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Cypress Realty, Inc.,
7270-4 College Parkway
Fort Myers, FL 33907
Office: (239) 275-3321
Cell: (239) 851-3861
Fax: (239) 275-4912
smwrealtor@aol.com
1-800-741-3757


Relocation Guide

A GUIDE TO LIFE AND LEISURE IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA
FT MYERS, FLORIDA
Demography
Sports
Points of Interest
CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA
BONITA SPRINGS, FLORIDA
SURROUNDING CITIES:
Education & Schools
Establishing Residency
Health Care
Taxes
AREA ATTRACTIONS
The Arts
Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall
Edison Ford Winter Estates
Others Include:
LIFESTYLES
BEACHES
Sanibel Island
Captiva Island
Bonita Beaches at Bonita Springs
Other Attractions:
Animals to watch for:
GOLF:
Civic Organizations
Economic Climate

 



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A GUIDE TO LIFE AND LEISURE IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Lee County is one of the nation's most popular resort locales, and it is also one of the top growth areas of the United States. Not only is it a healthy and beautiful place to live, but the growing business climate provides unexpected employment opportunities. Let's look closer at Lee County and a few of its major attractions. The county is named for General Robert E. Lee, the famed Confederate Civil War general, and Fort Myers was the scene of the southernmost engagement of that war. Both sides claimed victory in this skirmish of February 20, 1865.

Lee County is comprised of 811 square miles and has 590 miles of pristine shoreline. With over 100 barrier islands dotting its coast, the state designated Lee as “The Lee Island Coast.” Today, over 600,000 people live in the county. Approximately 35% of the residents are located in Fort Myers and Cape Coral. Other growing residential areas include: Bonita Springs, Fort Myers Beach, Lehigh Acres, North Fort Myers, Pine Island, Matlacha, and Sanibel/Captiva Islands. Each community offers its own unique lifestyle. Further, you will find a brief overview of these areas.

The climate is ideal year-round. The average annual temperature is 73.9, with monthly lows ranging from 52.3 in January to 74.1 in August. Highs range from the mid 70s in January to the 90s in June, July and August. The average annual precipitation is 53.36 inches.

Relative humidity: 73%, Wind Speed: 8.2 mph, Freezing Days: 1, 90-Degree Days: 106, Snowfall: 0.0 inches, Rainfall: 54 inches, Dry days: 253

 Lee County is located midway between Tampa and Miami. Interstate I-75 makes automotive travel to and from the area ideal. The Southwest Florida International Airport is served by major airlines with daily flights and scheduled service to Canada and Europe.



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FT MYERS, FLORIDA

Fort Myers is the county seat and commercial center of Lee County, Florida, United States. Its population was 48,208 in the 2000 census. According to 2008 estimates, the population is 68,689.

The city is one of two major cities that make up the Cape Coral-Fort Myers Metropolitan Statistical Area, the other being Cape Coral. As of 2008, the population estimate for the metropolitan area was 623,725.

Established in 1886, Fort Myers is the historical and governmental hub of Lee County. It is the gateway to the Southwest Florida region, which is a major tourist destination in Florida. The winter homes of Thomas Edison (Seminole Lodge) and Henry Ford (The Mangoes), which are both primary tourist attractions in the region, are located on McGregor Boulevard in Fort Myers.

On August 13, 2004, Fort Myers was hit hard by Hurricane Charley, a Category 4 hurricane that made landfall north of the area. In 2005, Hurricane Wilma struck south of Naples, but caused extensive damage nonetheless in Fort Myers and its southern suburbs.

History

Incorporated in 1886, Fort Myers is the center of a popular tourist area in Southwest Florida and the seat of Lee County. It is located about 120 miles (190 km) south of Tampa at the meeting point of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caloosahatchee River. Fort Myers was the frequent winter home of Thomas Edison and is the current home of the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins spring training camps.

The first known resident of what is now Fort Myers was Manuel Gonzalez, a Spaniard from the province of Asturias, who came via Cuba in the 19th century.
Fort Myers, built in 1850 as a military fort to fend off Seminole Indians that were massacring the area's few settlers, was named after Col. Abraham C. Myers, who was stationed in Florida for seven years and was the son-in-law of the fort's founder and commander. In 1858, after years of elusive battle, Chief Billy Bowlegs and his warriors were persuaded to surrender and move west, and the fort was abandoned. Billy's Creek, which flows into the Caloosahatchee River and runs between The Beau Rivage Condominiums and Alta Mar, was named after a temporary camp where Billy Bowlegs and his men awaited ships to take them west.

