Rookery Bay: Marco Island attraction, wildlife, kayaking, learning center, gift store and more!
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is a must for visitors to Southwest Florida with its Environmental Learning Center, its guided walking tours, kayak tours, and exceptional events that are ongoing throughout the year including Sunset to Starlight Cruise and Cruise Through Time.
The Environmental Learning Center has a 124-foot range of watercolor wildlife original by Kathy Spalding which is such a treasure and is an inviting entrance to the Center. Kathy's work is available to the public in posters, note cards, and prints in the Palmetto Patch Nature Store.
The ELC has four research laboratories, classrooms, and a 140-seat auditorium plus a two-story visitor center. The Visitors Center has a 2300-gallon aquarium, exhibits, hands-on experiences. You will also find a gallery and a picnic area.
A new exhibit this year is two Gopher Tortoises received from the
Shy Wolf Sanctuary who gave them a temporary shelter after being rescued by the roadside.
The ELC and Palmetto Patch Nature Store hours are 9 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday. The ELC is also open on Saturdays November through April. They are closed on National Holidays. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children 6 - 12. Children under six are free. You will be able to take your own tour with self-guided tour audio wands available at $2.
Coastal Connections programs are available with admission. There are programs every day approximately 45 minutes in length at 11am and 2pm. They are presented by a team of naturalists who are well-versed on the creatures that inhabit our coastal areas.
Many events are offered through the ELC including the annual Rookery Bay Adventure Race presented by Up-A-Creek Kayak Tours and the Southwest Florida Nature Festival which encompasses over 40 guided field trips to nature areas within Southwest Florida. This festival is offered with Naples Botanical Garden, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Big Cypress National Preserve and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
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