While in Florida, you may be trying to think of the best places you can visit. Well, Edison Ford Winter Estates is one of the most fun and educational places you can visit. It's one of Southwest Florida hidden gems! Let's check it out!
Visiting the Edison Ford Winter Estates – Everything You Need To Know
Want to see the video from our visit? Scroll down to the bottom of this post and get a peak inside each room!
In his later years, Thomas Edison visited Fort Myers Florida and bought 13 acres along the Caloosahatchee River for only $2,750 in 1885. This is what is now the Winter Ford Estate.
Henry Ford and his family came to Fort Myers in 1914 to visit Thomas Edison. They fell in love with the area and 2 years later bought the property right next door to Edison's and built their house.
What is there to see at the Edison Ford Winter Estate?
You may be wondering why the Edison Ford estate is so big. There are over 20 acres of stuff to see. From beautiful botanical gardens to historical buildings, you can see it all. Not to mention, you can even visit Edison’s Botanic Research Laboratory and the Edison Ford Museum.
This property is known for its banyan tree and water views. The property is split into two sides of the main road. The side where you park has the famous Banyan tree that covers over an acre of land, the visitor center, some of the gardens, the lab, and the museum.
We started at the Laboratory.
Edison Botanic Research Laboratory
As if Thomas Edison didn’t have enough on his plate, he collaborated with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. They were looking for a way to produce rubber that could actually be grown and produced quickly in case of a shortage from the foreign supply.
This room is left just how he left it upon his death. The Edison Botanic Research Laboratory was built in 1928 and he tested over 17,000 plant samples until he found one he could make rubber with, goldenrod. The laboratory remained active for 5 years before the research was transferred to the Government.
His darkroom is set up here too. This is where he would record his findings. His photos were very technical with the plants and results. He kept very detailed records.
His office is set up as well. This is where he stored all the plant samples, his files. This is where they drafted garden plans, answered correspondence, held interviews etc.
This is a lab worth checking out because so much good stuff has come out of it. It’s even been named as a National Historic Chemical Landmark.
Edison Ford Museum
The great pair of human beings known as Thomas Edison and Henry Ford changed the world in a great way. This Edison Ford Museum sets on 15,000 square feet of endless knowledge and history. They had added on to it with new videos and exhibits in the last year.
The beginning of the museum has 2 cars personal to Edison and Ford.
There is a timeline of the property, the history of the men and their families.
Many artifacts and inventions from Thomas Edison.
At this museum, there are special features like Smithsonian Spark Lab and the Timeline of Invention. I love that they have many hands-on activities for the kids! They were able to make a working doorbell and do some leaf rubbings.
Edison Ford Winter Estates Garden Shop
They have a garden shop on the visitor side of the property. Edison brought is so many plants from every continent except Antartica and many of those plants are now sold here. There is a statue of Edison wife in this garden.
This is also where you walk over to the road crossing to visit the homes and the gardens.
Once you cross the street you pick up your audio guide and start your tour in the gardens.
The first audio stop which is the water fountain.
This is where you can see the old pier and can walk right to the waterfront straight ahead.
To the right is the gardens. If you’ve never laid eyes on the Edison Gardens before, you’re in for a treat. These gardens are some of the most beautiful gardens you’ll ever see.
The gardens here are home to over 1700 plants. You will find tropical fruit trees, heritage plants, bamboo trees, much more.
Seriously, if you want to see a bunch of amazing plants all in one spot, then the Edison Gardens are worthy of checking out.
Edison's pool area is also over here and it has a great view of the river.
Also on this side of the property is the caretaker's house and this is traditional Florida “cracker” style. Edison's Study is here too. This was where his original laboratory stood when the house was built.
The 4th path takes you to Edison's house.
Thomas Edison's Seminole Lodge
Thomas A. Edison’s winter home is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The house is two identical post and beam homes built and connected by a breezeway.
This is also where the famous palm tree row walkway is. It makes for some great photos!
The side of the house closest to you when you enter the property is called the Main House. This is where Edison's master bedroom is and his bathroom with an interesting item for its time, an electric sit in sauna.
Across the porch from the master bedroom is the library that holds over 10,000 of Edison's books.
Attached to the library is a sitting room with huge windows and doors that bring the outside in. Above this part of the house are family bedrooms which are not open to the house.
The porch here is covered in original wicker furniture that they brought in from Maine.
From there you can cross under the pergola breezeway that attaches the main house to the guest house.
The Guest House section has sitting toom with the piano that was Edison Wife's and she loved to play for guests.
Next to the music room is the formal dining room. The rooms above are the guest rooms and also are not open to the public. The side of the dining room is attached to the kitchen via breezeway and covered porch.
The kitchen had a work area, a cooking area, and even an icebox.
From the back of Thomas Edison's home, you have beautiful views of the river and many of the amazing plants he planted.
From there you go through the gate over to Henry Fords home.
Henry Fords The Mangoes
As you enter the property you are greeted with a small garden and a statue of Henry Ford.
Then to your right is a carport built after Henry Ford sold the property but is now used to house several of his cars (and there is a bathroom here too if you need it.)
Then you head to the back porch of Henry Ford's home. I worked from left to right so here we go. The far-left room is the Secretaries room that shares a Jack and Jill bathroom with the bedroom next door.
The bedroom next door is the maid's bedroom.
The maid's bedroom is right next door to the kitchen. The kitchen connects to the dining room as you can see.
The next room is the living room which has a wood ceiling.
The last room on the back porch is the guest room.
The view from the back porch is amazing. You can see the river and there is a palm tree-lined walkway out to the river.
There is also a massive tree here called a Mysore Fig tree, it's right on the water.
Check out the roots on the tree! For sure a great backdrop for pictures!
From here I suggest looping back around via the front of the homes.
The Edison Ford Winter Estates Front Yard
The front of the Henry Ford home. You can take in the views of the mango trees from Ford's front porch.
There are some massive shade trees in the front yard.
As you continue on you can get some amazing views of Edison's home.
In front of his house are 2 things you should notice. The first is the Friendship Walk as he calls it. It's the stone path with his friend's names on it.
The second is a smaller banyan tree that you can get up close too.
The Edison Ford Winter Estates Gift Shop
I always like to wrap up my trips with a visit to the gift shop. You have a new appreciation for the items shown and I always pick up a magnet for my collections. The Edison Ford Winter Estate Gift Shop has all things Edison Light bulbs.
They also took many of Edison and Ford's famous quotes and turned them into all sorts of home decor.
My favorite item was by far this pully light!
Have you been to the Edison Ford Winter Estates? I'd love to know what you thought! Let me know in the comments below!