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Times of the Islands Magazine

Rainy Season Blues? Time to Visit Sanibel’s Indoor Amenities

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.

The Heart of the Island

The beautifully renovated Sanibel Community House, originally built in 1927. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Tongyai.

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 have potlucks 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 for specific schedules, including throwback social events such as hog roasts and ice cream socials.

Not Your Average Library

The Sanibel Public Library also underwent a complete renovation over the past year, sure to retain its No. 1 ranking on TripAdvisor. Photo courtesy of Sanibel Public Library.

The Sanibel Public Library’s no. 1 ranking on Trip Advisor 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 or check-outs.

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 for further information on library services and for updates on the renovation.
The Sanibel Public Library also underwent a complete renovation over the past year, sure to retain its No. 1 ranking on TripAdvisor. Photo by Barbara Linstrom.


Fit 4 Life

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/dates at

Written by Barbara Linstrom, who 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.