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Lehigh Acres

October 11, 2013
FL Guide

Tourists visiting Southwest Florida for the season and indeed, at any time of the year, may want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the beaches and take a 30-minute ride to Lehigh Acres, a community with a small town atmosphere, but with a whopping population of more than 90,000 people.

It is one of the largest communities in the U.S. that has not incorporated although moves are under way again to incorporate the community.

While Lehigh Acres was probably never visited by Thomas Edison who had a winter home in Fort Myers, nor Henry Ford, because the roads to Lehigh were no more than dirt and not widely traveled, the town offers a different look at inland communities in Southwest Florida.

There are several small restaurants in the community with unusual cuisine, including both German, Chinese and Hispanic eateries.

Lehigh Acres is just east of Fort Myers traveling on Veterans Parkway from Cape Coral onto what becomes Colonial Blvd. through Fort Myers and then some 20 minutes, later, Lee Blvd., which enters into Fort Myers.

Lee Blvd is strewn with shopping centers and restaurants, but is not considered the actual downtown of Lehigh Acres.

While there are no official boundaries to this unincorporated community, you will know you are in the heart of Lehigh Acres when you see the big circular stone "Welcome to Lehigh Acres" at the intersection of Lee Boulevard and Homestead Road.

The downtown area is on Homestead Road where you will find several stores and restaurants. The community is preparing for a make-over with county planners choosing three areas for mixed use, including retail, residential and workplaces all within walking distances.

What's in Lehigh?

To start off with, it has one of the largest modern up-to-date high tech libraries in Lee County. It is located on Gunnery Road, which visitors will see before they get into the downtown area. Not far from the downtown area on Williams Street is one of the largest public pools in Lee County. It is open every day of the week with area for young swimmers. Lifeguard are at the pool all the time.

Lehigh Acres also hosts three golf courses: Mirror Lakes Golf Club, Majestic Golf Club and Westminster Golf Club.

For more information on them, contact the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce at 239-369-3322.

Visitors in Lehigh in March, usually the third week of the month will enjoy the annual Spring Festival. It is a week-long event that includes everything from entertainment, contests for queens, and several other events, all culminated on the last Saturday with one of the largest parades in Southwest Florida on Homestead Road. It always starts at 11 a.m. and the parade winds its way to Veterans Park where they is a full day of activities and events plus a large amusement park with all types of rides. In the fall, there is a Fall Festival, usually in October on the grounds of the St. Raphael's Catholic Church on Lee Blvd., across from the Super Walmart. Thousands turn out every year for all the events and there is a midway for one weekend.

Lehigh was founded by the late Lee Ratner, who once owed DeCon Pest Control. When he sold his firm for millions in the 1950s, he bought an area east of Fort Myers, nothing more than woodlands, as a tax write off, but later turned it into a working ranch and in the early 1960s laid out plats for mostly residential areas, mostly for people from the north who wanted to retire to sunny Florida.

While the town has been referred to as one of the most affordable homes in Florida, it has houses worth more than a few hundred thousand dollars, all mostly with private pools.

For visitors who like to get "out in the country," Lehigh is the place to visit. There are thousands of streets with no homes and the western end of Lehigh is undeveloped and filled with no more than thick forests where hunters can hut for wild pigs and other small animals.

For visitors who like to get off the beaten track and away from the hustle and bustle, Lehigh is a place where visitors can peace and quiet, because of the size of the community. It's also a place where visitors can find nice homes at inexpensive prices for retirement or just winter homes.



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