favorite of Allan's. He said this particular Prime Rib was just fantastic.
4. Those of you who read my tips on restaurants already know that I love desserts. Cedar Hammock outdid themselves with the homemade desserts. The fourth photo shows only one of the choices. They had about 6 different cakes; three pies; three cobblers and various other choices. Another of my favorites was their PECAN PIE.
The final photograph is of my husband Allan smiling with delight toward the end of our meal...a smile speaks volumes!