Located in southern Florida’s Collier County along the Gulf Coast, Naples is one of the area’s most quaint and historic towns and had a population of slightly more than 20,000 residents at the time of the last census.
It’s closest to two of Florida’s largest natural attractions and is relatively equidistant between Cape Coral to the north and Marco Island to the south.
Naples is known for a slower pace than many of its big-city neighbors. For those more interested in long walks along the beach than night clubs, it may just be the perfect South Florida destination.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Naples, Florida.
1. Naples Botanical Garden
Located on Bayshore Drive just a few miles outside town, Naples Botanical Gardens is home to more than 1,000 species of plants, flowers, and trees. It is a convenient getaway destination for those looking for a little tranquility surrounded by natural splendor.
The botanical garden is part of a larger natural preserve comprised of over 100 acres. Though it’s possible to explore on your own, many guests opt for the guided tours that are offered daily from November until April.
The garden has different seasonal and daily hours, so be sure to check carefully online before making a special trip.
2. Naples Pier
Naples Pier stretches more than 1,000 feet out into the Gulf of Mexico and is the perfect place for a casual stroll. According to many visitors, it’s the absolute best spot to take in a majestic Florida sunset.
Located on 12th Avenue just off the boardwalk, it’s the site of the city’s Independence Day fireworks show, which is nothing short of stunning.
Naples Pier is a popular spot for surf fishermen; a variety of game fish are relatively easy to catch using live bait which can be purchased nearby.
The pier’s amenities include bathrooms and cleaning stations for those who’d like to filet their catch before heading home.
3. Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park
Comprised of more than 150 acres that are just a 20-minute drive outside town, Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park is known for its white sandy beaches, ample parking, and clear waters that are perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
For those traveling without their own beach gear, umbrellas and chair rentals are available. There are covered seating areas and a variety of food vendors nearby too.
Many guests split their days between chilling on the beach and taking advantage of the ranger-guided tours, which may include excursions to the turtle nursery during the hatching season.
Admission is charged on a per-vehicle basis and is very inexpensive.
4. Tin City
Full of cool and quirky shops selling everything from arts, crafts, and collectibles to bathing suits, perfume, and shells, Tin City is one of Naples most eclectic destinations. It’s the perfect place to pick up a few keepsakes to remind you of your trip.
Much of what you’ll see has distinctly Florida and nautical themes. For those who want to see the coast as part of a guided tour, a number of charter boats with regularly scheduled excursions are nearby as well.
Tin city is indoor and air-conditioned, so though it’s open year-round, it’s appreciated most when the summer weather is less than inviting.
5. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts won’t have problems filling their schedules when visiting Naples. Comprised of more than 10,000 acres, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is one of the area’s best-preserved natural attractions.
Though it’s about an hour each way from Naples, previous guests have noted that the travel time was well worth it.
The sanctuary is home to a variety of environments, like swamps, marshlands, and cypress stands. It is awash with gators, river otters, and a huge array of birds.
The park is open daily depending on the weather. The cost of admission is very inexpensive, but food purchased from elsewhere isn’t allowed in the park.
6. Palm Cottage
Historic Palm Cottage is open year-round and is owned and managed by the Naples Historical Society.
The cottage was built in the early 1900s, has been restored to near-original condition, and is full of period housewares and furniture. It gives visitors an interesting look into the lives of those who stayed in the area more than a century ago.
The cottage grounds and adjacent Norris Gardens are often seen together as part of the guided tours that are available from Tuesday to Thursday, but reservations must be made in advance.
Standard admission gives visitors access to both areas, and many guests choose to show themselves around instead of joining a tour.
7. Naples Zoo
Naples Zoo isn’t as large as some of the zoos in neighboring metropolitan areas, but it has its fair share of exotic animals. Its primate collection is among the most popular.
The zoo also features a variety of toothy predators from Africa and Asia, like hyenas, leopards, and tigers. There are a number of regularly scheduled events – like live feedings – that are big hits with animal lovers of all ages.
Most guests end up spending a few hours at the zoo. For those who’d like to save a few bucks, it’s possible to do just that by purchasing your tickets online in advance of your visit.
