Naples, Florida with Kids: 30 Best Things To Do in Naples, FL

Naples, FL makes for the perfect family beach vacation.
Naples, FL makes for the perfect family beach vacation.
4/29/23 - By James Smith

A haven for retirees and those fleeing Northeast winters, tony Naples, FL on the Gulf Coast is a surprisingly family-friendly destination. Miles of sun-drenched beaches share the city with gardens, a zoo, nature centers, museums, and more, making it a pleasant experience for families looking for a reprieve from the theme parks and pirate festivals of Florida’s north. Naples, FL also offers unrivaled natural scenery and environmental wonders.

Here are 30 of our favorite things to do in Naples with kids, from beaches and baseball to the best kid-friendly hotels and restaurants Naples, FL has to offer. Check out our Florida Family Travel Guide for even more family vacation ideas in the Sunshine State, from Amelia Island to West Palm Beach to the Florida Keys.

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We can’t discuss Naples, FL without mentioning Hurricane Ian, the devastating Category 3 storm that made landfall just north of Naples in September 2022 and brought much of the area to a standstill. Among the losses were Naples Pier, one of our favorite family attractions in the city, and the Gulf Coast Visitor Center in nearby Everglades City. Both are slowly being rebuilt; as of April 2023 access to the pier is limited and fishing is suspended.

Naples, FL beach
Frolic on the white-sand beaches of Naples, FL.

Top Attractions in Naples, FL for Families

1. Beautiful Beaches

While some Naples and Collier County beaches remained closed after Ian at the time of publication, several family-friendly beaches have reopened, including Clam Pass Park at Doctors Path and Lowdermilk Park on Gulf Shore Boulevard North. The sand is soft and white, and the Gulf of Mexico water is ideal for swimming, wading, and beachcombing. The surf at these beaches is gentle; just remember the sunscreen.

2. Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Visitors to this environmental learning center can enjoy more than 100,000 acres of pristine mangrove forest, uplands, and protected waters. There's also a 2,300-gallon aquarium, a touch tank, and stroller-accessible hiking trails. Boat and kayak tours are available, too.

RELATED: Jacksonville with Kids: 45 Best Things To Do in Jacksonville, Florida

Naples Botanical Garden in Naples, FL
The tropical vegetation at Naples Botanical Garden will delight the whole family. 

3. Naples Botanical Garden

At this floral wonderland, guests can stroll through 170 acres of tropical vegetation. Kids will especially enjoy the butterfly house and the David Byron Smith Children’s Garden.

4. Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center

This nature center, set on 21 acres just south of the Naples Zoo, includes interactive exhibits on Florida’s ecosystems, birding, electric boat tours, and even a sea turtle exhibit.

RELATED: The Best Zoos in the US

Naples Zoo in Naples, FL
See panthers and more at the Naples Zoo.

5. Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens

This topical zoo, accredited as both a zoo and a botanical garden, is home to all sorts of animals including panthers, monkeys, bears, alligators (of course), and more. The zoo offers fun toddler programs, giraffe feedings, animal shows, a Primate Cruise, and other fun experiences.

6. Cambier Park

This park in the heart of Naples’ downtown features a large playground, shuffleboard, and tennis courts. Visitors can enjoy free concerts on Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings at the band shell.

7. Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples

At this fantastic children's museum, kids can enter an igloo, walk inside a seashell, weave through a maze, climb a two-story banyan tree, experiment with a water-play station, and participate in many other interactive activities. The museum is accessible to all regardless of physical or learning abilities.

RELATED: 25 Fun Things To Do in Destin, Florida with Kids

Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park
Keep an eye out for alligators at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. 

8. Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park

Park's the place (I couldn’t resist the Monopoly reference) in Naples, where Big Cypress Bend Bend Boardwalk has long been a family destination. Alas, the boardwalk remains closed at the time of publication, but Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, home of the boardwalk, is open. Fakahatchee is the largest state park in Florida and an ideal detour on a return trip from the Everglades.

9. The Bird Gardens of Naples

This non-profit houses and cares for parrots that were abandoned or abused or are otherwise in need of a home. Families can book an hour-long tour of the Bird Gardens on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, during which they can interact with over 100 birds. If weather allows, they can even hold and take photos with macaws.

More Things Things To Do in Naples, FL with Kids

10. Boat Tours

Boat tours are an ideal way to take in Naples' coastal scenery and wildlife, and the city has plenty from which to choose. Take a sunset cruise with the kids aboard Cool Beans Catamaran Cruises or the Sweet Liberty. Seas the day on a three-hour dolphin cruise aboard the Naples Explorer or the Dolphin Explorer Marco Island. There are also tiki cruises and ecology tours that will delight kids.

11. River Park Aquatic Center

This overlooked gem managed by the City of Naples features a 75-foot pool with six lap lanes, a teaching pool with a lengthy water slide (for guests at least 48 inches tall), and a beach-entry pool with interactive water features. Best of all: Admission is always FREE.

12. Kayak Tours

Southwest Florida is a nature-lover’s paradise. Get close to the native vegetation on a guided kayak tour from Naples Beach Adventures, Naples Outfitters, Paddle Naples, and elsewhere. Most kayak tours are a few hours long through the mangrove forests along calm water.

13. Hiking Trails

Naples’ abundance of parks, wildlife refuges, and other green space means there are plenty of places to exercise your legs and clear your mind. A couple of hiking trails we like are the Gordon River Greenway (a two-plus-mile mixture of asphalt and mulch) and the Crew Bird Rookery Swamp (a 12-mile loop that is part of the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed). Most trails in Naples are friendly to leashed dogs, but do avoid the resident alligators.

