If it’s been a while since you’ve strolled Fort Myers' revitalized downtown River District, spend a night taking in the unique cultural standouts, like Art of the Olympians, and make sure to visit during one of the lively monthly street fairs, Art Walk and Music Walk.
Art of the Olympians
This museum, opened in January 2010, was the brainchild of Fort Myer Beach’s Al Oerter, former U.S. track star and four-time gold medalist. It houses artwork created by Olympic athletes including Oerter, Florence Griffith-Joyner and Peggy Fleming as well as exhibits on sports history that feature memorabilia and interactive displays. (1300 Hendry St.; 239-332-5055; artoftheolympians.org)
* The center is open August 3 for Art Walk but will be closed until August 13 while the staff is in London. Normal hours will resume afterwards for the rest of August.
Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center
Edgy, up-and-coming players on the budding Southwest Florida and national art scene exhibit pieces here and troupes file in to perform. Equally impressive is the architecture, a stunning Neoclassical 1933 colonnaded façade carved from coral rock that is still being restored (fun fact: it started life as the town’s post office and snowbirds Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone all had their own mailboxes). (2301 First St.; 239-333-1933; sbdac.com)
Art Walk and Music Walk
The walkable grid anchored by First Street steps in from the Caloosahatchee River comes alive with vendors and street performers the first and third Fridays each month with Art Walk (6 p.m.) and Music Walk (7 p.m.) respectively. Most local attractions and businesses keep doors open as late or later than 10 p.m. (fortmyersartwalk.com; fortmyersmusicwalk.com)
If you venture up U.S. 41 between October and May, don’t miss a show from the Florida Rep, a professional regional acting company nationally lauded for its staging of Pulitzer- and Tony-winning heavyweights inside an intimate historic theater. (2267 First St.; 239-332-4488; floridarep.org)
Edison & Ford Winter Estates
While there, consider making the five-minute drive from the center of the River District to reacquaint yourself with the sprawling complex that was the seasonal home and laboratory for inventor Thomas Edison and his buddy Henry Ford. Expect restored waterfront cottages, Model-T sightings, lush gardens and to learn a thing or two about rubber and electricity. (2350 McGregor Blvd.; 239-334-7419; edisonfordwinterestates.org)
Where to Eat:
A relative newcomer on the dining scene, it entices with a modern, playful setting and an eclectic menu to match. Try the grilled duck breast served alongside mojo yucca fries and jicama slaw, or the triple-cream mac and cheese with artichokes, spinach and roasted peppers. (2262 First St.; 239-332-7797; yanosrestaurant.com)
Perfect for a quick morning or midday bite, this sidewalk café churns out freshly prepared French favorites like almond croissants, raspberry tarts, croque monsieurs and quiche Lorraine. Grab a table outside on the picturesque, paver-lined street. (1514 Broadway; 239-561-0306; lushfrenchbakery.com)
Where to Stay:
Tuck in for the night at this eight-story tower smack in the heart of downtown. Gorgeous views of the glittering skyline abound, especially from the chic rooftop bar, and the contemporary décor hits a high note with installments by local artists. (1520 Broadway; 239-337-3446; hotelindigo.com)