Sanibel Island Arts & Entertainment

  Arts and Entertainment on Sanibel Island, Florida
Sanibel Island and Captiva Island has something for everyone in the family. Take a break from the beach and enjoy one of the many museums and attractions the island has to offer. Whether you are looking for an educational experience or want to relax listening to some live music, Sanibel Island and Captiva Island have it all. Don’t forget to check out the local theaters and see what performances are playing during your stay!

Museums & Attractions on Sanibel Island and Captiva Island
One of the most delightful discoveries awaiting you on your visit to Sanibel and Captiva Islands is the number of things you can do “beyond the beach!” Our Florida islands are dotted with numerous natural, historical and artistic attractions, all guaranteed to provide a day of family fun and education.

Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum
3075 Sanibel-Captiva Road
(239) 395-2233, (888) 679-6450

Named for two early island families, The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum showcases why Sanibel Island has its reputation as one of the world’s top shelling destinations. The most comprehensive museum in the nation devoted exclusively to shells, it features exhibits illustrating shells from geographical, historical, scientific and artistic perspectives. Open daily (except major holidays) from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Museum members and children 4 & under are admitted free, children 5-16 are $4, adults 17 and older are $7. Group rates and tour information available.

Barrier Island Group for the Arts
900 Dunlop Road
(239) 395-0900

BIG ARTS celebrates its 30th season with an extraordinary line-up of performances and educational programs. Whether your interest is in dance, the visual arts, classical, jazz or popular music, children’s summer camp, lectures, award-winning film or theater, or in attending a class or workshop — BIG ARTS has something for everyone!

Chapel by the Sea
11580 Chapin Lane, Captiva
(239) 472-1646

Originally built in 1901 as a schoolhouse that doubled as a church on Sundays, this charming chapel now serves as a seaside meditation site, an interdenominational church (November through April) and popular wedding spot. Trimmed in lattice fencing, the cemetery next door guards the graves of many early settlers who came to Captiva in the late 19th century to homestead and farm.

Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife
3883 Sanibel-Captiva Road
(239) 472-3644

Dedicated to restoring the health of Florida island’s wildlife, this well-respected facility for injured and orphaned birds and animals treats more than 3,000 patients each year.

J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge
One Wildlife Drive (off Sanibel-Captiva Road)
(239) 472-1100

This nearly 7,000-acre Florida wildlife refuge, named for Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and pioneer environmentalist Jay Norwood Darling, is – at latest count — home to 238 species of birds, more than 50 types of reptiles, and 32 different kinds of mammals. The refuge features wonderful bird watching spots, bike and walking paths, winding canoe trails and a four-mile scenic drive, all of which are lush with seagrape, wax and salt myrtles, red mangrove, cabbage and sabal palms, and other native plants. A booklet available from the refuge Education Center highlights points of interest, including an observation tower where naturalists will obtain the best view of flora and fauna. The drive is open Saturday through Thursday from 7:30am to a half-hour before sunset. Closed Friday. Low tide, when birds feed, is the ideal time to visit. The Education Center is open daily. Hours are 9:00am to 5:00 pm from November through April, and 9:00am to 4:00pm May through October. Fees are $5 per car, or $1 per cyclist or pedestrian; ages 15 and younger bike and walk free. Interpretative tram tours of the sanctuary are scheduled through Tarpon Bay Explorers; reservations required at 239-472-8900.

Old Town Sanibel
Old Town encircles the east end of the island near the Sanibel Lighthouse. Historically, it was the center of much of the island’s activity; today, it is a place to stroll quaint village shops, inns and restaurants. The Sanibel Historical Society has produced a walking and biking tour to “yesteryear” that is approximately 2 ˝ miles long. You can pick up a map at the Chamber Visitor Center or at the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village.

Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Center
3333 Sanibel-Captiva Road at Mile Marker 1
(239) 472-2329

The Conservation Foundation’s Nature Center encompasses 260 of the over 1,800 total acres owned and managed as a preserve for Florida wildlife, and offers a unique insight into the island’s ecosystems. Visitors can walk 4 ˝ miles of trails, climb an observation tower, and experience a butterfly exhibit. Inside the Nature Center, a marine-life touch tank, an alligator jawbone, a mangrove diorama, and other exhibits showcase island habitat. The foundation also operates a nature shop, bookstore and native plant nursery, and conducts estuarine research. Guided trail tours, shoreline discovery walks and many other programs are available. Price is $3 for adults; members and children 17 and under are admitted free. Additional charges may apply to other programs. Hours of operation vary with the season: October through May, weekdays, 8:30am to 4:00pm; June through September, weekdays, 8:30am to 3:00pm; and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm, December through April.

