Florida's West Coast is often called the "forgotten coast," but Fort Myers isn't as quiet as you might expect. The community is becoming more than a mecca for winter visitors, attracting technology, manufacturing and other non-tourism businesses. Nearby Southwest Florida International Airport plans to build a new $356 million terminal within the next four years to accommodate a surge in business and leisure travel to the region.
What to do: Check out J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, a nearly 7,000-acre wildlife refuge on Sanibel Island. It's home to 291 species of birds, more than 50 types of reptiles and at least 32 different mammals. Edison-Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers has an extensive botanical garden, a laboratory and a museum.
Where to stay: The Sanibel Inn, which features a meeting center and a beautiful sandy beach. Go to www.sanibelinn.com or call (800) 237-1491.
For more information, contact the Lee County Convention and Visitors Bureau at (888) 231-6933 or online at www.leeislandcoast.com.
Christopher Elliott is a writer in Annapolis, Maryland. Contact him at www.elliott.org.
- Lee Island Coast Visitor and Convention, (888) 231-6933, www.LeeIslandCoast.com