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The 20 Best Things to Do in Naples, FL for First Timers

Naples Pier

The coastal location, high-end shopping, golf course, and amazing climate are just some of the reasons that people choose Naples, Florida, as their vacation destination. This city on the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Florida has plenty of things to keep visitors entertained during their stay, regardless of their age or interests. You can expect to spend a lot of time outdoors, as many of the attractions revolve around the natural beauty of this area. The following are the 20 best things to do in Naples, FL, for first-timers.

Round of Golf

20. Play a Round of Golf

Naples is famous for its golf courses, so it is little wonder that so many golf enthusiasts flock to this city each year. There are multiple golf courses in Naples where you can enjoy a round of golf. According to Trip Advisor, some of the best include Country Club of Naples, Naples, Grande Golf Club, and Royal Poinciana Golf Club. While some of the courses in and around the city are best for experienced golfers, there are also options for golf novices.

Sun-N-Fun Lagoon

19. Enjoy the Slides at Sun-N-Fun Lagoon

An excellent choice of activity for families visiting Naples is a day at the Sun-N-Fun Lagoon, which is a water park. Visitors can enjoy a variety of water-based adventures and activities, including four swimming pools, a lazy river, five water slides, an interactive splash playground, and much more. There are excellent amenities for visitors, including changing areas and showers. The water park also has several cafes and food stands where you can grab a bite to eat. It is best to set aside a full day for this attraction.

Dock Restaurant in Crayton Cove

18. Dine at the Dock Restaurant in Crayton Cove

If you want to enjoy an excellent fine dining experience during your visit to Naples, then you should book a table at the Dock Restaurant in Crayton Cove. This is an award-winning restaurant that sits on the shore, and it boasts stunning views across the bay. While you are in Crayon Cove, there are plenty more things that you can explore. Crayton Cove is a suburb of Naples, and it is where the first boats docked to bring supplies when Naples was only a fledgling town. It is full of historic buildings and has several galleries that showcase art by local artists.

Railroading at Naples Depot Museum

17. Learn About Railroading at Naples Depot Museum

Naples has a long history linked to railroading, and you can learn more about this when you visit the Naples Depot Museum. This museum is based in a restored Seaboard Air Line Railway passenger station. Those who visit this museum are taken on a journey back in time to the 1920s, which is when railroading was booming. It explores how technology and transportation were used by the people living in the area to conquer the frontier. Many aspects of the exhibitions are interactive, which adds to the fun of visiting this attraction. The exhibition includes items such as swamp buggies, dugout canoes, and an ancient mule wagon. The Naples Depot Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This museum boasts a second attraction, the Naples Train Museum, which has a children’s train ride.

Historical Palm Cottage

16. Visit the Historical Palm Cottage

An interesting historical building to visit is Palm Cottage. Built in 1895, this is one of the oldest houses in Naples. It has been preserved by the Naples Historical Society, and it now contains a museum. Visitors can explore the interior of the property, see the artwork on display, admire the antique furniture, and view the architectural features of the house. It offers an insight into life in Naples at the end of the 19th century. It is possible to take guided tours of this house and the surrounding gardens. You will find this historic landmark on the corner of Gulfshore Boulevard and 12th Avenue South.

Naples at Collier County Museum

15. Explore the History of Naples at Collier County Museum

One of the best things to do in Naples, FL, if you are interested in the history of the area is to visit the Collier County Museum. This museum explores the history of the area, starting with when the first settlers and their families arrived more than a century ago. There are some fantastic exhibitions at this museum, including traditional arts and crafts, prehistoric mastodons, and artifacts from the Calusa Indian civilization. The museum is surrounded by five acres of native gardens that visitors can also explore during their visit. Withing these grounds, there are restored cottages and a shady courtyard.

Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples

14. Take the Kids to Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples

Families visiting Naples should include a trip to the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples in their itinerary. This is an activity that is suitable for children of all ages, and it is also something that adults can enjoy. Children can learn through play by exploring various recreated environments, including the sea, the earth, the sky, and the sun. There are also settings for children to role-play a variety of professions, so they can pretend they are farmers, bakers, vets, doctors, builders, or chefs. At this museum, there are workshops and educational programs running throughout the year.

Naples Botanical Gardens

13. Stroll Around Naples Botanical Gardens

A relaxing place to spend your time while in Naples is at the Naples Botanical Gardens, and this is listed as one of the best things to do in Naples by The Crazy Tourist. There are more than a thousand species of trees, plants, and flowers in the gardens, which cover more than 100 acres. There is the option to explore the gardens on your own or to take a guided tour to learn more about the gardens and the different plant species.

Coastal Habitat at Clam Pass Park

12. Admire the Coastal Habitat at Clam Pass Park

In the North Naples area, you will find Clam Pass Park. This is 35 acres of beautiful preserved coastal habitat that includes beach access. Visitors can walk along the boardwalk or stroll across the sands, which are home to butterflies and plants. The park also contains a mangrove forest that is the natural habitat of bird species including osprey, wading shorebirds, hawks, and eagles. This is a popular spot to visit for birdwatching.

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

11. Go to the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is part of the Ten Thousand Islands. This reserve consists of 110 thousand acres of mangrove forests, uplands, and protected waters. It is the natural habitat of around 150 bird species, many of which are endangered. This is an enjoyable activity for bird watchers, nature lovers, and those who simply enjoy spending time outdoors in beautiful surroundings.

Nature Trails at Bird Rookery Swamp

10. Walk the Nature Trails at Bird Rookery Swamp

Located in a protected region owned by CREW Land and Trust, Bird Rookery Swamp boasts more than 12 miles of trails for hiking and biking. The terrain of the trails is varied, with boardwalks, crushed shell paths, old tram roads, and both grassy and sandy areas. The trails are surrounded by maple-cypress swamps that are home to wildlife including alligators, white-tailed deer, birds, panthers, otters, and bobcats. Although the terrain is varied, the trails are not challenging and they are accessible for most people.

Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park

9. Visit Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park

US News recommends a visit to Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park while you are in Naples. This park covers 166 acres, and it includes what is considered one of the best beaches in the city. Offshore, there is a reef, so this is a popular area for snorkeling. There are rangers available who can take you on a tour of the park so that you can learn about the flora and fauna. Take along your camera as there are plenty of photo opportunities.

Baker’s Museum

8. See the Art at Baker’s Museum

A top attraction for art enthusiasts to visit is Baker’s Museum, which is recommended by US News. This museum consists of 15 galleries that combine to create one of the best art collections in southwest Florida. In the permanent collection, there are some impressive modern American works of art, including Dave Chihuly’s glass installations. There are also temporary exhibitions throughout the year.

Natural Environment at The Conservancy of Southwest Florida

7. Admire the Natural Environment at The Conservancy of Southwest Florida

The city of Naples is surrounded by beautiful and diverse natural environments. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is dedicated to preserving the unique natural environment in this area. Visitors can learn about the work of this organization at the Nature Center, and there are many fun activities and programs running throughout the year that aim to educate people about the natural environment of southwest Florida.

Conservation of Birds at the Bird Gardens of Naples

6. Support the Conservation of Birds at the Bird Gardens of Naples

The main focus of the Bird Garden of Naples is the conservation of wild parrots in captivity. However, parrots are not the only birds that you will see at this attraction. There are also bees, butterflies, and beautiful vegetation. If you wish to visit the Bird Gardens of Naples, which is located within Corkscrew Swamp, you must make an appointment to have a guided tour.

The Revs Institute

5. Learn About the History of Automobiles at The Revs Institute

Car enthusiasts will love going to The Revs Institute, which is a museum devoted to the history of automobiles. There are more than a hundred automobiles displayed at this museum, and some of these are extremely rare as there were only a few manufactured. In addition to the cars, the collection contains more than a million exhibits relating to the history of automobiles, such as documents, images, and research books. Even if you are not a car enthusiast, it is likely that you will find many of these exhibits interesting.

Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens

4. Meet Exotic Creatures at Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens

Both animal lovers and children will enjoy visiting Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens as they can get up close to the animals and learn more about each of the 70 species that live at the zoo. These include lions, bears, pythons, monkeys, and giraffes. There are also some rare species that you are unlikely to see in other zoos, and all these animals live in a habitat that is surrounded by exotic plants. This attraction will appeal to people of all ages, and it is both fun and educational.

Lowdermilk Beach Park

3. Have Fun at Lowdermilk Beach Park

A fun day out for all the family is a visit to Lowdermilk Beach Park. In addition to the beach, there are ponds, playgrounds, picnic tables, benches, and a volleyball court. Many families visit this beach so that they can swim in the sea. There are some areas of the beach that are always busy, but there are also some secluded spots. A visit to Lowdermilk Beach Park is free, so this is a good activity to include in your itinerary if you are visiting Naples on a budget.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

2. See the Animals at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Nature-lovers should visit the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. This attraction is located at the gateway to the Western Everglades, and it consists of approximately 13 thousand acres of wetlands, marsh, wet prairie, and pine flatwoods. This sanctuary is home to the largest North American old growth Bald Cypress forest. There is a boardwalk for visitors to walk along to see the inhabitants of the sanctuary, which include red-bellied turtles, alligators, wading birds, otters, and white-tailed deer.

Naples Pier

1. Stroll Down Naples Pier

According to Vacation Idea, no trip to Naples is complete without taking a stroll down the city’s iconic pier. The original pier was built in 1888, but it destroyed by hurricanes and fires. It has since been rebuilt several times. It is now used for fishing and dolphin spotting. You should take a stroll down the pier to enjoy the views of the Gulf of Mexico or to watch the sunset. This is a free activity that is accessible to everyone.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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