The Edison and Ford Winter Estates is an amazing place to visit to see a piece of history. it’s much more than a history lesson in electricity and cars – not that that isn’t enough.

The grounds are divided by a road, with some of the gardens and buildings on each side. When we got to the estates we went into the shop to get our tickets, then headed across the road to see the houses and some of the gardens.  There are additional gardens on the side by the shop, as well as the museum, lab, and plant shop. The gentleman who sold us our tickets suggested we start across the street however, because if there is lightning they have to shut down that portion of the estates and the chances that day were high. Happily, that didn’t happen the day I was there.

A family of ducks in the pond.

The houses of Edison and Ford are next door to each other. You can look in the windows and doors to see the rooms set up as if someone still lived there. There’s lots and lots of history to be learned here, but the part I think was most fascinating was learning about their day-to-day life and friendship. The stories about their camping trips are epic.

The gardens around the houses are amazing and varied. My favorite is the moonlight garden, which is full of white and night-blooming flowers.  I would love to visit it at night! They also have one of the largest banyan trees in the continental United States in front of the shop.  A volunteer I spoke with said it is the second or third largest.  She knew which, but my other half and I remember different so I can’t be sure. They also have a lot of interesting tropical fruit trees and too many other areas to list here.

The moon garden

Not all of the gardens were created just to be enjoyed. Many of the plants were used in Edison’s experiments, and quite a few were experimented with to see if they would be a good choice to produce rubber. I hate to admit it, but until I read the information on some of the displays at the museum I thought all rubber came from rubber trees; I had no idea it could be produced from other plants. In my defense, the name.

If you are a huge fan of cars you will likely be most interested in Ford’s automobiles on display. I love looking at antique cars, but I was most excited to see Edison’s laboratory. You can’t walk all around and through the lab, but you can walk around two sides and view it. The lab is a lot bigger than I had expected. It makes sense when you learn that it was formed by Edison, Ford, and Harvey Firestone as the international headquarters for the corporation they formed to lessen America’s dependence on foreign rubber.  Talk about a powerhouse team!

Edison's lab
One of the original Ford cars

Be careful on your way out if you are a sucker for plants like I am. There is a huge selection of plants for sale.  I was just looking but accidentally purchased three plants to bring home. In my defense (again, seems I keep defending myself) they had starfish/carrion plants which I had been on the lookout for.  They have a really interesting assortment of plants, you are likely to find something you need even if you didn’t know you needed it a minute ago.

Here’s what you need to know to play tourist:

2350 McGregor Blvd.
Fort Myers, FL 33901

(239) 334-7419

The Edison and Ford Winter Estates