8. Fifth Avenue South
Fifth Avenue South is one of Old Naples’ most upscale dining, shopping, and entertainment districts. Though it’s a bit on the pricy side, it’s still worth a look – even for those traveling on a budget.
Stretching from the Tamiami Trail to the east to the Gulf of Mexico in the west, it is full of galleries, boutique shops, jewelers, and bookstores that make it a window-shoppers’ paradise.
For those who show up on empty stomachs, there are many dining options. They range from bakeries and coffee shops to homemade ice cream parlors and seafood restaurants.
9. Crayton Cove
As home to the Naples Yacht Club, the Naples City Dock, and a variety of shops, galleries, and eateries, Crayton Cove is one of those places that tends to take up more of visitors’ time than expected.
Crayton Cove is located near the intersection of 12th Avenue and 8th Street. In addition to being the perfect place for an afternoon stroll or a sunset dinner, it offers guests several recreation options, including horse and carriage tours and fishing and sightseeing cruise charters.
Consider checking out their ‘Art after Dark’ events that take place the second Saturday of each month.
10. Lowdermilk Beach Park
Located along Gulf Shore Boulevard North, Lowdermilk Beach Park sports more than 1,000 feet of sandy beach and incredible ocean vistas. It’s one of the city’s most popular beach destinations for locals and out of town visitors alike.
The park’s amenities include a volleyball court, picnic tables, covered seating areas, bathrooms, and showers. There’s even a freshwater pond and playground for the little ones.
Many guests who plan on staying a full day bring their own food. For those who don’t, there are food vendors on-site that offer a variety of tasty grub, like burgers, hot dogs, and Italian ice.
11. The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples
For families traveling with young children, there have never been more options where kids can not only have a great time but learn a few things along the way too.
The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples is one such place; its interactive exhibits touch on a variety of thought and activity provoking topics, like the weather, farming, animals, the natural world, and art.
In addition to their permanent exhibits, the museum’s staff offer a number of special guided activities as well.
The museum is located on Livingston Road, and most guests consider the cost of admission to be good value.
12. Naples Depot Museum
Like many areas of the country that have undergone massive development in the past century, the railroads have played a significant role in South Florida’s amazing transformation.
The Naples Depot Museum is located on 5th Avenue South and is dedicated to promoting and preserving the area’s transportation history.
The museum is housed in the depot of the now-defunct Seaboard Air Line. Though much of what you’ll see is train-related, there are a variety of items that touch on the economy and culture of the area too.
There’s even a mini-train that offers rides to the little ones.
13. Collier County Museum
Located on East Tamiami Trail in Naples, the Collier County Museum covers five scenic acres and is the area’s premier historical museum.
The area’s history stretches back hundreds of years, and the museum’s exhibits cover a wide range of interesting topics – from prehistory, geology, and dinosaurs to Native Americans, settlers, and the economy.
The museum has been open to the public since 1978, and its expansive grounds include cultivated gardens, a recreated Native American village, and a courtyard with plenty of covered seating.
Don’t forget to check out the gift shop before heading off on your next adventure.
14. von Liebig Art Center
South Florida is one of the country’s most artsy areas, and though Naples and the neighboring cities have histories stretching back hundreds of years, most of the museums focus on modern and contemporary art.
Von Liebig Art Center is located on Park Street downtown and is one of those convenient and inexpensive cultural gems that shouldn’t be passed up.
Its permanent exhibits feature a variety of works in different mediums that have a number of international influences. In addition, the center offers art classes for children and adults, guest speakers, arts and crafts shows, and even the chance to meet some of the artists themselves.
15. Caffé dell’Amore
To be named the number one Italian restaurant in a city like Naples, you must be doing something right.
Located just behind the Lowdermilk Beach Park along Gulf Shore Boulevard North, Caffé dell’Amore is known for using fresh local ingredients and traditional Italian recipes to produce some downright amazing dishes.
You won’t find added preservatives, canned sauces, or artery-clogging trans-fats. What you will find is a pleasant ambiance that’s decidedly more old-world than many of its competitors.
It’s not the cheapest place in town and may not be the best bet for a large family on a budget, but for an unforgettably romantic evening for two, you could do a lot worse.