Culturally alive, the island boasts the Herb Strauss Theatre, which is a year around live theater offering critically acclaimed plays and performances. Big Arts, a community supported cultural art organization, is very active within the community and offers films, lectures, galleries and more.
In addition to the arts, there are several science and nature centers on island, including the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. As part of the largest undeveloped mangrove system in the US, the wildlife refuge is world famous for it spectacular migratory bird populations. Dating back to 1945, Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling, a political cartoonist with an eye toward conservation, was instrumental in the effort to block the sale of a parcel of environmentally valuable land to developers on Sanibel Island.
At Darling's urging, President Harry S. Truman signed an Executive Order creating the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge. CROW, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, is a pioneer in the field of wildlife medicine, offering compassionate care to injured and ill animals throughout Southwest Florida. Finally, kids of all ages like the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum and the Sanibel Sea School.
Sanibel’s casual, island lifestyle and eco-friendly development have contributed to its reputation as a favorite Florida destination. The atmosphere here is casual and relaxed, and the local residents are friendly. The local economy consists of a community of independently-owned businesses, which caters well to the many island visitors throughout the year.
The Farmers' Market on Sundays is a favorite of locals and those looking to experience (and taste!) local flavor. Ripe citrus fruits and vegetables are abundant and the locals sell fabulous fruit preserves, specialty sauces, seafood and other delicious treats. Speaking of food, the restaurants of Sanibel cater to every pocketbook and to most palettes. Our favorites include Traders, Sweet Melissa’s, Timbers, Sanibel Deli and Coffee Factory and The Lazy Flamingo.