Looking for a fun vacation idea with the kids? Naples, part of the coveted Paradise Coast, has added so many attractions for kids that most don’t even realize all of the new places to visit. We teamed up with Naples Kidz to share with us ten key places to visit the next time you choose a getaway to Naples with kids. Your little ones will love them all and hopefully feel like they explored Naples in a whole new light.
The C’mon Golisano Children’s Museum is a 30,000 square foot building full of hours of fun kid activities both indoors and outdoors. The museum’s lower level caters to the baby/toddler/preschool age but also includes one section with an interactive exhibit that elementary and middle school aged children will love to explore. The Garden Café, museum store, and outdoor area called “Backyardville” are also located on the main level. The second level allows children to play veterinarian, read books in the little library, attend workshops, and build with interactive materials. It’s located in North Naples, where a lot of our families live and not too far from Sun-n-Fun Lagoon, our local water park. Unfortunately, it’s currently undergoing a remodeling but will reopen this summer!
If you’re looking to learn a little bit of Naples history, the Naples Depot Museum and Revs Institute are two exceptional educational attractions. Unfortunately, the Naples Depot Museum is closed due to COVID-19, so we will highlight the Revs Institute, definitely a “must-see” museum for car enthusiasts and anyone who enjoys learning about the history of the automobile. Miles Collier’s car collection at the institute is rated one of the top 5 collections in the world! Visitors must purchase tickets in advance during one of the days they are open; current operating hours are only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays with the exclusion of major holidays.
Next on our list is the Naples Botanical Garden, which showcases plants from around the world on its 170-acre landscape. The family will love this heavenly paradise not only for its beauty but also for the Smiths Children’s Garden where your kids can water the plants, play in the water fountains, and climb through the treehouses. The children’s garden has been temporarily closed due to COVID-19, but children can pick up an activity pack at the visitor’s center with different themes each month. The Fogg Café is also a delightful lunch option, with indoor or outdoor seating. If you visit during December, Night Lights in the Garden is a popular event to see all the gorgeous plants and trees lit up for the holidays.
Depending on your shopping style, Naples Tin City has numerous souvenir-type shops, ice cream, and Pincher’s Crab House where Kids Eat Free (with purchase of adult entrée of $14 or more). But if you are looking for more upscale shopping and lots of outdoor eating options, Mercato seems to be the best family-friendly fit. They have lots of dessert shops, a children’s boutique called Lu Lu Belle, Silverspot movie theater, and even a grassy open area for kids to run around while parents relax in umbrella-shaded seating.
The Naples Zoo has to be included on our list of must visit Naples attractions for kids. It’s small enough for young children to enjoy a morning walk, sightseeing the animals; but it’s also big enough to venture further on a nice primate expedition cruise, feed the giraffes, and rest for a bite to eat at Café Roar with delicious lunch options and sweet treats. While you rest in the shaded picnic area, your children can run off some energy at the leafy themed playground. Older children might enjoy the Safari Canyon seated safari shows where zookeepers let the audience get more up close and personal with the animals and hear more about them during a fun presentation.
Not far from the Tin City is Naples downtown. Park in the garage on 8th Street South and 6th Avenue and take a stroll down 5th Avenue South – known for all its glamorous fine dining and shopping boutiques. For kids there are two sweet stops that any family would love. Kilwin’s and Regina’s Ice Cream Pavilion both are visitor favorites, but our family tends to stroll into Regina’s most often after playing at Cambier Park. It’s a short walk from the park and offers a cute 1950s feel with all the décor, juke box, and root beer floats. Kilwin’s specializes in out of this world homemade mackinaw style chocolates and fudges.
Down the street from the zoo is Baker Park, one of Naples newest parks that includes a splash pad, toddler play area, elementary/middle school age play area, and a huge grassy field open for soccer, kick ball, football or any other field-type activity. Just across the street is a dog park as well. Some other cool features of the park include a kayak launch, sunrise terrace, bike paths, boat dock, picnic areas, and a pedestrian bridge over the Gordon River.
Even if you’re coming from Jacksonville and live near the beach, you can’t visit Naples without stopping at one of our world-class beaches. The one that comes to mind when targeting family-friendly beaches is Lowdermilk Park. This beach has a huge snack bar at very affordable prices and a few play areas near the parking area. For older kids, they can even take advantage of the sand volleyball nets open to the public. Parking can be limited so coming early is key and costs $3 an hour at the meter.
Last but certainly not least, we will end with one of our oldest attractions, the Naples Pier, located at the end of 12th Avenue South. Sightseers love to visit part of Naples history built in 1888 for its gorgeous views of the Gulf of Mexico. Every March, Marine Industries offer a free fishing clinic for kids at the Pier. Cosmos Café and Pizzeria serve visitors food for purchase at the concession as well.
Where to Stay in Naples
Bonus: We recommend the Naples Grande Beach Resort as a nice place to stay during your weekend visit to Naples because of its beach access, affordability (compared to other beach front hotels), and awesome waterslide for kids to enjoy. Best prices can be found during the months June – November.
Naples Kidz is a “one-stop-shop” for visitors and locals to find Naples activities and resources for families. We promote all businesses and organizations that offer anything for kids primarily in Naples but also in Southwest Florida.