- Bleu Rendezvous, 2430 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. Fave French restaurant on the island, run by a husband-and-wife team. Great food, topnotch service, cozy, French country feel. Highly recommend the Foie Gras Two Ways and the Coq au Vin, though everything's delicious.
Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grill. Until there's a Guin's Place, check out Doc Ford's on Sanibel, Captiva, or Fort Myers Beach. (I personally prefer the one on Captiva, next to South Seas.) Good food and service with a laid back, Florida vibe. I'm partial to the raw oysters and crab cakes -- and the Scotty's Blonde Ale on draft.
Dante's Coal-Fired Pizza, 935 East Gulf Drive, Sanibel. The best pizza on Sanibel. Comfortable setting, good service, plus nice selection of beer on draft. Also recommend the coal-fired wings and ribs.
The French Brasserie Rustique, 365 5th Ave. S, Naples. One of my favorite restaurants in Naples. Great French food in a chic setting. Make sure you save room for dessert, cause the Paris Brest Eclair is the bomb.
Gramma Dot's, 634 N. Yachtsman Dr., Sanibel (in the Sanibel Marina). Fave lunch spot on the East End. The Coconut Curried Lobster Salad is the bomb. Be sure to walk around the Sanibel Marina before or after and snap a pic of the Causeway.
Great White Grill, 2440 Palm Ridge Rd., Sanibel. Casual sports bar/hang out with good pizza and beer on draft.
Il Tesoro, 751 Tarpon Bay Rd., Sanibel. Fave Italian on the island. When you're there, you're like family. Very cozy. Good food and service. Classic Italian.
Lamoraga, 3936 Tamiami Trail N., Naples. Another fave spot in Naples, located a few minutes from Artis-Naples. Often go here before a show or concert. They refer to their food as "International Cuisine," but I'd call it Cuban-Caribbean. Whatever you call it, it's delicious. Highly recommend the Lamoraga Paella and the Crispy Duck.
Jane's Garden Cafe, 1209 3rd Street South, Naples. Hands down the best brunch spot in SW Florida. I regularly drive 1.5 hours for the Fabulous French Toast, which is truly fabulous. And their cocktails are to die for (figuratively, not literally).
Lighthouse Cafe, 362 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. Great little breakfast spot, also serving lunch (and dinner, in season), on the East End of Sanibel.
Mad Hatter Restaurant, 6467 Sanibel-Captiva Rd., Sanibel. Romantic dinner spot located right on the beach by Blind Pass. Excellent food, good service, and a great place to view the sunset. Maybe the best food on the island. (Love the beet salad with goat cheese and the rack of lamb.)
Osteria Celli, 15880 Summerlin Rd., #308, Fort Myers. Great little Italian place, on the way from the airport to Sanibel.
Over Easy Cafe, 630 Tarpon Bay Rd., Sanibel. Fave breakfast spot on the island. Love the roosters and the country/farmhouse vibe.
Paper Fig Kitchen, 2003 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. Great little lunchtime takeout place in the Tahitian Gardens Plaza. Love the Korean tacos. Also caters.
The Pecking Order, 2496 Palm Ridge Rd., Sanibel. Some of the best fried chicken I've ever had. So good. Take-out only, though you can sit just outside on one of their outdoor stools.
Sanibel Fresh, 1020 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. Located right off the Causeway, Sanibel Fresh serves healthy food in a casual setting. Open for breakfast and lunch. Good for vegetarians.
Sanibel Sprout, located in Bailey's Plaza, Sanibel. Sanibel's go-to vegetarian/vegan restaurant. The food is great (love the Classic Burger and smoothies); the service, not so much. Be prepared to wait.
Sunset Grill, 6536 Pine Ave., Sanibel. Good spot for breakfast, lunch, or dinner if you are staying on the West End. Right by Blind Pass Beach and Castaways.
