Things to do in Naples on the water
Hit the Beaches
It should come as no surprise that our first activity involves the beautiful beaches of Naples, Florida. With miles and miles of public beach access, you can be on the sugary white sand in no time! The water temperature ranges from a low of 67° in January to 86° in August. You will have plenty of options as to which beaches to visit. Some of our favorites are Delnor-Wiggins State Park in North Naples, Lowdermilk Park, or Clam Pass Park.
If you’re a resident of Collier County, be sure to pick up your annual beach parking permit to make visiting the beaches even easier (and free!).
Fish off of the Naples Pier
The Naples Pier is located at the end very west end of 12th Avenue South and offers an amazing opportunity for visitors to enjoy a great day of fishing. At around 1,000 feet long, the pier has room for everyone! There are public restrooms with showers, a concession stand and beach supplies. You can even buy your bait at the pier.
What will you catch? You’ll find that just about everything is available off the pier including grouper, snook, sheepshead, redfish and even sharks! You don’t even have to have a license to fish from the pier so it’s a really great spot for people just visiting our great town.
Before you go, be sure to read the Naples Pier rules to avoid a ticket and fine.
Cape Romano Dome House
If you want a quick lesson in man vs. the environment, take a boat or jet ski ride down to the Cape Romano Dome House. The Dome House was built in 1979 with no intentions of being accessible by boat. Between storms and strong currents, the land was slowly washed away stranding the structure out at sea.
Bring a fishing pole if you visit the Cape Romano Dome House. It’s a popular spot for both fishermen and visitors now.
Golden Gate Aquatic Center
The Golden Gate Aquatic Center is a great place to take some lessons or bring the kids to play. The facility features a huge heated pool, wading pool and two water slides. There’s even both a 1 and 3 meter springboard.
Children under 3 are welcome for free while adults pay just $2.00 to enjoy the facility.
So full disclosure–this is one of my favorite things to do here in Naples and a really great spot to bring visitors. My wife and I have taken the cruise with visitors many times and it just doesn’t get old.
The Naples Princess is a 105-foot luxury yacht with the capacity for 149 people. You can take a tour of Naples Bay, see the gorgeous homes in Port Royal, or take in a sunset on the Gulf of Mexico. You can even take a dinner cruise and enjoy the bar. One of my favorite aspects of the Naples Princess is that you can go on the very top deck for the best views or enjoy the air conditioning inside the vessel.
There are daily cruises yet private charters, group events and even weddings are available on the boat.
Pro tip: You can often find deals on Naples Princess cruises on Groupon.
Keewaydin Island is a barrier island between Marco Island and Naples with close to 8 miles of beach and is only accessible by boat. It’s a great place for boaters to unwind and even bring their dogs–it’s the only Collier County beach that is pet-friendly. It’s a great place to enjoy the day with other boaters, swim or go shelling. Be prepared though as there are not any bathroom facilities or businesses on the island. However, various boats sometimes pass by offering refreshments.
How do you get there if you don’t own a boat? There are a number of shuttles, such as the Hemingway Water Shuttle, that offer rides to the island. You can also rent your own boat or jet ski.
Rent a Canoe or Kayak and Explore
Another one of my favorite activities here in Naples, Florida is to grab the kids and rent a kayak. Exploring the local waterways in a canoe or kayak is a lot of fun. There are plenty of companies here that also provide guided tours. It can definitely get pricey to rent a canoe or kayak for an extended trip so do a little research and find the best deal for that day.
Take a Sunset Boat Excursion
Naples is known for its amazingly beautiful sunsets and our beaches are a fantastic place to relax and watch the sun disappear over the horizon. However, taking a sunset cruise on one of our boats is an even better experience in my opinion.
Pictured is the highly-rated Sweet Liberty Sunset Cruise that will take visitors on a 53′ catamaran from the Naples City Dock and into the Gulf of Mexico. Prices are around $40 for adults. The aforementioned Naples Princess is another fantastic option for catching a sunset.
The beaches of Naples and Marco Island make an outstanding place to stroll and find beautiful shells and you have many places to choose from. One of the most popular spots for locals is Barefoot Beach which is just north of Delnor-Wiggins State Park and can be access from Bonita Beach Road.
