Before the kids head back-to-school, take time to enjoy one of our greatest classrooms – the great outdoors. A visit to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center provides families with fun, engaging and interactive experiences in which topics like environmental science, veterinary medicine and biology come to life. The Conservancy is packed with indoor exhibits to keep you cool in the summer heat. Be sure to check the complete schedule of programs and events inside the newly remodeled Welcome Center.
Daily programs include a Conservancy-led presentation featuring live animals including native reptiles, beach creatures and occasionally a glimpse of a rehabilitating animal inside the von Arx Wildlife Hospital. Relax and watch a 5-minute ‘behind-the-scenes’ video about the work inside the wildlife hospital while your little ones put on a lab coat and transform into junior veterinarians.
Younger children will enjoy a visit inside the Little Explorer Play Zone where kids can crawl through a gopher tortoise burrow or climb into a life-size bald eagle’s nest! Alost inside, Eaton Conservation Hall and the Jeannie Meg Smith Theater offer guests a place to sit, relax and enjoy a state-of-the-art 7-minute movie about Southwest Florida’s environment and the important work at the conservancy.
Outside, electric boat tours and kayak rentals are available to guests who wish to explore the hidden treasures of the Gordon River, a sanctuary for many native Florida birds, plants and wildlife. Keep your eyes out for native wildlife, as more than 100 varieties of bird species have been spotted along the trail! Located just outside the von Arx Wildlife Hospital is a beautiful gazebo where guests can explore the secrets of how the Shotwell Wavering Family Filter Marsh cleans and purifies water and view visiting wading birds and wildlife from the gazebo.
Ready to cool off again? Step inside the guest favorite, the Dalton Discovery Center. Here your family will travel through Southwest Florida’s ecosystems and see live animals that live among us. Walk through the Everglades and see live alligators and wind up on a local beach where you can dip your hands into our touch tank. Meet the Conservancy’s loggerhead sea turtle, Betsy, in a 5,000 gallon patch reef tank.
The 21-acre nature experience is a celebration of all our natural treasures in the region – our water, land, wildlife and future. As the summer winds down and you prepare for back-to-school, you can teach your kids to appreciate the unique, natural environment right here in Southwest Florida.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center is located at 1495 Smith Preserve Way in Naples. For hours and more information on planning your visit, please visit www.conservancy.org or call 239-262-0304.