The fort was abandoned until 1863 when a small number of Union troops re-occupied the fort during the Civil War. In 1865 the fort was attacked unsuccessfully by a very small group of Confederates. After the war, the fort was again deserted.

The first settlers arrived in 1866, but it wasn't until 1882 when the city experienced a significant influx of settlers. By 1885, when Fort Myers was incorporated, it was the second largest city only to Tampa on Florida's west coast south of Cedar Key even larger than Clearwater and Sarasota, also growing cities at the time.

Fort Myers first became a nationally known winter resort with the building of The Royal Palm Hotel in 1898. But what really sparked the city's growth was the construction of the Tamiami Trail Bridge built across the Caloosahatchee River in 1924. After the bridge's construction, the city experienced its first real estate boom and many subdivisions sprouted around the city.

Geography and Climate

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 40.4 mi. 31.8 mi of it is land and 8.6 mi of it (21.25%) is water.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration classifies Fort Myers as a subtropical climate. Climate in Fort Myers



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Demography

Fort Myers has experienced steady population growth.
Historical populations
Census       Pop.     %±
1890          575      —
1900          943     64.0%
1910       2,463    161.2%
1920       3,678      49.3%
1930       9,082    146.9%
1940     10,604      16.8%
1950     13,195      24.4%
1960     22,523      70.7%
1970     27,351      21.4%
1980     36,638      34.0%
1990     45,206      23.4%
2000     48,208        6.6%


Est. 2007 64,258 33.3%
Population 1890-2000.As of the census of 2007:
71,048 people, 19,338 households, and 10,799 families residing in the city

The racial makeup of the city was:
56.35% White, 33.39% African American, 0.38% Native American, 0.98% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 5.69% from other races, and 3.11% from two or more races.
Hispanic or Latino of any race were 14.49% of the population.

There were 19,107 households out of which:
28.9% had children under the age of 18, 32.3% were married couples living together,
18.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.8% were non-families.
33.8% made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.10.

In the city the population was:
26.3% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 30.4% from 25 to 44, 17.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.3% who were 65 years of age or older.
The median age was 32 years.

Education

SECONDARY SCHOOLS:
Secondary schools in the area include:
• Canterbury, a private school, was listed in Forbes's "Top 400 Schools to Get Your Kid into Harvard". Canterbury students have also won the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) Grand Award five times in the past 20 years.
• Dunbar High School's Science Olympiad teams won 15th place overall in the 2007 Florida State Science Olympiad, including a win in the remote sensing category.
• Fort Myers Senior High School, an International Baccalaureate school, is ranked as one of the best public schools in the nation by Newsweek magazine.
• Cypress Lake High School, which is notable for being one of the only high schools in the area that has a Center for the Arts. It specializes in media arts, music, dance, theatre, and visual arts.
• Bishop Verot High School, a private, Roman Catholic high school in Ft. Myers, operated by the Diocese of Venice, Florida.

Higher Education                                                      Number of Schools
Institutions of higher learning in the area include:            Public:
• Barry University                                                        Elementary 48
• Edison State College                                                  Middle 20
• Florida Gulf Coast University                                      High 13
• Hodges University                                                     Vocational 2
• Nova Southeastern University                                     Magnet 10
• Rasmussen College                                                    Other 6
• Southwest Florida College
• ITT Technical Institute



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Sports

Spring Training

Fort Myers is the current spring training home for the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins baseball clubs. The city holds the distinction of being the host of five different Major League Baseball franchises who've gone on to win the World Series following spring training in Fort Myers. The Philadelphia Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals compose the five along with the city's current two spring residents.

Minnesota Twins

Hammond Stadium is located in the Lee County Sports Complex in South Fort Myers. The stadium was built in 1991 and holds 7,500 people. It is the spring training home of the Minnesota Twins.
The Twins' won the World Series following their first spring training in Hammond Stadium. Their agreement with Lee County for use of the complex runs through 2011.

Red Sox

Former Boston Red Sox left fielder Mike Greenwell is from Fort Myers, and was instrumental in bringing his team to the city for spring training. City of Palms Park was built in 1992 for that purpose and holds 8,000 people.
Perhaps the most memorable game played at City of Palms was on March 7, 2004. This was the first game played between the Red Sox and New York Yankees since Aaron Boone hit the home run that eliminated the Red Sox from the play offs the previous October. Boone's replacement at third base, Alex Rodriguez was the high profile key acquisition of the off season for the Yankees, and he was savagely booed by the 7,304 in attendance.

