You can join the Mouse-ear army with its laser-focus aim on Orlando, but why not go for something with fewer lineups? Or no lineups? The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel (on Sanibel Island) offer a taste of old Florida and old-school adventure. We’re talking the kind that involves wonder in the natural world and a little sandcastle mojo.
Shelling is a serious pursuit, with aficionados heading out before sunrise with flashlights. For families, it’s searching for buried treasure at its best. Sort through the thousands of shells that wash up on the sheltered beaches and islands every day and you’ll uncover prized finds like lightning whelks, nauticas and banded tulips, along with rarer discoveries like Junonias and lion’s paws. (While live shelling is banned here, collecting uninhabited shells is unlimited). Beyond scanning the beaches, there are also shell-focused cruises and the mollusk-centric Baily-Matthews Shell Museum that features highly prized specimens and a live shell tank.
The region is also home to the Great Calusa Blueway, a 300-kilometre network of canoeing and kayaking trails. Follow the paths of the Calusa Indians or GPS-linked sites among the creeks, bayous and mangrove forests where dolphins, manatees and ospreys might just follow you back.
Shelling is ideal for kids under eight; waterways for older kids and teens.
Hurrah, a kids’ menu with a local touch: crispy catfish and local shrimp with fresh fruit make the list at the quirky and popular Island Cow on Sanibel Island.
Explore technology from the old days at the Edison Ford Museum, where exhibits include early telegraphs, movie projectors and Edison’s custom-made Model T. On Saturday mornings, a Young Inventors’ Tour offers great hands-on science projects.
Three Days in Whitehorse, Yukon
Set in a scenic mountain valley beside the winding Yukon River, Whitehorse is an artistic, outdoorsy city with adventure on its doorstep. Paddle along the river past clay cliffs and spruce forest, find artsy treasures at North End Gallery and sip craft beer at Winterlong Brewing Co.
How to Do a Digital Detox Holiday Near Fort Myers
Leave your devices at the door when you visit Sanibel and Captiva islands, just across the bridge from Fort Myers, Florida. Stay at the beachfront Island Inn, eat at Sweet Melissa's Cafe, go to Cabbage Key Restaurant, visit a wildlife refuge and search for a coveted junonia shell.
How to Save On a Vacation to Sanibel Island, Florida
Just off Florida's southwest coast, near Fort Myers, lies beautiful Sanibel Island. It's easy to splurge on its sun-soaked shores, but there are also plenty of low-cost activities to keep everyone in the family entertained. Here are four things to do.