While we live in arguably one of the most beautiful and unique islands in the country, there’s a lot to explore just outside of our special slice of paradise. Obviously there’s an entire coastline of beaches to visit, and you’ve probably noticed each has it’s own look and feel to it.
But beyond the beaches, there are some really neat attractions to visit here in Southwest Florida. If you’re a Sanibel resident, we encourage you to plan a day trip or two to check out some of those places you’ve heard about, but never had a chance to visit.
Consider making a day trip to see…
1.) Cabbage Key and the Outer Islands
Fire up the boat, or take the ferry, Cabbage Key, North Captiva and Boca Grande are great day trips to make by the water. Dock at the Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant, and grab a bite to eat. Don’t forget to sign your one-dollar bill and tape it on the wall in the “money room.” Look for ours while you’re there!
2.) The Florida Everglades
Bring your sunglasses and cameras to Everglade City, just east of Marco Island, for a day of wildlife adventure. My family LOVED the airboat tour through the everglades where we saw birds, raccoons and of course, alligators. We even got to hold a baby alligator and get pictures! Even if alligators “aren’t your thing” you’ll appreciate the beautiful mangrove canopies and scenery of the natural Florida Everglades.
3.) Babcock Ranch Preserve
If you can’t get enough wildlife, you should visit the Babcock Ranch Preserve just north of Alva and Olga. Bring your binoculars and sunscreen for the ecotour through the wilderness where you’ll see birds, cattle, deer and the occasional Florida panther.
Weekend Trips to Consider
If you have more than a day, you should travel a little further out and make a weekend trip to see a few of the nearby cities in South Florida.
Head up to Tampa to check out the tall, city buildings along the Tampa Bay. There’s a nice paved path along Bayshore Blvd that’s great for biking, jogging and walking along the water. Check out the large ships and yachts docked along the bay, and stop for lunch in one of the area parks.
Looking for a more lively atmosphere than Sanibel Island? South Beach Miami is a great place for people watching along Ocean Drive. While in town, be sure to check out the exquisite art museum’s and indulge in new dinning options. Jim and I lived in Miami for 20 years, so we’d love to offer you suggestions on food and attractions!
The Florida Keys
It sounds far, but it’s less than a four hour drive to Key Largo from Sanibel, or about five and half hours to Key West. If that’s too long of a drive, you should check out the Key West Express that takes you from Fort Myers Beach directly to Key West by boat. While Key West is lively all year around, we suggest you explore the other keys as well. There are some beautiful native plants and wildlife in the keys, all surrounded by clear turquoise water.
Of course there are a number of other great places to visit here in South Florida. These are just a couple to add to your “must do” list as a local resident. That’s the great part about living in such a unique environment. These day trips and weekend getaways create fun family memories, and if nothing else, fantastic Facebook photos!