Whether you’re looking to lounge by crystal clear waters, golf on some of the best courses in the country, or indulge in high-end shopping and dining, there’s something for everyone in Naples, Florida. Named for the Italian city of the same name, Naples was designed to be a winter retreat, a place for people across America to trade their cold weather in for warm sun and white sand.
While Naples continues to draw snowbirds from the north year after year, this seaside city has become a top travel destination for visitors all year round. A haven for adventure lovers and people needing a little R&R, your perfect Naples vacation is waiting for you!
With so many Naples activities and attractions, it’s hard to know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Naples for you. From studying local wildlife to floating around on your own personal tiki bar, these unique Naples bucket list recommendations will ensure that you have an incredible time at this stunning Sunshine State destination.
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15 Fun and Unique Things to do in Naples, FL
1. Take in the Sun, Sand, and Surf at the Beach
Naples is known for its pristine white sand beaches and warm weather, which allow it to be a top beach vacation spot all year-round. Just lay back on the warm sand and enjoy the gorgeous view!
Grab one of the thatched-roof palapas at Lowdermilk Park for a fun family day in the sun. You can also rent kayaks, boogie boards, skim boards, and stand-up paddleboards to really enjoy the clear blue-green waters. Or go to Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, where you can climb a watchtower for one incredible view.
Many areas of Naples have beach access, but one of our favorite spots to stay at is Old Naples. In this historic area, nearly every street ends with a path to the beach. After spending a day shopping and dining on Fifth Avenue South, just take a short stroll over to Third Avenue Beach to take a sunset walk by the water.
2. Stroll along the Naples Pier
Over at the west end of 12th Avenue South is another great place for a sunset walk and a must on any “things to do in Naples” list. The historic Naples Pier is the area’s most-visited attraction. The city of Naples provides a blanket fishing license for the pier, allowing anyone with a fishing rod to try their luck. But if you’d rather just observe the wildlife, the Naples Pier is a top spot for dolphin and bird watching.
You can also head onto the sand for a volleyball game or grab a bite to eat at the concession stand. But the biggest draw to Naples Pier is its spectacular sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico.
If you head to Naples Pier during the day, be sure to stop by the nearby Palm Cottage. Built in 1895, the Palm Cottage is the oldest home in Naples and just a block away from the Naples Pier. For a small fee, you and your family can take a walking tour through the historic district or take a docent-guided tour of the cottage.
3. Marvel at the Beauty of the Naples Botanical Garden
The Naples Botanical Garden has some of the best sights in Naples. This 170-acre garden features diverse plants from all around the world, as well as unique rotating art displays.
The botanical garden consists of nine gardens with their own attractions, including the Water Garden, beautifully styled similarly to Claude Monet’s water lily pool, and the LaGrippe Orchid Garden, which demonstrates just how special and different orchids are around the globe. To learn more about the species in each of these gardens, you can take one of the botanical garden’s daily tours.
The botanical garden holds events throughout the year, so you’re likely to experience something new every time you visit. Throughout November and December, guests are invited to the garden’s Performance Lawn for Johnsonville Night Lights in the Garden, where the area is transformed into a beautifully-lit campground, complete with faux campfires.
The garden also hosts daily activities to teach more about the natural world, such as their W.O.N.D.E.R. series, which stands for Walk, Observe, Navigate, Draw, Explore, and Read. Each month introduces a new theme inspired by the gardens and invites you to work your way through a W.O.N.D.E.R. Activity Pack to learn about different wildlife.
4. Go for a Round of Golf
Naples calls itself the “Golf Capital of the World,” and it can definitely back up that claim. Teeing off on a world-class golf course is one of the best things to do in Naples for any golf lover.
With over 90 18-hole golf courses, around 30 open to the public, you can play on a different course every day of your trip and still need to come back time and again to play on them all. The top public course picks to play at include the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club’s course, which is the oldest in Naples and received an extensive upgrade with the help of golf legend Jack Nicklaus, and Lely Resort Golf & Country Club’s Flamingo Island, which is considered one of the best courses in the nation.
Arrowhead Golf Club is another one for your Naples bucket list, as it’s frequently voted the best public golf course in Naples. Over at the Links of Naples, you’ll find one of the coolest things to do in Naples, as it’s the only course to feature stadium lighting to allow for nighttime golfing!
