Fort Myers tempts visitors with its beautiful beaches every single day, but sometimes your skin demands a break from the sun. When you take a break from the water, your family won’t be bored with the activities on land. Check out these four popular spots — and still go home with a big bag of souvenir shells at the end of your trip.
IMAG History & Science Center
Trite but true: Learning is fun at IMAG History & Science Center! With a former name like the Imaginarium, it’s no surprise the center goes above and beyond to entertain kids and parents. Interactive exhibits allow kids to be a TV weather forecaster, touch stingrays and sea urchins, dig for fossils, and so much more. The virtual reality exhibit takes you back 150 years to see the Fort Myers area as it once looked to settlers.
Recognize those Ice Age fossils in the Hall of History? You should; you dug for similar fossils on your own IMAG dig. The Fisheye Lagoon is out back, and it’s the perfect place to spot migrating birds, turtles, koi, and other fish. Plus, the outdoor aquarium has alligators and other Lake Okeechobee residents. And you don’t even have to get wet to see them.
Shell Factory, Nature Park, and Fun Park
The name of the Shell Factory is a bit — maybe a lot? — misleading. Instead of making shells or even watching someone make them, you spend the day riding ziplines and bumper boats, playing miniature golf and arcade games, eating ice cream, or walking your pooch in the dog park. Admission is free, except to the nature park. The 400 animals onsite include dwarf Nigerian goats, coatimundis, and kinkajous. Like a challenge? Tell the kids they don’t get ice cream until they can spell all the names without peeking.
Guess what you can buy on the way out. Shells! The store claims to have the world’s largest collection of seashells along with fossils, corals, and sea life. If you need thank-you gifts for your fish sitters at home, you have plenty of options. Just make sure you have enough room in your luggage for stowaway items.
Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium
The Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium spreads out over 105 acres, with several nature trails (accessible to those with mobility challenges, including babies and toddlers in strollers), butterfly and bird aviaries, a museum, and a planetarium. The museum has live animals that are local to Fort Myers, like raccoons, snakes, foxes, turtles, and skunks. Pay attention to presentation times, so you can get up close with the animals — except the skunk, of course.
The birds living in the aviary have been injured, and the center is their safe place. In the butterfly pavilion, challenge your kids to a contest to see who can get the most winged creatures to land on them. The planetarium plays seasonal shows about the stars and planets, and the staff tells you about the current constellations in the sky, giving you some trivia to impress your friends.
Lakes Regional Park
With 300 acres, this county park lets the family explore the water, gardens, trails, and a railroad museum. Do you enjoy bird watching? Keep an eye out for herons, egrets, ibises, and anhingas. Rent a paddle boat to get some exercise, or treat the kids to a spin in a CraigCat electric boat. If you want the kids to do some of the work, rent funky bikes, like the Chopper, that kids can pedal.
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