New Spring Facility
On October 28, 2008, the Lee County commission voted 3-1 to approve an agreement with the Boston Red Sox to build a new spring-training facility for the team in south Lee County. Commissioner Brian Bigelow was the lone dissenting vote. Commissioner Bob Janes was not present for the vote, but stated that he supported it.
Red Sox chief operating officer Mike Dee was present in the chambers for the vote. He will take the agreement back to Boston to meet with team owner John Henry and other team officials. Dee expects to have an answer in a week or so from his bosses on if they want to go ahead with the plan.
The new stadium will be south of Hammond Stadium. Speculation is that the stadium would be in the general neighborhood of Florida Gulf Coast University, however, neither the county or Dee want to be more specific until proposals come in from developers.



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Points of Interest

• Edison and Ford Winter Estates


• Fort Myers hosts the Florida Everblades ECHL hockey team at Germain Arena, and Florida Firecats af2 arena football.


• For the golfing enthusiast, the Fort Myers Area (Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Estero, Lehigh Acres and Sanibel Island) is home to over 50 of Southwest Florida's renowned 130 public and private golf courses. Florida's great weather combined with the scenic and challenging nature of these courses makes the area an excellent stop for the vacationing golfer.


• The Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium is a private, not-for-profit, environmental education organization. Set on a 105-acre site, it has a museum, three nature trails, a planetarium, butterfly and bird aviaries, a gift shop and meeting and picnic areas.

Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) campus is 10 miles to the south of downtown.

• Historic Downtown, Riverwalk entertainment district.



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CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA

Cape Coral is a city in Lee County, Florida, United States. With over 400 miles (640 km) of navigable waterways, Cape Coral has more miles of canals than any other city on earth. According to estimates as of 2009, the city had a population of 167,917, making it the largest city in Southwest Florida. The population estimate for the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metropolitan area was more than 623,725 as of April 2008.

Geography
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 115.10 square miles, making it the second largest city in Florida in terms of area. 105.19 square miles of it is land and 9.91 square miles of it (8.61%) is water.

Cape Coral is bordered on the south and east by the Caloosahatchee River and on the west by Matlacha Pass. The city of Fort Myers lies across the Caloosahatchee River to the south and east, and Matlacha and Pine Island lie across Matlacha Pass to the west.

Canals
Cape Coral Florida has over 400 miles of canals, more than any other city in the world. Cape Coral's canal system is so extensive that local ecology and tides have been affected.

Bridges
Cape Coral is connected to Fort Myers by two bridges. The Cape Coral Bridge connects Cape Coral Parkway to College Parkway in Fort Myers. The Midpoint Memorial Bridge connects Veterans Parkway to Colonial Boulevard. Hancock Bridge Parkway, after intersecting Santa Barbara Boulevard, sweeps north to its approximate terminus on Pine Island Road, with the east end of Hancock Bridge Parkway terminating at U.S. Highway 41.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000:
102,286 people, 40,768 households, and 30,209 families

The racial makeup was:
93.01% White, 2.00% African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.92% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 2.20% from other races, and 1.56% from two or more races.
Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.33% of the population.

There were 40,768 households out of which:
29.5% had children under the age of 18, 61.2% were married couples, 9.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.9% were non-families.
19.7% of individuals and 9.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older.
The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 2.85.

In the city the population was:
22.6% under the age of 18, 5.8% from 18 to 24, 26.8% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 19.6% who were 65 years of age or older.
The median age was 42 years.

The median income for a household in the city was $43,410, and the median income for a family was $47,503.
The per capita income for the city was $21,021. About 5.3% of families and 7.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.2% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over.

History

Over the course of a few years, beginning in 1958, canals were dug, homes and businesses built, and a city was born. Celebrities were brought in to tout the benefits of "the Cape," as it is known by the locals. The first building was a four-plex at the corner of Coronado and Cape Coral Parkway. This building was the Rosen's company headquarters and the temporary home of Cape Coral's first permanent resident, Kenny Schwartz, the Rosens' new general manager. Cape Coral's first four homes were completed in May 1958 on Riverside and Flamingo drives.

