Family in the sun

Stone Crab season opens on October 15 in The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. So? It’s just one of the many, many events that highlight Islands Fallfest, a collection of festivals, shows, exhibitions and competitions that dominate the fall season on Florida’s southern Gulf Coast. This is the fourth year Islands Fallfest has celebrated all that is special in Lee County where an “old Florida” community shows off its creative side; an eco festival and a paddling festival celebrate the area’s natural resources; and sand artists from around the world converge on the local beaches.

The fall season is a perfect time to visit The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. The weather is a bit cooler, the beaches are still spectacular, the golf is glorious, the fish still biting and the festivals in full swing.

22nd Annual “Ding” Darling Days
When: October 16 – 22
Where: Sanibel Island
Looking for Florida Festivals where the focal point of the celebration is nature? Look no farther! The Ding Darling Days features events and activities that centre on preserving the beautiful natural resources of the region. There is an entire week of wildlife presentations, tram tours and eco-friendly activities. There are kids activities, family days, kid’s days, a Federal Duck Stamp presentation and art day. The festival is also a celebration of its namesake, 1920s Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and pioneer environmentalist Jay Norwood Darling. It is a fun event that should be experienced by everyone who has a chance to check it out during its one-week run.

26th Annual Oktoberfest
When: October 21 – 26
Where:  Cape Coral.
This massive festival celebrates German culture in a way that you have never experienced it before. The festivities include live music, dancing, culture and, of course, German food. The dining variety is great. The highlights of the festival include live German musical entertainment, as well as actual musical groups from Germany. There’s lots of German food and beer to be found at this colourful festival. The gates to the festival open on Friday and close on Sunday. It is $5 for reserved tickets, and $6 at the entrance for those who are 13 years old and up.

 25th Annual American Sandsculpting Championship Festival
When? November 2 – 6
Where? Fort Meyers Beach
 This massive event lures in more than 50,000 people over its entire five-day duration. It has been named one of the top 20 November destinations by the Southeast Tourism Society. There will be 16 master sculptors here, as well as amateurs and professionals. The sand of Fort Meyers Beach is ideal for sculpting.

Annual American Sandsculpting Championship Festival.

6th Annual Calusa Bluway Paddling Festival
When: November 3 – 6
Where: county-wide
The 304-kilometre-long paddling trail runs along the front of many of the most lovely beachfront properties in Florida. This eco-friendly event includes many water activities like kayaking, fishing and so forth.

Annual Taste of Town
When: November 6
Where: Fort Meyers
Held in Centennial Park, you can sample more than 40 different restaurants and their best dishes along with about 15,000 other eager guests!

Cape Coral CoCoNut Festival
When: November 11 – 13
Where: Cape Coral
This celebration for coconuts, eco-friendly wildlife refuges and arts and crafts is an ideal place for families. It features everything from fireworks to tropical food and contests.

Creative Coast Weekends
When: November through April
Where: St. James City
This festival is all about art. Visit gallery openings, sample the best of the region’s wine.

Looking for great places to lodge while you are visiting the Fort Meyers area? Even better, searching for a way to combine your visit to some of the best festivities in the area with a nice hotel? Here are some of the best hotels and their corresponding events in the region:

‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort.‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort
Gulf of Mexico beachfront vacations on Captiva Island from $130 per night, plus $80 dining credit with every stay of three nights or more. (Don’t miss the resort’s Halloween Voodoo Island Bash on October 29.)

West Wind Inn, Sanibel Island.
Two-night Islands Fallfest Package with included admission to the J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge. Double occupancy.

DiamondHead Beach Resort and Spa
, Fort Meyers Beach.
You can save money on rates if you are staying for more than three nights and have access to the Fallfest festival. There is a pool, comfortable accommodations and walking distance to the festival itself.

Gullwing Beach Resort
, Fort Meyers Beach.
Fort Meyers is a popular destination with tourists. If you stay at this lodge for more than three nights, you will save $25 per night.

Pointe Estero Beach Resort
, Fort Meyers Beach.
Stay three nights or longer and save $25 per night through December 22. Rates start at $149.

The Resort at MarinaVillage
, Cape Coral.
Stay three nights or longer and save $25 per night through December 22. Rates start at $139.

You can find a complete listing of events here: