Rainy Sea­son Blues?

Time to visit Sanibel’s in­door ameni­ties

Times of the Islands - - Contents - Bar­bara Lin­strom has been writ­ing for Times of the Is­lands since its pre­miere is­sue in 1997. Hav­ing first vis­ited Sanibel in 1976, she en­joys cov­er­ing the evo­lu­tion of the is­land’s unique com­mu­nity.

Sanibel is surely blessed by its stun­ning nat­u­ral beauty, but it also boasts a net­work of in­door pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties that re­flect its thriv­ing cul­tural and recre­ational scene. As the hu­mid­ity and heat soar, it’s a great time to have some ad­ven­tures in the A/C and get so­cial along the way. Hardly the sleepy bar­rier is­land that it once was be­fore the cause­way was built 55 years ago, Sanibel has evolved very in­ten­tion­ally over time to feed the mind, body and spirit of res­i­dents and vis­i­tors alike.

From the Sanibel Com­mu­nity House, which first brought is­lan­ders to­gether in the 1920s, to the Sanibel Pub­lic Li­brary, which currently ranks on­line as the top thing to do on Sanibel, to dy­namic fit­ness train­ing seven days a week at the Sanibel Re­cre­ation Cen­ter, there’s a thriv­ing and af­ford­able in­door cul­ture on the is­land.


Sanibel’s friendly and down-to-earth vibe de­fines the his­toric Sanibel Com­mu­nity House, which was built in 1927 to of­fer is­lan­ders a place to share meals and homegrown en­ter­tain­ment.

A re­cent cap­i­tal cam­paign of $3 mil­lion funded the lat­est ren­o­va­tions, which re­tain its his­toric spirit while mak­ing it a state-of-the-art hub. Its mis­sion “to en­rich com­mu­nity spirit through ed­u­ca­tional, cul­tural and so­cial gath­er­ings” is more alive than ever through in­no­va­tive pro­gram­ming and a wel­com­ing at­mos­phere.

“No mat­ter who you are or how long you’re here, you’re wel­come to par­take of what we do,” says Teresa Riska-Hall, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the past seven years. “We of­fer pro­grams

As the hu­mid­ity and heat soar, it’s a great time to have some ad­ven­tures in the A/C and get so­cial along the way.

all sum­mer long, as well as our classic shell-crafters class ev­ery Mon­day at 10 a.m.”

Farm-to-ta­ble culi­nary classes are of­fered in the newly re­designed kitchen. Mini-golf, yoga and arts pro­grams are also avail­able dur­ing the sum­mer. Check out the web­site at sani­bel­com­mu­ni­ty­house.net for spe­cific sched­ules, in­clud­ing throw­back so­cial events such as hog roasts and ice cream so­cials.


The Sanibel Pub­lic Li­brary’s No. 1 rank­ing on TripAd­vi­sor prob­a­bly speaks as much about the types of peo­ple who live on and visit Sanibel as it does about the fa­cil­ity it­self. The in­tel­li­gent, cu­ri­ous and friendly cit­i­zens of Sanibel re­cently do­nated more than $5 mil­lion to up­grade the li­brary that was built pre-In­ter­net in 1994.

With roots back into the ’70s, the li­brary is open this sum­mer while its high-tech and de­sign-fo­cused ren­o­va­tions are com­pleted. Even with some pro­gram­ming on hia­tus and about 40 per­cent of its hold­ings in stor­age, the li­brary buzzes with com­mu­nity in­ter­ac­tion. And, it’s about much more than just check­ing out books and read­ing pe­ri­od­i­cals.

“Any­one is wel­come to pur­chase a li­brary card; we of­fer vis­i­tor cards. We are here to serve the com­mu­nity as a whole,” says Margaret Mo­hun­dro, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. “We find that a lot of peo­ple visit Sanibel to re­con­nect with fam­i­lies and re­ally en­joy check­ing out our board games and puz­zles.” Fa­vorites in­clude clas­sics such as Scrabble, Banana­grams, Trou­ble, Parcheesi, Mo­nop­oly and backgam­mon, she adds. Puz­zles are also avail­able for trade-ins and check­outs.

Fast Wi-Fi, com­puter check­outs and a com­puter lab, as well as kids and teens sec­tions, of­fer some­thing for the whole fam­ily. Ren­o­va­tions in­clude plans for mini living rooms to en­cour­age con­ver­sa­tions that stir the soul.

Visit san­lib.org for fur­ther information on li­brary ser­vices and for up­dates on the ren­o­va­tion.


Cel­e­brat­ing its tenth sum­mer since open­ing its new fa­cil­ity, the city-op­er­ated Sanibel Re­cre­ation Cen­ter of­fers its “Fit 4 Life” pro­grams that round out in­door, air-con­di­tioned ways to ful­fill your whole self—not to men­tion, mak­ing new friends.

“We are here to serve three as­pects of health: phys­i­cal, so­cial and emotional,” says An­drea Miller, di­rec­tor of re­cre­ation for the city of Sanibel. “Dur­ing the sum­mer we have a lot of in­door ac­tiv­i­ties for peo­ple who want to get out of the heat.”

Pro­grams serve a va­ri­ety of pur­poses— from med­i­ta­tive yoga or soli­tary strength train­ing in the fit­ness cen­ter to com­mu­nity ac­tiv­ity through in­door, pickup pick­le­ball and bas­ket­ball in the gym­na­sium.

Aqua classes in the re­fresh­ing pool are also of­fered dur­ing the sum­mer, in­clud­ing deep- and shal­low-wa­ter aer­o­bics, aqualates (Pi­lates in the pool) and aqua­jog­ging.

“We also have a sum­mer camp for kids en­ter­ing first through eighth grade through July 27,” says Miller. “Visit­ing grand­chil­dren will of­ten join us for a week or a cou­ple days.”

Cy­cling, Zumba and barre fit­ness classes are also of­fered. Check out the re­cre­ation de­part­ment’s “Week at a Glance” for times and dates at mysani­bel.com.

Among its most pop­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, the Sanibel Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion of­fers culi­nary classes with chef Jarred Har­ris.

The beau­ti­fully renovated Sanibel Com­mu­nity House, orig­i­nally built in 1927. Be­low, the Sanibel Pub­lic Li­brar y also un­der­went a com­plete ren­o­va­tion over the past year, sure to re­tain its No. 1 rank­ing on T ripAd­vi­sor.

Sanibel Rec Cen­ter (be­low) of­fers a com­plete pro­gram of ac­tiv­i­ties, in­side and out.

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