Through the rest of the 1950s and early 1960s, development moved quickly, mostly on Redfish Point, south of Cape Coral Parkway. By 1963, the population was 2,850; 1,300 buildings had been finished or were under construction; 80 miles of road had been built, and 160 miles of canals had been dug. The yacht club, a golf course, medical clinic, and shopping center were up and running. A major addition for Cape Coral was the construction of the Cape Coral Bridge, which opened in early 1964. Before the bridge, a trip to Fort Myers was more than 20 miles, following the long haul up Del Prado, then over to the Edison Bridge to cross the river.

Since its inception Cape Coral had been known as a "sleepy" community with its large retirement population. This all changed with the population boom of the 1990s that brought with it young working class families. There is still a larger than normal retirement population. While the majority of the community still has to cross the river to Fort Myers for work and entertainment, this has improved in recent years with new stores, restaurants and nightclubs opening up. Today, Cape Coral offers a lively strip of restaurants and stores along Cape Coral Parkway, Del Prado Blvd. and Pine Island Road.

The Real Estate Bubble

Southwest Florida was hit hard by the declining real estate market. After years of double digit property value increases beginning late 2006 the market started to slow to a crawl. As of April 23, 2009 the area is listed number 1 out of 25 for the highest Foreclosure Cities in the US according to RealtyTrac. This has also caused the closing of many businesses which in turn has lead to an unemployment rate of over 13.2% as of July 2009



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BONITA SPRINGS, FLORIDA

Bonita Springs is a city in Lee County, Florida, United States. The population was 32,797 at the 2000 census. According to the July 1, 2007 U.S Census estimates, the city had a population of 42,268.[3] It is part of the Cape Coral–Fort Myers Metropolitan Statistical Area

Geography and Climate

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 41.0 mi. 35.3 mi of it is land and 5.7 mi of it (13.95%) is water.
The city is located on both Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The area referred to as Bonita Beach is located on a road-accessible barrier island (Little Hickory Island) that lies between the Gulf of Mexico and Estero Bay. The Imperial River flows through the downtown district of the city and empties into Estero Bay.
The city is the northernmost city on the west coast of Florida that has a tropical climate, having a mean January temperature of 65 °F (18 °C).(Fort Myers Beach directly to the north has a January mean of 64 °F (18 °C) which gives it a subtropical climate).

Demographics

As of the census of 2000,
32,797 people, 14,807 households, and 10,276 families.

The racial makeup of the city was:
89.51% White, 0.36% African American, 0.26% Native American, 0.38% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 7.87% from other races, and 1.54% from two or more races.
Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.12% of the population.

There were 14,807 households out of which:
14.4% had children under the age of 18, 61.4% were married couples,  
4.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.6% were non-families
24.2% of individuals and 12.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older.
The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.54.

In the city the population was:
13.9% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 19.8% from 25 to 44, 28.8% from 45 to 64, and 31.7% who were 65 years of age or older.
The median age was 54 years.

The median income for a household in the city was $46,603, and the median income for a family was $53,436
The per capita income for the city was $37,958. About 3.5% of families and 6.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.9% of those under age 18 and 3.1% of those age 65 or over.



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SURROUNDING CITIES:

North Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Pine Island, Matlacha, Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel/Captiva Islands.



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Education & Schools

School Registration

Kindergarten-bound children are eligible to enter school if they are the age of five, on or before, September 1 of the current school year. Children aged six by September 1 may attend first grade – graduation from kindergarten is required for admission to first grade.

Florida law requires all children entering school to be immunized for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, poliomyelitis, rubella and mumps. A certificate of immunization is required from either the county health department or a doctor’s office. Forms may be obtained from the health department, school or school board office.

Your child will also need a current school entry physical examination by your child’s physician. This exam must be performed no more than twelve months prior to enrollment. And, you will need to become a resident of Florida prior to enrollment. Exemptions are: migratory agricultural laborers, military and some federal government personnel. Visit www.lee.k12.fl.us  for more information.



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Establishing Residency

One of the most important steps for newcomers is to establish residency. There are several ways to accomplish this. One of the easiest ways is to register to vote. The process is very simple! Just stop by the Lee County Elections Office (http://www.leeelections.com), provide them with identification, take an oath swearing that you are a resident, and within a few days you will be mailed a voter registration card. Or you may obtain a Florida automobile registration and driver’s license.

You may also legally establish residency by filing a notarized Declaration of Domicile at the Clerk of Courts Office stating that you live at a given address.

