Family Fun in Naples, Marco Island & the Everglades

Airboat ride

A family takes an airboat ride through the Everglades.

By Kara Chalmers

Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades are all ideal family vacation spots. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach scene or a getaway filled with excursions, adventures and attractions, the Paradise Coast serves up a wealth of memorable activities for the whole family.

Exploring Nature in Naples

Explore the Paradise Coast’s natural side, from family-friendly attractions to untouched beaches. Visit the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens for a look at rare and exotic animals including cheetahs, giraffes and black bears – you can even ride a boat through islands filled with monkeys. There are also three children's play areas, live-animal presentations, a café and gift shops. Naples Botanical Garden is also perfect for a family outing with more than 600 plant species and a children’s garden.

At Clam Pass Beach Park, a mini-tram carries passengers from the parking lot through a pristine coastal habitat stretching along a winding boardwalk showcasing birds and marine life. While the beach is equipped with facilities, the estuary is perfect for paddling and fishing with the family.

Beach Days & Water Fun on Marco Island

Head south from Naples to the shores of Marco Island for some beach time on Florida’s Paradise Coast. Splash through the tidal pools of Tigertail Beach Park or wade on the offshore sandbar. Schedule a shelling excursion to the outer islands off Marco Island's coast for sailing, swimming and shelling. Companies like Cool Beans Cruises offer guided tours for groups and private outings.

The surrounding Ten Thousand Islands offer fascinating views of untouched wildlife with a wealth of seashells, dolphins, manatees and bird sightings. Take a guided WaveRunner® eco-tour of the mangrove jungles with Marco Island Ski & Watersports, or island hop via kayak with Kayak Marco Island

Deep Down in the Florida Everglades

If your kids love adventure, visiting Everglades National Park will likely be the highlight of their vacation. One way to see the Everglades and its wildlife – alligators, wild boars and all types of birds – is by airboat. These boats speed through mangrove tunnels and skim alongside the "River of Grass." Check out Everglades Island Air Boat Tours for a trip to Totch's Island or Speedy Johnson's Fun Cruise for a ride through mangrove tunnels. Eden of the Everglades offers both airboat and small boat tours.

For some insight into Old Florida, visit the Historic Smallwood Store in Chokoloskee. The general store was established in 1906, and when it closed its doors in 1982, 90 percent of the original goods remained inside. The store was later reopened as a museum. In keeping with the Old Florida Everglades-style, the onsite eatery, The Oyster House Restaurant, features frogs' legs and gator along with a spectacular view of the Ten Thousand Islands and Chokoloskee Bay.

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