Family Fun in Southwest Florida
Naples, Florida, is a paradise for families seeking a perfect vacation destination. With its breathtaking beaches, vibrant culture, and a wide array of family-friendly activities, it's no wonder that Naples is a top choice for travelers of all ages. In this article, we'll explore the best family activities Naples has to offer, ensuring an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.
Southwest Florida is known for its incredible year-round weather. Of course, there are the endless beautiful white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, but Southwest Florida offers lots of other activities for children of all ages to enjoy. There are plenty of outdoor activities to soak up the sun, and just as many indoor activities to get out of the heat or rain.
Airboat Tours in the Everglades
A short drive from Naples, you'll find the legendary Everglades. Take a thrilling airboat tour to witness alligators, colorful birds, and other fascinating wildlife in their natural habitat. It's a thrilling adventure that will leave your family in awe of the region's biodiversity.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a nature lover's paradise. Take a walk along the boardwalk that winds through the swamp, and you might spot rare birds, alligators, and other fascinating creatures. Bring your camera to capture the beauty of this untouched wilderness.
Conservancy of Southwest Florida: A must-visit spot for kids and adults alike! This Nature Center in Naples spans over 20 acres and showcases captivating indoor and outdoor exhibits highlighting the unique ecosystem of Southwest Florida. The touch tank, play zone, discovery lab, and electric boat rides on the Gordon River add to the fun.
Hop on a 47’ catamaran that departs from Marco Island and navigates through the Gulf of Mexico and the backwaters of 10,000 Islands. See multitudes of resident dolphins that have been photo ID’d and are known by name to the captains and tour guides. The Dolphin Explorer shores up on one of the barrier islands allowing plenty of time for bird watching and amazing shelling opportunities.
Located in the River District of Fort Myers, Edison and Ford Winter Estates features the former winter homes of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, as well as a research lab, botanical gardens, and a museum. The 15,000-square-foot museum displays thousands of artifacts, experiments, and objects from their everyday life. The spectacular gardens contain more than 1,700 plants and a garden center with plants and trees that are available for purchase.
The Wonder Gardens is a botanical garden and refuge for rescued and non-releasable birds and reptiles. As one of the best examples of Old Florida, this tropical zoo is located in historic downtown Bonita Springs. Along with a vast assortment of Florida birds and reptiles, it offers educational programs and events, alligator encounters, and beautiful gardens.
The Golisano Children's Museum of Naples is a perfect blend of education and entertainment. With hands-on exhibits and interactive activities, children can explore various subjects in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The museum is ever-changing as it has permanent, semi-permanent, and traveling exhibits. It is a fantastic place for fostering creativity and curiosity. The interactive and educational museum in North Naples, is perfect for family fun. With hands-on exhibits, a water play station, and a 2-story banyan tree for kids to climb, C'mon is a joy for young explorers. C’mon is conveniently located in North Naples, off Livingston Road near the North Collier Regional Park.
Gordon River Greenway
For active families, exploring the Gordon River Greenway by bike is a must. This 2.5 mile scenic trail winds through lush greenery, mangroves, and offers stunning river views. The park is leashed-dog friendly and contains fishing and look-out piers, a kayak/canoe launch, and bike rack. You can pick up the trail at the parking lot on Golden Gate Parkway, just east of Goodlette Frank Road. Beyond the boardwalk you can continue your ride passed the Naples Airport and cut over to Baker Park.
If you need to get out of the heat, a visit to the Hertz Arena is the perfect solution. The arena offers Public Ice Skating; both family-friendly and weekend nights for the grown-up crowd. They play great music, have laser light shows, hockey and figure skate rentals, and a great concession stand. The Hertz Arena is located just off I-75 in Estero. Don’t forget to bring your sweatshirt!
This STEM-based museum in Fort Myers offers unique activities for children of all ages. The center features aquariums, animal exhibits, interactive displays, and many programs for all ages.
For a more tranquil experience, head over to the Naples Botanical Garden. This incredible 170-acre garden in the Bayshore Arts District showcases plants from around the world, offering arts, science, education, and programs for all ages. Experience the spirit of Brazil, Asia, the Caribbean, and Southwest Florida through exquisite landscaping. Stroll through beautifully landscaped gardens, discover exotic flora and fauna, and let your kids enjoy the interactive exhibits designed to educate and entertain. Night Lights in the Garden, held during the winter holiday season, is not to be missed.
Naples Depot Museum and Naples Train Museum
For train enthusiasts, the Naples Depot Museum gives visitors a look at the booming days of rail travel in Southwest Florida. Along with interactive exhibits, the museum also features Seminole dugout canoes, a mule wagon, a swamp buggy, and restored rail cars. Housed in the restored Seaboard Air Line Railway passenger station in downtown Naples, it shares the site with the Naples Train Museum. The Train Museum features an intricate working display of Lionel Trains that is constantly being updated as new trains and additions are added. Don’t miss a ride on the outdoor railway which circles the depot – rides are free with museum admission.
The Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is a fantastic place for families to get up close and personal with wildlife. From majestic lions to playful monkeys, the zoo showcases a diverse range of animals. Don't miss the daily wildlife shows and feeding sessions for an enriching experience. This nationally accredited zoo takes you on a journey through captivating animal exhibits, exotic plants, and multiple play areas. Take the primate expedition cruise on Lake Victoria, watch live animal shows, in the Safari Canyon Open-Air Theater, watch the alligators get fed, and feed the giraffes. There are several cafés throughout the zoo, water bottle filler stations, or you can bring in your own coolers and eat in the designated areas.