Regardless of the method you choose, there is no specific length of time you must reside in the state to become a Florida resident.



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Health Care

Health care facilities are excellent, with Cape Coral Hospital, Columbia East Pointe Hospital, Columbia Gulf Coast Hospital, Lee Memorial Hospital, Lee Memorial Health Park, and Columbia Regional Medical Center Southwest Florida as the mainstays. The area provides numerous other health care services for the aged, as well as senior citizen programs. Fort Myers also offers a Ronald McDonald House. Visit http://www.leememorial.org/ for more information.



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Taxes

You will be interested to know that there is NO STATE INCOME OR STATE ESTATE TAX. There is a 6% state sales tax on purchases, except for food, medicines and some professional services. Florida has an intangible tax on securities. If your securities are valued at less than $20,000 (or $40,000 for a couple filing jointly,) you do not have to pay the intangible tax. It is computed at one mill ($1 per $1,000 of valuation) up to $100,000 and an additional 2 mills ($2 per $1,000 of valuation) over $100,000.

Homestead Exemption

As a Florida resident, you are eligible to declare the first $50,000 of assessed value on your new home as exempt for tax purposes, thereby reducing the cost of your ad valorem tax bill.

Your home qualifies for exemption if bought before January 1 and made your permanent residence before January 1. Other exemptions may apply. Homestead exemption must be filed by the March 1st deadline.

In order to apply for homestead exemption, you need to apply in person or on-line http://www.leepa.org, at the County Appraiser’s Office with proof of Florida residency (voter registration or Declaration of Domicile, Social Security Number, copy of deed or tax bill, a valid Florida driver’s license and a Florida registration and title on any motor vehicles owned).

http://www.leepa.org



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AREA ATTRACTIONS

The Arcade Theatre/Florida Repertory Theatre

A renovated 393-seat Victorian playhouse built in 1908 in downtown Fort Myers, combines "early Florida" charm with 21st century technology. Audiences are treated to live theater, dance and music of every variety. Lee County's professional Florida Repertory Theatre produces award-winning dramas and comedies year-round, even winning first regional rights for New York hit plays. The Arcade Theatre also serves as a stellar setting for the Florida Rep's new playwright series, as well as for local groups who stage their own productions.

Anyone who's ever been to a performance at the Rep has commented on our wonderful building. The Arcade Theater, as it's called, was built in 1908 and proudly displays all the charm and splendor of early Florida. Originally used as a Vaudeville house, this was the very auditorium where Fort Myers resident Thomas Edison saw his first films, along with his friends Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone.
As movies became more popular, The Arcade was converted into a dedicated movie house and a wall was put up to divide the great proscenium stage in half in order to create two screening rooms. By 1989, the once grand theatre had fallen into severe disrepair, and appeared on the brink of its final curtain call.
Realizing the historical and aesthetic value of this building, the City of Fort Myers and famed ballet and film star Mikhail Baryshnikov organized a benefit in 1991. With the money raised, the Arcade was completely restored and the City of Fort Myers was able to rent it out to local organizations — one of which happened to be the Florida Rep. Thanks to the generosity and vision of the City, the Arcade became the permanent home of the Florida Repertory Theatre in 1998.



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The Arts

Lee County is a cultural community. The Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Center on the Edison Community college campus is a proscenium theater with seating for almost 1,800 and features infrared sound for the hearing impaired.

The Lee County Arts Center is a ten-acre site in central Fort Myers and is the home of the Lee County Alliance of the Arts. This is a nucleus of year-round cultural activity.

The downtown Fort Myers Exhibition Hall, Tourist Center and the Harborside Convention Hall promote a variety of events. Other professional concerts and performances are presented during the season through the Fort Myers Community Concert Association, Southwest Symphony Orchestra, Temple Beth-El Cultural Series and the Gulf Coast Opera Company. Also, there are a number of theater groups and fine arts galleries in the Fort Myers area.



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Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall

 In 1984, the Florida Legislature appropriated $6 million for a joint effort of Edison Community College and the University of South Florida to build a performing arts hall on the adjoining campuses. In recognition of the efforts of Sen. Franklin B. Mann, the legislature passed legislation naming the hall for Barbara B. Mann, longtime supporter of the arts in Southwest Florida and the mother of Sen. Mann. While the funding to build the facility was appropriated jointly to the two colleges, USF elected not to take an active role in the operation of the performing arts hall, leaving that responsibility and liability to Edison Community College. The 1,776-seat Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall opened to great fanfare in 1986.

