For many travelers, a Naples vacation conjures up the image of lots of time sitting on the beach in a lounge chair with a tropical drink in hand.
Those of us who are family travelers, however, know that even tropical trips are rarely quite so relaxing. Keeping the kids occupied and engaged is important too.
Luckily, Southwest Florida vacations for families in Naples with kids can be full of lots of activities to keep parents, teens, and toddlers busy and entertained.
Beaches perfect for families and children in Naples:
Does your family love the beach?
From historic Naples Pier and famous Vanderbilt Beach to peaceful Marco Island, the Naples Gulf Coast, in Southwest Florida, is brimming with varied beach settings primed for a family escape.
Once again in 2016, two Naples area beaches made the Top 10 Beaches in the U.S.!
Barefoot Beach Preserve in Bonita Springs (it’s actually in the northwest corner of Collier County) was ranked #2 and Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park just south of Barefoot in Naples ranked #9.
Below, we’ve rounded up 5 of Naples top coastal areas–all featuring clear waters, white sands, activities for all ages, and tons of opportunities for peace and relaxation in Southwest Florida.
1. Vanderbilt Beach
During season (tourist months), it can be a task finding a spot on the beach, but there is plenty of sand for everyone. If you arrive before 10 a.m. January to March, there will be plenty of spreading room on beautiful Vanderbilt Beach.
2. Delnor-Wiggins Pass
One of the most popular seaside destinations in Naples, the mile-long stretch of white sugar sand at Delnor-Wiggins has been rated one of the best beaches in the nation.
Visitors arrive to this park to sunbathe, snorkel the reef, hike, bird-watch, fish, picnic, and search for seashells on a daily basis. There are specific areas designated for anglers to drop their lines in the northern areas of the park for trophy catches.
Boaters will also find the launch area into Turkey Bay easily accessible for most vessels, in order to experience the delicate natural estuaries of the Cocohatchee River, leading out to the Gulf of Mexico.
3. Lowdermilk Park
The Lowdermilk beach park offers 1,000 feet of pristine beachfront, plenty of picnic tables for a lunch with your family and friends, a playground for the kids, volleyball court, and a wonderful duck pond.
Parking for beach access in the City of Naples requires the resident or visitor to have a beach parking permit, feed the parking meters, or pay-by-space. This is enforced year round.
4. Barefoot Beach Preserve
Barefoot Beach Preserve is 342 acres of natural land, one of the last undeveloped barrier islands on Florida’s southwest coast.
Barefoot Beach Preserve is popular, in Southwest Florida, for its gorgeous, plush surroundings and its opportunities for avid fisherman, who are able to enjoy many species of fish. The inland side of the island provides tidal creeks and mangrove swamps which serve as breeding areas and as a nursery for sport and commercial fish and shellfish.
5. Naples Pier
The historic Naples Pier is located on the Gulf of Mexico at the West end of 12th Avenue South. On-street parking is supplemented by a parking lot one block East, with additional parking at beach ends on the avenues to the north and south.
The Naples Pier was originally built in 1888 as a freight and passenger dock. Located off of 12th Avenue South in Downtown Naples, has been a popular spot for fishing, relaxation and as a location to watch sunsets since it was first constructed in 1888.
Ending in 2015, the Naples Pier finished major reconstruction that helped to revitalize the pier for a new generation of tourists and locals to enjoy.
Restaurants perfect for families and children in Naples, FL:
If you are visiting Naples, with children, this list of kid friendly Naples restaurants is written for you.
Brooks Gourmet Burgers & Dogs
Your children will go crazy over the creations at Brooks like; the GIANT 1/2 pound hot dog, the Donut Burger which includes american cheese and bacon between two warm glazed donuts, homemade macaroni and cheese, and sweet potato waffle fries. Both of their locations have a kid friendly decor and environment for noise.
Plus their all-natural, brilliantly cooked , deliciously crafted burgers are nationally recognized and locally famous.
Salsa Brava Mexican Grill is off the beaten path, but worth the effort to find it for lunch and dinner. This is the little restaurant that could and always makes the dining experience something to keep coming back for more. This Mexican eatery is very much a cut above the rest. Zagat has called this restaurant “Outstanding”. The dining room fills up fast, so try to arrive before 5pm.
Satisfy your hunger for delicately made confections. At Belgian Yummies in Naples, FL, they have an expansive menu of ice creams, cakes, pies, Authentic Belgian waffles, ice cream pops, and ice cream sandwiches dipped in the finest Belgian chocolate. Flavors change frequently so don’t be afraid to try something new.
Here is our list of family-friendly attractions in Naples, FL:
Golisano Children’s Museum
Founded in 2002, the Golisano Children’s Museum has interactive exhibits for children of all ages. The interactive exhibits help to teach children about art, culture, where produce comes from, the ecosystem of the Everglades and Florida beaches, basic science and math concepts and more! For more information on these and upcoming events, please visit their website at www.cmon.org.
Originally called the Caribbean Gardens, the Naples Zoo has been a major site in Naples for almost 95 years, first as a botanical garden, and then as a zoo. This is a great place for the entire family to see animals from around the world, and also some local animals as well! In addition to several animal exhibits for reptiles, mammals and birds, there are several family programs where children can meet some of the animals, in addition to the onsite botanical exhibits.