For the adventurous, consider renting a boat or taking a ferry to one of the remote barrier islands. Keewaydin Island is another great spot for shelling. Finally, a day trip to Sanibel Island can also be a fun way to find some of Southwest Florida’s best shells.
Please remember that it is illegal to take live creatures so be careful when finding starfish and sand dollars.
Deep Sea Fishing or Backwater Fishing
There are so many opportunities to fish the waters of Naples, Florida and one of the most fun ways is on a boat! Naples is full of incredibly skilled captains that can take you far offshore to fish the underwater wrecks or stay in the backwaters of the 10,000 Islands or our bays.
Companies like Pure Florida Deep offer a couple of ways to enjoy deep sea fishing. You can charter your own private boat for small groups or you can join other friends and families on their larger boat to save a little money.
Get out on the water and catch those group, snapper, mahi, snook and redsfish!
Rent a Jet Ski
Jet skis are a blast and there are plenty of companies that rent them here in Naples and Marco Island. They can be rather pricey at around $120 per hour on average but it’s a great experience to have under your belt. There are even companies that provide jet ski tours of the mangroves and backwater.
Check sites like Groupon before you rent though. There are often good deals to be had!
See the Manatees
What could be cooler than seeing wild manatees (or sea cows) in the water? These massive yet gentle animals are in the waters of Southwest Florida year-round so there’s always an opportunity to see them. However, finding them can be a challenge.
One of your best chances of seeing manatees comes with a boat ride with a local captain. The captains know best where the manatees will be depending on the time of year. Companies such as Manatee Eco-Tours will take you by boat to look for these gentle giants.
If the weather turns cold, there’s an even better option in my opinion. Just north of Fort Myers is the Lee County Manatee Park. This place is awesome! There is a power plant adjacent to the park that expels warmer water into the channel. The manatees come in droves to enjoy that warmer water and you can walk right up to the canal and see them up close and personal. The best months are December, January and February as that is when the water is the coolest. The park is located at 10901 State Road 80.
Yoga on the Beach
You may have tried yoga in a studio but have you ever practiced yoga on the beautiful beaches of Naples? Listen to the waves crash as you relax. Many of our local yoga teachers have sessions where the price is your donation. Give Donation Yoga or Naples Beach Yoga by Innergy Health a try.
Things to do in Naples on the land
The Village Shops on Venetian Bay
Visit the Village on Venetian Bay when you’re in Naples for some incredible waterfront dining and shopping. There are over 45 shops and restaurants to check out and the shopping center is very walkable. It’s just one block from the beach at the intersection of Gulfshore Blvd. and Parkshore Blvd. in Naples. You can take a look at the full directory of restaurants and shops here.
What I personally love about Venetian Village is the ability to sit outside in the cooler months and be just feet away from the water. There’s really something for everyone in this shopping center so definitely make it a point to see it!
Naples Botanical Garden
The Naples Botanical Garden is a 170 acre garden just a few miles from Downtown Naples where visitors can walk through and see some of the most beautiful flowers, plants and trees in a truly gorgeous setting.
My favorite part of the Naples Botanical Garden is the Orchid Garden. Orchids from around the world are showcased and something is always blooming! Bring your camera for this part!
There are events throughout the year so be sure to check their calendar before you go.
The Naples Players at the Sugden Community Theatre
Located right in the heart of 5th Avenue South is a great opportunity for visitors to take in some theater. The Naples Players offers a number of performances each season with tickets being very affordable. Make an event out of it and have dinner at one of downtown’s amazing restaurants before taking in a show.
If you’re interested in participating, the Naples Players have educational classes available for both youth and adult actors. Already good enough to be in a show? Audition! You could end up in one of next season’s shows!
Sun-N-Fun Lagoon is a must-do activity here in Naples and super fun for the entire family. There are 5 water slides, a lazy river, family pool, toddler pool and even a diving pool with springboards! We’ve taken our two sons there and they absolutely love it–they can spend the entire day there having fun.