5. Enjoy a Show at the Naples Philharmonic
The Naples Philharmonic was founded in 1982 and played four concerts as a chamber orchestra in its first season. Since then, it’s grown quickly and plays more than 140 orchestral and chamber concerts between September and June each year. In addition to concerts, the Naples Philharmonic is home to operas, touring musical performances, and so much more.
The Naples Philharmonic is a part of Artis-Naples, a cultural institution that also houses the Baker Museum, another one of the must-do things in Naples for art lovers. Focusing on modern and contemporary art, the museum is considered one of the best art museums in Southwest Florida. The museum features an Art After Hour event on the last Wednesday of each month, which provides free admission to all museum exhibitions, as well as live music from local musicians and food options.
If you’re a film lover, you should mark your calendar for the Naples International Film Festival. Housed at Artis-Naples, this festival arrives every October and screens more than 60 films over four days from both new and established filmmakers alike.
6. Float Around Naples in a Tiki Bar
Naples is surrounded by water, and there are plenty of options to board a boat and explore. But one of the coolest things to do in Naples is hopping aboard a tiki boat tour.
Cruisin’ Tikis Naples is a BYOB tiki bar that launches from The Boathouse on Naples Bay or at Fish House Restaurant on Bonita Beach Road. These themed boats are led by U.S. Coast Guard-certified captains to ensure a safe and educational journey, but the main focus of these boats is fun!
Cruises run for a half hour, two hours, or three hours and are only for ages 13 and up, as long as teens are accompanied by an adult. But while this cruise isn’t exactly kid-friendly, it is dog-friendly. If you’re hosting an event, like a bachelorette party, consider booking a private tour to get your own personal party boat.
7. Spend an Evening at Fifth Avenue South
Fifth Avenue South is located in the walkable historic area of Naples called Old Naples, and it’s known for having some of the best nightlife around Naples. Enjoy a play at The Naples Players, check out a concert at the Norris Center, or dance the night away at The London Club.
While Fifth Avenue South is beautifully illuminated at night, it’s also a great place to visit during the day. Stroll through art galleries, book a spa day, or dine your way around the area’s gourmet bars and restaurants. Whether you’re looking for upscale dining or a laidback cafe, you can plan your perfect meal and your perfect day at Fifth Avenue South.
Fifth Avenue South is home to many events throughout the year, but one of the best is the Paradise Coast Wine & Food Experience, which showcases the best in local cuisine. Check out live cooking demonstrations, meet celebrity chefs, and eat your way around Southwest Florida.
8. Dine Your Way Around Third Street South
Third Street South is considered the birthplace of Naples and is known for its antique fountains, cascading flowers, and lush green landscaping. But it’s also known for its renowned fine dining.
Indulge in handmade gelato at Barbatella Gelato Bar, or wash down a scone with some pinot noir at Tony’s Off Third Wine and Pastry Shop. Have a craft cocktail with your pup at the Courtyard at Ridgway Bar & Grill, dine on classic American fare at Old Naples Pub, or treat yourself to fine Italian cuisine at Sea Salt. You’ll find live entertainment throughout Third Street South to make your meal even more special.
Every Saturday morning from mid-November through April, you’ll find the farmer’s market on Third Street South, which features the best local produce, baked goods, freshly roasted coffee, and so much more. Filled with music, dog treats, and other delights for the whole family, the farmer’s market is a great place to spend Saturdays with your kids and dogs.
9. Shop around Tin City
The waterfront Tin City was once a 1920s clam shelling and oyster processing plant. But today, it’s a unique shopping and dining district designed to maintain the rustic look of its former life. These tin-roofed buildings house one-of-a-kind gifts, sweet treats, and so much more.
With more than 30 shops and two restaurants right on the water, this family-friendly boardwalk has plenty to do and see. Unlike many other spots throughout Florida, Tin City is air-conditioned, making it one of the best Naples attractions to enjoy all year round.
When you’re done shopping, you can get out on the water with Pure Naples. Go deep-sea fishing, look for dolphins, rent your own jet ski, or go on one of many more adventures Pure Naples offers. If you’re looking to explore Naples, you can also rent an electric trike from Trike Tours USA or a Segway from Tour Now USA, both located at Tin City.
