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
Christopher Elliott is an Orlando, Fla., writer and independent producer who specializes in technology, travel and mobile computing. His work has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and online. You can find out more about him on his website or sign up for his free weekly newsletter.