I’m humming Chuck Berry’s “No Particular Place To Go,” the theme for this particular weekend, as my baby, also known as my husband, turns the wheel toward Fort Myers. We’re picking our itinerary at random — letting fate and the wizards at Priceline.com decide.
I consider myself a bidding expert on Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” option because I just keep lowballing the thing for days until it accepts my ridiculously tiny offer. This time, I punch in “Naples,” offer 60 bucks and then just check every area that pops up, from Bonita Springs to Marco Island to Sanibel. It comes up with the Crowne Plaza at the Bell Tower Shops in suburban Fort Myers.
We find ourselves at the Crowne Plaza (13051 Bell Tower Drive), a bright hotel in the ‘burbs near the Bell Tower Shops, an upscale collection of merchants like Saks Fifth Avenue and Talbots. I consider it a good omen that the hotel’s restaurant is called Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill, bcause the infamous Chicago White Sox player — key in the 1919 World Series-fixing scandal — is my favorite historical baseball player. (It was also reportedly redesigned years ago by industry consultant Jon Taffer, part-time Palm Beach County resident and “Bar Rescue” star.)
We have a quick drink and a nosh at Shoeless Joe’s — their garlic toast is to die for — and then fire up the free Internet looking for dinner suggestions.
We hit Open Table and find Blue Pointe Oyster Bar and Seafood Grill (13499 S Cleveland Ave.), a gorgeous restaurant just a short walk from the hotel. We literally dance on the way to dinner past an outdoor musician playing ’90s swing tunes. Blue Pointe turns out to be a good choice — I recommend the sushi.
The next morning, we head toward the river district in downtown Fort Myers. We stroll and check out menus until we find a sidewalk table at the Twisted Vine Bistro (2214 Bay St.) with a nice view of the renovated River Basin. Over a salad and a glass of wine, we ask our waitress where we should head next and she suggested Bennett’s Fresh Roast (2011 Bayside Parkway), a neighborhood coffee and homemade donut joint about a mile away, founded by local radio personality C. David Bennett. It’s a low-key hang adorned with gold records and the smell of decadent baked goodies like S’mores and Maple Bacon Donuts, which the husband tastes and approves of. (I stick with their deep, rich fresh roast coffee.)
Our bellies full, we head over to the Sanibel Island Causeway, through the historic Edison Park neighborhood and the gorgeous Edison Ford Winter Estates (2350 McGregor Blvd.), where Henry Ford and Thomas Edison spent the colder months. On the way to the bridge, we stumble over the Tanger Outlets (20350 Summerlin Road), where we score sneakers, sunglasses and some cute shoes, because there’s always time for shoes.
After shopping, we marvel at the blue waters of the Intracoastal Waterway and, in the name of randomness, happen upon Pinocchio’s Italian Ice Cream and the Lighthouse Cafe (both in the Sea Horse Shopping Plaza at 362 Periwinkle Way). At the Cafe, we buy some jam, because that’s what people do when they find country cafes, right?
We drive on to the beach, where the still waters of the Gulf of Mexico appear past a trail of green, brushy vegetation. It’s busy but tranquil and easy, just like our trip.