Take a Tour of the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Sanibel Island

Want to know one of the main reasons why so many families flock to the shores of Sanibel Island for their getaways? There are tons of incredible Kid-Friendly Sanibel Island Activities to enjoy! Whether your family is interested in nature, history, food, or anything in between, this area has many things to get into. It’s never been easier to create incredible and lasting memories with the ones you love most.

If you’re traveling with your family and staying in one of our Sanibel Island Vacation Rentals. There’s one attraction you don’t want to miss out on the Edison and Ford Winter Estates. This expansive attraction has a little something for everyone.

It is perfect for an entire day of exploring with your family. Kids and adults alike are sure to be fascinated by all the incredible exhibits and attractions at this destination. Here’s everything you’ll need to know before you go!

Edison and Ford

First things first: who were Edison and Ford? These names refer to two famous families. Thomas Edison, along with his wife Mina, and Henry Ford, along with his wife Clara, would often spend their winters on the shores of Fort Myers. These incredible individuals brought a magnificent legacy that still lives on today, and their winter estates are the perfect place to learn more about them.

The well-known inventor, Thomas Edison, first made his way to Florida in 1885, seeking to escape the cold conditions he grew up in. He purchased 13 acres of land and would eventually craft an estate known as Seminole Lodge. Over the years, the Seminole estate would host other famous figures, including John Burroughs, Herbert Hoover, and Henry Ford.

Speaking of Henry Ford, the automobile magnate formed a friendship with Edison in the 1890s. The Ford family first came to stay with the Edisons in Fort Myers in 1914, and just two years later, they purchased the property right next door. Their estate, which would come to be known as The Mangoes, was known for its beautiful, lush landscaping and abundance of citrus.

Today, visitors can come and see where these two families retreated for their winters. Learn more about the fascinating figures that passed through these halls and get a taste of what life was like in Florida more than 100 years ago.

What You’ll See

Part of what makes the Edison and Ford Winter Estates one of the best kid-friendly Sanibel Island activities is the sheer abundance of things to see and do here. To start, you’ll get to make your way around the historic homes that cover more than 20 acres of land. This destination has been open to the public for more than 70 years and is one of the country’s most visited historic homes. As you walk throughout the properties, you’ll get to see where the families hosted guests, conducted their work, produced crops, housed their serving staff, and relaxed and enjoyed the warm conditions of Florida. Be sure to check out the Ford Caretaker’s Cottage, where you can check out the gift shop and enjoy locally made ice cream!

You also won’t want to miss the Edison Botanic Research Laboratory, which is the only site in the entire state of Florida to be designated as a National Historic Chemical Landmark. This laboratory was originally formed by Edison, Ford, and Harvey Firestone, who wanted to find a solution to America’s dependence on foreign rubber. The three men wound up testing over 7,000 plant samples to find a suitable replacement. Today, visitors can check out the office, grinding room, chemical processing area, and more.

Of course, there is also a fascinating museum on the grounds allowing you to get an up-close look at tons of exhibits and artifacts from the lives of Edison and Ford. The Edison Ford Museum covers 15,000 square feet and begins with an Orientation Gallery, where you’ll get an overview of these great minds and their best-known ventures. You’ll also get to see the Timeline of Innovation, learn about the trips the families would take through the great outdoors, and see a wealth of original artifacts from the families. 

Finally, take a stroll through the 20 acres of gardens to see the incredible nature that drew the Edisons and Fords to Florida in the first place. Many of the huge ficus trees you’ll see throughout the gardens were actually planted by Edison, Ford, and Firestone themselves! You’ll be exposed to more than 1,700 plants from over 400 species ranging across six continents. There’s something new in bloom in every season, so you’ll have a stunning view no matter when you come to visit! 

Directions to Edison and Ford

So, now that you know all the reasons why you should visit the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, how do you actually get there? It’s easy to reach this fun destination from any Sanibel Island rentals you may be staying in.

Getting from Sanibel Island to the Estates takes about an hour. To begin, make your way southeast on Sanibel Captiva Road. You’ll continue onto Palm Ridge Road, then turn left onto Periwinkle Way. After 2.5 miles, turn left onto Causeway Boulevard. After half a mile, you’ll continue onto Bridge C/Sanibel Causeway for 3.1 miles. Then, continue onto County Road 867 for 1.9 miles before using the left two lanes to turn left onto McGregor Boulevard.

You’ll then follow McGregor Boulevard for 2.7 miles. For the lengthiest part of your journey, use the left two lanes to turn left onto FL-867 North/McGregor Boulevard. You’ll stay on this road for 9.4 miles until you see the Edison and Ford Winter Estates appear on your right! 

Where to Stay

The Edison and Ford Winter Estates is one of the most breathtaking things to do near Sanibel, Florida. However, it’s definitely not the only activity you’ll want to get into! There are tons of other exciting Sanibel Island things to do. You can spend time dining on fresh local seafood, explore the shops of the town to get a one-of-a-kind souvenir or get your thrills with the exciting water sports on the Sanibel beaches. However, before you can start fantasizing about any of that, you’re going to need a place to stay!

Gopher is your ideal resource for Sanibel Island vacation rentals, no matter how many people you’re bringing with you or how long you want to stay in the area. We offer a wide range of rentals, big and small, all complete with tons of luxurious amenities. You’ll find features such as high-speed wireless internet, fully equipped kitchens, breathtaking views, and convenient parking. No matter which of our rentals you choose, you’ll have our dedicated staff at your service to ensure your vacation is one you’ll never forget! 

Plan Your Visit

If the shores of Sanibel Island or Captiva Island are calling your name, there’s never been a better time to escape your worries and retreat to the sands. Contact Gopher today to learn more and start planning your trip!