A few weeks ago Will and I had the opportunity to stay at Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grande, Florida, to shoot an article about the area for Garden & Gun Magazine. Neither of us had ever explored this part of the state before so they sent us off with a fun-filled itinerary of things to do and places to eat and it did not disappoint! Many of you also left recommendations on this Instagram post so be sure to check those out if you’re planning a visit to Boca Grande or Sanibel Island!
We flew from New York to Fort Myers and then picked up a rental car to drive to Boca Grande. We loved Gasparilla Inn from the moment we pulled up to its grand entrance and checked in in their fabulously wallpapered lobby. We got to stay in one of their adorable cottages which is a quick walk down the street from the main hotel. We also picked up bikes and a golf cart for our stay and I’ve decided that any hotel where golf carts are the main form of transportation is my kind of place. This was my first time driving one and I had so much fun!
On our first night we cruised over to the Pink Elephant for fish tacos and margaritas as the sun set. The Pink Elephant is one of several restaurants on the Gasparilla Inn property and easily one of the most recommended spots on our list.
The next morning we got an early start with iced coffee and baked goods from the Inn Bakery which we enjoyed on the porch off of BZ’s in the main hotel. I can’t think of a more picturesque spot to enjoy your morning coffee!
We had an action-packed day that started with a boat ride from the dock at the Pink Elephant to Captiva about an hour away. From Captiva we hopped in a car out to Sanibel Island, where we walked along the beach and picked up some of the most beautiful seashells I’ve ever seen. You have to go to Lighthouse Beach if you make it out to Sanibel — the sand is so soft and the color of the water will make you think you’re in the Caribbean.
We’d intended to grab lunch at Gramma Dot’s on Sanibel but lost track of time on the beach and had to race back to Captiva in time for our return boat ride. We were starving by the time we got back to Boca Grande so we had a late lunch at local favorite The Loose Caboose. You have to try their homemade ice cream!
We knew we wanted to catch the sunset at the Gasparilla Inn Beach Club so we threw on a change of clothes and took our golf cart out to the beach. What a view! I wish we’d had an extra day so we could have spent all afternoon soaking up the sun from their bright yellow beach chairs. The sunset reminded me of Galley Beach on Nantucket where everyone lines up along the water to take photos as the sun dips below the horizon.
On our final morning we took our bikes out along the Boca Grande bike path and headed out to see Banyan Street, a historic tree-lined street that looks out to the water on one side. There are so many gorgeous homes in Boca Grande but I think this one with its turquoise shutters was my favorite.
We had one last breakfast in the dining room at the main hotel and it was one of the best hotel breakfasts I think we’ve ever had. (Will ordered a lobster omelette that I may have eaten half of. Oops!) It definitely made it harder to say good-bye and head back to the cold in Connecticut!
Would love to hear from any of you who have visited the area so we can add a few new spots to our list for next time. I was surprised how many of you have been visiting Boca Grande your entire lives — I always love getting a local’s recs!
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