If you’re considering purchasing Sanibel real estate, whether a home for yourself or an investment property for tenants, it’s good to research things to see and do in the area. You can either enjoy these attractions for yourself or recommend them to your guests!
While there are incredible things to do and see in this area, the Edison and Ford Winter Estates are genuinely a must-see attraction. Take a break from browsing Sanibel Island real estate and learn more about this fascinating destination!
About the Estates
You may have already figured out that Henry Ford and Thomas Edison are the namesakes behind this popular destination. These two incredible minds called this area home for many years, and now, visitors flock from around the country to check it out. You will get to explore the homes themselves, dating back to 1885, but you’ll also see the breathtaking gardens, the fascinating laboratory, and the intriguing museum. Be sure to set aside plenty of time to view everything you can!
The main attraction for many visitors here is the homes themselves. The houses are among the most visited historic homes in the United States and have been open to the public since 1947.
Explore the Edison Main House, which Edison purchased in 1885. Guests can stroll through the library, study, multiple bedrooms, and even Edison’s den when they come to this home. The Edisons called this area theirs for more than six decades! You can also visit the Edison Guest House, which a business partner first owned. The Edisons bought the home in 1906 and converted it into a guest house. You can view guest bedrooms, quarters for the serving staff, the sitting room, dining room, and kitchen. While you’re there, you’ll be walking in the footsteps of guests such as Herbert Hoover, Harvey Firestone, and Henry Ford!
Speaking of Henry Ford, we can’t forget about his Winter Estate! The Fords purchased this property in 1916 and filled it with stunning furniture, which you can see for yourself today. Be sure to also visit the Ford Caretaker’s Cottage, which was originally the caretaker’s residence and a garage. Now, visitors can stop in for locally made ice cream, unique books and gifts, and more.
Once you’re done exploring the homes (the Edison and Ford homes, not our Sanibel and Captiva Island homes for sale!), you can head outside to wander through the Gardens. These gardens span more than 20 acres and make the perfect retreat during the winter months, which is what drew Thomas and Henry to this area in the first place! Step outside to enjoy the Sanibel Island weather and discover the stunning gardens.
You’ll see more than 1,700 plants thriving in the gardens during your trip. These plants come from over 400 species on six different continents, so you’ll feel like you’re genuinely traveling the globe without ever leaving Florida! Some notable sights throughout the Garden include the Moonlight Garden, filled with night-blooming plants, and the Garden Shoppe, featuring all kinds of plants and plant-related books and items available for sale. This place is simply a gold mine for Florida flowers and global species alike!
During his time on his estate, Thomas Edison didn’t simply relax. He also kept up with his work and experiments while he was here, so he built his laboratory on the property. Today, the Edison Botanic Research Laboratory remains the sole Florida destination to be named a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society!
This lab was constructed in 1928 and once served as the international headquarters of the Edison Botanic Research Corporation. Over 17,000 plant samples were tested here to find a suitable source of rubber that could be easily grown in the U.S. When you arrive, you’ll see the chemical processing area, darkroom, machine shop, and grinding room where these experiments took place.
You’ll also want to explore the Edison Ford Museum, which has been renovated and is more expansive and intriguing than ever before. This 15,000-square-foot facility is awe-inspiring, holding thousands of artifacts and countless exhibits showcasing the lives and accomplishments of these two great men.
Start in the Orientation Gallery, where you’ll see exhibits on electric lighting, the Ford Motor Company, and an overview of the Estates. You’ll even see Thomas Edison’s 1916 Model T! Other notable exhibits touch on the friends’ love of camping and the outdoors, the Timeline of Innovation outlining many of the men’s projects throughout their lives, Edison’s impact on the world of music and movies, and both men’s personal lives.
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The Edison and Ford Winter Estates are not simply for entertainment; they’re also a great source of education. Kids and adults can learn plenty about the progress these two men helped bring about. If you want to get even more involved, check out one of the facility’s camps!
In the summertime, kids love coming to the Estates to attend camp. There are two separate programs for kids K-2 and 3-5, all running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. If you’re in town for several weeks, this camp gives your kids a chance to do something on their own in a fun and safe environment. During these week-long camps, kids learn all about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) fundamentals.
Adults, don’t worry; plenty is going on for you! The Estates feature adult classes throughout the year to let you learn more about science or get in touch with your creative side. Monthly Garden Talks are a favorite option of many, covering all kinds of topics relevant to gardening. If you want to get your hands dirty, check out a Gardening Class! Other adult education classes may vary; check the events calendar on their website to learn more.
Now that you know all the fun to be had at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, you’ll need to know how to make your visit happen. First, note that all facets of this destination are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. However, the last ticket is sold at 4:30 p.m., so be sure to come before then!
While you will have to pay for admission, parking is completely free. You can purchase admission tickets online or at the door. For a self-guided tour (allowing you to explore the grounds at your own pace), adult admission is $25; teen admission is $20, children 6-12 get in for $15; and kids 5 and under are free. Guided tours do increase the price.
There’s no question that Sanibel Island wouldn’t be the same without the nearby Edison and Ford Winter Estates. You can visit the Estates as many times as you want to when you purchase Sanibel Island homes for sale! Before you jump into buying a property, though, you’ll want to recruit a Sanibel and Captiva Island real estate agent. David Schuldenfrei is one of the most trusted in the area and can help you find the home of your dreams. Contact us today to learn more about our Sanibel Island real estate for sale!