Sanibel and Captiva Are a Beachy Shoulder Season Fall Getaway

Sanibel Island and Captiva, Florida will satisfy your urge to get away during shoulder season.

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.

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Shoulder Season Advantages

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.

The very act of arriving on Sanibel Island, off Florida's southern Gulf coast, feels like a beautiful escape. The only way to get on the isle, 20 miles southwest of Fort Myers, is to drive across a three-mile causeway that is surrounded by a sparkling bay
David Hillegas

Festival Vibes

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, held in nearby Cape Coral. This event highlights the work of local brewers with lots of great sips and eats, bringing the spirit of Bavarian pride to Southwest Florida.

These magnificent creatures are the largest parrots in the world. The extra friendly birds don't have a care in the world as long as they're loved by their owners. If you're captivated by these gentle giants and want to have them as a pet just beware that they need a large, proper environment to thrive. Mark Newman/Getty Images

Celebrate the Wild

The J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is named for the Pulitzer winning cartoonist who wintered on Captiva Island throughout most of his adult life. Dedicated in 1967 to his legacy, this fascinating slice of the wild features protected animals that are indigenous to the area. On a tour through the refuge, visitors encounter a variety of wildlife that are both special and exotic. This amazing experience even merits an annual event called Art in the Wild, happening every October.

Colorful and Delicious Dining

Your choices in dining during your low-key visit will have you satisfied. Both islands feature multiple choices in culinary experiences, many of which maximize the fresh seafood that is available. The Sanibel Fish House is an award-winning restaurant that will surely be memorable in both dining and atmosphere. On Captiva Island, seek out the Mucky Duck. In business since the late 1970s, this eatery seeks to be the heart of the local community through its open and laid back vibe. Catch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico, and vow to return.

Plan Your Trip

For more information and to start planning your trip, check out 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.

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