Most museums are places of observation; however, the Imaginarium is designed for you to experience. For example, not only can you look at cool fossils but you can also actually hunt for them in the popular Dino Dig exhibit. In fact, a large pastel dinosaur is the first to greet you upon entering this hands-on-museum property in Fort Myers.
A friendly dinosaur greets your arrival to the Imaginarium in Fort Myers — Photo courtesy of Gina Birch
The nearly 20-year-old museum and science center has about 60 exhibits and even more activities. Although some of them change throughout the year, they are all geared toward bringing science to life in a way that is fun for the entire family.
The weather plays an important role in Southwest Florida, and much attention is given to it in local newscasts, especially during hurricane season. Capitalizing on this, the Imaginarium designed a popular television weather set, where visitors can take a shot at forecasting in front of a real TV green screen. You can even purchase a tape of your performance when done.
Even more exciting is the Hurricane Experience that simulates rainfall and tropical storm force winds. Stand in the tunnel and feel what a 45-mph wind gust feels like, and see what happens when you toss a beach ball into the turbulence.
Soccer balls and basketballs are found in the Sporty Science Arena, where you are able to test your physical skills in a virtual setting.
And if you or your kids are more into the cerebral rather than the physical, there are all kinds of exhibits where physics is featured, as well as brainteasers and puzzle solving. A 3D film about penguins is another family favorite.
Animals in general, also feature prominently at this museum, and they are not stuffed; they are living, breathing and some like to be touched. Live animal encounter shows take place twice a day (at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.), where guests learn about the resident creatures and then get to hold and take photos with them.
The touch tank is a popular place to learn about native sea life — Photo courtesy of Gina Birch
Another feature that has both kids and adults squealing with nervousness is stingray feedings that are guided by an expert. These prehistoric-looking sea creatures will take food right out of your hand. This is one exhibit you need to reserve space for, as the number of spots and feeding times are limited.
The outdoor Fisheye Lagoon is quite popular, too, for feeding amphibians, and it provides more opportunities to touch the sometimes slimy occupants. Animals not suitable for getting up close and personal with are found in the Animal Lab. Here you can observe both native and non-native residents such as alligators, hedgehogs and white tree frogs.
Parking is free at the Imaginarium, and basic admission prices range from free to $12, depending on age and student status. If you plan to be here through lunch, also plan to pack one, as food options in and around the museum are limited.
This well-rounded, hands-on museum and science experience is geared more toward the younger members of your party; however, it promises to entertain and inspire creativity within the entire family.