Who enjoys learning but also having fun? I know my kids and I do and the IMAG in Fort Myers is the perfect place to get closer to nature and get to know more about the world we live in while having a great time.
The IMAG is a history and Science kid friendly museum located by Downtown Fort Myers and it is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday. You can find out more about their hours of operation here.
First and foremost, I believe it is important to say that we arrived at the center at 10 am which is when they open. We realized that when we visited places when they first open, most of the time we would have all the attractions to ourselves for a couple of hours until the crowd started to arrive.
Another point I believe is important to mention is that their prices are pretty fair compared to other museums - $14 per adult, $12 for Senior citizens, $10 for students and free for children under the age of 2 - and parking is free.
Now, if you are a member of the museum then the entrance is free for you. Honestly, I was really tempted in signing up for the membership for our entire family (costs $100 for the entire family) because they offer homeschool classes on science and history and I do plan to homeschool my younger children, however, they are still fairly young and the minimum requirement for homeschool classes is 5 years old so we aren't there yet.
Another cool fact we became aware is that the IMAG offers party packages for kids birthday parties. You can choose to host your party during business hours or before/after opening hours so you can have the entire museum for yourself plus 60 guests.
I thought the idea of a kid's party at a museum so much more interesting than the other kid places because it gives children the chance to learn while having a great time. Imagine if your kid can have fun at their birthday party but also learn a few things about history and science? Pretty neat, huh?
Finally, moving on to the actual museum and exhibits you'll see at the museum, my first recommendation is to really take your time to explore and read all the fun facts the IMAG has made available. I am sure you'll be surprised with all of the information you'll find out, I know I was! For example, I had no idea of the impact that WWII had on Southwest Florida and the types of fishes that lives on the bottom of Lake Okeechobee.
There's certainly a lot to do and plenty to explore, so be sure to remove everything from your calendar and prepare for an entire day of learning and fun with the kids at the museum. And to get you all set up for that. I have put together a list of tips and must do activities at the IMAG to make your time there even more enjoyable.
Also read: Six Miles Cypress Slough Preserve
Tips for visiting the IMAG
1 - Arrive Early
If you want to have a less crowded museum to explore then I highly recommend you arrive early. The museum opens at 10:00am with their first activity starting at 10:45 am. There is plenty of parking and as previously mentioned it's free.
2 - Pick up a IMAG Daily Program Schedule
The IMAG provides a full day of activities and programs so be sure to pick up a map/schedule available at the museum store to ensure you don't miss anything or check out their website ahead of time to find the best times for you
3 - Purchase Feedings
While at the museum store you can also purchase tickets for the sting ray feedings and food for the fishes.
There are a limited number amount of sting ray feedings available so be sure to get yours before it is sold out.
4 - Bring water and snacks
If you are planning to spend all day at the IMAG, I highly recommend bringing water bottles and snacks but there are vending machines available in case you forget.
There also picnic tables in the backyard nature area where you can sit and enjoy your snacks.
5 - No Smoking, No Vaping
The IMAG facility is a smoke free zone and that includes vaping as well so please be considerate to the environment and others and do not use any tobacco products, vapers or e-cigarettes while on premises which includes the parking lot.
6 - Download the APP
Only through the IMAG app you can augment pictures hidden throughout the museum for a completely unique experience as well as have a deep closer look at the USS Mohawk Memorial with Virtual Reality.
You will also have access to the site's map and daily program schedule when you download the app.
You may also enjoy: Visiting Edison & Ford Winter Estates
Things to do at IMAG
The following list is not necessarily all there is to do at IMAG and may not even be available during the time of your visit as certain exhibits change from time to time, however, they were our favorite things to do while visiting the museum.
1 - Sting ray encounter
Sting ray encounters are located at the See to touch tank. Everyone is welcome to touch the sting rays after having properly washed hands without soap!
Feedings are also available at the rate of $3 per feeding and there are limited quantities available. Check their program schedule to find time for this attraction.
2 - Living Lab
Enjoy all kinds of animals, from snakes to turtles and exotic water creatures such as the aquatic salamander.
3 - USS Mohawk Memorial Aquarium
Right next to the living lab is the beautiful USS Mohawk Memorial Aquarium, a 3,200 gallon aquarium built by Animal Planet's team of Tanked featuring a beautiful replica of the ship.
It was so cool to watch the "zebra" eel moving and going inside and out of the ship cracks. I caught it on video and posted it on my tik tok.
4 - Catch a movie (scheduled attraction)
Head over to Theater-in-the-Tank for a 3D movie. The movie displaying will depend on the time of your visit. Tiny Giants, Hidden Pacific & Titans of the Ice Age were showing when we visited.
5 - Step into the world of virtual reality (scheduled attraction)
Go back 150 years ago to when Fort Myers was completely different than what it is today and see what it was to live back then.
6 - Science on a sphere
Make your way to the second floor and you can't miss the giant six foot animated globe.
7 - Climb a mountain with Google earth
Virtually climb a mountain or dive deep into the great oceans with the Google Earth Wall exhibit that allows you to explore the entire world and discover an array of information such as type of terrain, pictures of animals, climate and just about everything else that a scientist would to have access to.
8 - Explore the old Fort
Experience Fort Myers as it was back in the 1900's and dive into the history of Southwest Florida by digging for fossils that were found in the area in the archeological exhibit.
9 - Be the astronaut
Always wanted to be an astronaut but never really got the chance to do it? Well, now it's your chance to try it out! From flying a spaceship to driving a rover in Mars, the "Be the Astronaut" exhibit provides a full hands on experience for both children and adults who enjoys learning about astronomy and the wonders of space.
10 - Boating through the Caloosahatchee River
The kids love this one because they get to play with water and simulate a boat navigating through the river. The boat is, of course, a small toy boat and the Caloosahatchee river is actually a table filled with water and designed in a way that replicates the exact movements of the river.
11 - Feed the fishes & turtles
Head outside to the backyard nature and feed the fishes and turtles over at the Fisheye lagoon. Fish food can be purchased at the Museum store.
Want to see our trip to the IMAG Fort Myers? Check out the video below and let me know what you think about the tank that Animal Planet built for the Center.