Edison ran the performing arts hall as a department of the Humanities Division until 1991. At that time, the District Board of Trustees contracted out the management of the hall to Professional Facilities Management (PFM). Under the professional guidance of PFM, the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall has flourished, offering a wide array of touring Broadway shows, classical and popular programming and providing a venue for College and community events. The Mann Hall attracts more than 320,000 patrons annually.
The Foundation for the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall
In 1990, as the college was deliberating the best course for the operation of the Performing Arts Hall, a group of community leaders stepped forward to coordinate fundraising efforts on behalf of the Hall. As this movement became more organized and coalesced into a unit, the Edison Community College District Board of Trustees adopted this group as a direct-support organization of the college, specifically for the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. The group organized as a 501(c) (3) organization and began to build the endowment that was already designated for the Hall. Under the direction of Mary Lee Mann, who served as President of the Board, the Hall Foundation raised significant funds for direct support of the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. In 1995, the Foundation for the Performing Arts Hall merged with the Edison Community College Endowment Corporation to form the Edison Community College Foundation, Inc., thereby centralizing the development efforts of the college under one umbrella group.

Thanks in part to the efforts of the Foundation for the Performing Arts Hall and the ECC Foundation, Edison has made significant improvements to the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. The addition of the George E. Judd Pavilion, the J. Howard Wood Foyers, and the Franklin B. Mann Sponsors’ Lounge, greatly expanded the lobby of the Hall, facilitating not only the comfort of patrons at intermission, but also adding a wonderful new venue for private receptions, college and civic events. Subsequent renovations added a covered porte cochere, enhanced access for disabled patrons, students and performers, and upgraded sound, lighting and technical equipment. In 2001, Florida Monthly Magazine recognized the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall as the state’s “Best Performing Arts Hall.”



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Edison Ford Winter Estates

The winter home of Thomas A. Edison, beautifully situated along the
Caloosahatchee River, is one of the greatest historic treasures within Lee County. In 1885, Thomas Edison first visited Florida. He purchased property along the Caloosahatchee River and built a vacation home. The vernacular structure, completed in 1886 and dubbed "Seminole lodge" by the Edison’s, served as a winter retreat and work place for the prolific inventor until his death in 1931.
Edison’s good friend Henry Ford followed close behind and purchased the neighboring property in 1915. "The Mangoes" was the winter getaway for the Fords. Edison and Ford spent many winters working, talking and even relaxing together in tropical southwest Florida.
When you visit "Seminole Lodge" and "The Mangoes" you enter a world unlike any you have ever seen. The furnishings and architecture of these gracious, rambling buildings are reminiscent of a bygone era. The inventive genius of Edison and Ford are evident throughout these 17-acres of riverfront estates.



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Others Include:

Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre

Everglades Day Safari (239) 472-1559 http://www.ecosafari.com/


Fort Myers Historical Museum (239) 332-5955          http://www.swflmuseumofhistory.com/


Fort Myers Skatium (239) 461-3145 http://www.yourpagemaker.com/fmskatium/


Mike Greenwell's Family Fun Park (239) 574-4386


The Schoolhouse Theater (239) 472-6862 http://www.theschoolhousetheater.com/

Bailey Matthews Shell Museum (239) 395-2233 http://www.shellmuseum.org/

Babcock Wilderness Adventures (800) 500-5583 http://www.babcockwilderness.com/

The Shell Factory (239) 995-2141 http://www.shellfactory.com/

The Dinner Train Theater/Seminole Gulf Railway (239) 275-8487 http://www.semgulf.com/



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LIFESTYLES

Lee County Parks & Recreation –
The Natural Place to Play

http://leeparks.org/
Mission: To provide safe, clean and functional Parks & Recreation facilities. To provide programs and services that add to the quality of life for all Lee County residents and visitors. To enhance tourism through special events and attractions. We are committed to fulfilling this mission through visionary leadership, individual dedication and the trustworthy use of available resources.

WELCOME TO THE BLUEWAY

www.CalusaBlueway.com 

The Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail is a 190-mile marked canoe and kayak trail that meanders through Lee County, Florida’s, coastal waters and inland tributaries.



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BEACHES

Fort Myers Beach

Turn the hourglass and watch the sands of time trickle back to the past of Fort Myers Beach. Return to the time when pirates buried treasure, Spaniards built forts, Indians hunted on the Beach, homesteaders staked their claims, shrimpers netted pink gold, a hurricane severed a land connection and mosquito hordes clouded the air.

