Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Nearby places to get in touch with nature and wildlife


Lee County

The Butterfly Estates:

This destination in the historic Gardner Park neighborhood in downtown Fort Myers features shops, a café, and a 3,600-square-foot glass butterfly conservatory. This educational facility is home of the nonprofit Florida Native Butterfly Society, which hand-raises the native butterflies, and provides tours, classes, and outreach programs. Location: 1815 Fowler Street, Fort Myers More information: 239-690-2359 or thebutterflyestates.com


Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium:

A non-profit environmental education organization located on 105 acres featuring a natural history museum with live native and teaching animals, hiking trails, a butterfly garden, planetarium, and exhibits highlighting the flora, fauna, and environment of Southwest Florida. Location: 3450 Ortiz Ave, Fort Myers More information: 239-275-3435 or calusanature.org


Everglades Wonder Gardens:

Established in 1936, this attraction features an array of botanical gardens and flamingoes, parrots, and other rescued birds, snakes, reptiles, alligators, and other wildlife, as well as an aquarium, koi ponds, picnic areas, and a gift shop. Location: 27180 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs. More information: 239-992-2591 or evergladeswondergardens.com


The Shell Factory & Nature Park:

Family-friendly complex with a retail shop, onsite restaurant, nature park with more 400 animals, aviaries, and exhibits, Dinosaur Park, and children’s rides. Location: 16554 N Cleveland Ave, North Fort Myers More information: 239-995-2141 or shellfactory.com


Collier County  

Bird Sanctuary of Naples:

A nonprofit organization dedicated to parrot welfare in captivity and the conservation of wild parrots set amid the green space of Corkscrew Swamp with a variety of flora, fauna, bees, and butterflies. Daily guided tours of the 100-plus birds from around the world are offered daily by appointment only. Location: 1060 Purple Martin Drive, Naples More information: 813-841-1911 or birdgardensofnaples.org


Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens:

A 43-acre accredited zoo and historic botanical garden featuring lions, giraffes, monkeys, pythons, and bears, with daily presentations and animal-feeding opportunities. Location: 1590 Goodlette-Frank Road, Naples More information: 239-262-5409 or napleszoo.org


Shy Wolf Sanctuary Education & Experience Center:

A nonprofit, licensed sanctuary for wolves and wolf-dog hybrids, as well as an eclectic mix of animals. Visitation is by appointment only. Location: Not publicly disclosed More information: 855-749-9653 or shywolfsanctuary.org


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