Fun & Educational Place to go in Southwest Florida
Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium
When you’re planning your vacation to the Fort Myers Beach area, you might be wondering about the best things to do near Fort Myers. Luckily, there’s something for everyone in your group to enjoy. Whether you have a history buff, a foodie, or a nature lover in your group, whether you’re traveling with kids or all adults, and whether it’s just you and your sweetheart or the whole extended family, you’ll be able to find plenty of attractions. No matter who’s in your group, take some time to visit the Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium, conveniently located near many of our vacation rentals in Fort Myers, Florida.
About Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium
Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium was established in 1970s and has been a staple of Southwest Florida for more than 50 years. The mission of the Calusa Nature Center revolves around providing a holistic environmental education program featuring everything from ecology to astronomy. The center welcomes both children and adults and is proud to offer 105 acres of land for guests to explore. This is the perfect place to have fun and learn about the world at the same time!
What to Do
One of the most fascinating features of Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium is the rescue animal exhibits. Every single animal here has been rehabilitated from injuries in the wild or is captive-bred and cannot be released into the wild. You’ll find everything from raccoons to minks to exotic reptile species and more. The Center holds a live animal presentation every day at 1:15 p.m., where a staff member will tell you all about the animal and let you get up close and personal.
There are two aviaries at the Nature Center, one for raptors and one for butterflies. The Raptor Aviary was completed in January 2019 and is a state-of-the-art home to injured birds of prey like vultures, owls, and hawks. They even have a bald eagle! In the Butterfly Aviary, you’ll find multiple different species of butterflies that are native to Florida. Every Monday at 11 a.m., the butterfly keeper Chris holds a butterfly talk and teaches you everything you could ever want to know about these incredible creatures.
With more than 105 acres to explore, you’ll need some good trails! Luckily, there are three nature trails that meander through the property. You’ll be able to go through several ecosystems like the Cypress Dome Swamp and pine flatlands, allowing you to check out the incredible fauna and flora throughout the year. The Windlands Trail is about 1.3 miles and loops around the premises, typically taking 1.5 hours to complete. The Pine Loop Trail takes you through pine flatlands and to the beginning of the Cypress Dome, for a 1/3-mile journey that takes about 15 minutes to walk. Currently, the Cypress Boardwalk Trail is closed due to hurricane damage, but the center is hopeful that it will be restored soon.
Of course, you can’t miss out on the planetarium! Construction was completed in December 1986, and the planetarium remains one of the most popular attractions at Calusa Nature Center. The planetarium can seat 87 people and three wheelchairs, and it has gained fame as the only planetarium in Southwest Florida! Shows typically happen at 12 and 2:30 p.m. daily, and admission to the planetarium shows are included with your ticket price.
The Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium is located at 3450 Ortiz Avenue in Fort Myers. They are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. This is one of the most budget-friendly attractions in Fort Myers, as adult admission is just $10, children 3 to 12 cost $5, and children under 3 are free. Discounts apply for AAA members, military, students, and seniors. If you are in town for a while, consider an individual membership for $35 or family membership for $50. If you’re looking for some incredible nature and wildlife, grab breakfast in Fort Myers and head to Calusa. It’s one of the best attractions near our Fort Myers beachfront vacation rentals.