Sanibel Historical Museum and Village
950 Dunlop Road
(239) 472-4648

This collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century buildings brings early Sanibel back to life in a beautifully serene setting. Dedicated to the pioneer families of Sanibel and Captiva, the Village includes “Uncle” Clarence Rutland’s home, Bailey’s General Store, “Morning Glories” (a Sears/Roebuck catalog home), Miss Charlotta’s Tea Room, the 1926 Post Office, the Burnap Cottage, and the latest addition – the island’s original schoolhouse — transplanted in late 2004 from its former Periwinkle Way location where it served as a theater for years. All of the buildings are furnished with items from the early 1900s. A handicapped-accessible boardwalk and shell paths take visitors past a pioneer garden, antique Model T truck, and a replica of a packinghouse with farm equipment. The Village relates the history of the islands beginning with the days of the Calusa Indians up to the mid-1900s. The Historical Village and Museum is open November through mid-August, Wednesday through Saturday, from 10:00am to 4:00pm, although summer hours may vary. Closed mid-August through October. Donations of $5 per adult are welcomed. School children and younger are free.

Sanibel Lighthouse
(Point Ybel Light)

Perhaps the most photographed structure on Sanibel, the Sanibel Lighthouse was first lit in August 1884. In 1972, the U.S. Coast Guard announced it would extinguish the light, but then abandoned the plan when faced with public outcry. The Florida Coast Guard continues to maintain the lighthouse, which is not open to visitors, but the City of Sanibel now manages the surrounding property, including the keeper’s quarters, fishing pier and beach access.

Performing Arts & Entertainment on Sanibel & Captiva Islands
Theater is alive and well here on Sanibel Island and Fort Myers. The island’s lively arts are made up of one local playhouse on Periwinkle Way, a 414-seat performing arts hall at BIG Arts and a professional and amateur theater in downtown Fort Myers.

BIG ARTS (Barrier Island Group For the Arts) presents world-renowned music and dance, intimate live theater, distinguished speakers, arresting art exhibits, fine films, and workshops taught by gifted artists and instructors.
BIG ARTS provides quality cultural experiences to Sanibel and Captiva’s residents and visitors. For more information call (239) 395-0900, email to BIG ARTS or

BIG ARTS Herb Strauss Theater
Sanibel’s only professional theater, BIG ARTS Herb Strauss Theater presents innovative dramas, comedies, and musicals. The recent technical upgrades and show selections exemplifies the Theater’s commitment to quality entertainment. The Theater offers Broadway-caliber talent in an intimate atmosphere.
Theater Box Office number is (239) 472-6862 or BIG ARTS Theater

The Florida Repertory Theatre
Florida Rep is an ensemble based company that was established in 1998 as a Not-for-Profit 501, when Producing Artistic Director Robert Cacioppo was offered the historic Arcade Theatre in downtown Fort Myers. Now, as the Florida Repertory Theatre enters its sixth season, it is pleased to boast a 66% increase in admissions, a year-round season, and many education and outreach programs which benefit both the theater and the community. Contact:
2267 1st St., Fort Myers (239) 332-4488 Toll-Free: (877) 787-8053 or

Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Fort Myers, Florida
The Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre is now celebrating its 17th Spectacular Season. The theater entertains over 170,000 guests annually. The facility has expanded a number of times and now includes an additional 90-seat “black-box” theater called The Off Broadway Palm Theatre, and two banquet facilities – Café Cabaret and The Art Café. The theater seats 448 and can be found on Florida’s sunny west coast between Tampa and Miami. Call the box office at 239-278-4422 or

Art Galleries & Antiques on Sanibel & Captiva Islands
Widely considered “works of art” themselves, Sanibel and Captiva Islands feature a broad range of cultural offerings. The endless hues of color and texture found throughout the islands provide for a striking palette of artistic creations, and theatrical and musical performances come alive in island theaters and performing art venues. Come discover our convergence of cultural offerings, and immerse yourself in island inspiration.
Annual Art Fairs & Exhibits
Rotary Club of Sanibel-Captiva In February, the Rotary Club hosts their annual two-day Art Fair held at the Sanibel Community Association. Proceeds are given to various charities. For more information visit our Community Calendar.
Lion’s Club of the Islands In March, the Lion’s Club hosts their annual two-day Art Fair held at the Sanibel Community Association. Proceeds are given to various charities. For more information visit our Community Calendar.

Movie Theaters
Sanibel Island Cinema
535 Tarpon Bay Road
Sanibel , FL 33957
(239) 472-1701
*Please call ahead as theater may close during the not so busy summer months

Sanibel Island Musical Performances
The island’s hub of cultural activity, featuring more than 30 concerts annually. BIG ARTS line up includes a mixture of fun and flair. Music enthusiasts will find jazz, pop, classical, big band, chamber ensembles, Dixieland jazz, and family concerts, along with a variety of dance performances, art exhibits, lectures and more. For information call (239) 395-0900 or visit our website at
Sanibel Music Festival

Sanibel Music Festival – “An Island Tradition”
Festival History
Marilyn Lauriente, musician and impresario founded the Sanibel Music Festival in the 1980′s.
The mission of the Festival is to present classical music of the highest standard and to promote the careers of emerging artists through performance opportunities.
The Festival presents seven concerts each “Save March for Music” season, with piano and chamber music.
Out reach and education programs include a concert for children at the Sanibel School.
For information and brochure please call (239) 336-7999


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