Chasing Dreams and Finding the Way Back Home

Often times in our lives, we are prompted to develop a desire. A dream. A longing that keeps us up late at night, dreaming and plotting. Whether it be figuring out a budget over and over to achieve the means with which to chase this dream or planning out the right time in life to pursue this desire. It is not uncommon for anyone to have dreams and goals that may be considered unrealistic by others around them. Or, at the very least some may say that your dreams and plans are not easily obtainable. They will chastise you for such dreams, and even try their best attempt at directing you back into a state of realism in which you will see the insanity of the dream and think more logically on how absurd it is. Then you can settle back into your little life of balance, and structure, and mediocrity.

For some of us, however, the irrationality of the dream is what drives us. The idea that someone, anyone would dare be so brave to tell us that our dream may never be ours to realize, is a mere fuel to the fire that burns within us. The more that people tend to push us in the opposite direction of our dream, the harder we fight to hold on to them. They are, after all, the only thing that is truly ours. The one thing that we hold on to, that no one else gave us, and therefore, no one can take them away from us.

There was a time when I once believed that my life belonged in my tiny little hometown. That I was destined to grow old and eventually die there, without ever knowing anything of the great big world outside of that town. Little did I know that a walk on a sandy beach would one day change everything. The first time I got out of the car and stepped on to the powder soft sand of Gulfport Mississippi, I was forever changed. I quickly developed a love for the feel of the winding knots about my face, and the smell of the salty air. I had always believed myself to be a “mountain girl” and never considered that I would have a life beyond where the North Georgia mountains fell. The ridgeline of the mountains seemed to draw the proverbial line in the sand, and I never even questioned that I would have any desire or reason to cross that line. Yet, here I was, rapidly becoming fond of the beach life, and the more I was around the quaint little beach towns of the Gulf of Mexico, the more I was determined to have more and more of it.

As time went on, and I later found myself in a broken relationship. Facing the death and subsequent ending of my marriage, I longed for something different. It was not that I did not love my little hometown, or the people who dwelled there. I had family and I had friends. They meant a great deal to me. But, at the end of the day, when the world had grown silent, and it was just me alone with my thoughts, I had come to realize just how alone I really was, even in my own town amongst my family and friends. The demons of my past were all around my town. They were among the people that I knew and would encounter on a generally regular basis. I was close with my children, but my son was true and true devoted to our hometown. My daughter, however, she had begun to come of age, moving into her teenage years, and she found herself also wishing for a fresh start in life, far away from our hometown. We had made the decision that once I finished with school, with  my marriage ending, and no better time to make a fresh start, we would pack what we could fit in the car, get rid of what did not fit, and head out west toward Biloxi and Gulfport Mississippi to find us a new place to start over. A clean slate where no one knew our names seemed to be the ideal place for us to start embarking on our new lives.

But, then one day, something happened. Something that would change everything. As I was nearing the end of my degree program at school, and we were making our plans to get away, my son informed me that he and his fiancé were now expecting. My daughter and I concluded that there was no possible way that we could ever leave and miss the birth of my grandchild, and her niece or nephew. It was not even debatable; we would remain in our town and gladly welcome this incredible blessing into our lives. My granddaughter was born in the fall of that year. She was beautiful and an absolute treasure. She gave me a hope and a reason to remain in the place that I had spent so many years trying to get away from. Someone once told me that moving away was no more than running away from my ghosts of the past, and that was not going to solve any of the issues that I had. Perhaps, they were right. But, then again, just perhaps, I had already thought of that. Both my daughter and I had endured a lot of hardship and heartbreak in our hometown. It was never as much about running away from our past as it was just looking for a clean break of those memories that haunted us, and start over in a place where we could have the chance to make new memories without the continual reminders of people and things that had broken us in the past. But, Kenlee had taught us that starting over meant merely to take that first step with an open mind and open heart. We did not have to leave our hometown to get a clean story to write. I was now a grandmother, and she was an aunt. Both roles in which we accepted and leaned into with the reverence and anticipation of a child on Christmas morning.