The last homesteader staked his claim in Estero Island in 1914. Leroy Lemoreaux cleared his land and survived by growing vegetables and fishing.

Lemoreaux remembered bears stalking the island and panthers howling in the night. In the 1890's, the only weapon they had against the hordes of mosquitoes was smoke. Those were the days before bridge linked the island to the mainland of Fort Myers area. A wooden swing toll bridge was the first bridge built in 1921. The toll was 50 cents for five people. The 1926 hurricane washed it away and severed the slim neck of land attaching San Carlos to the mainland making it and island. Today, it's still called Hurricane Pass. In the 1870's, pirates plied their trade along the shores. That's how Black Island, south of Estero, got its name. After a defeat by the U.S. Navy, Black Augustus took his loot and settled on the island. The family of John Butterfield squatted on Mound Key in Estero Bay during that time and provisioned the aging pirate with sugar, coffee, grits and other luxuries in exchange for vegetables. When the pirate died, he showed the family where to dig up his booty. Perhaps more treasure is hidden along the shores. Rumors persist that pirates used to sink long boats laden with treasure to later recover.
And Pirates weren't the only sailors frequenting the island's waters. Juan Ponce de Leon may have sailed waters around Estero Island about 1513. Hernando de Soto may have also dropped anchor in front of Estero Island in 1539. Relics of skulls and other artifacts found on Mound Key suggest that Spanish conquistadors may have passed through the Beach and perhaps built a fort on the hill on Mound Key. But the aura of mystery surrounding Mound Key belongs to the first settlers, the Caloosa Indians. The Caloosa's origins remain obscure but some scholars such as Rolfe F. Schell in his book, History of Fort Myers Beach suggest that Caloosas may have traveled by rafts from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Caloosa artifacts displayed in a Fort Walton museum would be claimed as early Mayan if displayed in Mexico, Schell wrote.

There's little doubt of what caused their demise. Diseases such as measles brought by European explorers probably caused many of the Indian's deaths. The Caloosa Indians kitchen middens, containing shards and edible shellfish remains, were found at the end of Connecticut Avenue on Estero Island. Since these early people cannot speak for themselves, their artifacts tell tales of their lives. Reverse the hourglass and return to our times. Today, the Beach's tourist industry flourishes. Thousands of people come to dine on "pink gold" shrimp and celebrate the industry and the blessing of the fleet with a week long Shrimp Festival, usually held in March.



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Sanibel Island

Have you ever. . .dreamed of being on a tropical island, your toes in the soft white sand, an expansive beach, swaying coconut palms, lush tropical foliage and beautiful crystal blue water. Imagine watching the pelicans and herons fish for their dinner, collecting "treasures from the sea," pastel colored seashells, while the sandpipers scurry along the surfs edge.
Sanibel Island has everything one could wish for...excellent restaurants, accommodations, golfing, tennis, fishing, boating, shopping, bike paths, canoes, theatrical productions, the renowned J.N. "Ding Darling" National Wildlife Refuge & Bird Sanctuary. Since 1884 Point Ybel Lighthouse has guided seafarers to Sanibel Island's shores.


Sanibel Island is world renowned for its shelling beaches and the "Sanibel Stoop". In the travel industry Sanibel Island is a top Florida destination for visitors. If you want a truly unforgettable family vacation, holiday, wedding, honeymoon, anniversary or get-away, this is the place to be. Visit Sanibel Island and do it all… or just lay back on the beach with the book you've been wanting to read or… just do absolutely nothing. All this is just a short ride from SW Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, Florida.



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Captiva Island

Are You . . .

  • Planning a vacation or get-away...
  • Longing for tropical attitude...
  • Seeking the perfect family resort...
  • Just wishing to "get a way" from it all.

Then... You will be captivated by beautiful, alluring Captiva Island, where once, it is said, pirates roamed, conquistadors explored and Calusa indians called home. The mystery and adventure is still here. Treasures to be found in the way of a good life, spectacular white sand beaches scattered with "treasures from the sea", pastel colored seashells and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. There are superb accommodations, restaurants & shopping. Golfing, tennis, fishing, boating, children's activities.

