Splendors of Southwest Florida: A Weekend in Naples



My daughters enjoying the resort pool

My family enjoys long vacations and traveling to faraway places on planes, ships and automobiles. However, sometimes it’s nice to just get away for a few days and discover something new right here in Florida.

One of our favorite places to visit is Naples. It’s just a two-hour drive from Miami, but it has such a different vibe. It’s more laid-back and peaceful and there’s so much to do with kids. We’ve found that it’s a great destination for some family bonding time.

Top 5 Family Adventures in Naples


You probably already know that the beaches in Naples are pretty spectacular, but which ones have you visited? The area boasts several kid-friendly beaches that include everything under the sun. Clam Pass Park is pretty special. You can board a tram just behind the Naples Grande Beach Resort and take a scenic ride while enjoying the plant and wild life all around you. There’s a variety of mangroves and shorebirds to keep you entertained until you reach the beach. Clam Pass has a restaurant, facilities, beach rentals and watersports galore. Lowdermilk Park is another great beach option for families. Here you’ll find outdoor showers, a concession stand, playgrounds and even a duck pond to keep the little ones entertained.


While the beaches are indeed wonderful, be sure to head out ON the water. If you’re looking for a sightseeing tour that may even include some dolphin sightings, book a cruise with Pure Florida. One of our family’s favorite adventures was the Dolphin Watch, Eco & Shelling Tour on the Naples Explorer, which takes you out to Keewaydin Island for some fun and relaxation on a beautiful, secluded white-sand beach. They also give you a card for the kids (and adults) to participate in a little scavenger hunt while on the boat. We also love Sweet Liberty, a sailing catamaran that offers several cruising options. My girls haven’t stopped talking about the beach trip we took. We sailed out to Keewaydin and swam in the beautiful clear-blue water. Then we collected seashells and even spotted some dolphins on the way back. What a perfect day! If you want to take in the magical Naples sunset on board a luxury yacht, then book a trip with the Naples Princess. You can even add dinner for an even more memorable family trip.

Splashing around after the water slide

Insider tip: My daughters love the pool at the Naples Grande Beach Resort, so we usually book a boat trip in the morning, grab lunch and spend the afternoon splashing on the water slide.


The Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens offers another great option for all ages. In addition to animal exhibits, your family will enjoy the giraffe feeding, Safari Canyon shows, and the Primate Expedition Cruise. Where you board the boats allows you to see islands of apes, monkeys and lemurs in their natural habitats. There’s also some really cool animal encounters and meet and greets with zookeepers. For something a little wilder, head to the Everglades — one of the world’s greatest ecosystems —  for an up-close look at alligators, manatees, birds, turtles and maybe even a Florida panther. One of the best ways to explore this fascinating “sea of grass” is on an airboat tour.


The Golisano Children’s Museum, also known as C’MON, is located in North Naples and it features a ship-shaped building with 12 galleries of fun, interactive exhibit galleries. Little ones will love all the hands-on exhibits while they climb a two-story banyan tree, enjoy the water play station, meander through the Everglades swamp and much more. The Naples Depot Museum is another cool option for train lovers who would like to be transported back to the Roaring Twenties railroads.


There are many great shopping malls and outlets throughout Southwest Florida, but we love Miromar Outlets because they have lots of fun activities for kids. The outlet features European architecture with fountains, koi and turtle ponds, and picturesque walkways. It’s an ideal escape when you want a little break from the beach. Throughout the year, you’ll find lots of activities and exploration opportunities. Check out the 16 Rock Climbing FunWalls, kids’ crafts, science projects, family yoga, a 5-D theater and a range of family-friendly restaurants.

What are some of your favorite things to do in and around Naples?

Full disclosure: I’m the editor of Neapolitan magazine, the in-room lifestyle magazine of the Naples Grande Beach Resort, so I travel to Naples often for business and pleasure.