Florida Shell Museum

If you’re shoveling snow in Chicago or pulling out an extra blanket in Boston and thinking about a sunny getaway for the family with a little bit of educational fun for the kids, look no further than Sanibel Island in southwestern Florida.  The perfect vacation spot awaits you – with no passport required!

Extending out into the Gulf of Mexico, Sanibel Island is well known throughout the world for its abundance of exquisite shells prized by collectors.   One of the many features of the island is the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.  This museum, visited by travelers from all over the world, features a wide variety of books, videos, and displays dedicated to shell art and history.  Even the kids will be captivated by a video created just for them that plays on a continuous loop.

No doubt that biologists and serious collectors are regular visitors to the Museum’s library which houses an extensive collection of books and periodicals from all over the world on the study of mollusks.  You can even perform an online search at the Museum’s website for specialized information on shells before you arrive.  But the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum is not just for nerds!   Families will be fascinated by the natural beauty of the large variety of shells and exquisite displays, and don’t forget to stop by the Museum shop for jewelry, clothing, posters, and unique gift items as well as stuffed animals, puzzles and games for children.

Residents who live nearby who may be interested in volunteering and students who live or attend school in the area can apply for internships. For information, visit the website at http://shellmuseum.org/volunteer.cfm.   Museum memberships are offered at several levels of sponsorship and include free admission, guest passes, discounted entry to seminars and lectures, and invitations to special field trips.

With a mean temperature of 60 degrees in mid-winter to a warm 90 degrees in summer, picturesque and historic Sanibel Island is a favorite destination for family vacations.  The nearby wildlife refuge inhabited by colorful pelicans, herons and sea turtles ensure that even the little ones won’t be bored on this trip.  For a picture-perfect vacation or a lovely way to while away an afternoon, pack up the kids and take a fast jet to Fort Myers International Airport or a leisurely road trip down I-95 to the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum on Sanibel Island, the “Seashell Capital of the World”.