In so many ways, Kenlee saved me from myself. There were times when I was so broken, I had all but lost my will to function. I lost all hope in ever finding true joy again, let alone, ever knowing love. But one evening, as I sat holding her, it became so apparently clear to me. I had said that I wanted to know what it was like to love again, and to feel the love of another human being felt toward me. For so long, I believed that could only mean to be loved in a romantic sense. I had lost romantic love and had lost all hope of ever feeling passionate toward anyone else again. I thought all the while that I needed to feel the love of a romantic partner to understand and experience true love again. But I could not be farther from the truth. Kenlee showed me. I understood fully what it would feel like to fully love another human being again. Because I loved her so dearly. And, as she grew in herself, with her own little personality and her attachment to others, I felt, for the first time in so long, the unconditional love of another. I had the idea that finding a true love again could only come from a romantic relationship with a man. Yet, true love is perfect and it is unconditional, and when one gets the chance to experience it, no matter the source, it is something that should be held in the  highest regard, never taken for granted, and always, above all, appreciated and valued.

Still, somehow, over the years, I always seemed to still have this inner longing for the Gulf of Mexico. Most people thought I was crazy. I have been thought crazy for most of my life, so this was nothing that was going to deter me. I eventually become obsessed with the idea of living in the Gulf of Mexico. As life and circumstances changed over time, my daughter found herself living in Minnesota with her finance, and my son and daughter in law had talked about moving away to Utah. At this point in my life, I had two beautiful granddaughters, and was crushed at the thought of them moving all the way across the country from me. Yet, my life had changed as well. I had, several years earlier, met someone who I had fallen in love with and we eventually got married. We had talked about taking the plunge and moving to the Gulf, once all of the kids had moved away. Just to get out of this area that had haunted me for so much of my life. As luck would have it, my son and daughter in law changed their mind about moving to Utah. They, instead, moved to Southwest Florida. My husband and I decided that it was an obvious choice, I would be close to the girls, and it was, after all, the Gulf of Mexico. There was no hesitation, the plans were set in motion for us to move down to Florida with my son. Within a few months, we were living in an apartment in the same complex as my son, and with the exception of missing my daughter who was still in Minnesota tremendously, my life was coming together in the most magical way.

However, sometimes, even the best laid plans go to waste. This was one of those times. It turned out that my son and daughter in law, could not fall in love with Florida, and within six months they were packing up to return to Georgia. Only this time, they had one more plot twist to add to the equation, they were now expecting my grandson. When they left, I was devastated. I missed them terribly and thought daily about the times I had spent with the girls while they lived there, and suddenly, it was far from enough. I wanted to make the most of still living my dream come true by being in the Gulf of Mexico, finally, after almost ten years of longing for this moment. Somehow, being there without my family proved to be less than all I had dreamed of in my gulf coast life. In addition to missing my family terrible, I had one other major factor that played into my less than dreamy dream life. My husband had also failed to fall in love with Florida. He missed Georgia and our family and friends terribly, and subsequently became depressed over the whole situation. Adding to the already crushing heartbreak I was already feeling, I knew leaving Florida was the right thing to do.

We have been back in Georgia for a short time now. Everyone is happy to have us back. My heart is still feeling a space of emptiness being that my daughter is in Minnesota and my family is not quite complete without her and her fiancé here with us My husband is happy to be here. It is fall and he is loving the cold weather and is heartily anticipating the first snow we will see. While I have to admit, I do enjoy a nice little snow myself, there are some days when I would still trade snowflakes for sandy beaches. I missed my family terribly and am grateful to be back with them. But I have to admit, there are days when I do miss the spaces where the sea meets the shoreline, especially the sunsets. As it turns out, Southwest Florida has some of the most breathtaking sunsets. I likely always will miss living in the Gulf, at least a little bit. After all, it was my dream for such a long time. But, just like Kenlee had taught me five years ago, sometimes our dreams and plans may take a detour, and starting over does not always have to be in a new or foreign place. Quite the contrary. Often, it is right where you began that you realize was the place you were meant to be all along. I love Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico, of that there is no doubt or question. But Georgia is family. Georgia is home.

What I Look Forward to Most of All, About This Fall.

Ah, Fall! Just the word alone drums up images of vibrant colors abound, the cool, crisp air, and the smells. You can literally smell the pumpkin, just thinking about it. Where I come from, fall is a very prominent season. In fact, it may be the most revered and highly loved season of all. I should dare say, I believe it may well be more loved than summer. I love fall. I always have. But, I believe this year, it may hold a more dear and special meaning than ever before.