The zoo also holds several events throughout the year, like “Boo in the Zoo,” which will allow kids the chance to trick or treat at the zoo, visitors to visit the zoo half-price, and have special activities for the kids related to the resident animals and Halloween. For more information, please visit their website at www.napleszoo.org.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Corkscrew prides itself as a family-friendly destination. Its boardwalk is a wonderful place for the entire family to see local animals, including a family of alligators, a family of owls, a family of otters, and a family of enhingas. In addition to the boardwalk, they often have kid-friendly activities during their “Corkscrew After Hours” program, which is held after normal business hours once a month.
Child-friendly activities include face paintings, art projects, special guests like artists and writers who will talk to the children about their craft and share their work with them, and simple science experiments. For more information on Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, please visit their website at www.corkscrew.audubon.org.
Naples Botanical Gardens
The Naples Botanical Gardens are not only an educational attraction or a nice place to take a relaxing stroll, but is also a great place to take the kids to. The Naples Botanical Gardens has a special kid-friendly area called the W.O.N.D.E.R Garden. What makes this garden special is that it has activities for children that fall under a specific, monthly theme.
The W.O.N.D.E.R. Garden also has an interactive butterfly garden, herb garden and vegetable garden that volunteers at Naples Botanical Gardens will gladly help to show and teach children about how their food grows and about the life cycle and types of butterflies. For more information, please visit their website at https://www.naplesgarden.org/education/children-and-families/w-o-n-d-e-r/.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida
The Nature Center has a lot of activities that are extremely family friendly. These activities include the interactive exhibits at the Dalton Discovery Center, Little Explorers, the Jr. Vet Lab and the hospital exhibits, the Shorebird Rehab Pool and the Sustainability Courtyard Exhibits. In addition to the Nature Center, the Conservancy has several nature trails, onsite guided boat tours, and kayak rentals that the whole family can explore and enjoy the natural surroundings and search for local fawn and fauna.
The Conservancy also owns Smith Preserve and the Shotwell Wavering Filter Marsh, which might be of interest to the family that loves the outdoors and is looking for educational experiences for the kids. For more information, please visit their website at www.conservancy.org.
Collier County Museum
If you are determined to make sure your kids do something educational while you are on vacation, the Collier County Museum is just the place to take them. Even though it is a history museum, this museum has very interactive exhibits that are fun, concise, yet are detailed and informative enough to teach the entire family a little bit about Southwest Florida history.
In addition to the indoor exhibits, you can take the family outside to see the outdoor exhibits, which include an old train, an old tour boat, and replicas of traditional Seminole and Calusa villages and homes. For more information, please visit their website at http://www.colliermuseums.com/locations/collier_museum
This is a museum connected to the Collier County Museum system that focuses strictly on the history of Naples. The reason why this is included on our list is because it has a collection of trains, automobiles and locomotive related memorabilia that will peak any child’s interest in trains and automobiles.
Additionally, this museum and the Naples Train Museum that it shares the property with, has special events on Saturdays where children can take train rides and do activities related to trains. To learn more about this museum and its child friendly events, please visit their website at http://www.colliermuseums.com/locations/naples_depot
Naples Pier and Naples Municipal Beach
Naples Pier is a great location for the entire family, because of the multitude of opportunities available for people of all ages and interests. For example, one of the parents can take the kids fishing off the pier while other family members can sunbathe somewhere nearby on Naples Municipal Beach. Maybe the whole family wants to fish off the pier, or use the pier to look for dolphins and pelicans.
With Naples Pier’s location along Naples Municipal Beach, the whole family can spend the entire day either fishing, dolphin and bird watching, go swimming, collect shells, sun bathe, or enjoy water sports like jet skiing, parasailing, paddle boarding and/or kayaking. For more information, please visit http://www.naplespier.com/ or http://www.naplesgov.com/index.aspx?nid=340
Delnor-Wiggens Pass State Park
Another beach located in Naples, Delnor-Wiggens State Park is great place to take the entire family out for some fun in the sun. This is a popular spot for those who want to go snorkeling, bird watching and dolphin watching, sunbathe, hiking, picnicking, and searching for sea shells. Furthermore, it is a popular spot for kayaking, paddle boarding, and canoeing.
If you can’t bring your own paddle board, kayak or canoe, you can rent or take a tour with Naples Beach Adventures, which has a concessionaire onsite. For more information, please visit the state park website at https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Delnor-Wiggins or to learn more about Naples Beach Adventures, visit http://www.naplesbeachadventures.com/.
Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center
This is another great place to take the kids to show them some great local nature and also a great chance for them to learn more about ecology and biology. The learning center offers daily themed programs where visitors of all ages can learn about different animals in the estuary.
There is also a touch tank where visitors can actually touch and see some of the animals on display. There are also guided boat and kayak tours, camping opportunities, and it is a great place to see birds, collect shells, go fishing, take photographs, and launch a kayak or boat. For more information, please visit their website at www.rookerybay.org.
Stay in a Naples Vacation Rental
More than just a beach town, Naples offers cosmopolitan attractions, like 5th Ave. If you prefer more outdoorsy options, try a visit to an Everglades nature center or a deep sea fishing excursion.
Conveniently, Naples is near a major airport (RSW), making it easy to book a flight from almost anywhere. Naples Florida Vacation Homes are only minutes away from some of the best beaches in Florida (listed here).