From spotting wild dolphins to zipping down water slides, summer in the Paradise Coast brings fun and excitement for the whole family.
This unforgettable eco-tour lets you participate in the study of wild dolphins aboard the Dolphin Explorer, a 36-foot power pontoon boat perfect for getting up close to observe marine life. The study, Ten Thousand Islands Dolphin Project, is the only ongoing study of wild dolphins in Southwest Florida, and the only one in the U.S. that engages the general public. Your family will join the Survey Crew on a three-hour expedition in sighting and studying dolphins – more than 300 are named and catalogued. You’ll learn their names and what they’re doing. And when you sight a new dolphin, you’ll get to name it!
The tour also includes a stop at a barrier island beach where you can collect seashells. There’s seating with shade aboard for children (as well as a bathroom), and your trip comes with complimentary beverages and shelling bags. There are two survey trips daily, at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. The tours usually sell out so advance purchase is strongly suggested. And don’t forget your camera!
Summer is a great time to fish on Florida’s Paradise Coast, and your family is sure to experience plenty of angling excitement. Pure Florida offers both off-shore and deep-sea fishing excursions – as do many other guides and charters in the area. Many offer combination trips that can include a stop on a barrier island for shelling, sightseeing and more, so even the non-fishing members of your clan have something to enjoy.
An airboat ride through the Everglades is an exciting experience the whole family can enjoy. These boats easily navigate shallow waters and do sweeping turns, providing an exciting view of the coastal wildlife and an exhilarating ride. You’re sure to see alligators and many different types of wading birds. Many captains provide a running commentary on the area’s amazing eco-system, making the ride as educational and it is entertaining. Browse the tour listings here.
EXPLORE THE EVERGLADES
Explore the international treasure of Everglades National Park, a subtropical preserve and part of the country’s largest wetlands ecosystem. The diverse habitats allow you to enjoy hiking, canoeing and kayaking, biking, fresh and saltwater fishing and camping in the ultimate wilderness. The Naples area is home to the Everglades National Park Gulf Coast Visitor Center, located in Everglades City, which is the only visitor center within the national park that is free – no entry fee required. Boat tours are available to take you out into the saltwater mangrove estuary portion of the park where you’ll spot bottlenose dolphins and numerous bird species, including osprey, herons, egrets and more.
LAZY RIVERS & WATER SLIDES
Summer vacation just wouldn’t be complete without at least one visit to a water park. The Sun-N-Fun Lagoon will have your whole family splashing about all day long. The only water park in Naples, Sun-N-Fun Lagoon boasts interactive pools with water-dumping buckets and moving obstacles, a 1,250-foot lazy river, five water slides ranging from 200 to 350 feet long, a 38-foot tall water tower, a family pool, a tadpole pool for toddlers 6 and under and a larger pool area with water guns and life-size lily pads for 5- to 12-year-olds. There’s also a dive and lap pool for more serious swimmers.
BY LAND & SEA: BIKING, BOARDING & BOATING
Looking for a one-stop-shop for all of the family fun you could ask for? There’s something for everyone at Extreme Family Fun Spot, where activities include boating, fishing, Segway tours, kayaking, paddle boarding and biking. It’s as simple as making a reservation, renting equipment and exploring Naples – by land or sea!
FROM FLIGHTS TO DIVES
From eco-tours to helicopter rides, paddle boarding to diving, there’s plenty of family-friendly outdoor fun to choose from here. Naples Marina and Excursions offers diving certification courses with experienced instructors along with all of the equipment you will need to explore the deep blue sea. With more than 100 sites to choose from, including wrecks, reefs, springs, coral-live bottoms, ledges and towers, this is a great spot for instructor-led dive trips off the Naples coast.
MUSEUM JUST FOR KIDS
Sometimes you’ve got to escape the sun and head inside for some cool air. The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples is the perfect place to dodge some rays. The first of its kind in Southwest Florida, this family-friendly museum inspires learning through hands-on play, teamwork and imagination. This two-story, 30,000-square-foot, not-for-profit museum offers approximately 16 unique exhibits, from an Everglades-themed maze to an entirely blue room with giant construction blocks.
Looking for an interactive experience that incorporates family fun and learning in the shade of native trees? Naples Botanical Garden’s Eleanor and Nicholas Chabraja Visitor Center combines hands-on user experience with exceptional amenities. Every weekend from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., the W.O.N.D.E.R. program takes place in the Smith Children’s Garden. With monthly themes from birds to solar power, this program encourages imagination, creation and exploration with fun activities taking place in the beautifully landscaped garden. Afterwards, stop by Fogg Café for an assortment of soups, salads and more.