For me, no matter how much I loved fall, there was always something not quite fulfilled within me. There had been this unsettled sense of longing for so many years. The first time I stepped out of my car in Biloxi, Mississippi, I learned what that was. The smell of the salty air, the warm coastal Gulf breeze, and the sound of the gentle waves lapping as they made a continual reintroduction of themselves to the shore. I was a beach girl at heart. I had never really been to the beach, save for the local homemade beaches at the lakes around my area, but once in my life. That had been a very long time ago and during a quite tumultuous time in my life, and I do not believe I had to opportunity to really see the beach life for all that it could be. But, after that first trip to Biloxi, it was all over for me. I spend the next nine years obsessing over living in the Gulf of Mexico. It became the status of my ultimate dream life, and eventually, part of my five year plan.

As luck would have it, nine years after I first sank my toes into the sugar sand beach of Biloxi, I had an opportunity presented to me to move to Southwest Florida. It wasn’t exactly the part of the Gulf that I have envisioned living in, but it was still the Gulf. And at that time, given the circumstance, it was the only viable option for me. There was no debate for me. Without even questioning it, I got rid of everything that I could to downsize, packed what I needed to take, and moved to the Gulf of Mexico.

Settling here in my new apartment with its top-notch amenities that included a beautiful fishing lake complete with a walking trail bordering its perimeter, a stunning resort-style pool, grounds around the entire community bathed in the most lush tropical landscaping I had ever seen, and an impeccable gym that featured top of the line workout equipment and windows that overlooked all of the aforementioned, with only a twenty minute drive to the beach, I thought I had it made. Finally, my dream had come to be a reality. I was living life in the Gulf of Mexico. Oddly enough, however, we had made the move here during the last weekend of September and began our official move-in during the first week of October. Up to this point in my life, I had never really had an opportunity for beaches and swimming in October.

Now, it was still relatively warm back home in north Georgia during this time, so it wasn’t initially a huge difference. But as the month progressed, a huge difference was being noted. We made plans to take my granddaughters out to a local farm for some “fall” inspired fun. It was a little difficult to think of pumpkins and fall themed decor, while it was still above ninety degrees here. But we decided to give this a chance. Later that month, we found a local church hosting a trunk or treat just before Halloween, my daughter in law dressed the girls up in their beloved and highly anticipated Halloween costumes and we set out for an evening of fun. Ironically, long before the end of our night, the girls had shed about half of their costume pieces. None of us had ever experienced a ninety degree Halloween before, and we were not acclimating very well. There was still hope for Christmas! Lo and behold, December came around, and things did not change all that much. I knew there had to be some way the South Floridians celebrated the holidays, they deserved fall and Christmas too, right? I found a few local events such as a holiday light show complete with Christmas carols, hot cocoa, and a bonfire. Yes! It was a perfect picture of everything we loved to do back home. The girls were dressed in holiday themed attire and off we went. No one could bear to drink the hot cocoa and we all avoided going anywhere near the bonfire like it was the plague. The temps had begun to fall here in Southwest Florida, but still being in the mid-eighties, it proved far too difficult a task to feel in the holiday vibe. On Christmas day, my husband had the idea to make it a special day and spend our first Christmas here on the beach. After all, that is what we moved to the Gulf for anyway. Well, as luck would have it, we were not even able to get across the bridge to get to the beach. This was the height of “snowbird” season, and everyone in the state seemed to have the same idea. It seemed that living in a beach town was all well and good, until the reality hit that the seasons and the holidays were going to be nothing like they had ever been before. We really missed snow.

As time went on, and luck would have it, there was about to be a shift in our lives that would take us into another direction. Shortly after the beginning of August, and following a recent trip back home to visit family, there was an opportunity for us to go back home. Our family clearly wanted us closer, and Henry was really not as much in love with living the south Florida as I had once hope he would be. Truth be told, I think missing my family began to outweigh the picturesque lifestyle imagery that I had envisioned for myself ten years ago. So, without hesitations, we graciously accepted the offer presented to us and will be making the necessary arrangements to leave the Gulf of Mexico and return home to North Georgia. Our journey home will not be until October, which, ironically, will culminate a year of living the beach life and be at the heart of the Fall season.

