Primarily an educational and rescue facility, the Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium (3450 Ortiz Ave., 239/275-3435, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun., $9 adults, $6 children, children 2 and under free) sits on more than 100 acres near I-75 and has a butterfly garden, an aviary, and small nature museum. The best reason to make the trek out here is to take in one of the many daily educational programs that allow kids (and adults) to get up close with the butterflies, manatees, reptiles, and other animals housed here.
Make sure to allow enough time to walk along the rarely crowded, pine-shaded nature trails.