visit the learning center

event list

kayak and boat tours

Join us for a variety of special events developed to deliver positive, rewarding experiences that increase awareness and understanding of the value of coastal ecosystems. Signature events include National Estuaries Day, which is a celebration of estuaries for the entire family! This annual day of fun takes place on the last Saturday in September. The Southwest Florida Nature Festival is a great way to learn about the wildlife, and wild places, this area has to offer. And there's no better way to show your support than participating in the Batfish Bash For the Bay, the Friends of Rookery Bay's annual fundraiser.

The learning at Rookery Bay doesn’t stop just because school is out- be sure to visit the Environmental Learning Center in the summer for Kids FREE Fridays, where kids, parents, and grandparents can enjoy a day of fun!

Girls in Science Slumber

girls-science-slumber-250Discover the nocturnal side of nature with the Educators at Rookery Bay Reserve! Girls ages 8-14 are invited to join staff for this overnight program and learn more about the changing seasons: critter seasons, to be exact! Several animals return to the reserve during this special time of year to continue the success of their kind. We'll also take a closer look at who makes themselves known in the night, and who embraces the daytime sun.

Event includes evening/morning snack, games and activities, guest speakers, a commemorative Rookery Bay water bottle, takeaways, and FREE passes to the Environmental Learning Center for your next visit.

Register now!

Earth Day at Rookery Bay

Join us for Earth Day, Friday April 22, 2016.

Earth Day filmsIn celebration of Earth Day, the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center offers "buy one, get one free admission."


A selection of nature films will be shown throughout the day.


Kids FREE Fridays

Kids Free FridayKids FREE Fridays: June 17 through August 5, 2016

This popular summer education program provides FREE admission for children ages 12 and younger who are accompanied by a paying adult ($5). We recommend a ratio of no more than 3 kids per adult to ensure a safe and pleasurable experience.

Each week will feature different programs and activities and this year's theme focuses on "Animals of the Sea."


June 17:  InvertebratesIMG 8609
June 24:  Plankton
July 1:     Fish
July 8:     Predators
July 15:   Invertebrates
July 22:   Plankton
July 29:   Fish
August 5: Predators

**Up to 5 children per paying adult.

A Food Truck will be on site each day for lunch purchases from 11 am - 2 pm.

Scheduled Activities:

  • 10:15 to 10:45 a.m. Story Time (auditorium)
  • 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. Touch Tank (exhibit hall)
  • 11 a.m. Feature Film (auditorium)
  • 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Face Painting (upstairs)
  • 12:30 - 2 p.m. Touch Tank (exhibit hall)
  • 12:30 p.m. Feature Film (auditorium)
  • 2 p.m. Feature Film (auditorium)

Ongoing activities: (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)

  • Crafts
  • Educational activity room (games, plankton lab, etc.)









National Estuaries Day

September 24, 2016
9 am - 4 pm

National Estuaries Day activitiesJoin us for our FREE annual celebration of the 28 national estuarine research reserves. Called National Estuaries Day, the celebration recognizes the importance of estuaries, the habitat where rivers meet the sea.

This annual event will include staff-narrated boat tours (bus transportation provided to the boat 15 minutes away), introductory 30-minute kayaking trips, stand-up paddleboarding demos on Henderson Creek, marine critter touch tank, live animal presentations, kids games and crafts, behind-the-scenes tours of the science labs including creek chemistry, plankton and shark labs, films, food and more.

Junior Scientists

Admission is free and activities are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Sign-up begins when doors open at 9 am. Age restrictions apply.

For those who prefer not to wait in line, VIP "express" passes are available for our 11 am boat tour with the option to reserve space in one additional activity. Cost is $25, with proceeds supporting the Friends. Click the register link below for details.


Tour rules 



International Migratory Bird Day

May 14, 2016

This international event celebrates the migration patterns of nearly 350 species of migratory birds between nesting habitats in North America and non-breeding grounds in Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. In celebration of International Migratory Bird Day, the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center offers "buy one, get one free admission" and will be showing a selection of bird films. Higher price prevails. Cannot be combined with other offers.

More info about migrating birds

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