Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium

#4 in Best Things To Do in Fort Myers
Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium picture
RHZ/Getty Images

Key Info

3450 Ortiz Avenue

Details

Zoos and Aquariums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
3.8scorecard
  • 4.0Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 3.5Atmosphere

You'll see a wide range of animals native to Florida at the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium, including bald eagles, alligators, hawks and owls. There are also daily shows and animal demonstrations, as well as touch tanks and fossils that kids will enjoy.

Allot one to two hours to enjoy tours of Calusa's artificial habitats, experience the wetlands or visit the butterfly house, and if there's still time left over, take in the Center's laser and space-related shows. Recent visitors feel the planetarium is a highlight, but the rest of the nature center is fun for families with smaller children.

The nature center and planetarium are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and open at 11 a.m. on Sundays. Keep in mind that during the rainy summer months, the park may close at 3 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 3 to 12, and includes access to the museum, butterfly aviary and trails as well as any scheduled animal demonstrations and planetarium shows. For more information and to see the schedule of events, visit their website

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J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Edison and Ford Winter Estates
Type
Time to Spend
1 of 5
#1 J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Named after a political cartoonist and conservationist, the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge occupies 8,000 acres of land on Sanibel Island, located southwest of Fort Myer's city center. The refuge, which takes up about half the entire island, was originally meant to conserve the island's significant mangrove forest. Today, it is still home to those mangroves, as well as animals like crocodiles, alligators and countless species of birds. In fact, for herons, cuckoos, ospreys, and other birds, the refuge is an important stop along their migratory path. Recent visitors to the park said it's a unique way to see a variety of wildlife. 

You'll see the most wildlife if you visit between the months November and April during low tide. If you visit in the summer be aware of the high humidity and increased amount of bugs – including mosquitos. You can explore the refuge in whatever way suits your tastes: on foot or bike via trails, in a canoe, or by car. Parts of the park also allow boating and fishing. The park is open every day, including holidays, but is closed all day each Friday. The park also offers a free visitor and education center that's open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from May to December and open until 5 p.m. from January to April. Park hours vary throughout the year, so check the website before visiting. The website also includes tide charts to help you plan your visit. Admission is $5 per vehicle or $1 per pedestrian or bicycle. 

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D E N N I S A X E R photography/Getty Images
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