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A Quick Look Around the Downtown Fort Myers River District


Once the site of a forts built on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River as outposts against the Seminole Indians, the historic downtown Fort Myers River District is filled today with art galleries, antique shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, financial and professional offices, as well as a smattering of condominiums over retail and commercial space.

There are 13 art galleries in the River District, all within walking distance of each other. They include in alphabetical order Art League of Fort Myers Gallery, Art of the OlympiansArts for ACT Gallery, Coloring the World, daas Gallery, Green-n-Groovy Gallery, HOWL Gallery/Tattoo, In One Instant Gallery of Photography, Lovegrove Gallery, Mad Hatter Gallery, the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, Space 39 and Syzygy Gallery.

Nearby antique shops include Main Street Antiques & Collectibles and Ivy Cottage, with Enjewel, Franklin Shops, Green-n-Groovy and Arts for ACT adding chic, trendy boutique shopping to the downtown landscape.

For rest and relaxation between gallery visits, art lovers can dine or refresh themselves at Café Matisse, Morgan House, The French Connection, Twisted Vine Bistro, the Veranda, Ichiban Chinese & Japanese Cuisine, Downtown House of Pizza, What’s Up Dogs, Starbucks Coffee, Hideway Sports Bar, Red Rock Saloon, Spirits of Bacchus and The Cigar Bar.

Artistic landmarks include:

The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center

The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center is a visual and performing arts center that occupies the former U.S. post office and federal courthouse, a building known for its elegant tapered Ionic columns and neoclassical revival architecture.

Caloosahatchee Manuscripts during Art Walk.

Caloosahatchee Manuscripts is a light sculpture that Florida Power & Light donated to the City of Fort Myers. The sculpture consists of two bronze cylinders into which sculptor Jim Sanborn incised letters that light up the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center and surrounding buildings at night.

Parallel Park is a 30,000 square foot outdoor art installation that has converted the 5-story Lee County Justice Center Parking Garage into a work of fine art.

The product of an interlocal agreement between the City of Fort Myers and Lee County, Parallel Park is a colorful outdoor art installation that converts the otherwise-mundane 5-story Lee County Justice Center Parking Garage into a work of fine art that has the whole town talking.

If a touch of history is your preference, the Southwest Florida Museum of History is within walking distance and both the Edison House and the Imaginarium are within five minutes by car.

The River District is not done growing either. Consistent with a $200 million riverfront redevelopment plan adopted in 2010, downtown Fort Myers will soon have a 1.8-acre water basin that includes an inlet extending from the Caloosahatchee River to the corner of Hendry and Bay Streets.  Also planned are a 12-story, 220-room convention-quality hotel overlooking the basin, an 82,000 square-foot addition which more than doubles the size of the Harborside Convention Center, restaurants and shops on Hendry Street along the basin, a parking garage to accommodate these new facilities, public plazas, open areas and expanded marina facilities.

When completed, the Fort Myers River District will be the visual and performing arts center of southwest Florida.

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