Attractions in Sanibel, FL

by Jennifer Gibbons
Sanibel Island in Florida is home to hundreds of bird species.

Sanibel Island in Florida is home to hundreds of bird species.

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Sanibel, Florida is a major tourist destination on the Gulf Coast. The southwest area of the state is known for its year-round sunshine, tropical climate and white sandy beaches. Sanibel is a natural barrier island that is lined with palm trees and is famous for the abundance and variety of shells that wash up on the shore. Plan a trip to this tropical paradise and visit a few of Florida's favorite attractions.

The Beaches of Sanibel and Captiva

The main attractions in Sanibel ( are its beaches. Sanibel and its neighboring Captiva Island draw thousands of visitors every year. Each island has a main beach and inter-coastal beaches that run along the bridges that lead out to them. The inter-coastal waters are suitable for swimming, fishing and windsurfing. The tip of Sanibel features a working lighthouse, a fishing pier and a boardwalk that follows a nature trail through the wetlands.

Sanibel Historical Museum and Village

The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village ( serves to share the area's rich history and preserve the seven historic buildings that make up the village. The museum hosts several events throughout the year including art exhibits, quilt shows and flower displays. Additional historic sites to visit are the Lighthouse, the Gables house, which is the oldest house on Sanibel Island, and the Woodring Homestead, which was settled by a Civil War veteran, Sam Woodring. His descendants run a bait shop on the island.

Big Arts

Big Arts ( is the cultural center on the island and was formerly known as The Schoolhouse Theater. The two joined forces and now offer local artisans a venue to display their work as well as a theater for live performances. Visitors can also exercise their own creativity in the classes offered, which include pottery, painting and drawing, art history and writing. Additional art galleries on the island are the Hirdie-Girdie Gallery, Tin Can Alley and Island Style Gallery.

J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Get to know the Florida wildlife at The J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge ( The 6,300-acre refuge is home to over 238 bird species, 50 reptile varieties and 32 kinds of mammals. You can see it all from your car on a scenic drive or get closer by walking the trails or canoeing through the mangroves. The best view is from the observation tower that overlooks the expanse of flora and fauna unique to the Florida landscape. For more wildlife adventures visit the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Center or the Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife.

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