SOUTH FLORIDA MUSEUM is the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The museum interprets the region from the Pleistocene to the present. Highlights include fossil evidence of Florida’s earliest mammals and marine species and the Montague Tallant collection of prehistoric and early post-contact archeological artifacts. Recently opened is the Environmental Wing focusing on Florida’s ecology and bio-diversity in the Pine Uplands and Riverine Galleries.
Other exhibits cover local maritime traditions, early 20th-century medical practices and Spanish exploration in the New World. Spanish Plaza has full-scale replicas of a 16th-century manor house, chapel and conquistador Hernando DeSoto’s birthplace.
The Bishop Planetarium, featuring one of the most advanced all-digital projection systems in the world, presents astronomy programs the whole family will enjoy. The Parker Manatee Aquarium, part of Florida’s manatee rehabilitation network, is home to Snooty, the oldest known living manatee.
Allow 1 hour, 30 minutes minimum. Museum/planetarium/aquarium open Mon.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. noon-5, Jan.-Apr. and in July; Tues.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. noon-5, rest of year. Closed Jan. 1, Thanksgiving and Dec. 25. Museum/planetarium/aquarium admission $15.95; $13.95 (ages 60+); $11.95 (ages 4-12). Phone ahead to confirm schedule and admission. MC, VI. Phone (941) 746-4131, ext. 10.