Top Ten Winter Outdoor Family Getaways

Beach Bound: Sanibel Island, Florida
  |  Gorp.com
Spoonbill
Spoonbill visiting Sanibel Island

How would your kids like to find some of the most amazing seashells in the world? How about great beaches with sugar-fine sand? A quiet place to relax with your family in the sun? Now throw in some glorious sunsets, restaurants, plus an artists' colony.

Sanibel is a magical tropical retreat not far from Fort Meyers, the place that inspired Ann Morrow Lindbergh to write her famous book, Gift from the Sea.

One of the things that makes is so special is its geography. While most barrier islands have a north-south orientation, Sanibel runs east-west, which means it acts as a "scoop" to catch shells in the surf.

It's true that Sanibel is a popular winter destination—that's when its population swells. But there's room for all since more than 40 percent of the island is protected as wildlife preserves. There are more than 17 miles of beach and 26 miles of bike trails, so you're guaranteed to find some tranquility.

Several companies offer eco-tours, such as Everglades Eco Tours-Fossil Expeditions, which will take you to the largest mangrove forest in the world. We also highly recommend the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, with 5,000 acres of hiking, biking, and canoeing trails.

Resources

Sanibel Island, Florida

Several Websites are dedicated to Sanibel and its sister island, Captiva. Two that I find most helpful are the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce (www.sanibel-captiva.org) and an "insiders' guide" to the island at www.sanibelflorida.com.

As Sanibel is one of the world's great seashelling spots, you'll find plenty of your own beautiful specimens. But check out Sanibel Seashell Industries, too—they are the world's largest seashell dealer, with more than 10,000 in stock at their island store. Visit their website at www.seashells.com.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Sunshine State. Enjoy your trip!


Best Hotels in Sanibel Island

$243
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#2
Song of the Sea
$150
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#3
Holiday Inn SANIBEL ISLAND
$199
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#4
The Seaside Inn
$226-$251
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#5
Sanibel Inn

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