It will be with bittersweet emotion that I will bid adieu to the Gulf. Yet, in the same regard, my heart is so happy and full to be returning to my family. And, with that, this year Fall will be so much more special to me this year. In knowing all that I have learned about the value of family and in seeing firsthand what life is like for those who do not get to enjoy a proper fall. What I look forward to most for this fall is taking my grandchildren to the pumpkin farm, and to indulge in hot cocoa or cider to provide a warmth and help knock the chill off. I look forward to getting to wear hoodies. In my entire fall and winter in south Florida, I had to opportunity to wear a hoodie only twice. There is just something about hoodies that are a natural a part of fall as chili and other beloved comfort foods. I look forward to seeing all the children dressed for trick-or-treating on Halloween. I look forward to feeling that first frost, the one that signals snow will be on the horizon. Mostly, I look forward to football. I had to learn the hard way that moving out of state will put you in the network for your new state’s professional sports team, and I missed every single game my football team played last season. But, I really want to bundle up in my favorite hoodie and go out to enjoy a local high school football game. Nothing truly says fall quite like bonfires, pumpkins, and football, and I greatly look forward to getting to experience them all again this fall.

A Story of the Undone Summer Bucket List.

This past spring, as the days became just a little bit longer, and the temperatures became just a little bit warmer, I sat down to gleefully write out my Summer Bucket List. Little did I know at that time, that before Summer’s end, my life would be taking a drastic shift. I still have things left on my bucket list that I haven’t had the opportunity to complete! Now, I am faced with the daunting dilemma of how to accomplish some of the most desired items on my summer bucket list.

When my husband and I made the move to South Florida last year, it turned out to be quite a difficult transition, teetering on the brink of down right depressive. Being so far away from our family and friends, combined with the cost of living being substantially higher than where we came from and employment pay scales not faring comparable to those increased costs of living, it was a rather challenging adjustment. Yet, we were determined to make this work, and believed we could enjoy Florida and all it has to offer for as long as we were living here. I did some research on the area we live in and the surrounding are and compiled a beautifully constructed bucket list of things to do, see, and experience this summer. Being our first summer to live here in South Florida, we were determined to make it a most memorable one. One of the first things we learned was that a summer in South Florida is not that easy to get out and enjoy. Between the sweltering heat and humidity, the continual barrage of daily thunderstorms with their intense lightning make any outdoor activity a battle. We have visited New Orleans in August before and were somewhat familiar with the humidity and heat of the Gulf of Mexico. However, visiting for a few days does little to prepare you for enduring those unfamiliar conditions as part of your daily life.

We recently made a trip up to visit our family back home in North Georgia. While there, everyone made it abundantly clear that they wanted us to move back home. We miss them dearly. Given the fact that we have no family or friends in Florida, and the increased cost of living with decrease in earned wages, we expressed a desire to come back home as well. It just wasn’t in the cards at the moment. During our trip back down to Florida, we talked of little else than how much we enjoyed seeing the family and wish we could be closer to them. The drive is ten hours. While that may be closer than many people who relocate here are from their family, it was still a bit far for our peace of mind. A few days after arriving back in Florida, we were presented with an unexpected opportunity. One that would put us back in North Georgia close to our family and provide an opportunity to save money for a home. Without hesitation, we accepted the offer.

The reality of leaving Florida washed over me in a bittersweet flood of emotion. I miss my family and truly wish to be close to them, but I had come to really love Florida, and still had plenty of things on my bucket list yet not done. That being said, there are still a lot of things unchecked, not only on my summer bucket list, but also my whole Southwest Florida wish list. I still have not had the opportunity to dip my feet in the majestic waters of Islamorada, or eat authentic Key Lime Pie in Key West, or visit the Naples Zoo, or tour the infamous gardens along the river at the Edison Estate, or drive up and see Clearwater Beach, the current number one voted beach in the nation. As my time here in the Sunshine State draws closer to an end, I will attempt to complete as many of those as I can. However, the problem with many of them is that, given the cost of living, I have been unable to collect the spare funds needed to accomplish them, and I do not see that condition changing in the time I have left here. Although, I will be here through summer, and I have the utmost intention on stealing away every possible moment I can to enjoy an ice cream and watch the sunset at the beach, and I will enjoy the resort style pool located at my apartment complex, and I will take hundreds of pictures every where I go. Yes, I will savor these final moments and I will forever hold this place and this time in my heart and my memory in the most beloved of regards.

