The Best Ways to Spend the Holiday in Sanibel Island

For many, major holidays may be the only time they have enough vacation time from work to really getaway. While it may break from tradition to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas away from home, the holidays in Sanibel Island are festive and joyous.

At Christmas time, there are many events and displays, and the weather in Sanibel at this time of year is phenomenal, always warm enough for the beach!

kids running on beach

The History Behind Christmas in Sanibel Island

Did you know two of history’s most famous inventors called Sanibel Island home? Thomas Edison and Henry Ford both purchased winter homes on the island in the late 19th century. They spent holidays here with family and were always sure to celebrate Thomas Edison’s birthday on February 11. Edison’s Seminole Lodge and Ford’s The Mangoes were gifted to the community after their deaths, and the community has turned the estates into the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, a tourist and educational center. 

At Christmas time, it is worth visiting to see more than 20 acres of dazzling lit-up gardens – a fine way to honor the inventor of the lightbulb!

Part of the joy celebrating Christmas on Sanibel Island is how thoroughly the entire community becomes immersed in the holiday spirit. You’ll find that boat owners deck out their boats in lights and décor every year. Many participate in a series of festive boat parades along the shoreline. In wintertime, stroll along the marina to watch a stunning sunset transform to a brilliant light display.

Sanibel Islanders are all about tree decorations, but who said Christmas trees had to be pines? Across the island, you’ll find lighted palm trees, decorated from top to bottom. It’s a unique and festive Florida take on Christmas!

Enjoy the Holiday Spirit

Nearby Captiva Island is also a part of the celebrations. Every year, the entire community transforms itself into a quaint holiday village. Be sure to explore Sanibel Island’s charming neighbor for the full experience!

Enjoy the Many Sanibel Island Christmas Events

Sanibel Island’s annual boat parade is one of the most enjoyable events of the holiday season. Each year, boats begin at Salty Sam’s Marina and pass restaurants on the back bay, such as Parrot Key Caribbean Grill, Original Shrimp Dock, Dixie Fish Co., and Doc Ford’s where you can sit back and watch the spectacle. You can even vote online for the Best Decorated Boat. 

Both the island and nearby Fort Myers offer many live music events, playing everything from jazz to rock and roll. There are always some concerts and music events during this time of year, so be sure to check the island’s event calendar for more information. 

Plan Your Next Visit

If you find yourself enjoying Sanibel winters enough to return (or never leave!), consider following in the footsteps of Ford and Edison by investing in VIP realty. We offer a wide range of properties to meet your every need and make the most of your Holidays in Sanibel Island. Contact us today to get started!

Christmas Dinner 

If you’re going to be spending Christmas Day away from the comfort of your home and kitchen, alternatives must be made for a meal. Of course, it is entirely possible to cook your own meal in one of our Sanibel Island vacation rentals, which each come with a fully equipped kitchen. However, if you are hoping to avoid the work, there are several great Sanibel restaurants open on Christmas Day.

holiday meal

Old Captiva House provides a Christmas Dinner in Sanibel Island buffet option from 12 pm to 8 pm. Menu items include cold displays like salads and cheese platters, a seafood display of shrimp, clams, salmon, and hot crabs, class Christmas platters and meat dishes, as well as homemade desserts. There are numerous vegan and vegetarian items for those with dietary restrictions. Tickets are $69 per person and $22 for children 10 or under. 

The Crow’s Nest Bar and Grille are open for the evening, from 4 pm to 8 pm, and offers almost identical buffet options, with similar menu options like orange mango glazed duck breast, classic mashed potatoes, roasted leg of lamb, and roasted ham. The cost is $69 per adult and $22 per child 10 or under.