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Environmental Learning Center

Tuesday – Saturday: 9am – 4pm

Sundays & Mondays: Closed

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General Admission

Adults: $10
Children Ages 4-12: $5
Children 3 & Under: FREE
Friends of Rookery Bay members: FREE
Association of Nature Center Administrators Reciprocal Program Members: FREE
Active and Retired Military personnel and family(up to 6 in total): FREE Year-Round

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2023 Holiday Closures

New Years Day (Observed): Monday, January 2
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day:
Monday, January 16
Memorial Day: Monday, May 29
Independence Day: Tuesday, July 4
Labor Day: Monday, September 4
Veterans’ Day: Saturday, November 11
Day Before Thanksgiving: Wednesday, November 22
Thanksgiving Day: Thursday, November 23
Friday after Thanksgiving: Friday, November 24
Christmas Day: Monday, December 25


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Self-guided Group Rate

Adults and/or children, excluding school groups

  • 10-person minimum and 20-person maximum per group
  • Discounted rate of $8 adults; $3 children(paid in advance)
  • Group must be scheduled > 2 weeks prior to visit (based on availability)
  • Group admission does not include special programs or tours
  • Your group is invited to bring lunch and enjoy our back patio overlooking the pollinator garden. Some drinks and snacks are available in our Nature Store for purchase.


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2024 Holiday Closures

New Years Day (Observed): Monday, January 1
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day:
Monday, January 15
Memorial Day: Monday, May 27
Independence Day: Thursday, July 4
Labor Day: Monday, September 2
Veterans’ Day: Monday, November 11
Thanksgiving Day: Thursday, November 28
Friday after Thanksgiving: Friday, November 29
Christmas Day: Wednesday, December 25




Large windows in the Reserve’s laboratories allow visitors to observe ongoing research. A monitor displays film footage of local and visiting scientists conducting research and monitoring programs in the reseve. In the theater, a 10-minute documentary film produced by award-winning filmmaker Elam Stoltzfus, highlights the beauty of the Rookery Bay Research Reserve.

In the 2,300-gallon mangrove aquarium centerpiece, a 14-foot sculpted red mangrove tree soars up through an open atrium into the Center’s second story. A climb-in “bubble” provides visitors with close-up views of mangrove prop roots that provide shelter for fish inhabitants. Interactive and hands-on exhibits provide opportunities for visitors of all ages to explore and expand upon their knowledge of Florida’s estuaries.




Our 180-gallon Marine Life Exhibit is designed to look and feel like Rookery Bay Research Reserve’s natural environment with detailed rock formations and a variety of local marine life. In addition to self-guided engagement with these animals, docent-led programs will also be scheduled throughout the day.

The “Estuary Encounter” exhibit houses more than a dozen species of marine animals for guests of all ages to discover during regular visiting hours. Observe and interact with a sea star, spider crab or lightning whelk.



Cultural exhibits on the second floor of the Environmental Learning Center showcase 3,000 years of human use in the estuary. A large topographic map on the wall depicts prehistoric and historic sites, a storytelling booth recounts memories of pioneer settlers, and a tribute to the Children’s Column on Henderson Creek tells the story of how Rookery Bay was saved from development in the 1960s.

There’s even a “Today and the Future” area that provides an overview of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and sea level rise, and how they might affect various forms of life in southwest Florida. The exhibits include an interactive guessing game dispelling myths about climate change, a touchscreen carbon calculator which gives people an opportunity to see how their personal choices measure up on an international standard, and a demonstration of ways people can make a difference in their homes and daily lives.


Visit our Art Galleries for inspiring shows that showcase local artists.



The Observation Bridge transports pedestrians across Henderson Creek with educational signs luring visitors to explore their surroundings, such as looking down at the water passing under the bridge to see which way it is flowing. Salinity is the name of the game here, and summer rains across the watershed fill the creek with rushing waters, diluting the salinity and triggering creatures of the estuary to reproduce. From the bridge it’s possible to see manatees, tarpon, and even sharks when conditions are right.