Setbacks, We All Have Them!

Weight loss is complex. That is putting it mildly. It is truly a never-ending series of ups and downs. Highly unlikely do you come across the successful person who entails no setbacks or struggles along the path of their weight loss journey. No, those who set out to lose weight or gain overall better health and accomplish such with no road bumps along the way are quite the rarity. For the rest of us, setbacks are as natural a part of the weight loss journey as is anything.

I am myself working through such a setback in my own personal journey. To give an accurate idea of the setback that I am working through, at this time, I need to paint a picture of how I got to the place that I am mentally in right now. About a year and a half ago, my daughter decided to leave home to move to Minnesota to be with her boyfriend. Now, we lived in North Georgia, and that was a very long distance, and given that she had never been away from me since birth, I was crushed over this. Shortly after making her move to Minnesota, my son informed me that he and his wife had decided at the end of that year to move to Utah. Again, I am in North Georgia, and am being completely blown away by the idea of both my children (and now my grandchildren) moving so far away from me. After some thought I told my husband that if the kids both moved away up north, we should just get us a condo in the Gulf of Mexico. That way, the kids would have a good excuse to come visit me- beach vacations! Within two months of my declaration to move to the Gulf coast after the kids moved, my son and daughter in law decided that Utah was too far to move the grandkids from their family. They had now decided to move to Florida, and instead of waiting until the end of the year, they were moving in a month. Yet again, overwhelmed, that set the wheels in motion for me to make some drastic changes with my own life. I am fortunate enough to work from home for my corporate office, and after doing some research and questioning my management staff, I learned that I could, in fact, keep my current job and move to Florida. My husband and I had begun the exhausting task of selling, giving away, and trashing everything that we owned that was not considered a necessity, in order to downsize and move to Florida.

Things had not worked out for my daughter in her job as well as she had hoped it would, and she had made the decision to move back home with me and my husband three months before our planned move to Florida. We had gotten my son and daughter in law moved down to their apartment and settled in. My daughter had applied for and conducted several phone interviews for work. Things were going smoothly in preparation for the move. Inside of one month before we were to load the moving truck and move our entire life to South Florida to be with my son and granddaughters, my daughter had decided not to go with us. She had gone back to work at the job she had prior to moving to Minnesota, and things were going well for her there. She had decided to stay with a coworker and friend for the time being. To say the least, I was crushed, yet again. I had envisioned this dream life of having my children and grandchildren with me enjoying all the tourist-worthy things Florida had to offer. But I had to respect her decision, and as much as it hurt, I moved to Florida and left her in Georgia.

We got settled in the first week of October and things were going as well as planned. I was always searching fun things to do in the weekends with the girls. We had moved into the same apartment complex as them, and I could walk down on my breaks to visit, or after work, my husband and I would go down and take the girls to the park or for a walk around the pond. It was indeed a nice life. The only thing missing was Bree. However, I did not realize it was not to last. By December, Ryan and Teresa had informed us that they had not taken to Florida quite as well as they had thought they may and had made the decision to move back to North Georgia. Already crushed by Bree electing to stay in Georgia, I was now utterly devastated. Teresa’s parents had also, during this time, moved to the same area to be close to them and the girls. However, they had a daughter back in Georgia as well who was still in college, and they, too, had decided to move back home. Now, Henry and I were in a strange city with absolutely no one. We now faced a life in which we were truly isolated- no family, no friends, and, for me working at home, no coworkers. It was, without a doubt, the third most terrifying thing I had faced in my life.

Understandably, after Ryan and Teresa had moved the girls back to Georgia in January I had gone through a really deep depression. I had lost, for the most part, any motivation to do anything. I did not clean house, except what was absolutely necessary to function, I did not go out and walk around the pond- I tried, but I would just start crying every time I would walk past “their apartment” or think about silly things Elli would do or how Kenlee wanted to race around the pond, and I took to comfort eating. This went on for some time, and I knew it was not fair to Henry. He was devasted too by being here alone. He had to give up a job that he loved and good coworkers who had become great friends to come here and take a huge cut in pay with complete strangers to do this for me. I began talking about wanting to lose weight and researching ideas. Henry suggested that of the ideas I was tossing around, joining the local Weight Watchers made the most sense. He thought the idea of having a reason to get out of the apartment and socialize with other people would be good for me. Not only for support and encouragement in my weight loss endeavors but would help with the depression. So, I signed up.

