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Before we get to the dining options, we want to let you know that the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge will be open on Christmas Day with FREE ADMISSION for the motor trail!

First, the bad news.  If you are arriving on Christmas Day, all grocery stores (including Bailey’s General Store and Jerry’s Foods on Sanibel and Publix and Walmart on the mainland) WILL BE CLOSED! This only happens once every several years when guests check in on the holiday, so if you are not able to make arrangement (shipping items to be picked up), you are better off eating out.  The good news is that there are several options:

Paper Fig Kitchen is offering Holiday Catering for both Christmas and New Year’s with a package including Beef or Pork Tenderloins or just individual Tenderloin meals.  Christmas orders should be placed by noon on December 15 (pick up December 23 between 10am and 2pm or December 24 between 9am and 11am), while New Year’s catering should be by noon on December 22 (pickup December 30 between 10am and 4pm).  Follow the link or call (239) 887-0050.

The Sundial Beach Resort will be having their traditional Christmas Brunch (with an island accent) from Noon till 4:30 pm (Adults $65, Kids 4 – 12 $25, 3 and under free).  Live Entertainment is included.  Reservations are strongly recommended, so call (239) 935-6013.  Also, ring in the New Year with their family-friendly Rock ‘N’ Roll New Year’s Eve Party beginning at 6:30 until the countdown and champagne toast.  Tickets must be purchased in advance with adults at $90, children 4 – 12 at $35, and kids 3 and under free.  Private cabanas (for up to 10 people) are available for rent with tableside drink service and private champagne toast for $975.  There will be several food stations with items to satisfy all appetites, live DJ and band (Dale Schwegel and The Old 41 Band), kids’ games, dance and air guitar contests, and more! Call (239) 395-6015 to reserve your spot.

The historic Thistle Lodge at the Casa Ybel Resort will be offering dinner service from 11:00 am to 8:00pm.  Adults are $58 and children 10 and under are $22 (plus tax and 20% gratuity).

The Timbers and The Sanibel Grill (both at 703 Tarpon Bay Road) will be open on Christmas Eve *and* Christmas Day with their best steak and seafood dinners.  Hang out in the Sanibel Grill sports bar while waiting for your Timbers table or just stay and enjoy watching your favorites games.  The Timbers will be open 5pm to 8pm Christmas Eve and 3pm to 8pm Christmas Day.  The Grill will be open from 4pm to 8pm Christmas Eve and 3pm to last call on Christmas Day.

Traditions of the Islands at the historic Island Inn will have holiday-themed dinners available on Christmas Eve *and* Christmas Night from 4:00 to 10:00, accompanied by live entertainment and dancing.  Reservations accepted and recommended by calling (239) 472-4559.

The West Wind Inn is a great place to spend Christmas, either lunching on The Upper Deck (weather permitting) or dinner at Normandie’s Seaside Café to enjoy Island favorites, sample more than one meal with a Seafood Trio, or enjoy a roasted half duck.

Out on Captiva, the Tween-Waters Inn is offering a magnificent Christmas buffet with rack of lamb, prime rib, and roasted ham from Noon till 8pm in The Old Captiva House and The Crow’s Nest.  $70 for adults, $22 for children 10 and under.  Reservations can be made online at OpenTable or calling (239) 472-5161 ext 423 (between 4pm and 9:30 pm).

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