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We are so lucky to be able to visit Southwest Florida each winter. The weather is almost always perfect, and there is so much for the kids to do! Over the last seven years, we have stayed in both South Fort Meyers and North Naples so we have sampled a variety of activities in these areas. Here are a few of our favorite things to do in Naples, Florida with kids.
Fun Things to do in Naples Florida with Kids
Is Naples Florida kid friendly?
The answer to that is a resounding yes! Okay, this is the winter playground of the retired set, but lots of families visit year round. We visit every year and we find it the perfect mix of sun (great weather), beach, laid back relaxing but with enough “activity” to keep the kids entertained! Plus in terms of dining and accommodations, there are so many great options – families will for sure find Naples beachfront restaurants and lodging to fit their needs and budget!
The Best Kid Friendly Activities in Naples Florida
Zoos and Museums in Naples Florida
Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens
The Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is a must-do if you are in the SW Florida area. It is located north east of Naples proper, accessible by Route 41 and Highway 75. There is ample parking and this is a large zoo, so even crowded days wont feel so packed!
This zoo has great exhibits of local animals such as alligators and Florida Panthers. There is a cruise you can do on the man-made lagoon, which affords you the opportunity to see a variety of primates –and our favorite, the lemurs! (We love the Madagascar movies!) Other exhibits include lions, tigers, black bears, zebras, and honey badgers. This year, we made a point to attend the reptile show where we saw snakes and a venomous lizard!
Admission is a little pricy, but you can find a coupon here. This fee includes admission, the boat cruise, zookeeper talks, the opportunity to view animal feedings and access to the playgrounds. If you want to feed a giraffe, that will cost $5 for three lettuce leaves (you can share among siblings). A camel ride is also $5 per child.
There are snack shops and we usually spend about ½ a day at the zoo. The zoo is on the site of the former Caribbean gardens and there are beautiful flora and fauna to see as well!
Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples (C’MON)
Now on a Florida vacation, I could sit at the beach or by the pool all day, everyday. But my kids like to run around and play, and it’s always good to have an indoor activity in the wings for a rainy day.
The Children’s Museum of Naples is located in the same park as the Sun-n-Fun lagoon. Admission is free for babies under one and $10 for everyone else (note: teachers are free). This museum is great for the 10 and under set. There are some awesome permanent exhibits (grocery play, seasons, restaurant, an art studio and the outdoor water play area and garden) and there is always a great rotating exhibit. On this visit it was a Curious George experience.
All of the exhibits are interactive and fun. There is even an indoor tree house to climb. We usually spend a few hours here and on this trip, it was my daughter’s favorite Naples activity. NOTE: The CMON is closed on Wednesdays (we learned that the hard way).
Naples Botanical Garden
It took us a few years to finally get to the Naples Botanical Garden, but on our recent visit, we had such a great time! The Garden is very beautiful. I love the wood boardwalks, set against the lush, tropical greenery! The kids loved the Children’s Garden, complete with a butterfly house and places to climb, hide and play.
The Garden is not terribly large, we spent about 2.5 hours exploring. We visited the Orchard Garden, Asian Garden, Brazilian Garden, Caribbean Garden and Florida Garden. Throughout the gardens there were many helpful volunteers ready to answer questions and engage the children! I did see you could join, free of charge, a garden tour, let by a guide.
Naples Florida Waterparks
What Naples, Florida activity list would be complete without a water park visit? The Sun-n-Fun Lagoon is a Collier County water park located in the North Collier Park. In the winter months, this park is only open on the weekends, so check the operating schedule here. We visited on a recent Saturday, arriving early to grab some lounge chairs in the sun. Admission to this park is done by height – if you are over 48” you pay $13 and those under 48” (who can’t use the water slides) pay less, $6 (there is a Florida resident and senior discount). On this off-season visit the lazy river and diving boards were closed, so we did pay a reduced admission.
This park has the aforementioned giant water slides, a lazy river (open in the spring and summer months), a swimming pool, a diving pool, a splash pad for those 6 and under, and a splash pool for kids ages 5-12. There are lifeguards at each pool.
For your little ones, DON’T forget to bring this awesome swim vest!
My kids love the Sun-n-Fun Lagoon, every year it ranks as one of their top Naples, Florida activities. We usually spend a whole day at this park. You can bring in waters and drinks and there is a snack bar to grab lunch. You can rent a locker for the day to stash away your valuables while you are swimming. There are plenty of lounge chairs where you can relax poolside. This park is such a great value and a true hidden gem of the area!
Visit the Waterpark at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point
In a recent attempt to be always checking out what’s new and fun in the Naples, Florida area, I really wanted to see what all the hype was about at the Hyatt Regency in Coconut Point.
