Value in the Impromptu: Sanibel Island, Florida
When we originally booked our trip to Disney World we thought we would need 3 days to see everything so we booked a long weekend. We really did have the BEST day ever in Disney's Magic Kingdom. You can read a little bit about that trip and our shoestring Disney budget a post back. We just realized that after the park experience and after Disney Springs, we just had enough of the commercial world and we were really craving our tranquil life by the sea. On a whim, we decided to explore Florida just a bit and see what the gulf side of Florida had to offer. Since Penny is my seashell collector we decided to hit Sanibel. I have to say, now we're hooked on Sanibel or "Seashell Beach" as Penny calls it. I absolutely loved the coast and the small town vibe! We ventured into a few mom and pop stores to grab souvenirs and had lunch at the cutest little cafe, Lighthouse Cafe. All of our food was delicious but Penny's chocolate chip pancakes were the table favorite! They do claim to have the "best breakfast in the world" and we can't prove them wrong! We booked this trip without much researching and since so many things were booked, we thought we might be stuck with a hotel that we didn't love. We ended up with a fantastic apartment just 900 feet from the beach. The Colony Inn was quaint, cozy and clean and had more room than we really needed which we will never really complain about! We loved the beautiful landscaping around the hotel and the staff was so sweet! As soon as we checked in Penny was ready to hop into her comfortable bed and snuggle, still wearing her bun from her big Disney Princess makeover of course! She loved putting her own treats into the full size refrigerator and couldn't resist sneaking a midnight snack...
Upon morning light we noticed that we were only 900 feet from the beach access and the swimming pool was perfection. We loved this little cozy corner of Sanibel that we found.
Since we only had one day to really explore Sanibel we spent the morning at the beach collecting shells. We met another family out on the sand that was doing the same and got to talking to them. They rent a house in Sanibel for a full month every winter and spend their time relaxing with grandkids and playing in the surf. Since they were Sanibel experts we got some insider scoop on great places to eat and shop. Per their suggestion, we also checked out Bowman's Beach and loved all of the wildlife and plants surrounding it.
The coastline was so lush and tropical and we loved seeing how they were dedicated to recycling, wildlife protection and keeping their beaches clean. We LOVED having a special trip with my Dad, the girls Putt Putt!
Another thing we loved about Sanibel is that they have a Sanibel Shells game going! This is similar to what we do at home with OBX ROCKS but the residents of Sanibel use seashells. The idea is that they paint seashells (or rocks) and write "Sanibel Shells Facebook Page" on the opposite side of the shell. They then hide the shells in plain sight all throughout the island and kids can find them, take a photo to post to the Sanibel Shells Facebook page and re-hide them somewhere new. Penny was so excited to find a pretty polka-dotted shell and once I posted to the Facebook page, she was very excited to get to see a photograph of the sweet lady that painted her shell. I just love this small town tradition! (Side note: by this point Penelope was on day 3 of her princess makeover bun and was looking a little wild!)
After lunch we hit up Sanibel Lighthouse Park and found even more shells while exploring the woods surrounding the seashore. This is our 34th Lighthouse on our #30Lighthousesat30 tour and the first tower style Lighthouse we have seen!
I tortured the girls with some photos here because the light was so gorgeous even with my iPhone!
Finally we hit Dante's Coal-fired Pizza for dinner because a quick dinner was the goal. The pizza was delicious and the atmosphere was great but I'll be honest, the best part was the $3 beer because after paying $12 for a Mich Ultra in Disney World, this mama was ready for a cold one! And if anyone tells my husband that I bought a $12 light beer, I will deny it until I'm blue. Dante's had tons of options for pies but of course I opted for plain and pepperoni so that the girls were happy. I'm thinking this would be a perfect date night spot when we go with the entire family. The arugula and artichoke pizza looked amazing. I kind of wanted to sneak a slice from the booth next to us!
We're so excited to plan another trip back to Sanibel sometime when we have more time to spend and bring the boys with us! We love that Allegiant Air can get us there for cheap so we can focus more on making memories! Our next stop is Fort Lauderdale and Miami, Florida and our boys will meet us there! We can hardly wait to hug them!