The park is located in North Naples near Immokalee Road and Livingston Road in North Collier Regional Park. Children 3 and under get in free. Kids under 48″ pay just $4.50 and everyone else gets in for only $8.00.
Artis-Naples is your home in Naples for the performing and visual arts. Artis features the Naples Philharmonic and the Baker Museum and is located near Pelican Bay and the Waterside Shops.
There are events throughout the year at Artis. Our local philharmonic members put on outstanding shows but touring acts come to the facility as well. In fact, I saw Bill Cosby perform about 10 years ago (before his legal troubles).
Check the Artis-Naples calendar and plan your visit!
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is an Audubon sanctuary located about a half-hour from Naples in the heart of the Everglades. The park features a 2.25 mile boardwalk where visitors can see very diverse ecosystems. Your walk begins at the nature center and takes you through flatwoods, wet prairie, a marsh and a Bald Cypress forest. You’re bound to see animals in this incredible park. There are plenty of alligators, otters, deer and more. I even saw a spider eating a snake there! Check out the video below.
This huntsman spider was on a tree, feet above the water, and had a snake in it’s grasp. Really, what could be more entertaining to visit than Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary where spiders eat snakes?
Just east of 5th Avenue South and on the Naples waterfront is Tin City. It is a truly eclectic group of shops and restaurants as well as vendors selling sight-seeing attractions or fishing excursions. This is a must-do when you’re in Naples. Just look at how many different vendors are in this one area!
You will also find a number of activities based here such as Pure Florida for fishing/sight-seeing and Trike Tours USA.
You can spend all afternoon at Tin City and then have a fantastic seafood dinner at one of the many restaurants.
Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens
The Naples Zoo is a great spot to spend an afternoon outdoors with the animals. There are plenty of exhibits and shows throughout the day and some really unique attractions. The zoo is centered around a very large lake that has small islands in it. Each island houses a different species of monkey or ape and you can hop on a pontoon boat for a guided tour! My kids love it!
As great as the boat ride to see primates is, nothing beats feeding the giraffes by hand. Naples Zoo is home to five male giraffes and they’re friendly as can be. Guests can purchase a few leafs of romaine lettuce for $5 and have the opportunity to hand them to a giraffe to eat.
There is a really nice playground at the front of the property so your kids can burn off some extra energy after touring the zoo. There’s a cafeteria and other refreshment stations throughout the zoo grounds. When all is said and done, you leave through the gift shop where you can purchase toys, clothing and other souvenirs.
Pro Tip on visiting the zoo: Groupon regularly has deals for memberships at the zoo. Do the math on it but if you plan to go 2 or 3 times in a year, it may work out better to pay for the annual membership. Also, the Naples Zoo offers Collier County residents free admission on the first Saturday of each month. The free Saturday program has been suspended during the pandemic but should start up again soon.
Off the Hook Comedy Club
Off The Hook Comedy Club is located right in the heart of North Naples and is a great place to spend an evening. The club features a full liquor bar and a full menu making it a great place to unwind and see some touring comedians.
If you haven’t been to the club before, I think you’ll be shocked at some of the big names the club draws in. Jim Breuer, Carlos Mancia, Kevin Nealon, Mike Epps and even Ron White of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour have taken stage at Off The Hook.
There are usually 2 shows per night making it pretty easy to get a babysitter and see one. Check their calendar of performers and get some tickets!
Naples Trolley Tours
The Naples Trolley Tour runs from 8:30am until 5:30pm every day of the week and is a really great way to explore Naples. The trolley drives around Naples making stops at shopping, restaurants and attractions. You can get on the trolley at any of their locations listed on their schedule. When you hit a spot you want to check out, simply hop off! You can get right back on next time the trolley comes by.
Celebration Park and the Food Trucks
If you want to have a great lunch or dinner with seemingly endless options, head over to Celebration Park near downtown Naples. A number of food trucks occupy this small area in the Bayshore Arts District near the Botanical Gardens. There’s even a tiki bar! You can sit on the water while you eat as well.
