The young and young at heart will create lasting memories playing, learning, and laughing with these top experiences for family fun on Florida’s Paradise Coast.
Making memories is easy in Naples, Marco Island, and the Everglades, with miles of beautiful, white-sand beaches, offshore islands, and a variety of year-round attractions to fit your family’s style. Plus, you can take advantage of kids’ programs, countless options for rooms and suites, and even special deals to make the trip affordable and carefree.
Family-Friendly Outdoor Fun
Naples-area beaches are regularly ranked among the best in the world, landing on TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards for the Top 25 Beaches in the U.S. Also, America’s foremost beach expert, Dr. Beach, named Barefoot Beach and Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park in north Naples to his list of the top 10 beaches in America in 2015.
Learn to skimboard on Naples Beach, then take a stroll to the iconic Naples Pier where fishermen hang their lines in hopes of a bite. For a peaceful beach scene, head to Tigertail Beach Park on Marco Island. Rent a paddleboard to cross the natural lagoon to the secluded barrier island beach awash with collectible seashells. When the kids begin to lose interest in the natural surroundings, the playground and amenities come in handy.
Reel in memories with a favorite coastal pastime. Fishing charters from the Naples and Marco Island area offer the convenience of a guided boat tour along with the equipment and know-how for catching everything from the elusive tarpon to snook, redfish, sea trout, and more.
For families with small children, inshore fishing is recommended due to calmer waters and an abundance of sea life. Companies like Pure Florida, Naples Fishing Charters, and Sea Gone Fishing offers customized fishing tours for your crew, and for those who can’t decide, Day Star Charters offers a unique combination charter for families that incorporates three different Florida experiences in one trip – shelling, dolphin watching, and fishing.
With large portions of Everglades National Park covered by water, there’s prime opportunity to catch the area’s coveted redfish, snook, seatrout, and tarpon in saltwater; and peacock or largemouth bass in freshwater canals. Charters based in Everglades City will take you to the Ten Thousand Islands for wildlife viewing and mangrove estuary fishing.
Boats, Boards & Fun on the Water
While there are many attractions on land, the greatest thrill may be just off the coast. Beautiful emerald waters make for a playground of watersports, from jet skiing and paddleboarding to boating and leisurely kayaking. Rent a boat and put on your captain’s hat aboard a vessel from Port of Naples Marina, or opt for a two-seater jet ski from Naples Jet Ski Rental for splash-worthy fun with the family. Stop off at Keewaydin Island – accessible only by boat – for some shore time. If you’d rather not steer the ship, sit back and relax aboard a sailing catamaran with Sweet Liberty or Off the Hook Adventures.
Get face-to-face with majestic dolphins on a three-hour eco-tour aboard The Dolphin Explorer to not only learn more about these beautiful creatures but also help spot and count the ones you see. Even better? An ongoing study of the area’s dolphins has photo-identified many of them, meaning you may even learn the names of the ones you see and photograph.
You’ll all have a swashbuckling good time aboard the Black Pearl playing high-stakes, seeking hidden treasure, and firing water cannons in an epic “battle.” All in good fun, of course. The Pirates of Marco Island Cruise will transform the kids into little buccaneers as they don pirate costumes for their quest to defeat Pirate Pete. Seriously … Best. Day. Ever.
Exploring the Everglades
Share your love of nature with your younger travelers at Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve. These subtropical preserves are home to much of Florida’s wildlife, and the diverse terrain is well suited for hiking, canoeing, kayaking, fresh and saltwater fishing, and camping. To learn more about the area, stop into the Everglades National Park Gulf Coast Visitor Center, located in Everglades City, or the nearby Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center. You can take a guided eco-tour that explores both on land and in the water with Everglades Day Safari or a guided paddling expedition with Everglades Area Tours.
Other Kid-Friendly Outdoor Excursions
Unleash your inner scientist at Rookery Bay Environmental Reserve. Enjoy eco-crafts, interactive presentations, a featured film and lab demonstrations at the reserve’s environmental learning center explore the pristine area via a kayak or boat tour and learn all about the important research that goes on here.
