Our grandchildren were visiting for a week and we decided to take them to The Shell Factory and Nature Park in North Fort Myers. The Shell Factory and Nature Park is a destination for family entertainment and shopping. You should really plan to spend the entire day, if not more than one day. There is so much to see and do. Here is a link to their home page: http://www.shellfactory.com/default.php
We started our day by eating lunch at Captain Fishbones Fish N’ Steakhouse. They offer lunch and dinner all week long. They have seating in different areas such as tables, booth seating or seating at the bar. The menu has a variety of options from sandwiches to seafood baskets, appetizers, prime rib, pasta and steaks. The grandchildren ordered from the kids menu and had several choices which included the meal and a beverage. I had the fish and chips basket and it was plenty to eat and very good. If you go in the evenings, they have live entertainment or you can just stop in for a drink. They have a variety of sea life and animals hanging from the ceiling which makes the experience even more exciting. Here is the link to Capt’N Fishbones and their menu: http://www.shellfactory.com/menu.php
After lunch we decided to take the grandkids to the Nature Park. I had been to The Shell Factory many times, but had never been to the Nature Park. I am an animal lover, so it was exciting for me. I took lots of photos. There is a fee to enter the Nature Park, which is Seniors $10, Adults $12, Children 4 to 8 $8, and Children under 3 are free. Be sure to print the coupons from their web site before you go. Here is the link to the Nature Park: http://www.shellfactory.com/nature-park.php
The park has over 350 animals to see. When we visited, many of the animals were getting fed, which made it nice because they came out into the open, where sometimes they are hiding. While walking through the park, we could see the different habitats and cages where the animals live. We got to see raccoons, caotimundis, kinkajous, lemurs, birds, iguanas, tortoises, turtles, and fish. When we first entered you can put money in a machine and get food to feed the turtles and fish in the ponds.
In addition to walking by the cages, you can go to the Petting Farm. The kids loved feeding the animals there and petting them. Again, they have coin machines where you can purchase feed for the animals. We got to see goats, sheep and a pot belly big. I laughed and enjoyed the baby goats so much. They would run around and jump on top of their cages. It reminded me of little puppies running around playing. Right next to the petting farm there was a zebra, a camel and a pony.
At the desk where you pay for your admission you can also buy gator biscuits to feed the alligators. The biscuits come in a brown paper bag and you have to carry the bag around until you get to the alligator pond. The alligators are very large from 7’ to 9’. Some were sunning themselves and others just had their heads peeking above the water. As soon as the grandkids starting throwing the biscuits in the water, the gators came a running.
Next we went to the Eco Lab. I didn’t like this place, too scary for me. They have native and exotic snakes, reptiles, spiders, hissing cockroaches and all kinds of insects. You can watch them in their cages or most were in a fish tank like glass container.
And lastly at the Nature Park we went through Dinosaur Park. They have replica dinosaurs, which the grandkids climbed on and had their picture taken. As you walk by the dinosaurs they have descriptions of each one and they have them making dinosaur noises through the speakers. This area also has two playgrounds and a picnic area with an outdoor butterfly garden.
Upon exiting the Nature Park we ventured over to The Shell Factory retail store. This store has the world’s largest collection of seashells. The retail shop is an experience in itself. You could spend the entire day just in there. They have seashells, fossils, sea life, coral, shark teeth, shark jaws, pearls and more. It is also a tourist destination so they have plenty of souvenirs such as jewelry boxes, candles, wind chimes, photo frames, magnets, key chains, and clothing.
There are different sections of the retail store including the Pirates Cove where you can see pirates and hear them planning their adventures. There is a Subway franchise inside. There is a gourmet fudge shop with homemade fudge and other candies and sweets. There is metal art display by John Perry. There is a jewelry section where you can pick a pearl out of a mussel and have it set while you wait or purchase all types of jewelry. Inside you will also find a Christmas shop, which operates all year long. There is a train that runs around the shop near the ceiling. There is also a stuffed wildlife animal section. Here is the link to the Retail Store: http://www.shellfactory.com/retail-store.php
After spending quite a while shopping, we took the grandkids over to the arcade area within the retail shop. There are coupons online for here too. You get tokens to play the games and collect tickets. You can use the tickets as cash to buy items within the store. Two of the grandkids went into the hurricane simulator. And while we were there, they had the crab races. You can pay money to enter in the crab races and you win gifts. You get to select which crab you want. They paint the crab shells to make each one unique.
There are other areas of The Shell Factory that we did not get to that day. There is a Fun Park which has bumper boats, water wars, paddle boats, and miniature golf. There is an admission fee for each of these activities: Paddle Boat $10, Miniature Golf $5, Bumper Boats $5, and Water Wars $2 per bucket. Here is a link to the Fun Park: http://www.shellfactory.com/fun-park.php
There is also a Dog Park. Dogs can go into the park and run and play. Admission is free and it is open all day. There is a large pool used for dog jumping events and dog rehabilitation. Dog clubs use the park for events. Here is the link for Doggy Heaven: http://www.shellfactory.com/doggy-heaven.php
The next time you are looking for something to do with family, friends or children, take a ride on out to The Shell Factory. It is located at 2787 North Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers. You can call 239-995-2141 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions before you go.
Tammy Hayes, Realtor, Green Lion Realty, Port Charlotte, FL