Just over the Causeway from Fort Myers, Southwest Florida visitors will find the beautiful island of Sanibel. Sanibel Island’s beaches are what attracts visitors. But if you need to escape the sun, or if you’re looking for what to do in Sanibel if it rains, this list will inspire you to get out there. So after you’ve collected seashells on beautiful Bowman’s Beach and Lighthouse Beach Park, gather yourself and your group and explore what to see in Sanibel Island Fl other than beaches!

WHAT TO DO IN SANIBEL ISLAND OTHER THAN BEACHES featured by top US travel blog, The Common Traveler: image of Sanibel's Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum building

Best Things to See in Sanibel Island

1. Sanibel Lighthouse

112 Periwinkle Way

Located on the easternmost point of Sanibel Island, this iron skeleton tower is worth a stop. Surrounded by Lighthouse Beach, most people bike their way to the lighthouse. Pay-by-the-hour parking spots are available for those driving.

2. J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

1 Wildlife Drive

The Visitor and Education Center is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm and is FREE.

Most people enjoy exploring the Wildlife Drive, open every day except Friday, from 7 am until about sunset. Cost is $5 per vehicle or $1 per pedestrian or bicycle.

Take a 90-minute tram ride to explore the Wildlife Trail.

3. Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

3075 Sanibel Captiva Road

Hours: 10 am – 5 pm (check holiday hours)
Admission: Adults $23.95; 12-17 $14.95; 5-11 $8.95

4. Sanibel Historical Museum & Village

950 Dunlop Road, #4017

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm
Admission: Adults $10; under 18 free
Tours: Included in admission, 10:30 am and 1:30 pm

5. Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Nature Center

3333 Sanibel Captiva Road

Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk
Admission: Free (donations accepted)

6. Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)

3833 Sanibel Captiva Road

Hours: Monday – Friday, 10 am – 4 pm (January 1 – April 30 also open Saturday) – Closed Holidays
Admission: 13 and over $12; 4-12 $7

7. BIG ARTS Sanibel

900 Dunlop Road

Check their calendar for special events including all forms of performing arts and exhibits. For those staying a little longer, look at their calendar of classes as well.

WHAT TO DO IN SANIBEL ISLAND OTHER THAN BEACHES featured by top US travel blog, The Common Traveler: image of Sanibel Historical Museum & Village - wooden among greenery
Sanibel Historical Museum & Village

Where to Eat in Sanibel Island

A visit to Sanibel Island wouldn’t be complete without stopping by one of Sanibel’s many eateries. While there are too many to be included here, this list of where to eat in Sanibel Island covers a variety of establishments.

1. Mad Hatter Restaurant

6467 Sanibel Captiva Road

If you’re on Sanibel Island, you might as well eat with a view of the beach, right? Expect a constantly varied menu with an upscale feel. Time your reservation to watch a magnificent sunset!

2. The Island Cow

2163 Periwinkle Way

Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this casual eating establishment is well known for its at-mooo-sphere. With a family-friendly atmosphere, expect udderly great food from burgers to a raw bar. Pets permitted in outside eating areas.

3. Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille

2500 Island Inn Road

Looking for the best island mojitos? Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille claims that title. Open for lunch and dinner, Doc Ford’s serves great food with a Caribbean flair. Fans of writer Randy Wayne White may also spot him here a few times a week.

4. Blue Giraffe

2075 Periwinkle Way #14

Looking for a casual restaurant to have breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Blue Giraffe hits the spot if you’re looking for good food without a fussy atmosphere. Pets permitted on the patio.

5. Cip’s Place

2055 Periwinkle Way

For lunch or dinner, if you’re looking for a place with a twist on old favorites, Cip’s Place is the place to go if you’re looking for delicious wings, chips, veggie burgers, you name it. Don’t leave without trying the whiskey-pecan pie!

WHAT TO DO IN SANIBEL ISLAND OTHER THAN BEACHES featured by top US travel blog, The Common Traveler: image of Sanibel's BIG ARTS building - white marble with glass among palm trees
Sanibel’s BIG ARTS building

Where to Stay in Sanibel Island

Wish to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of Sanibel for a longer stay? These three places have great reputations as wonderful locations if you’re looking where to stay in Sanibel.

1. Casa Ybel

2255 West Gulf Drive

2. Sanibel Inn

937 East Gulf Drive

3. Island Inn

3111 West Gulf Drive

The Island Inn offers complimentary beach walks for its guests led by Marine Biologists from the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum.

If you’re in the area and looking to explore even more, you should read these:

I hope that you enjoy exploring Southwest Florida and all it has to offer, beaches and more!

Happy travels!
Annick, The Common Traveler

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WHAT TO DO IN SANIBEL ISLAND OTHER THAN BEACHES featured by top US travel blog, The Common Traveler: image of Sanibel Island, Florida, USA - What to see and do when you tire of the beaches. #sanibel #sanibelisland
WHAT TO DO IN SANIBEL ISLAND OTHER THAN BEACHES featured by top US travel blog, The Common Traveler: image of Sanibel Island, Florida, USA - What to see and do when you tire of the beaches. #sanibel #sanibelisland