The only thing better than a day at the beach is experiencing it with the ones you love most. After all, even amid panoramic coastal views, pristine nature preserves and truly breathtaking sunsets, sometimes the most memorable moments come from the look of pure bliss on your child’s face. With this collection of family-friendly locales to choose from, there’s no better place for a seaside escape than Southwest Florida.
Since 1884, Point Ybel Lighthouse (commonly known as the Sanibel Lighthouse) has guided anglers and explorers alike to Sanibel Island. Today, there’s something else that draws people to this secluded strip of shoreline – the vibrant mosaic of seashells. Thanks to Sanibel’s atypical east-west orientation, the north-flowing Gulf Stream washes a treasure trove of shells onto the beach here daily. So you can enjoy some well-deserved relaxation while the kids scour the sand for the perfect find.
Just north of Sanibel, another secluded barrier island captivates visitors with its flower-lined beaches, stunning sunsets and whimsical shops. Captiva may be tiny, but it’s brimming with things to do. For instance, spend a little fairway family time at The Captiva Course, a nine-hole golf course with a clear ocean view. Or make your way into town (which is a couple square blocks with more seagulls than stop signs) to peruse the shops or grab a bite at the eclectic, yet very kid-friendly, Bubble Room.
Perhaps the most popular stop on our list, Fort Myers Beach is a seven-mile stretch of sugar-white sand that hosts a playground of family attractions. Sign up for one of the area’s various eco-tour excursions and watch your kids squeal with delight as bottlenose dolphins dance in the ship’s wake. Then, paddle your way along the shore in the hollow of a kayak or soar above the ocean during a parasailing adventure.
Pack a picnic and set your sights on this unspoiled sanctuary where you’ll likely spot bald eagles, West Indian manatees, bottlenose dolphins and any number of indigenous critters. Accessible by boardwalk or tram, Lover’s Key State Park comprises four barrier islands, each with their own special charm. Here, more than five miles of trails wind through Old-Floridian fauna. And a beach – seemingly stuck in time – welcomes visitors to bask in the sun, unobstructed by hotels and high-rises.
With endless opportunities for learning and leisure, it’s easy to see why The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel is a coveted destination for family vacations. Find out more about everything our shores have to offer, and start looking forward to the lifelong memories you’ll create here.
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