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Past Meets Present at These Historical Sites

Get a deeper understanding of Fort Myers and its surrounding areas by exploring its past.

Step into the past at the Randell Research Center in the Pineland archaeological site. Explore a mile-long walkway on the Calusa Heritage Trail and observe a massive shell mound left behind by the Calusa, Indigenous peoples who once inhabited this region.

See the shell mounds of Mound Key Archaeological State Park, an important Calusa site that is now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. This area is believed to have been the ceremonial center of the Calusa people during the early 16th century when the Spaniards first attempted to colonize Southwest Florida. You can access the site by boat or paddlecraft from launch points such as Koreshan State Park or Lovers Key State Park.

Museum of the Islands on Pine Island offers a historical glimpse into life in this off-the-beaten-path area, including Calusa artifacts and replicas of homes from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

American innovators have also made their mark in Fort Myers. Stroll the expansive Edison and Ford Winter Estates that were once the vacation homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Among the more than 20 acres of historical buildings and gardens, you can peek inside the landmark Edison Botanic Research Laboratory.

Understand the impacts of America’s segregated past at Williams Academy Black History Museum, housed in the first government-funded school for Black students in Fort Myers. See a 1940s classroom and learn more about Black leaders and historic businesses.

Get to know the neighborhoods around Fort Myers through the lens of history. The Cape Coral Museum of History shares stories from the area’s earliest settlements, beginning with the Calusa and the Seminole Tribe who followed. The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village shares insights into the lives of fishermen, warriors, farmers and proprietors who lived here from the Calusa era to Spanish conquerors to 19th-century American settlers. Get a glimpse into their stories inside of nine historic structures that were moved from their original locations to reconstruct this island village that includes a 1926 post office, a general store and a quaint tearoom. 

Learn the stories of Southwest Florida through the eyes of those who have been here before, and you’ll gain a richer appreciation of where we are today.