As the bridge begins to slope down to meet the ground, visitors experience a brief trek through tangled mangroves, palms and oaks. Resurrection ferns, bromeliads, and even orchids can be seen growing along the furrowed cracks of oak tree bark. Looking up, it is easy to see the pockmarks of pileated woodpeckers and other insectivores in the upper reaches of expired pine snags.


Three 1/2-mile walking trails.


Along the Snail Trail, it is easy to forget you’re less than ten miles away from the city limits of both Naples and Marco Island. The Snail Trail encourages explorers to use all their senses to connect intimately with the natural world, meandering slowly like a snail, and includes a boardwalk/viewing platform at the water’s edge. Visitors can take the ½-mile walking trail with a surface suitable for strollers and wheelchairs, or two more ½-mile, unsurfaced trails for the more “adventurous” explorers.  What you’ll see:

  • An old homestead dating back to post-Civil War times when squatters began to farm this rugged terrain.
  • A primitive swale system designed to drain the land during driving summer rains.
  • Sanseveria (an ornamental plant commonly associated with early homesteads).
  • A cement rainwater storage cistern that collected rainwater running off the old home’s roof and stored it through the dry winter months, when it could be used for cooking and watering livestock.



Take in nature and views of Henderson Creek while enjoying lunch or a snack in the shade on our back patio or under the Chickee Hut. Snacks are available for purchase in the Nature Store.


Every item purchased support the efforts of the Friends of Rookery Bay.


Welcome to the Rookery Bay Nature Store, where every purchase supports Friends of Rookery Bay and its mission to provide resources for Rookery Bay Research Reserve’s education, research and conservation programs. Here you’ll find an assortment of wonderful gifts to purchase for your family or maybe bring back a souvenir for yourself.

You can now purchase select items in the comfort of your own home. Free Shipping with every purchase! Saw something you liked in our store during your visit? Email with your request.

Nature Store Hours

Tuesday – Saturday: 9 am – 4 pm
Sunday & Monday: Closed


We accommodate indoor/outdoor and day/evening functions.


We accommodate indoor/outdoor and day/evening functions.
• Meetings and Conferences
• Special Celebrations
• Evening Socials
• Concerts and Performances
• Birthday Parties
• Workshops or Seminars

Capacity: 140 seats
Group Rates | $200/hr – $1,000/daily
Non-Profit Rates | $100/hr – $500/daily

For large meetings, lectures or concerts. Theater with padded seats, side tables, large screen, projector and sound system.
Day or evening functions. Includes 1 onsite staff.

Capacity: 140
Group Rates | $200/hr – $1,000/daily
Non-Profit Rates | $100/hr – $500/daily

For smaller receptions, open function space; art on walls; various setups available.
Day or Evening functions. Outside caterer required. Includes 1 onsite staff.

Capacity: 18-u-shape / 21-classroom / 25-theater
Group Rates | $75/hr – $500/daily
Non-Profit Rates | $50/hr – $250/daily

For smaller meetings, lectures or workshops. Equipped with tables, chairs, projector and screen.

Capacity: 200
Group Rates | $400/hr – $1,750/daily
Non-Profit Rates | $175/hr – $750/daily
Plus $150 flat rate cleaning fee and $50/hour security fee.

For smaller receptions, various setups available. Includes art gallery wing, classrooms, auditorium, break room and restrooms.

Outside caterer required. Includes 1 onsite staff. Due to facility layout, this option cannot be modified.

Capacity: 200
Group Rates | $1,000/hr – $5,000/daily
Non-Profit Rates | $500/hr – $2,500/daily
Plus $150 flat rate cleaning fee and $50/hour security fee.

For conferences and large receptions. Includes indoor exhibit hall, art gallery wing, classrooms, auditorium, break room, second floor mezzanine, restrooms, outdoor patio, chickee hut and courtyard.

Outside caterer required. Includes 2 onsite staff. Due to facility layout, this option cannot be modified.

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