Don’t overlook Southwest Florida for autumn fun.

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If you're on the hunt for a vacation with all the fun and none of the crowds, set your sights on shoulder season. That's the time that falls between peak season and off season—it's different everywhere, but if you play your cards right (and keep an eye on the weather), you can sneak in a relaxing vacation and have the beach all to yourself. Southwest Florida, including Sanibel, Captiva, and rest of the Fort Myers area, is a great spot for this.

Don't overlook fall in Florida for a low-key vacation with lots of fun. It has warm water and white sand beaches, and in autumn, you can enjoy mild temperatures that are just beginning to come down from the summer swelter. During this time, you'll be planning around hurricane season, which usually peaks in September, so be sure to keep an eye on the weather, and don't forget to secure travel insurance along with your fall booking, just in case. A bonus is that airfare and hotel rates fall in the shoulder seasons, so you'll have the opportunity to save in several other areas while traveling.

On Sanibel and Captiva, you'll find fewer crowds and you might just have the secluded beaches to yourself. Soaking up the sun and hunting for seashells are the go-to activities, but there are other things to do as well. If you find yourself in need of entertainment beyond lounging in your beach chair and watching the sunset over the Gulf, check out a festival or two. Each year, the Island Hopper Songwriter Fest brings live music to the coast. During the festival, musicians perform at locations on Captiva and Fort Myers. If you visit in October, check out the annual Oktoberfest celebration, which highlights the work of local brewers with lots of great sips and eats. There's also the Annual American Sandsculpting Championship, which filles the beaches with impressive sand architecture made by some of the most skilled sand sculptors in the world.

For more information and to start planning your trip, check out sanibel-captiva.org. Sanibel and Captiva are a perfect travel destination any time of year, but planning a shoulder season getaway to their white sand beaches sounds like exactly the escape we need this fall.