Behind The Chic Travel

An Insider’s Guide to Sanibel

These days, a lot of us are dreaming of a beach getaway right about now. And few beaches are as beautiful as Florida’s Sanibel Island—the site where Chico’s was born, more than 35 years ago. Initially established as a folk-art boutique in 1983 by Helene and Martin Gralnick, even after the focus shifted to fashion, our emphasis on artful design and details remained. Today, thousands of customers come to Sanibel’s Periwinkle Place each year to experience the first-ever Chico’s boutique.

Located just across the causeway from Fort Myers, breathtaking Sanibel Island draws visitors from around the globe to explore its white-sand beaches, wildlife preserves, elegant hotels, picturesque restaurants, and charming shops. Because our company headquarters are only a 30-minute drive away, our associates are able to visit Sanibel’s scenic shores anytime. We asked a number of them to share with us their favorite spots and activities there. For most of the world, a trip to Sanibel will have to wait awhile. But for now, allow us to bring this dream destination to life for you. Here’s hoping we will see you soon!

The original Chico’s boutique located on Sanibel Island at Periwinkle Shops.

“My perfect day on Sanibel starts with a visit to the original Chico’s boutique—it has so much character and is the ideal backdrop for our curated collection. Next is a brunch of Crab Cake Eggs Benedict at the Sunset Grill Restaurant. Then I like to while away a few hours on the beach with a good book, then walk the length of Captiva Island with my terrier, discovering shells, watching dolphins, and being amused by the pelicans fishing!” —Melloney Birkett, Vice President, Design and Product Development

“Whenever I have a visitor, my favorite thing to do is to rent bicycles at Billy’s Bike Shop. It’s such a fun way to explore the beaches while getting in a little exercise. Also, a drive over to Captiva Island is a must! The beach near the South Seas Island Resort is the perfect place for watching the sunset.” —Lee Covieo, Senior Visual Manager

Bowman’s Beach situated on Sanibel Island.

“Of course, I love the beaches on Sanibel! They are so pretty and expansive, I can sit there for hours watching the waves roll up against the sand and just take in the natural beauty of it all. My favorite thing to do is to walk along the beach at sunset. The west coast of Florida has some of the most beautiful views, and every night is like seeing a different painting. Then, if there’s time, it’s great to grab a late dinner at The Mad Hatter Restaurant. The food there is fresh and delicious, and the atmosphere is so fun!”  —Elizabeth Felkamp, Director of Design

“My favorite places to shop are the Tahitian Gardens and The Village Shops malls, as well as Periwinkle Place—where I visit Chico’s original boutique. I always take family and friends to the J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge. You can walk, bike, or drive through, and they also have a fantastic visitor center, in addition to many parks and places to explore. And I love going to Blind Pass Beach or Bowman’s Beach and their miles of white sand, where I do the ‘Sanibel stoop’ to search for shells and other ocean treasures.” —Michelle Marinello, Artist, Concept & Trend

The best made-to-order, cinnamon sugar donuts from Sanibel Island’s Farmer’s Market.

“I enjoy the seasonal Sanibel Island Farmer’s Market on Sundays. I like to go to Gramma Dot’s Seaside Saloon for Key lime pie—it’s the best, not too sweet and nice and tart. I also really love the annual Taste of the Islands festival, where many of the local restaurants serve small plates to benefit the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife. But my favorite thing to do in Sanibel is to cycle around all the bike paths. It’s such a great way to see all the plants, trees, and wildlife.” —Rosalind Crossland, In-House Print Artist

“I love to go shelling—I find it therapeutic to walk along the shore and find hidden treasures that keep changing with each wave. Lighthouse Beach is one of my favorites. It has some of the best shells, in my opinion, and is also lovely at sunset. You can watch the dolphins play, with a view of the lighthouse in the background. Sanibel also has many wonderful antiques shops. I have found some amazing artworks and furniture pieces for my collection.” —Jessica Mendez, CAD Director

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille Maine Lobster Roll.

“I love eating on Sanibel—with so many great local restaurants, you can’t go wrong! The Over Easy Café is a must for brunch; Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille has a fun atmosphere for dinner; and Joey’s Custard is the perfect spot for finishing the day with a delicious treat. While in Sanibel, I always stop in at the original Chico’s boutique. It’s filled with so much charm and history, it’s a classic!” —Blake Smith, Designer—Black Label and Fashion Woven Tops

“Sitting underneath the Sanibel bridge reading, sketching, watching dolphins swim so near, and taking in the expansive view while my husband fished is one of my first and fondest memories of the island. Our family outings to Sanibel have included a quick stop to the visitor center with the kids. They love seeing all the different types of shells displayed there, and it gets them excited for their own day of exploring. Next, we stroll into Jerry’s Foods to fill our cooler and to say hello to every parrot in the courtyard before pitching camp down at Lighthouse Beach.”  —Christina Kusek, Senior Manager, CAD Design

Jessica enjoying the beaches of Sanibel as a young girl.

“One of my favorite activities on Sanibel is to go searching for shells on Bowman Beach. As a child, I used to come to the island with my grandma. She was a snowbird in this part of Florida, and my family would visit her yearly. We’d spend hours walking up and down the beach, looking for the perfect shell, building sandcastles, and watching the unbelievable sunsets. I cherish these memories and now get to create new ones in the very same place with my own children.” —Jessica Ridgeo, Merchandise Manager, Woven Tops & Jackets

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