Sanibel Island, Florida, is one of the hidden gems of the Sunshine State. With a population of about 7,000, it offers the perfect combination of “small-town lifestyle” and “exotic beach scenery.” USA Today even named it one of the best beach towns in Florida. Here’s a guide to getting the most out of your stay at Sanibel Island.

Visit the Shell Museum

Generally, people age out of their obsession with shells. As a child, you loved collecting the most beautiful specimens on the beach. You made the finest seashell necklace out of them, and you wore it happily throughout summer vacation. After you became an adult, collecting seashells became too childish for you. The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum will change your opinion.

This facility features one of the most impressive shell collections in the country. During a visit, you’ll see some of the largest seashells on display anywhere. You’ll also learn how to spot the differences between shell types. You’ll even witness history as you examine seashell fossils that are thousands of years old! The shell museum will reignite your childhood passion for shelling.

Visit the Farmer’s Market

The citizens of Sanibel take pride in their farmer’s market. They even have a silly slogan about it — “Buy Local Lee” (the island is a part of Lee County). This slogan actually applies to several different food providers in the area, but the most famous one is the Sanibel Island Farmer’s Market.

This market is the best place on the island to procure produce. Farmers offer food and vegetables that were in the ground as recently as that morning. You’ll also discover vendors selling meats, cheeses, and bread. Some enterprising folks even pick flowers to sell to tourists at the farmer’s market. It’s a hotbed of local activity, and you’ll find tons of delicious food here, too.

Golf by the Sea

The Sanibel Island Golf Club marries two of the best parts of island living: golf and scenic views of the Gulf of Mexico. You can spend a relaxing morning here playing 18 holes at this tropical paradise. Don’t forget to bask in the exotic setting, though.

This course has a variety of wildlife in the forest surrounding the course. It also features breathtaking views of the water. In fact, the golf course meanders through the natural settings of the island. Some of the sand bunkers are natural, not man-made. Plus, you’ll face water hazards on many holes since the land here blends with the surrounding gulf.

To maximize your enjoyment and golf time, you should book a great Sanibel Island Hotel on Hotel Planner that’s close to the course. Also, you should plan your tee time around a meal at Blue Coyote Supper Club. It’s one of the best upscale dining experiences on the island. You’ll want to order the house specialty — Panko n’ Rosemary Crusted “Kurobuta” Pork Chop with Blackberry Gastrique. Throw in a Love Martini to celebrate your great round of golf.

Sanibel Island is a tourist mecca for good reason. You’ll find plenty to do during a relaxing vacation in this sleepy island town.