the collier-seminole state park is located about 15 miles south of naples on US 41. this interesting state park has both mangrove and salt marsh ecosystems. the park offers camping, nature trails, and canoe rental. near the entrance to the park are a couple of airboat ride operators. a very worth while side trip from naples for those interested in nature and wildlife.
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.
BE SURE TO SEE ALL THE PHOTOGRAPHS
Perhaps my favorite "Off the Beaten Bath" was our trip to Everglades National Park, Shark Valley We found out about this place from a woman that we golfed with one day. I had not heard about it at all. In Shark Valley, we bought tickets for the 2-hour tram ride.
By the way, since this is a National Park, you need to pay to get in or if you are a senior as we are, you are able to pay $10.00 one time in your life and then you are able to get into all the National Parks in the USA!!!
Our N.P.S. ranger guide was so funny...as she said, "I am a child of the 60's!"
It's an open tram for easy picture taking. This 15-mile Tour gives the guide an opportunity to interpret the park, its wildlife, vegetation and unique ecology. About midway through the tour, we stopped at Shark Valley Tower, a 50 foot observation tower from which the visitors may view the "vastness and grandeur of the everglades wilderness"
We saw so many alligators, numerous birds, fish, turtles, and other species in their natural habitat.
On tram trail that we followed, there were also walkers and bicycles. The tram tour operates 7 days a week, all year, weather permitting. You pay with cash, major credit cards, or Travelers Checks. Senior Citizen discounts are available. Ours was a Senior rate of $15.00 each.
We spent one day at Gulfstream Race Track on the East Coast of Florida. It took us about 1 1/2 hours to get there from Naples via I75. First, we went to Ft. Lauderdale to our friends, Joe's [Tim] and LaVerne's home because we were going to the track with them.
Joe drove the four of us to the track. The track/casino are under construction, but the track portion is completed and beautiful.
We had seat reservations for the Ten Palms where you watch the races indoors in front of huge glass windows that overlook the track. There is also a TV monitor for watching close up and for seeing the Tote Board.
We also ate the buffet at the Ten Palms [a separate tip].
1. Looking out our window to the track at Gulfstream.
2. The Gulfstream Casino.
3. Horses being escourted around the track.
4. Dee and Allan at the Ten Palm Restaurant.
Even though we did not go home winners [even though Allan won several bets], we had a good time, and I would suggest returning there.
The Naples Depot started to provide train service to and from Naples in 1927. Sadly, the last train to leave Naples was in 1971 when service was discontinued. I never heard it, but supposedly, a train whistle is blown at noon every day just as it did in the early days of Naples.
After service was stopped in the 1970's, a group of citizens [S.W. Heritage, Inc.] raised funds and purchased the depot and turned it into a cultural center. It on the National Retistry of Historic Places. Most recently , it became a part of the Collier County Museum where transportation-related historical exhibits are emphasized.
It is also A NATIONAL TRUST LANDMARK.
When we went there this January, it was closed; a young man opened the door and told us that it is closed for renovation at this time. We were so disappointed as were some other people there to see the museum and to learn more about the historic Naples Depot! We did get to see the trains outside and to visit the picnic area, etc.
1. The front view of the historic Naples Depot.
2. Information Plaque about the Depot.
3. Train outside the Depot
4. Another view of the Naples Depot.
5. Atlantic Coast Train Line.
When we return to Naples, we will be sure to visit the historic Naples Depot and, hopefully, we will be able to go inside to learn much more.
When I discovered that the smallest "working" post office in the United States was located in Collier County [Naples is also in Collier County], I knew that we had to find it and stop to see it. That opportunity came up on our way back from The Everglades.
It is, indeed, very small. It is located specifically in OCHOPEE, FLORIDA 34141. It was formerly an irrigation pipe shed on a tomato farm! In 1953, when a night fire burned down the combination general store/Post Office, this "shed" was put into use as the area's formal Post Office. It served both as a Post Office and a ticket station for Trailways Bus Line.
It has been in continuous use since 1953. It delivers to three different counties and also delivers to Seminole and Miccosukee Indians in this region.
It is pointed out that many tourist travel long distances in order to obtain a postmark from this famed little post office:
1. The Ochopee, Florida 34141 Post Office.
2. The metal sign for the United States Post Office in Ochopee, Florida.
3. The plaque explaining the history of the smallest United States Post Office.
I'm so pleased that I actually was able to see the post office, talk to the woman who works there, and take photographs to prove that I had experienced it.
the florida panther wildlife refuge is located at the intersection of I-75 (alligator alley) and CR29 about 20 miles east of naples. the refuge is located in the big cypress swamp section of the everglades. they have walking trails where you may sight the rare and endangered florida panther. the big cypress swamp is an everglades fresh water ecosystem. a worth while side trip from naples for those interested in nature and wildlife.
Go south on US41from Naples, then turn north on 29. Wander along the gravel roads which lead off on both sides, but have plenlty of gas and water. We saw more wild life like this than on any of the air boat rides. The biggest gattor we saw in 3 weeks was right alongside US41 about 60 miles south of Naples. Another great spot is the loop road, turn right off the 41 at Monrow Station, you then have about 25 miles of single track gravel road, but watch out for all sorts of critters.
You might find Santa Claus on vacation!
I got this picture of him on the beach ... but don't ask me which beach. He keeps changing to avoid the crowds and paparazzi you know. *smile*
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