|JET BLUE PARK AT FENWAY SOUTH
If You Go ...
Fort Myers is in southwestern Florida, far away from the madding crowds of Tampa or Orlando. In fact, it's 125 miles up the coast to Tampa/St. Pete and slightly less than that to Bradenton (spring-training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates) or Sarasota (spring-training home of the Cincinnati Reds), so you're quite a ways down the coast. You could also hit the spring-training camps of the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays, who both train in the greater Fort Myers/Port Charlotte area.
Indeed, it's the relative isolation and scenic lakeshore stressed by the tourism types. It's a tropical area, with relatively unspoiled beaches on the Gulf Coast.
Sanibel and Captiva Islands are known for their long expanses of white beaches and mangrove forests, with many biking and hiking trails. Over half of the islands are preserved as wildlife sanctuaries.
Fort Myers is also known as the former winter home of both Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Their estates are preserved and available for viewing.
You should also make a pilgrimage to Terry Park Stadium, which is possibly the oldest surviving spring-training stadium in Florida. It's just east of Fort Myers and still heavily used by amateur teams. Lee County Parks and Recreation Director John Yarbrough wants to spruce up the 77-year-old structure in a historically authentic fashion and put a museum in the old ticket office illustrating the history of spring training in Southwest Florida and its impact on the area’s development and character. It hasn’t been used for major league spring training since 1987 (when the Kansas City Royals trained in Fort Myers); it was built originally as the spring-training home of the Philadelphia Athletics, owned and managed by Connie Mack.
Where to Stay: City of Palms Park is on the edge of downtown Fort Myers, so any downtown hotels would be a good choice. The Holiday Inn (2431 Cleveland Av.) is the closest hotel to the stadium.
Otherwise, there are many budget-price hotels in the general area, including Fairfield Inn, La Quinta, Hampton Inn, Super 8, Sleep Inn, Country Inn and Suites, and Comfort Inn.
Flying In: Fort Myers is home to South Florida International Airport and is served by most major airlines, including Delta, Continental, US Airways, America West, JetBlue, United, and American.
You may also want to consider flying into Tampa and then driving to Fort Myers if the fare to Tampa is significantly cheaper. The drive is 125 miles, but as Tampa is home to several other spring-training facilities, you can combine several visits.