Island Tales
Ideas for Rare Rainy Days ©
- Libby Boren McMillan

You came to Sanibel and Captiva for the beaches, the seashells, the sunshine . . . and now it's raining ! What are you going to do?
Many of you grown-ups will quickly deduce a particularly tempting "activity" to pass the time: a good nap! But there are those of us with the proverbial ants in our pants, and others of us who are entertaining young ones. There are also great solutions for the "Now whadda we do?" crowd.

1. Come Out of Your Shell at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. Think you've seen all the shells you can imagine, out on the beach? Stop by this one-of-a-kind museum, and you'll be amazed by what you learn about the seashells that have been catching your eye and filling your island dreams. There's more to that mysterious universe than one imagines.
In addition to a dazzling array of shells from around the world, the museum has a theater, wondrous exhibits about the life of a shell and a learning lab just for kids. You'll learn about Sailor's Valentines, shells in architecture, micro-mollusks, land shells, fossils. You'll also see a breathtaking collection of scallops in styles and colors you can hardly imagine.
Know this: the next time you hit the beach, you'll feel like a real smartie. You'll also have an all-new appreciation for the tiny wonders that wash ashore so abundantly on Sanibel.
The museum's gift shop carries lots of shell-themed goodies, including shell books and identification guides.
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10-4 (closed Monday). Admission is free for children under 7; $3 for children 8-16, and $5 for those 17 and over. It's located on Sanibel-Captiva Road, between Tarpon Bay Road and the Ding Darling entrance. There's ample parking. Call (239) 395-2233 for more information.

2. Research Sandcastle Construction Techniques at the Library Libraries are a terrific resource and a wonderful place to while away a few hours, sunny or not.
The Sanibel Library has protected parking and an elevator, but don't miss the grand staircase and wonderful exhibits in the lobby. Work your way to the back, and you'll find a wonderful surprise: there's actually a protected back porch with rocking chairs. Choose your favorite periodical and head on out for a relaxing, old-fashioned afternoon of reading to the sound of rain.
Book lovers will find ample selection of tempting literature, including new releases, large print, and a mind-boggling assortment of tomes about Florida, on subjects ranging from history to seashells and everything in between.
The children's section is delightful, with fun furnishings, and everything to a smaller scale. The library also offers programs for kids; call ahead to find out what's happening that you don't want to miss. Summer is chock full of special events, including the Summer Reading Program.
Got a question that's been bugging you? Meet the research librarian, who could probably easily win every single episode of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Or look it up yourself: several computers offer internet access to visitors and locals alike.

Captiva Island Library

Music lovers will find CDs they can listen to, or take on loan. The Sanibel library even has a room full of bargain books - be sure to check this out for your next day of beach reading.

The periodical section is a perennial favorite, housing approximately 130 magazines and seven major newspapers, including The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. (Be careful how "plugged in" you get, though; you ARE on vacation!) Captiva's library is smaller, but provides lots of options, including new releases, children's section, periodicals, older fiction and non-fiction, videos, DVDs, audio tapes and CDs of books, a children's section, and the Summer Reading Program for kids, as well as special childrens' programs. Hours of operation at the Sanibel library are Monday and Thursday, 9 am - 8pm; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, 9-5; Saturday 9-1. It's located on Dunlop Road, running from Palm Ridge Road (near the Hungry Heron) to Periwinkle Way (near the Island Cow). Call (239) 472-2483. The Captiva library is located next to Chapel by the Sea, at the intersection of Chapin Lane and Wiles. Hours of operation are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 9-5; Wednesday 12-8. Call (239) 472-2133 for information.

3. Get Jiggy with a Puzzle. Be honest. You used to LOVE working jigsaw puzzles. Now it's been 25 years, and whether or not you have kids in your condo, a puzzle is the perfect project for a relaxing week on vacation. It will entertain you if it's raining out, it will lull into a deep sleep at night, it will tempt you to stop by and find "just one pice" every time you cross the room. It never makes a noise, or asks for a thing. And when it's finished, you are RULER OF THE UNIVERSE. Several local shops carry puzzles; find one that looks tough and tackle it.
Bailey's True Value Hardware, (239)472-1516. Eckerd Drugs, (239)472-1719. Toys Ahoy at Periwinkle Place, (239) 472-4800. Sanibel Surf Shop, at Jerry's Shopping Center, (239) 472-8185.

4. Choose Your Own Oscar Winner. Now is your big chance to see that blockbuster hit you missed at home. Or perhaps you and your sweetie could watch a romantic comedy while the kids are involved in a craft project or puzzle. There are two video/DVD rental stores on Sanibel island, and one location on Captiva. Many hotels, inns and condo rental offices also carry a selection of videotapes, so call the front desk and see what's waiting for you ! The Sanibel library also has a selection of old, classic movies and educational videos.
Sanibel Island also has a small cinema, tucked in next to Bailey's Grocery, which shows first-run films, starting about 4 pm.

Michele's Video & DVD (mid-island); 630 Tarpon Bay Road, in the Olde Sanbiel Shoppes, at the corner of Periwinkle. Open 10-10 daily. Call (239) 472-7222.
The Video Scene (mid-island); 2437 Periwinkle Way, at Bailey's Shopping Center. Open 10-9 Monday through Saturday, Sundays 12-9. Call (239) 472-0077.
Island Cinema, 535 Tarpon Bay Road; Call (239) 472-1701.

5. Think Crafty Thoughts. You could while away an entire rainy afternoon poking around the islands' supreme craft store, Three Crafty Ladies. But then you'd miss all the fun of picking out a project, going home and working on it while the rain falls gently outside your lanai.
This amazing think-tank of a craft shop is perfect for finding a project for the kids. They have all sorts of things that can be decorated with seashells, from boxes to mirrors to frames. They have glue, shells, paint, buttons, and endless ideas on how to enhance an island object d'art.
Three Crafty Ladies also has embroidery floss, as well as beads galore, and the cord to string them on, for making necklaces and bracelets. They carry lots of rubber stamps, ink pads in a rainbow of colors, and paper supplies. Kids and grown-ups will find a full line of art supplies, including watercolors, and all the papers. Why not have a painting exhibition at your island place, and get the whole family involved. Lots of markers and all kinds of things for children to color with, complement the coloring books found in this treasure-trove of a shop.
The ladies who work there can suggest projects, and work with you and yours to help figure out a perfect rainy day project.
Hours are 9:30 - 5, Monday through Saturday. Call (239) 472-2893.

HOT TIP: These activities are also good for those days when you've already gotten a little more than your share of sun . . .

* Originally published in Times of the Islands - 7/03
© Libby Boren McMillan - Legal Rights Apply
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