Captiva Island, sister to larger Sanibel Island, is just over a small bridge which crosses at Turner Beach. Turner Beach is a great place for catching that prize fish and also for finding the colorful shells that these islands are famous for. The beach stretches 5 miles to the northern tip of Captiva Island at Redfish Pass. From the bridge at Turner beach, Captiva Drive is a scenic drive past giant cactus, colorful bougainvilleas and other tropical flora along a stretch of sea and sand ending at "downtown" Captiva, which is more of a village than a town.

A truly fun vacation, holiday, memorable wedding, honeymoon or just a get-a-way awaits young and old alike on Captiva Island.



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Bonita Beaches at Bonita Springs

Bonita Springs has some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Florida and it's no wonder, since the word "bonita" in Spanish translates to mean just that. The beaches that line the coastline bring people in from all over the world for the sun and the miles of soft, white sand. Beachgoers have the opportunity to experience great shelling, swimming, kayaking, windsurfing and the occasional dolphin and sea turtle nesting sightings. Perhaps nothing defines Bonita Springs like the beaches and the clear water that are just steps away from the sand.

Barefoot Beach

Barefoot Beach is actually on the same land mass - Little Hickory Island - as Bonita Beach. The south end of the island is home to a preserve. County rangers offer a long list of activities and educational programs, ranging from guided canoe trips to presentations on protected species like sea turtles and wading birds.

Bonita Beach Park

One of the best places in Southwest Florida to catch the sunset. The same shell bits that make barefoot strollers wish they had flip flops almost glow at sunset, mimicking the pastel pink and salmon hues cast upon the Gulf of Mexico nearly every evening. Doc's Beach House is a popular eatery. The county-run park at the south end of the beach offers showers, picnic areas and grills.


These join up with Fort Myers Beach along Estero Blvd



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Other Attractions:

J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island is a tract of 4,900 acres, and the Sanibel/Captiva Conservation Foundation offers wetlands and nature trails. Matanzas Pass Wilderness Preserve, overlooking Estero Bay, has more than 40 acres of unspoiled live-oak hammocks and mangroves to explore by an elevated boardwalk.

Southwest Florida is home to a variety of animals. Some are protected species, some should be avoided and others are fun to watch:



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Animals to watch for:

Alligator:

These large reptiles can grow up to 20 feet long. They are afraid of humans and feeding them is illegal. It causes them to lose their fear of people. That’s when they become bold and sometimes attack.



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Bald Eagle:

The national symbol of the United States. Florida is home to one of the largest breeding populations in the lower 48 states. Some eagles live here year-round, while others migrate.



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Dolphin:

Bottlenose dolphins are common and can grow up to 12 feet. Any inland sound, bay, or the Gulf are good places to look for dolphins. Sometimes they will follow boats and play in wakes.



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Loggerhead Turtle:

One of six sea turtle species found in coastal waters. While the loggerhead population is stable it is still on the threatened species list – and thus protected under state and federal law.



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Manatee:

These blubbery aquatic mammals, also known as sea cow, are among Florida’s favorite creatures. Yet the harmless vegetarians are among the state’s most endangered species.



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Osprey:

These fish hawks are 20-25 inches tall. Watch for their nests atop pilings, signs and houses near the coasts, inland lakes or the river.



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Panther:

They are Florida’s state mammal and fewer than 50 remain. These cats are a subspecies of the mountain lion and are one the world’s most endangered species.



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GOLF:

Lee County boasts over 130 area Golf Courses, some in communities, some Private and some Public. Enjoy year-round enjoyment due to our great weather. Many of the courses have been designed by the Top Pro’s in the country! Some with lots of water, rolling hills and many with wild life abounding in and around the course. Then there are the more subdued courses for fun! Professional tennis and golf tournaments take place on a regular basis. The web site to visit to see all the details is: http://www.golfable.com



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Civic Organizations

There are over 239 places of worship covering all denominations. They offer many activities and help groups.

The county offers just about every type of fraternal and civic organization. They are far too numerous to mention, but there are over 210, including all of the most well known.



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Economic Climate

Tourism is still the principal business in Lee County. With 50 miles of glistening white sand beaches, numerous golf courses and a wide selection of other attractions to suit every taste, you need only to add the year-round sunshine to understand why Lee County has become one of the nation's most popular tourist areas; and one of the fastest growing population centers of the United States.

Many professionals have made this area their home. We hope you would also love to make our wonderful area your home too.

Information contained herein is believed to be correct and accurate; however, it is subject to change and is not warranted.



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