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  • Writer's pictureMarie A.

Day trip: Sanibel Island

Two women shelling on Sanibel Island Florida

Looking for a getaway from your getaway? Sanibel Island is the perfect day trip from Fort Myers and offers a relaxing low-key island vibe. Located just off the coast of Fort Myers, Sanibel is accessible via the Sanibel Causeway, a three-mile-long bridge spanning San Carlos Bay. The trip will take you anywhere from 30 – 45 minutes from the mainland. Here’s how to spend your day: 

Known as the “Seashell Capital of the World,” Sanibel Island is a sheller’s dream with more than 400 different types of shells! I recommend you start day at Lighthouse Beach Park, located at the eastern tip of the island. Be sure to arrive early in the morning to catch low tide and beat out the competition. You’ll find plenty of people doing the “Sanibel stoop,” a slow shuffle along the water bending over to pick up treasures along the way.  

Once you’ve found your favorites, it's time for breakfast. Drive 10 minutes to the Sanibel Cafe – a homey beach-themed spot offering all the classics. If you want to branch out from the norm, order The Original Islander, the cafe’s signature dish of sautéed gator with two eggs, hash browns, and toast. 

Before heading to the beach, make a few pitstops at the shops just down the road from the cafe on Periwinkle Way. Grab a colorful souvenir, pick up some new beach toys, or a floppy sunhat to complete your look. 

Continue west to Bowman’s Beach, a secluded spot with lots of space to spread out and relax. Spend some time swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying the ocean breeze. In addition to sunscreen,pack bug spray to save yourself from no-see-ums, a nearly invisible fly that makes its home in the sand.  

After a few hours of fun in the sun, stop for a late lunch at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille. Known for its fresh seafood and tropical drinks, it's a Southwest Florida staple.  


If you still have some time to spare, stop by the JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge to walk the trail system and view the expansive animal population, including flamingos and alligators. 

Since there is only one road in and out of the island, head out before sunset to avoid a traffic jam. Grab dinner back in Fort Myers and then turn in for the night. 

As one of Sun Country’s most popular destinations, nonstop flights to Fort Myers depart daily from Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport, making it easy to find dates that work for you! 

Ready to be Florida-bound? Get To Going.

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