The Alamo Gun Range
A gun range may not seem like it should make a list of great things to do in Naples, FL yet this isn’t just a range. The Alamo Range features an indoor range, a huge shop and the training you need to be a better shooter. They offer gun rentals as well so you can still shoot even if you do not own a gun.
They offer the course you need to get your Florida Concealed Weapons Permit.
Pair this activity with a night out or a nice dinner in the area and you have yourself a great date night!
Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples
I have two boys and the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples has been an amazing resource where our boys have so much fun. Located in North Naples, the Children’s Museum features rotating exhibits that keep the activities fresh. There’s an outdoor area with even more things for the kids to do as well as a snack bar. Upstairs, you’ll find an arts and crafts room and a lounge for the older kids to visit. There’s even a library stocked with so many great books to read to your children.
Daily passes are available yet annual memberships prove to be the better value if you plan on visiting multiple times in a year.
The Waterside Shops is a high-end shopping destination located at the corner of Pine Ridge Road and US41 in North Naples. The open air shopping center features a number of fantastic restaurants and great stores anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue and Apple.
It’s a really beautiful setting with beautiful fountains dotting the center of the mall. Definitely stop by!
If you’re looking for another great shopping experience, check out Mercato in North Naples. It is a mix of stores and restaurants with residences above. There are some great bars there like the English Pub and so many great places to grab a meal. Whether you want a quick and affordable lunch at Chipotle or an incredible steak at The Capital Grille, you’ll find it in Mercato. You can even take in a movie at Silverspot Theater!
What I personally love about Mercato is that they always seem to have a great event going on. There’s live music all of the time, children’s events and even events to bring your dog to! This is definitely worth checking out!
Gordon River Greenway Park
Right in the heart of Naples is the 140 acre Gordon River Greenway Park. It is huge and has 2.5 miles of boardwalk or trails to enjoy. You can even bring bikes or rollerblades instead! There is a kayak launch point, spots on the boardwalk to look out over the property or go fishing, restrooms, a playground and more.
The park is conveniently open 7 days a week from 6:30am to 10:00pm. Bring your camera because you will certainly see some awesome wildlife!
Kowiachobee Animal Preserve
The animal sanctuary is an educational experience located in Naples. Hurt or distressed wild and exotic animals are housed here and cared for by a large group of volunteers. There are tigers, lions, a Florida Panther as well as birds, reptiles and much more to see.
The Kowiachobee Animal Preserve has great educational events throughout town where animals are showcased and spectators can learn a great deal about them.
Conservancy of Southwest Florida
I really love this spot in town. The Conservancy has activities to do both indoors and outdoors. They work to rehabilitate wild animals and have veterinarians on site. One of my favorite features of the museum are the electric boat tours. Hop on the boat and get an educational tour through the waterways nearby. If you’re more of a DIY type of visitor, you’ll enjoy the kayak rentals so you can explore the Gordon River at your own pace.
I had a personal experience with the Conservancy when a nest of turtles hatched next to a condominium parking lot. The turtles were heading in all directions and in the direction of traffic. I gathered them up and took them to the Conservancy where they were housed temporarily and later released into the wild. It’s a great place–take a trip and see why I love it!
Naples Depot Museum
Head down 5th Avenue South to find the Naples Depot Museum. The museum is actually in the Seaboard Air Line Railway passenger station and has been fully restored. The museum tells the story of how Naples went from a tiny home to 300 people into what it has grown to today.
There is a train museum with a train ride for children. There are plenty of exhibits that rotate through, refreshing the museum and keeping it fun for multiple visits.
Seed to Table
Seed to Table is simply indescribable. Yes, it’s a grocery store. Yes, a butcher shop too. It’s a 2 story wine dealer. A bakery. An ice cream shop. A sushi bar. It’s a playground. It’s an entertainment venue. You name it, it’s there!
This one of a kind, 75,000 square foot store in North Naples has it all. It is so cleverly thought out–you can select a steak and they’ll cook it for you in the store. You can have some wine straight from the shelves to your table. And aside from all of the culinary features of the store, there are constantly events for the public to enjoy.
Take it from me–you need to check out Seed To Table if you haven’t already.