Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fun and Free Wednesday (On Thursday)

Each Wednesday I will post a free, or almost free, fun family activity. Please share yours in the comments, I'd love to add some guest posts to this feature, especially from different areas of the country and world.

The kids and I planned a little adventure to use as this weeks "Fun and Free Wednesday".

We traveled to the Shell Factory in North Fort Myers, Florida. The idea behind the visit was to suggest looking for free quirky places in or near your own town and spend some time exploring. Play tourist in your own town.

image courtesy of the Shell Factory
The Shell Factory is basically a large indoor shopping area, with shells, an outdoor restaurant, a little zoo, bumper boats, and a few other little things. Entrance to all but the zoo is free.

We've been to the Shell Factory before, but not in the last few years. My memories included a Waltzing Waters light and water show set to music, glass blowing, a train room filled with moving trains and lit buildings (which was what prompted the visit as the youngest is big on trains and "The Little Engine that Could"), and other similarly neat stuff.

Well, the place had changed a bit. The trains were gone, the glass blowing had been replaced by a taxidermy display, the light/water/music show ... gone too. There is now a fun pirate room with a talking mechanical pirate and a huge Christmas shopping area -- the best part of which was a guy who came in looking for a Santa suit and he looked just like Santa (even Momma was thinking he might be the real deal ... he sure looked like the genuine article). We meandered for about 45 minutes and we were done.

image courtesy of the Shell Factory
The place seemed tired and dated, and in need of some serious energy infusion, another bit of Old Florida ready to retire. It is in a really tough location - business, tourism, hotels, restaurants have left that area and, other than the Shell Factory, there isn't much going on. The place has quite a history and is really very unique, but I'm not sure that's enough to keep it going.

We left less than mesmerized, but still with plenty to talk about on the ride home. It certainly was unique. We'll play tourist in our town again, just perhaps not there.

Here's a video of one of the Waltzing Waters shows, just because that had been our favorite thing at The Shell Factory and the attraction we were most disappointed to see was no longer there.. If you ever have the chance to see one of these shows do. It's really beautiful.

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