Children’s Museum of Naples Sneak Preview

C’MON opens in 2 weeks

What did you like most to do when you were 6 years old? Undoubtedly C’MON and its focus groups of 6-year-olds and grown-up former 6-year-olds have already anticipated your answer.

The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples, 10 years in the making, opens Tuesday, Feb. 28, to mounting anticipation. Here’s a sneak peek.

Some of what the 6-year-olds suggested has to do with what they experience here in Florida; some of it, what they miss.

That’s most obvious in the Mother Nature’s House seasons exhibit. In the

Fall in Woodstock, VT

spring in Martha’s Vineyard room, they can make a bird’s nest. In the summer in Naples section, they can do a news broadcast about a tropical storm on-camera, reading from a teleprompter.

But when they get to fall and winter, the fun really starts: a tree that spits out leaves they can rake up and a chilly igloo where they can write their names in the condensation on the window.

Naples environments

The Naples Trolley is the centerpiece as you enter the 30,000 square-foot hall of the colorful ship-shaped building. Inside the trolley, kids get their picture taken for a driver’s license and punch buttons to go to some of the museum’s 12 different galleries.

Behind it, a mammoth, very real-looking banyan tree has its 350 branches filled with stuff animals. Inside, kids can step into a virtual pond and watch the fish flit away and water plants grow.

The Journey through the Everglades exhibit’s boardwalk winds up into the tree and overlooks the mangrove maze of 20 or so pods with hands-on learning experiences such as making a rattlesnake noise. Looking through special glasses, you can see the world through an alligator’s eyes.

Colorful and ship-shaped C'MON

As visitors make the journey, lighting and sound effects mimic spending a day in the moody environment.

At the Beach, kids can fish with poles and magnetic bait, then identify the fish they caught. A paddle boat, crayon rubbing station, and 22-foot-tall walk-through shark’s eye shell t all teach in a cleverly sneaky manner.

At the Farm & Market, conveyor belts take sorted fruits and vegetables to the grocery story next door, where the check-out person runs functioning machinery to ring up what customers have taken off the shelves.

In Backyardville, a hedge maze, rolling hill, and graffiti wall provide outdoor fun.

Age Appropriate

Soft, touchable fabrics such as what covers a super-sized gecko upstairs make the museum’s toddler areas irresistible to the blankie set.

There’s even a room for those tricky-to-please ‘tween-agers. In partnership with WGCU, the local PBS station, Curious Kids holds computers, karaoke and sewing machines, a disco lounge where they can mix music, and science discovery experiences. Staff presents special CSI-type programs and others with appeal for 8- to 12-year-olds.

Adults too get their due with a fine art exhibit and one woman’s donated collection of masks, puppets, and other cultural artifacts from around the world. They also have their own night to come in and play without kids each month.

The dream-come-true – literally – of Naples mother Allyson Loos, the $25 million building is all green down to the organic food served in the Garden Café.

After Loos lost her 13-month daughter, little Bianca appeared to her in a dream in the setting of a children’s museum. That’s the moment the project began.

With the donation of $5 million from namesake Tom Golisano, the generosity of a community, and the vivid imaginations of some 6-year-olds, dream becomes reality in two weeks.


Children’s Museum of Naples, 15080 Livingston Rd., 239-514-0084, The museum is part of North Collier Regional Park, home to Sun-N-Fun Lagoon water park. Open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission $10, under age 1 free.


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