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Cape Coral Living Magazine

11 Meaningful Museums to Visit in Southwest Florida this Fall

Sep 22, 2021 05:38AM ● By Jessica Wagner

Photo Courtesy of Edison & Ford Winter Estates' Website

Fall in Florida is a beautiful time of year. Many people still enjoy the long days on the beach but may often wonder what to do on those rainy fall days. Here are 11 incredible museums that are family-friendly, but are also packed with interesting information for young and old.

Sanibel Historical Museum & Village

The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village, located on Dunlop Road in Sanibel, was created in 1984 to help preserve and share the history of Sanibel Island. Sanibel’s history is told from the Calusa and Spanish eras to the pioneer families from the 1800s. With historic buildings to tour, the Sanibel Heritage trail, and the museum store, there is so much to learn when you go to the Sanibel Museum.

The Sanibel Museum will re-open just in time for Fall on October 19, 2021, for $10, ages 18 and up. Children are free. Whether you’re looking for a guided tour or just to explore yourself, the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village is a great place to learn.

To learn more and see all there is to offer, check out their website today!

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

The Shell Museum, located on Sanibel Captiva Road in Sanibel, is a great place for the whole family to engage and learn about one of the many things that make Sanibel so interesting. The Museum offers fun through touching live mollusks, participating in scavenger hunts, and live-stream viewing of their Giant Pacific Octopus. In addition, there are free, virtual programs that you can watch from home to learn more about the world of mollusks.

The Shell Museum is open with guidelines in place daily from 10 AM to 5 PM. For those 18 and older, the admission is $23.95, 12-17-year-olds is $14.95, children 5-11 years old is $8.95 and under 5-year-olds are free. Discounts are available for seniors, and active-duty service members and their families are always free.

To learn more, visit their website today!

Sanibel Lighthouse

The Sanibel Lighthouse, located on the East end of the Island, is a very popular spot for both tourists and locals. Although there are plenty of parking spots, arriving early ensures you don’t miss out on the fun. From catching fish to finding awesome shells to spotting dolphins, the Sanibel Lighthouse is an amazing place to hang out.

To learn more about the Sanibel Lighthouse, its history, and to view pictures, check out their website today!

Holocaust Museum and Cohen Education Center

The Holocaust Museum and Cohen Education Center is located on Imperial Golf Couse Blvd in Naples and its mission is to “Teach the lessons of the Holocaust to inspire action against bigotry, hatred, and violence.” They do this by telling individual stories through their displays of artifacts, providing programs to students of all grade levels, and providing programs and exhibits to the general public. They also have a Youtube Channel, where new videos are added often and you can hear directly from Holocaust Survivors, as well as learn little-known facts.

The museum is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 1 PM to 4 PM, with a docent-led tour at 1:30 PM. You can also tour the museum on your own or take their free 45-minute audio tour. Tickets should be purchased online prior to your visit and are $13.

To learn more about the Holocaust Museum, visit their website.

The Lee County Black History Society

The Lee County Black History Society is located on Henderson Avenue in Fort Myers. The Lee County Black History Society includes the Williams Academy Black History Museum. Not only can you take a virtual tour of this museum on their website, but you can also visit this museum in person, too. The Williams Academy was the first government-funded school for African Americans in the area and was built in 1912. Today, the Williams Academy building is home to a museum dedicated to teaching about the lives of African Americans in Fort Myers.

The museum is open Wednesday through Friday, from 11 AM to 4 PM, and by appointment only on Saturdays. For a total list of events and activities, visit their website today!

Estero Historical Society

The Estero Historical Society, located inside Estero Community Park, is a great place to learn all about the history of Estero. With events, tours, and membership options, the Estero Historical Society aims to help you experience history. One of the buildings within the Society is the Collier/Hall/Hansen home, which you can tour and is used as a meeting place, teaching location, and office.

According to their website, “Private Tours by appointment for up to six people can be scheduled by calling 239.272.1911 or emailing [email protected].” There is a requested donation of $10, which you can pay online or at the door. The Estero Historical Society is open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 1 PM to 4 PM.

To learn more and schedule your tour, check out their website!

Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples

The Golisano Children’s Museum of Napes is located on Livingston Road in Naples. This children’s museum is a nonprofit organization celebrating children’s curiosity “by offering an educationally dynamic space that encourages exploration and discovery.” Children are encouraged to touch and explore throughout the museum, making it a great place for the whole family. The two-story, 30,000 square foot building is home to many exhibits, galleries, a library, exploration rooms, a museum store, and a Garden Cafe.

The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples is open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday-Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM, with a members-only hour from 9 AM to 10 AM. Members and children under the age of 1 are free, while adults are $10, children over the age of 1 are $12, and military and first responders are $9. Teachers are also free.

To learn more about the current exhibits, visit their website today!

Edison & Ford Winter Estates

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is located on McGregor Blvd in Fort Myers and has a 15,000 square foot showcasing the brilliancy of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone. Plus, you can tour the homes of Edison and Ford on the property, as well as the gardens and laboratory where they worked. With many programs offered, from camps to homeschool to adults, there is plenty of learning to be done at the Estates.

There are six options of tours to choose from, ranging from self-guided daily tours to privately scheduled tours. Tour prices range from $25 to $50 and are available for booking on their website.

For more information about the different types of tours offered, as well as other events, visit their website today!

IMAG - History & Science Center

The IMAG History and Science Center, located on Cranford Ave in Fort Myers, is another great option for the whole family to explore! With educational programming, exhibits, and plenty of weekly events, there is something for everyone. Plus, IMAG hosts birthday parties, as well. Some of the daily programs include SEA-to-SEE Encounters, a live animal show, stingray feedings, and more!

IMAG is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 AM to 5 PM and Sunday 12 PM to 5 PM. Adults are $15, students $12, and children 2 and under are free.

To see their full list of events and check out all they have to offer, visit their website!

Cape Coral Museum of History

The Cape Coral Museum of History is located on Cultural Park Blvd in Cape Coral. It opened its doors in 1987 as part of the Cape Coral Historical Society, Inc. and since then has become the only museum in the area that caters to the history of Cape Coral. There are guided tours that “explore the history of Cape Coral from the early Calusa Indians who lived off the land, to the homesteaders who tamed the land in the early 1900s, to the Rosen brothers who turned Cape Coral into the city we know and love in the 1950s/60s.” Plus, there are guided tours of the natural gardens, as well. They also have special events and programming to really teach all about the history of Cape Coral.

The Cape Coral Museum of History is open Wednesday through Friday from 11 AM to 4 PM and Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM. Adults are $5 and children 17 and under are free.

To learn more and to schedule your tour, check out their website today!

Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library

The Southwest Florida Military Museum, located in the Edison Mall in Fort Myers, is all about the military and its history. The Military Museum is “dedicated to honoring our military, preserving and displaying military artifacts and memorabilia while educating the public and future generations about our nation's military heritage.” They research extensively to ensure the information is as accurate as possible, with displays from the Revolutionary War through the Afghanistan War. With special events and a mobile museum offered, learning about the United States Military has never been easier.

Admission is free for all, although donations are accepted. The museum is open Monday-Saturday 11 AM to 7 PM and Sunday from 12 PM to 6 PM.

To learn more about their upcoming events, visit their website today!