Traders 2, 2340 Periwinkle Way. Another fave lunch spot on Sanibel. Good for dinner, too. Chic, tropical vibe. Good food and service. Outdoor dining, too.
Shops & Services
- Adventures in Paradise Outfitters, 2019 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. Stylish and casual resortwear.
Annette's Book Nook, 7205 Estero Blvd., Ste 701, Fort Myers Beach. Great little new and used bookstore in the Santini Marina Plaza.
Bailey's General Store, 2477 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. Your one-stop shop for groceries, wine & beer, home goods, beach stuff, and hardware on the West End of Sanibel. Good selection, nice people. (If you are staying on the East End of Sanibel, check out Jerry's Foods.)
Cape Nails, 2407 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. Great manicures and pedicures. And oh those massage chairs!
Congress Jewelers, 2075 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. Friendly, helpful jewelry store offering a wide selection of jewelry, including the Sealife By Congress™ Collection.
Joey's Custard, Bailey's Plaza, Sanibel. The only place on Sanibel to get frozen custard. Great selection of hard and soft ice cream and toppings. Family owned. Love the Lion's Paw.
Lily & Co. Jewelers, 520 Tarpon Bay Rd., Sanibel. Attractive jewelry and gift store located next to Doc Ford's, across from Bailey's Plaza, with helpful, friendly staff. Wide selection of jewelry and gifts. (Bought a fabulous hand-carved wooden Sanibel-Captiva clock there, which I love. Though they overcharged me by $100, which I didn't.),
MacIntosh Books & Paper, 2330 Palm Ridge Rd., Sanibel. Fabulous independent bookstore also selling cards, stationery, and gifts. Bonus: MacIntosh's resident tuxedo cat, Brady.
Pinocchio's Italian Ice Cream & Gepetto's, 362 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. Your one stop for great ice cream and baked goods on the East End. I have literally driven from the West End to the East End just to get one of Gepetto's amazing Sanibel Blossoms (a cross between a brioche and a danish, filled with chocolate, ricotta cheese, and a touch of raspberry jam).
Sanibel Sole, 1981 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. Great little shoe store on Sanibel, also selling clothing and gifts.
The Spa at 'Tween Waters, Captiva. The place to get a massage or a mani-pedi on Captiva (or if you are staying on the West End of Sanibel). Offers the usual spa services. Good ambiance, friendly staff.
Sporty Seahorse Shop, 362 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. Charming, old-fashioned department store, carrying men's and women's clothing and shoes, as well as home goods and gifts, located on the East End of the island.
Tribeca Salon, 2340 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. The place to get your hair cut and colored on Sanibel. Great for women and men. Nick and Dom are the best.
- Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, 3075 Sanibel-Captiva Rd., Sanibel. A must visit when you are on Sanibel if you love shells. Will be adding an aquarium in 2020. Great educational programs for kids plus they do beach walks.
Captiva Cruises. Whether you're interested in shelling, spotting dolphins, or exploring some of the islands around Sanibel and Captiva, Captiva Cruises has a tour for you.
CROW Clinic, 3883 Sanibel-Captiva Rd., Sanibel. The Center for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, CROW is "a teaching hospital and visitor education center dedicated to saving wildlife through state-of-the-art veterinary care, research, education and conservation medicine." Definitely plan a visit to learn about the local wildlife and what the vets at CROW are doing to help save and protect it.
J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel. The place to go if you are into or interested in bird watching. Lots to see and do. Just try to come at low tide.
SCCF, 3333 Sanibel-Captiva Rd., Sanibel. Visit the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation to learn about the local wildlife and land preservation on Sanibel and Captiva. Daily programs. Go to their website to learn more.
Treasure Seekers Shell Tours, Goodland, FL. If you love shelling, you have to book a trip with Captain Tammy or Captain Jeff in the Ten Thousand Islands, off Marco Island. Tours are 4 or 6 hours and include dolphin spotting and a visit to the Cape Romano Dome Homes.