Home to more than 150 species of native and exotic wildlife, Conservancy of Southwest Florida is a 21-acre nature preserve that’s always a hit with families thanks to a touch tank that puts you face-to-face with some of them and a Little Explorers Play Zone, where the kids can run free after a day of discovery.
So many outdoor experiences for family fun on Florida’s Paradise Coast.
Attractions Kids Will Love
The Sun-N-Fun Lagoon
Cool off at the Sun-N-Fun Lagoon – the only water park in Naples. The entire family will be pleased to beat the heat while floating the 1,250-foot lazy river or sliding down one of several water slides. For all ages, this water park has five water slides, a 38-foot tall water tower, a family pool, and a tadpole pool for toddlers six and under. Children will play on life-size lily pads with super-soaker guns in a designated pool for five to 12-year-olds. For the more serious swimmers, there’s a dive and lap pool.
Sun-N-Fun Lagoon is open seven days a week in the summer during June, July, and August through August 11; open Saturdays and Sundays only in September; closed the months of October, November, and most of December; open for most of the school break between Christmas and New Years; open on Saturdays and Sundays through late May.
Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Journey into the heart of the Everglades at Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Kids will delight at the sight of otters, white-tailed deer, and red-bellied turtles as they stroll along Corkscrew’s 2.5-mile boardwalk through pine flatwoods, wet prairie, a marsh, and finally, into the largest old-growth bald cypress forest in North America. You can take on the adventure as a family or opt for a complimentary guided tour. If you have a particular nature lover on your hands, there are numerous specialty tours including an early morning bird walk or an ancient forest walking tour.
The Golisano Children’s Museum
For hands-on indoor fun, the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples, affectionately known as C’mon, is a safe bet for children of all ages. This two-story, 30,000-square-foot museum inspires learning through play, teamwork, and imagination. The first of its kind in Southwest Florida, the museum is filled with non-stop brain games and interactive exhibits including an Everglades-themed maze and a “Build It!” station for mindful creations.
Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens
The Naples Zoo features animals from across the globe in a tropical garden oasis dating back to 1919. Many are surprisingly close – sometimes just steps away. A variety of wildlife and botanical exhibits await but don’t miss your chance to feed the zoo’s giraffes or take a short catamaran cruise to sail past monkeys, lemurs, and apes frolicking in their natural habitat.
Education doesn’t have to be boring with these great programs for some family fun on Florida’s Paradise Coast.
Resorts & Other Accommodations for Families
Is an adults-only date night in the cards? Plan ahead with one of the area’s formalized children’s programs. Resorts including The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, The Ritz-Carlton Naples, and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples all offer programs for children. Both Ritz-Carlton properties feature the environmentally themed Nature’s Wonders program, with a nature center filled with aquariums and other natural beauties to engage young minds.
The Suite Life for Families
of Naples’ hotels and resorts also offer multi-room floor plans complete with a kitchen, making it easy for parents to maintain privacy and save time and money on their family vacation. Accommodations with this option are available at the Naples Bay Resort, DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Naples, Bellasera Hotel, Red Roof PLUS & Suites, GreenLinks Golf Villas at Lely Resort, The Charter Club Resort of Naples Bay, Marriott Residence Inn, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, Edgewater Beach Hotel, Marco Beach Ocean Resort, Olde Marco Island Inn & Suites, The Quality Inn & Suites Golf Resort, WoodSpring Suites and more.
Although Naples has an upscale vibe, there are many budget-friendly accommodations providing a relaxing, tropical environment. The Lemon Tree Inn has a lovely tropical courtyard, bicycles for getting around, and is within walking distance of downtown Naples shops, restaurants, and beaches. The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Naples Downtown is a smart option that’s close to top Naples attractions and dining.
Area hotel rates are highest between January and April. Great bargains can be found May through December with rates 25-50 percent off normal winter season rates. Spring, summer, and fall values are excellent, so you can enjoy some family fun on Florida’s Paradise Coast all year long.