Ellington’s Jazz Bar & Restaurant (937 E. Gulf Dr., Sanibel, 239/472-0494) hosts live jazz every night in a decidedly upscale but quite relaxed atmosphere. Meals are exorbitantly expensive, but show up early and grab a seat at the cozy bar. There’s a two-drink minimum, but you’ll find it to be the best place to check out the music without having to take out a second mortgage for one of Ellington’s $45 steaks.
A bit more downscale is McT’s Tavern (1523 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 239/472-3161), where you can grab a beer, play darts, and watch the game on one of their big-screen TVs.
Those who want to dance should head for the Crow’s Nest Lounge (15951 Captiva Dr., Captiva, 239/472-5161) or Beaches Bar & Grill (1451 Middle Gulf Dr., Sanibel, 239/472-4151). The crowds at both tend toward the upper edges of both age and economic demographics, but the atmosphere is casual and fun.
For almost a quarter century, the Sanibel Shell Fair & Show (Mar.) has drawn beachcombers and shell aficionados to the island. Taking place over three days at the Sanibel Community House, there’s an outdoor fair with shell-themed crafts and vendors; inside there’s a show ($3) with rare shells, jewelry, and juried exhibits on display.
Local restaurants strut their stuff at Taste of the Islands (Apr.). Live music and local craft vendors round out the offerings at this one-day event in Sanibel Community Park.