Southwest Florida is the region along the southern gulf coast of Florida. Its boundaries are generally considered to put it west of Lake Okeechobee, north of the Everglades and south of the Tampa Bay Area. The region includes the counties of Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier. The largest city is Cape Coral with a population of approx. 155 000 as of 2010. SWFL is a major tourist destination in Florida.
Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) is located southeast of Ft. Myers and the main gateway to the SWFL region with international direct connections to Canada and Germany.
Established in 1886, Fort Myers is the historical and governmental hub of Lee county. The city became a nationally known winter resort with the building of the Royal Palm Hotel in 1898. Many Americans from the northern states came and built their winter estates here, the most well known ones are Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford. Their residences are both primary tourist attractions and you find the Ford and Edison Winter Estate on Mc Gregor Boulevard, near downtown. But what really sparked the city´s growth was the construction of the Tamiami Trail Bridge across the Caloosahatchee River in 1924. After the bridge´s construction, the city experienced its first real estate boom and many subdivisions sprouted around the city. The revival of Historic Downtown / River District is also interesting, where new restaurants, bars and smaller arts galleries have been opened lately. Tourists and citizens, both come here to see and to be seen.
Just offshore of Fort Myers lay the barrier islands Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel. Fort Myers Beach with its sandy beaches actually lays on Estero Island, right at the Gulf of Mexico and you find a lot of hotels here, as well as restaurants and shops around the Times Square / the pier area.
Sanibel Island became a popular tourist destination, in part of the new causeway, which was completed in 2007. Sanibel is known for its sandy shell beaches and wildlife refuges. More than half of the island is made up of wildlife refuges, the largest being J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The island also hosts the Sanibel Historic Village and a variety of other museums, theaters and shops.
The whole region of Southwest Florida offers beautiful beaches, state parks, all kind of water sports, culture, shopping malls and a lot more.