Fort Myers is recognized as a great winter resort area and first-class tourist destination today.
Fort Myers is the county seat of Lee County, and one of two major cities that make up the Cape Coral-Fort Myers Metropolitan Area, the other being Cape Coral. As the historical and governmental hub of Lee County, Fort Myers is a gateway to the many major tourist destinations in the Southwest Florida region.
The city was established in 1866 when the first settlers arrived, but later the area saw a large increase in population following official incorporation in 1882. In 1898 the Royal Palm Hotel was built and put Fort Myers on the map as a nationally recognized winter resort area and tourist destination. At the time, For Myers was the second largest city behind Tampa on Florida's west coast. After the construction of the Tamiami Trail Rail & Freight Bridge across the Caloosahatchee River in 1924, the city experienced its first real boom in real estate, and many new neighborhood subdivisions sprouted up around it.
Although Fort Myers typically has a year-round warm, monsoon-influenced climate that is close to the boundary between tropical and subtropical climate zones, the area has experienced its share of inclement weather from time to time, and in 2004 it was hit by Hurricane Charley, a category 4 hurricane that caused extensive damage in and around Fort Myers and its southern suburbs. Today, Fort Myers has become a favorite tourism and sightseeing vacation destination with many great hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, art galleries and other unique attractions that have allowed it to survive and thrive even in these times of general economic uncertainty in the rest of the nation.
Its great weather and excellent location have attracted many businesses to the area, and now the city's beaches are lined with modern new motels, hotels and condos. Part of the attraction for visitors and locals alike is that the city's planners were wise enough to set aside some land for public use and as result there are now excellent beach accesses areas on every block along the city's shoreline. Although Fort Myers is not as densely populated as many of Florida's booming east coast island cities, that fact has not slowed new developments down and the construction of new motels, hotels, condos and resorts all continue at a fast pace. Despite a weak overall national economy, the Fort Myers tourist industry is flourishing today and well over a million annual visitors travel there to enjoy the beaches, fishing, shopping, dinning, golf, tennis and other various forms of entertainment.
Although the area has long been attractive to pirates, explorers, Indians and optimistic homesteaders, thousands of people still go there to walk the sandy shores along what has been described as one of the world's safest beaches because the waters are safe and shallow with very little undertow currents. Fort Myers still has to compete with many other great vacation destinations in Florida, and despite its smaller physical size, the city still continues to grow in popularity and draws more visitors every year. Anyone considering a family vacation, business trip or just a sightseeing journey to the Sunshine State this year could do a lot worse than spending their valuable time off in the Fort Myers area.