This hotel has four waterslides, a lazy river and countless pools, and honestly just looked super fun every time another blogger wrote about a Hyatt Regency Coconut Point stay!
For the dates of our recent stay, room rates were over $600 a night, but I realized I could buy a day pass for the resort through resortpass.com.
CHECK HERE FOR THE BEST RATES ON THE HYATT REGENCY COCONUT POINT
For our dates the fee was $45 each and we had access to all the facilities just like a hotel guest would. We rode all the waterslides and spent lots of time lounging in the lazy river. We relaxed on pool chairs had lunch delivered straight to us! It was a super fun day and I’m sure we will be back either as hotel guests or day guests.
Naples Florida Sightseeing with Kids
Visit the Naples Pier
After so many years of coming to Naples, we finally made it down to the Naples Pier!
The pier is located at the end of 12th Avenue South. There is a municipal lot at the corner of 12th Avenue and Gulf Shore Boulevard (one block away). You have to pay to park.
Once at the pier, you can veer down to the beach, or take a walk along the pier. About half way down there is a Cosmo’s Pizza. You can also fish (without any sort of permit) on the pier. This seemed to be the popular activity on the day of our recent visit! I guess there are many fish in that area.
I’m sure this would be a stunning place to take in the sunset on a gorgeous Southwest Florida night!
Go see Manatees In Naples Florida
This was something new for 2020 for our family. Since we were visiting in January, we wanted to do a Manatee Tour, so we booked a tour with SEE-MANATEES.
This tour departs from Port of the Islands Marina which is in the southern part of Collier County. On this 90-minute excursion, we cruised around the canals in a six person boat. We saw a ton of manatees in addition to some alligators, cool birds and tarpons.
I had always thought that Manatees were only able to be seen in December, January and February, but our captain assured us that in 8 years he has only had five tours NOT see manatees!
Naples PRO-TIP: Use coupon code MDFM when you check out for a nice discount on your ticket.
Naples Florida Site Seeing Cruise
Naples, being on the water, is the perfect place to do some sight-seeing by boat. Last year, we did a 90-minute sightseeing cruise with Pure Florida.
We boarded the double decker Double Sunshine in Tin City. We then spent an hour and a half cruising through Naples Bay and Port Royal. Here you will see the most amazing houses you have ever seen! Even my kids loved looking at this drool-worth real estate.
Towards the end of the tour the boat headed into the Gulf, and we got to see some dolphins swimming right along side the boat! It was so amazing and we always see dolphins when visiting the beach in Southwest Florida. However, if you really want to guarantee seeing dolphins on the boat tour, consider booking a Dolphin Cruise with Pure Florida.
Take an Airboat Tour in the Everglades
So this is technically not IN Naples, Florida, but a short ride away. A few years back we did the Captain Jack Airboat Tour and it was such a great time!
We drove down to Everglades City and went in to reserve our boat tour time. While waiting, we were able to enjoy the Animal Sanctuary (which was like a little zoo), see the Alligator Show, and the kids got to hold a baby alligator!
The airboat tour is really cool. Each person gets noise cancelling headphones and the captain brings you all over through the narrow estuaries among the mangrove trees. We saw a few alligators, too close in my opinion! This is such a fun Florida activity (similar, but different to the one we did in Orlando at Wild Florida) and a must do when you are in the sunshine state!
Naples Florida Sunset Catamaran Cruise
Take a sunset catamaran cruise from South Naples. This two hour tour on the Sweet Liberty Catamaran departs from downtown Naples and takes you along the Gregory River into the Gulf of Mexico. Here the engines will go off, the sail go up, and you will see the most beautiful SW Florida sunset!
Bring a picnic dinner and bottle of wine to enjoy while you sail!
Paddle Sports in Naples Florida
Go Kayaking with Rising Tide Explorers
Last week, little man and I took a half day trip to go kayaking with Rising Tide Explorers. We drove down to the Isle of Capri Paddle launch and embarked on a 2.5 hour kayak trip through the mangroves and mud flats of the Rookery Bay Preserve. A expert biologist led the way (and took excellent pictures of us) and taught us so much about his unique ecosystem.
Little man and I shared a tandem kayak and kids age 3 and up can participate.
Rent a Standup Paddle Board and Explore
Last week baby girl and I rented a stand up paddle board from Bonita Paddles. We launched near the Big Hickory Pass, and we were able to paddle among the mangroves and over to the Gulf of Mexico. Rental was so easy, I just met Mike with the board and lifejackets, and he gave me a map and we got out exploring.
Bonita Paddles also offers kayaks and guided tours.