He was right, the people at the weekly meetings were so supportive and welcoming. My WW coach is phenomenal and such a great leader for our group. I started out my first month really amazing, I had lost sixteen pounds. Things were going great again. I still missed my family terribly but was losing weight, so I was feeling better physically and mentally. Henry and I began getting out on the weekends to go to the local parks for hiking and walking. We started setting challenges for ourselves like getting twenty thousand steps in a day, then twenty-five thousand, and eventually thirty thousand steps in a day. As of this writing, we are still working on accomplishing a forty thousand step goal. I had regained my interest in going to the beach and doing things that I had basically stopped doing altogether after the kids left.

Then, the crash happened. We did not have a weigh in or meeting for Easter Sunday. That is when I go to my weekly meetings, on Sunday morning. It seemed harmless enough. The next week, my daughter and her boyfriend (yes, the same boyfriend from Minnesota) came down to spend a week with us. It was so wonderful to have them here. We did so much to enjoy their time down. We went to the beach, went fishing, showed them our favorite parks, and just all around basked in their presence. They left on that Saturday morning, and as it always is, it was so sad to watch them go. The sadness sinks in and takes a hold unlike anything else I know. I worked that Sunday, so I did not get to attend my weekly meeting. I worked the following three Sundays and elected not to attend any of the other weekly meetings during that time from Easter and Bree’s visit until the Sunday after Mother’s Day. What was the underlying reason, the reason of which I did not wish to truthfully admit to anyone, was not that I was working. I did, in fact work for three straight Sunday’s. But after Bree and Ryne left, the reality of missing my family and being isolated hit me again, just as hard as it had in January when Ryan and Teresa left. For two weeks, I did not want to get out of bed, let alone work out or track food. I had gained back six of the sixteen pounds that I had lost. This time, Henry was crushed to see me so broken and giving up on all the hard work that I had put into losing the weight. So, by week three, he had started going to the gym at our apartment complex, going for walks around the pond after dinner, and getting out on the weekends for a hike. Encouraging me to join him, he helped me snap out of the deep sadness that I was experiencing, and in that last week and a half, I had lost back five of the six that I had gained.

That following Sunday when I went to weigh in, my tracker recorded a 1.2 lb weight gain. I wasn’t happy about having any gain at all recorded in my official tracker, but I knew that I had busted my ass the previous week and a half to keep that number from reflecting the entire six pounds that I had gained. I share this story not to make excuses or to make out that I blame my family for my depression or my struggles with my weight. I chose to move to Florida to follow them, and I cannot make them decide to live here or to love it here. I can only control my choices and actions. No, I share this to say that we all encounter setbacks along the way in our weight loss journey. So, the question is never really if the setback will come, it is when will it come and how prepared for it will you be? I did not anticipate Bree’s visit setting the stage for a setback, and I was not prepared for how I would feel after her visit ended and she and Ryne had left. But after working through this difficult time and seeing for myself just how hard it was to get the weight back off, I know now that I need to be more mentally prepared for the next time. There are countless other things to do to work through being sad over missing my family. I could go for that walk around the pond, go out and lay by the pool, listen to some positive affirmation, or journal about my feelings. Also, I could always FaceTime them when I am sad and miss them the most. Now, that is a novel concept!

The reality is, that it is called a weight loss journey for a reason. It IS a journey; a process. There will be good days and there will be bad days. But everyday is a day to push through and remember what you are working for. To think about how much better I can be for my family when I am in better health. How much more I can enjoy seeing my grandchildren when I can run and play with them without getting winded and feel like I have been hit by a truck. But mostly, how they do not need to feel guilty for their decision to stay in Georgia because they have to feel that every time they see me, it makes me depressed and I spiral out of control. That is not their burden, and they must see me be strong, so that we can enjoy seeing each other and love each other. It is important to keep finding the things that keep me uplifted mentally and physically. Self help books, daily affirmations, journaling, and just sitting outside by the water and being in nature are the things that I have found that bring me back to a safe and healthy place. They say that the true key to long lasting weight loss is in that it is not a diet, but it is a lifestyle change. That is true, and this will be a lifelong journey, and a daily process. But, a process in which I am fully committed to giving my everything to.

