Fort Myers, Home Sweet Home

Fort Myers is probably the one place in Florida that I could spend the rest of my life and be happy. Even though I am  not originally from Fort Myers, it is where I attended college and worked for a few years. I have always thought I had a laid back personality and Fort Myers is definitely a laid back town. 234 (1)

Fort Myers is usually  bit warmer in the summer, since the city is on the Gulf of Mexico. But Fort Myers has a balanced mix of beaches and wooded acres of untouched beauty. While this city is bustling during the winter months with older, retired seasonal residents, Fort Myers maintains its small town charm.

Florida Gulf Coast University, my alma mater, continues to shape the landscape of the area and is driving development. Educating nearly 30,000 students a year, Fort Myers is slowly embracing the university.  It’s common now for restaurants and stores to represent the school mascot, Azul the Eagle and offering discounts for more and more students.

Lugurt Hall

But part of the charm of Fort Myers is the calm beaches and beautiful sunsets. Fort Myers is near the Everglades, but it also is close to area beaches, offering the perfect balance. Fort Myers, despite being developed more and more every year, still has plenty of untouched land that is beautiful to drive through. It’s common to drive down one of the main roads, with hotels, businesses, and restaurants on both sides of the road, only to drive a little further to find empty land, sitting quietly amongst acres and acres of native trees . Some of the most well-known and abundant trees are the bald cypress.

Fort Myers

Fort Myers is also the former homes of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone. This city is a rich with history. Nearby Fort Myers are smaller towns like Naples, Bonita Springs and Cape Coral. Each of these smaller cities have a local vibe and provide for easy access to beaches and nearby waterways.

Naples

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Sunset

Fort Myers will always be home to me. I feel such a connection to the area that I hope someday I can have a house there, allowing me to visit and spend time in the town that helped shape me into the person I am today. As I think about the city now, writing this article, I can picture the sound of crickets chirping the wooded fields surrounding FGCU. I can feel the dying warmth of the setting sun as it dips below the gulf. And at night, the cool night air invites any person to drive with their windows down.

Fort Myers is a great place to spend some time. And it’s a place that I will always call home.

 

Key West, the land of Hemingway, Buffet and anyone else who stumbles upon Duval Street

Key West is one of the best parts of Florida. The southernmost most part of the United States, Key West has been the home of several famous residents. It was where Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote his unique style of fiction, finding himself involved with bar fights, drinking, and fishing across the Gulf of Mexico. It is also the land of Jimmy Buffet, whose blend of island inspired music took root in this tropical city. IMG_0045

Key West is not large, less then 25 miles in length. But this small island is the home of a large naval base, established initially to combat pirates as they plundered their way across the Caribbean. Today, Key West is known to have some of the best night life and hosts millions of visitors every year. Whether they come by airplane, car, or cruise ship, Key West is one of the most perfect places in the state and probably the world. IMG_0030

Known for its fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving, Key West offers a laid back atmosphere that can help anyone relieve stress and simply relax. I always love to visit the keys. Especially Key West. Only 4 hours south of Miami, the Florida Keys operates at a much slower pace of life. I remember the first time I visited Key West. Surrounded by water and palm trees, the mere sense of tropical perfection can be felt everywhere. It is the one place where a tank top, flip flops and a bathing suite can be considered overdressed.

One of the best things I have done there is take a jet ski tour around the island. I recall leaving with the tour, gunning along the calm water of the Gulf of Mexico. I looked ahead and saw flat water as far as I could see. I remember the smell of the warm salt water as it surged across my lap. As I circled the island I could feel the transition as I entered the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Somewhat colder and deeper, and more rough, I’ll never forget riding across the bright blue waters, looking back at the island lined by palm trees. IMG_0078 (2)

Key West has some of the most perfect snorkeling and diving sites anywhere in the world. Sunken ships, coral reefs, and billions of fish swim around the island. It’s so easy to appreciate the beauty of nature when you spend time below the surface. I remember snorkeling along some of the coral reefs and felt the current propel me through schools of fish. I remember feeling their slippery bodies as they swam away from me. IMG_0079 (2)

Key West has some of the most beautiful sunsets also.I always love to go by Mallory Square in the evening and watch the street performers and musicians as they celebrate the sunset every evening. I remember sitting on a concrete dock and staring out into the gulf, feeling the breeze blow across my face, inhaling the sweet smell of the salt water and the seaweed that was pushed into the dock by the current.It truly is a magical place to be in the evening. 104_0183

Duval Street is one of the best experiences at night. Bar and bar of fun and a lively atmosphere, Key West is a lot of fun at night. I always loved to drink a Pina Colada, a mix of coconut, sugar, and liquor. One of the most famous bars is Sloppy Joe’s, which was where Ernest Hemingway was often seeing writing his stories while he lived on the island. And the Key Lime Pie is legendary. There are so many reasons why I love Key West so much. I may live in Dallas, thousands of miles away from the ocean but I’ll always have a small part of the Keys in my heart and I can’t wait to return.