Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum

#5 in Best Things To Do in Sanibel Island
Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum picture1 of 3
Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum2 of 3
Jessica Lucia/Flickr

Key Info

3075 Sanibel-Captiva Road

Price & Hours

$15 for adults; $7 for kids 5-11
10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

Details

Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.0

scorecard

  • 4.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is small but packs quite a punch. In just a few choice exhibits, you'll be able to learn more about any sea treasures you might have uncovered at the nearby seashore. Popular exhibits include the sailors' valentines (19th-century shell art that Bajan women designed for area sailors to take home to loved ones), shells from around the world and a depiction of what life was like for the Native Calusa Floridians who once lived near the Southwest Gulf.

In March 2020, the museum opened a new wing that shelters 11 different aquarium exhibits featuring live mollusks. Animals now living at the museum include giant clams, octopuses and gastropods. The new wing also has two different touch tanks to allow children to get up close to a few of these creatures.

Recent travelers found that the museum exceeded their expectations. They appreciated the hands-on exhibits and found the displays, as well as the museum employees, to be informative.

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission ranges from $9 to $24, depending on age; children ages 4 and younger can enter for free. On-site parking is free. Visit the official website for further details.

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#1 Bowman's Beach

Bowman's is well known for having beautiful, unusual shells, but you'll have to put a little effort into finding the true gems along this beach. Recent travelers found the best method is to step waist-deep in the water and dig your feet into the sand to find the shells. (You may want to wear water shoes to protect your feet.)

Beachgoers routinely praised Bowman's for its excellent shelling and expansive sands that let visitors find their own spots with ease. Several also enjoyed riding their bikes to the beach, saying that the ride is easy along the nearby path.

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