When thinking of fun, family beach destinations in Florida, Sanibel Island often tops the list. However, along with its picturesque beaches, Sanibel also offers families exciting, kid-friendly experiences that you simply can’t find anywhere else in the country. If you want to make the most of your next Sanibel vacation with kids, be sure to visit these three unique island attractions:
Sanibel Family Activity #1: J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center
Known as one of the birding destinations of the world, J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge attracts visitors of all ages. Along with its scenic drives, walks and tours, visitors with children can easily spend hours exploring the refuge’s amazing (and free!) visitor’s center. With interactive displays, and lots of hands-on learning activities, kids can have fun while exploring the history of the refuge as well as the animals that inhabit it. Children should stop by the front desk first to pick up paperwork to become a junior ranger. If they are able to navigate through the clues, their junior ranger status will be awarded with an official stamp.
Sanibel Family Activity #2: C.R.O.W. Visitor’s Center and Tour
Care and Rehabilitation of Wildlife (C.R.O.W.) on Sanibel is known on the island for its efforts to care for injured wildlife and release them back into their natural habitats. Like Ding Darling, C.R.O.W.’s visitor’s center also features eye-catching, interactive displays, including live camera feed into the medical examination rooms as well as various animal exhibits. If your children enjoy “pretend play” activities, the C.R.O.W. visitor’s center will be a big hit. Here, kids can choose a lab coat and become an honorary vet tech by learning to care and treat various realistic stuffed animals. If you time your stop right, you may also be able to catch the presentation held daily at 11 a.m., which includes the showing of a live animal, or sign up to take a tour of the medical facility.
Sanibel Family Activity #3: Bailey Matthews National Shell Museum
Sanibel Island is known for its seashells, and it is no wonder the island boasts an incredible Shell Museum for visitor’s to enjoy. With 30 large, educational displays, as well as a live-mollusk touch-tank, children can explore varieties of seashells from around the world at the Bailey Matthews National Shell Museum. If your children enjoy crafting with shells, be sure to stop by between noon to 3 p.m. to take part in the shell craft activity of the day.
Although Sanibel is most well-known for its breathtaking, white sandy beaches, the island also offers a rich variety of kid-friendly activities to help make your vacation a memorable one.