RELATED: 55 Fun Things To Do Around Miami with Kids Before They Grow Up

Airboat ride in the Florida Everglades
Explore the Everglades aboard an airboat.

14. Airboat Rides

Airboats are the preferred method of navigation through the Everglades and the surrounding marshlands. Guided tours average anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and guests will see plenty of wildlife. Charter companies include Wooten’s Airboat Tours, Captain Jack’s Airboat Tours, Captain Mitch’s, and Corey Billie’s.

15. Segway Tours

Want to see Naples in style? A Segway is an entertaining way to play tourist with teens. Segways are battery-powered, two-wheeled vehicles ridden while standing and controlled by simple shifts of body weight. Segway Tours of Naples offers daily scheduled tours of the downtown area for those at least 14 years of age. Note: Riders must weigh between 80 and 300 pounds.

16. Spring Training Baseball Games

Take them out to the ballgame at the spring training facilities of the Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox, located only minutes from Naples, FL. Enjoy the more intimate experience of a big-league preseason game in February and March at a fraction of the cost of Target Field or Fenway Park.

17. Bike Rides

With its series of flat terrain, Naples, FL attracts a host of pedaling families. Interested cyclists can rent bikes and gear at Beach Bum Rentals, Big Momma’sNaples Cyclery, or elsewhere. Rental venues can provide information on the best trails for kids by age.

18. Naples Trolley Tours

Naples is an ideal walking city, but if little legs get tired it’s comforting to know there is a trolley nearby to continue the sightseeing journey. Naples Trolley Tours offers fully narrated excursions through the city that cover more than 100 points of interest. Hop on or off as you like, and take it easy on your feet.

19. IMAG History & Science Center

The one-of-a-kind (at least for South Florida) science center in nearby Fort Myers features aquariums, animal exhibits, interactive displays, presentations, and other innovative programming designed to inspire visitors' imaginations. Enjoy more than 60 STEM-based exhibits, a 3-D movie theater, touch tanks, and even the opportunity to be a TV weather forecaster.

20. Naples Train Museum

What toddler doesn’t love trains? At the Naples Train Museum, little ones can watch nine trains operating at a time along the museum's indoor track. There are even diesel and steam-driven trains to ride outdoors, weather permitting. Note: The museum is only open on weekends, from mid-October through the end of April.

RELATED: 100 Things To Do in Orlando with Kids (Other than Theme Parks)

Tin City in Naples, FL
Find lots of great seafood in Tin City restaurants.

21. Tin City

In a city full of waterside attractions, one of the most popular in Naples is Tin City, a gallery of mom-and-pop shops where families can find everything from beach essentials to designer clothing. Enjoy more than 30 boutique stores (no chain stores), a host of charming restaurants, ice cream shops, and more. You can even book a relaxing cruise that takes off right from the facility.

Great Kid-Friendly Restaurants Naples, FL Has to Offer

These are just a couple of our favorites, but there are plenty more.

22. Osteria Tulia

You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into an Italian trattoria when you enter Osteria Tulia. Casual furnishings, friendly service, and rustic dishes ooze Italian authenticity. The large children’s menu includes dishes named after Chef Vincenzo Betulia’s sons. The hand-rolled pasta dishes are outrageous.

23. The Local

This farm-to-table spot is indeed a local’s delight. Chef-owner Jeff Mitchell, a father, periodically offers kids' cooking classes in his spacious kitchen. The menu changes daily based on what’s in season, but expect healthy salads, flatbread pizzas with a variety of toppings, creative soups, and vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.

24. Brooks Burgers

Head to one of this casual spot's three locations in Naples, FL for juicy burgers, yummy salads, and a variety of great sandwiches.

Delicious Naples, FL Ice Cream Shops

25. Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream

At Sub Zero, you can watch ice cream in liquid form magically transform into something delicious right before your eyes. It’s a do-it-yourself destination.

26. Regina’s Ice Cream

A favorite of residents, snowbirds, and tourists alike, Regina’s turns the clock back with ice cream sodas, sundaes, egg cremes, and malts. Jukebox music and the smell of homemade waffle cones add to the ambiance.

27. Naples Ice Cream Shoppe

This popular ice cream spot serves up a variety of homemade, premium ice cream flavors, plus all kinds of sundaes, ice cream sandwiches, and more. There is even soft-serve, pineapple Dole whip!

Family-Friendly Hotels Naples, FL Has to Offer

Amid this snow-birds' paradise, there are plenty of great places for families to stay.

28. Edgewater Beach Hotel

For an elite stay, consider this swank hotel. Its 100-plus rooms all boast views of the beach. There are also two heated pools, a fire pit, and three poolside restaurants.

29. Bellasera Hotel

This hotel offers residential-style amenities close to downtown shopping and restaurants and just a mile from the beach. Enjoy Bellasera's heated pool and fitness center.

30. Hilton Naples

This Hilton hotel is near an outdoor shopping mall, within five miles of the Old Naples historic district, and a free shuttle ride away from Clam Pass Beach. Families can enjoy the hotel's outdoor pool with a waterfall as well as its free bicycle rentals.

A version of this post was first published in 2015.

Places featured in this article:


Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens

Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center

Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center

Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples

Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park

River Park Aquatic Center

IMAG History & Science Center
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