Charlotte County Florida Weekly

Four themed staycations for easy, breezy summer days

EXPLORE SOUTHWEST FLORIDA
Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum offers a daily Great Hall Spotlights exhibit tour, which takes place at 3 p.m. COURTESY PHOTO

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum offers a daily Great Hall Spotlights exhibit tour, which takes place at 3 p.m. COURTESY PHOTO

Forget about the plane tickets, road atlas and gas station sticker shock. This summer, stay put for a staycaytion. The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau makes it easy and affordable with two programs. Deliver the Fort Myers Sun Saver Passport directly to your smart device for deals at participating restaurants, attractions and other experiences. Sign up at explore.visitfortmyers.com. For more value-added opportunities, check in at Fort Myers Discovery Challenge. Use your smartphone to find exclusive savings, deals and prizes. Learn more at visitfortmyers.com/challenge. To get your staycation explorations started, the VCB suggests four themes for itinerary building.

Seashell safari

June 21 marks National Seashell Day (www.visitfortmyers.com/national-seashell-day), a tradition inspired by Lee County’s devotion to all things shellacious. The occasion calls for a relaxing day at the beach sifting through shells to celebrate the destination’s reputation for world-class shelling.

To complete your shell-themed day, visit the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum (www.shellmuseum.org) on Sanibel Island, whose beaches are largely responsible for the region’s shelling fame. Among the museum’s educational offerings, its new daily Great Hall Spotlights exhibit tour takes place at 3 p.m. Learn about shells without bending over or perspiring in the gallery of more than 35 exhibits of shells, mollusks, and ecosystems they inhabit.

Music merriment

As we look ahead to fall’s signature county-wide event — Island Hopper Songwriter Fest 2022 (www.islandhopperfest.com), in its eighth year Sept. 16-25 — it’s time to amp up for live music. The Caloosa Sound Convention Center & Amphitheater, riverside and open-air at Luminary Hotel & Co. downtown Fort Myers, is the newest venue for concerts. Watch www.luminaryhotel.com/gather/caloosa-sound-convention-center/caloosa-sound-amphitheater for upcoming events.

At Alliance for the Arts (www.artinlee. org), music spills from the stage and into the audience when it presents The Greatest Showman Sing-A-Long Movie & Event on June 12. Its first sing-a-long event ever involves snacks, food trucks, costumes (if you’re so inclined) and circus surprises. Movie screenings happen at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. with a special performance by Citrus Circus in-between.

Calusa Trails

Between the Calusa Heritage Trail (www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/rrc/visit/trail/) in Pineland and Mound Key Archaeological State Park (www.floridastateparks. org) in Estero, Lee County knows no lack of attractions that track the region’s ancient culture of mound-builders. The Mound House (www.moundhouse.org) on Fort Myers Beach ranks among the best of them, and this summer it offers a new program that explores one of the culture’s most intriguing facets. Calusa Masks workshops teach about the native American artform, with a hands-on opportunity to make your own replica. Upcoming workshops are scheduled for June 10 and 17 at 2 p.m. and June 24 at 10 a.m. Cost is $5 per person plus admission.

Turtle Tours

Summer is for moving at a turtle’s pace. It also happens to be that time of year when sea turtles nest on local beaches — a miracle that requires a day all its own to explore. The Visitor & Education Center at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge (www.dingdarlingsociety.org) on Sanibel Island is the place to start, where a hands-on exhibit explains the different types of sea turtles and replicates a loggerhead nest.

At Lovers Key State Park (www.floridastateparks.org) south of Fort Myers Beach, a Sea Turtle Nest Walk at 10:30 a.m. on June 17, strolls the beach to observe marked nests and teaches about threats to the nests and turtles, including human interference. The program is free with paid admission to the park. ¦

— For more ideas on where to take your staycation in Fort Myers’ Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods, check out VisitFortMyers.com.

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