5 Things to do in Fort Myers, Florida

Whether you decide to pay a visit to beautiful Fort Myers Florida during the summer or winter, it makes no difference. It is summer all year long down in sunny Southwest Florida. There will not be any shortage of sand, sun and sparkling beverages, regardless of what time of year you make the trek south to Fort Myers. No matter if you make the trip for a family vacation, a lovely couples’ get-away, or decide to be a regular snowbird and make The City of Palms your part time home, there are many things for everyone to do. However, there are a few things that everyone should move to the top of their bucket list for their visit to Fort Myers. It only takes on visit to Fort Myers, Florida to easily understand why so many people choose to call this place their favorite vacation locale, their winter retreat from the bitter winters up north, and, for many, home. Here are a few of the many things to do in Fort Myers that will guaranteed make it a memorable and exciting visit, and, quite possibly, have you returning again and again!

1 It goes without saying, that the first thing you should do when visiting Fort Myers, Florida is to see the beach. Florida is most notably known for its beaches, and Fort Myers Beach does not disappoint. While visiting the beaches at Fort Myers, you need to make a point to stop by Times Square. If at all possible, be sure to take in one of the Sunset Celebrations located at Times Square on Friday and Saturday nights. You will be entertained by some of Fort Myers’ local musical talents, and get to enjoy an infamous sunset, along with dozens of your “fans of Fort Myers Sunsets” friends, eben if you do not know them when you arrive. You sure do not want to miss out on any opportunity to drive across the causeway and see the historic and stunning islands of Sanibel and Captiva. If shelling is your thing, you will definitely want to take in the shell-lined beaches at Sanibel and Captiva. You may even get the opportunity to swim with dolphins or manatees while visiting the beaches around Fort Myers. It is no surprise that most people visit Fort Myers for its beaches. After all, they are among some of the most beautiful in all of Florida.

Sunset at Fort Myers Beach

2 Ideally, you will want to find some local favorite places to grab a bite while visiting Fort Myers. One of the places that should be on your to-do list, is 3 Peppers Burrito. While 3 Peppers is only one of the many dining options around the Fort Myers area, they are definitely worth putting on the top of your must do list. You can get a little history about how the brothers started up the restaurant, which is native to this area. However, whether your dining palette craves fresh seafood, beach-side burgers, or just a casual family dinner, there are ample choices around the Fort Myers area to satisfy every taste from traditional to a true cultural experience.

3 Peppers Burrito

3 Of course, no trip to Fort Myers would be complete without a visit to the Downtown River District. While visiting downtown, you will find many local eateries filled with folklore and history galore. One such place to stop in for a nice casual dining experience as well as some very conversational decor is Capone’s Coal Fired Pizza. For a fun-filled family outing downtown, you want to also stop off to see Centennial Park and take the family to the Imag Museum for an interactive science discovery center that the whole family will enjoy.

Cannoli from Capone’s Coal Fired Pizza

4 If parks and recreation are what you are seeking on your visit to Fort Myers, be sure to stop by many of the great parks that Fort Myers has to offer. These include Lakes Park, Six Mile Cypress Slough, and Manatee Park.  In addition, Fort Myers is home to both the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox major league baseball training camps, so you can catch a game while they are in town, or maybe stop in for a minor league game and enjoy watching the Fort Myers Miracle at Hammond Stadium.

Lakes Park

5 Perhaps, a little souvenir shopping is on the agenda. Or, you just simply want to browse local shops. Fort Myers has plenty of options to get your retail therapy. Close to downtown, you will find the Edison Mall with plenty of space to take a break from the fun and sun to browse and shop. For a little more relaxed atmosphere, you will want to stop by the Shops at Bell Tower. There you will find more of an open-air type shopping, with plenty of options for a bite to eat or enjoy a tasty craft beer at the World of Beer, and a very spacious stand alone movie theater. Be sure to take the scenic route to your shopping destination, and drive down McGregor Boulevard

Driving down McGregor Boulevard

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