One of the most unique attractions in Southwest Florida. With over 50,000 square feet, the gift shop houses the largest collection of seashells, fossils, and coral. Numerous attractions include a rock-climbing wall, 40’ climbing pole, zip line, bumper boats, miniature golf, paddle boats, gem mining, and more. At the Nature Park and Botanical Gardens there are over 400 animals, including an aviary, Eco Lab, and playground. After a day in the park, stop by one of the many eateries they have on site.
Located in North Naples, adjacent to the North Collier Regional Park, Sun-N-Fun water park is great for kids of all ages. There are thrilling water slides, diving boards, a lazy river, lily pads, interactive splash zones, a toddler splash pool, and even a lap pool for adults. Lockers are available as well as plenty of lounge chairs throughout the park. A concession stand with food, snacks, and drinks is on-site; or a hand stamp will allow reentry so you can eat outside of the park. From toddlers to teens and adults, everyone can enjoy the refreshing aquatic fun.
The playgrounds in Southwest Florida are clean, updated, and have the typical climb-on structures and sports fields, but these parks shine with a wide variety of unique activities.
As one of the newest parks in Naples, Baker Park is a 15-acre park located on the Gordon River and is connected to the Greenway (an incredible walking and biking trail) via a bridge that crosses the Gordon River. The park has a 1.3-mile loop and features a kayak launch, outdoor fitness, playgrounds, splash pad, picnic shelters, and a performance stage. Baker Park does allow leashed dogs in the park and is conveniently located right next to the Naples Dog Park.
Big Corkscrew Island Regional Park is a 150-acre oasis of family fun and excitement in Naples, Florida. Upon completion, there will be a state-of-the-art massive playground, a 22,000+ square-foot community center offering programs and camps, multiple sports fields, event lawns and an 8,600 square-foot aquatic complex. The Aquatic center will boast thrilling waterslides, a competition pool with diving boards, a family pool, and a toddler area.
Located in downtown Naples, there are two different playgrounds, a gated one for younger children and a bigger one for older children. These are not your typical climb on – slide down structures, all of the interactive equipment provides exhausting fun for the little ones. As well as a bandshell that features music and movies on the grass.
Collier County Public Library
Do not forget about the Collier County Public Library system! With incredible programs for all ages beginning with newborns, the children’s department offers Toddler, Preschool, and Family Storytimes, craft projects, summer programs, weekly summer movies, and themed projects. They have a wide variety of children and young adult books and will issue library cards to children so they can independently check out books at an early age.
Located in East Naples, this park boasts a 2.5-mile nature trail, lighted playground, basketball, soccer, football, softball, and baseball fields, a fitness center, and an aquatic complex. The aquatic complex features a wading pool, children’s activity pool, 177’ open slide, and 122’ closed slide, as well as a lap pool and springboards.
Set on nearly 280 acres in Fort Myers, this park is focused around the man-made lakes offering fishing and paddle crafts. With biking, jogging, and walking paths, bikes of all kinds are available for rent. There are multiple playgrounds, pavilions, and fitness stations throughout the park, as well as the Railroad Museum of South Florida where they offer train rides between the lakes and wooded areas and through a 100-foot tunnel.
As the epitome of parks in Southwest Florida, North Collier Regional Park offers everything you could ask for in a comprehensive park. Located on the same property as C’mon and Sun-N-Fun Lagoon, the park showcases the Can-U-Dig-it state-of-the-art playground with unique slides, swings, climbing apparatus, and a covered fossil dig area. The 6,000-square-foot fitness complex features a double-enclosed gym and a state-of-the-art workout facility. The exhibition hall houses a variety of local exhibits as well as multiple meeting rooms. The park is known for its multiple soccer and softball fields which are teeming with kids and families during the sports season. For those preferring a leisurely walk or bike ride, the trail runs around the two-and-a-half-mile perimeter.
This state-of-the-art Sports Complex is located just off Collier Boulevard and Exit 101 at I-75. Once completely built out, it will have ten full-sized artificial turf fields for soccer, football, lacrosse, and field hockey. One of the fields will be inside the 3,500-seat PCSC Stadium, complete with a gigantic video board. The stadium will not only be for sporting events but for concerts and other entertainment needs. The Cove at Paradise Coast Sports Complex is a social hot spot with great food and drinks as well as visiting food trucks, and lots of great family-friendly entertainment. The Factory is an open-air fitness pavilion located next to The Great Lawn and The Cove. The Factory has 5 areas: the National Fitness Curt, MoveStrong Obstacle Course, Open-Air Classroom, Open-Air Weight Room, and the Lake Trail with workout stations along the path.
This waterfront park has beautiful views of 60-acre Lake Avalon with Collier County’s only fresh-water beach. At this unique park, there is water skiing and sailing classes offered year-round. Visitors can rent pavilions for parties or just spend the day relaxing on the beach or taking advantage of the playground and picnic areas.
Southwest Florida is truly a haven for family fun and excitement. With an abundance of attractions, museums, parks, and outdoor adventures, you're guaranteed to create cherished memories that will last a lifetime. Come and experience the magic of Southwest Florida with your loved ones today!