Mini-Golf in Naples Florida
Coral Cay Adventure Mini Golf
Coral Cay Adventure mini-golf is super fun. Its located off of Route 41 just south of Tin City. There are two 18-hole golf courses, and its cost effective to pay for two rounds instead of one. You don’t even have to play both rounds in the same day.
My kids love a good mini golf – there are two in Ft. Myers/Bonita Springs, but this is the only one I know of in Naples proper.
CLICK HERE for a Coral Cay Adventure mini-golf coupon.
Take the Ferry to Key West
Best Beaches in Naples Florida with Kids
Now what trip to Florida would be complete without at least one beach day?
Vanderbilt Beach is a great beach for families. It’s located at the west end of Vanderbilt Beach Road in North Naples. There is a parking garage at the beach run by Collier County. Parking costs $8.
NOTE: On President’s Day the garage was filled by 10:30am so leave early or go late on weekends and holidays.
We love this beach because the sand is so smooth, the water is calm and clear. Along the beach there are several outposts where you can rent jet skis! Now that was my favorite part of the trip!
We rented a Jet Ski (wave runner) for half an hour from the stand which is a little south of the parking garage in front of the Ritz-Carlton hotel. Kids 5 and up can ride on the back. They also rent kayaks, paddleboards, and have parasailing and banana boat rides. I highly recommend renting a wave runner here as the water is calm, beautiful and there is not a lot of marine traffic in this area.
UPDATE: This summer, we all went on the banana boat ride. Again, you can pick this up on Vanderbilt Beach in front of the Ritz-Carlton. We loved this 20-minute ride and the kids cannot wait to go again.
Pro-Tip: Vanderbilt Beach is also a prime spot for sunset viewing each evening. The Gulf Coast of Florida is the only place on the Eastern seaboard where you can see an overwater sunset!
Barefoot Beach is another Collier County park located in Bonita Springs. Take Bonita Springs Road west and over a little bridge there is a sign for a left turn. To access this public beach you have to drive though 1.5 miles of private road (strange, I know, someone’s poor planning). Again, the admission to park is $8 per vehicle.
To access the beach from one of the parking areas, you have to traverse a boardwalk. Along side the path you can see gopher tortoises all over the place (and be sure to check for them under your car when you are about to pull out). This beach is also calm and clean, but more shelly than Vanderbilt.
My daughter loved collecting shells all over this beach! After shelling, we headed to the nature center located in parking field 1 (which is also where the restrooms and snack bar are). At the nature center the volunteer gave us a double-sided color handout that described all of the shells one might see on this beach! We also learned about the local animals and watched a video on alligators. The volunteer gave my daughter some coloring pages and crayons. This was a great stop and we learned a lot about SW Florida sea life!
A Day Trip to Keewaydin Island
If you want to visit a pristine beach on an uninhabited island (that is just a short boat ride away from Marco Island) take a day trip to Keewaydin Island. Definitely one of the best things we have done in Naples Florida with kids!
READ MORE ABOUT THE BEST BEACHES IN NAPLES FLORIDA
Best Hotels in Naples Florida for Families
We are so lucky to be able to stay with grandparents when we visit SW Florida, although over the years we have managed to check out many of the local hotels, especially the ones right on the beach! But recently I did a whole post on the best resorts in Naples Florida. There are so many great ones, so check that out, but here are some:
Our Favorite Naples Hotels for Families:
The Edgewater Beach Hotel – this is a top choice since its an all-suites property and is right on the beach. You can read my full Edgewater Beach Hotel Review and check out a video tour I did with them!
Naples Grande Beach Resort – We have visited the public beach (Clam Pass Park) nearby this fabulous hotel. Not right on the beach, but a short tram ride away.
La Playa Beach and Golf Resort – We have visited this hotel to dine in its amazing, waterfront restaurant, Baleen. This hotel is right on Vanderbilt Beach and is the perfect spot for a family beach vacation!
Ritz-Carlton Naples – Located right on my favorite beach, Vanderbilt, we have visited this hotel for amazing sunset cocktails at the Gumbo Limbo beach bar. High style and fantastic service all in a prime location!
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Naples Downtown -5th Avenue – This is a budget friendly option close to downtown. The perfect home base for your Naples vacation! Baby girl and I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Naples Downtown last July and we had a FABULOUS time!
There are a ton of great hotels in Naples, I can help you plan your perfect Naples Florida trip! Click the banner below to get started –
What are your favorite things to do in Naples Florida with Kids?
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CHECK OUT THIS EPISODE OF VACATION MAVENS PODCAST, WHERE I TALK ABOUT HOW GREAT SW FLORIDA IS FOR A FAMILY GETAWAY!
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