10. Hike around Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is home to some of the best sights in Naples, Florida. Trek through Corkscrew’s famous 2.25-mile boardwalk as it winds its way through pine flatwoods, wet prairie, marsh, and into the largest old-growth Bald Cypress forest in North America.
Along the way, keep your eyes out for hundreds of stunning animals, from red-bellied turtles to river otters. Got a question about one of the unique creatures? Naturalists are often on-hand on the boardwalk to teach you more about what you’re seeing on your journey.
The entrance to the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary can be found through the Blair Audubon Visitor Center, which features its own exhibits and artwork. Special events are held throughout the year at the visitor center and sanctuary, like Moonlight on the Boardwalk, where you’ll be invited to take in the beauty of the wilderness after dark.
You can also choose to take part in guided programs, like the Early Birding Walk, where a naturalist will teach you all about the birds of the sanctuary as they begin to stir in the mornings.
11. Stroll Through Crayton Cove During Art After Dark
Known as the “Original Old Naples,” Crayton Cove is a waterfront district filled with independent boutiques and fine dining, as well as many art galleries. While the area is charming to explore on its own, one of the best times to visit is during its Art After Dark event.
On the second Saturday of every month from October to May, the galleries of Crayton Cove host an art walk to give art lovers an evening they’ll adore. One of the most unique things to do in Naples, you’ll explore the Guess-Fisher Gallery, Phil Fisher Gallery & Studio, Tianna Fisher Studio, and Random Acts of Art as they hang new art and exhibits and offer you complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres. Guess Fisher also books live music from local talents.
Once you’re done exploring, head to one of Crayton Cove’s restaurants with gorgeous views of the water, such as The Dock at Crayton Cove, where you’ll dine on some of the freshest seafood around while bathing in the moonlight. Or book a table at Bleu Provence for a romantic French dining experience, complete with incredible wine and an upscale atmosphere.
12. Check Out Exotic Animals at the Naples Zoo
The Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is known for its tropical garden filled with exotic plants and unique animals. First planted in 1919, this garden is home to monkeys, pythons, giraffes, and more, as well as rarer creatures like a giant anteater.
Though the zoo isn’t quite as large as many other zoos around the country, it prides itself on providing you with a fun and educational journey. Conservation is key for the Naples Zoo, which cares for rare fauna both within its own territory and around the world. The zoo plants over 25,000 trees annually in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
The Naples Zoo strives to ensure you’re as up close to the animals as is safely possible. To get the total educational experience, you can also book one of three guided tours.
The Tour of the Wild will walk you through a fully immersive experience where you’ll learn all about each species and get an insider look at the behind-the-scenes activities of the zoo. The Local to Global Conservation Tour will teach you all about the zoo’s wildlife conservation efforts, from Naples to the rainforests of South Africa, and introduce you to ways to get involved yourself.
The Zoo-tanical Adventures Tour will give you the complete history of the Caribbean Gardens and introduce you to the creatures who have called it home since the very beginning.
13. Get Up Close with the Manatees on a Boat Tour
Manatees, sometimes known as sea cows, are wonderfully majestic creatures that are found throughout Florida, with Naples being one of the best spots to get an up-close look at them. Manatees are located in the waters around Naples all year round, giving you many chances to spot them. But because the manatees change their habitat from summer to winter, you’ll need the help of a local guide to ensure you’re looking in the right places.
These habitats are also often not reachable by foot, which is why the best way to go sightseeing for manatees in Naples is by taking a boat tour with a certified captain. Florida Island Tours, in particular, is known for its manatee tours, where they’ll take you to the most manatee-populated areas to get you close to these beautiful animals.
You can choose between four tour options. The one-hour tour keeps you closer to Naples but still promises a look at manatees, as well as other local wildlife. The two-hour tour gives you more time to explore and boasts that you’re bound to see wild dolphins alongside the manatees.
You can also cruise throughout the nearby Ten Thousand Islands on a three-hour tour that includes a stop on a secluded beach for a swim. For those looking to spend most of their day on the water, you can hop aboard the four-hour barrier island tour, giving you more time with the manatees and more time on the secluded beach.
All captains are U.S. Coast Guard-certified, ensuring a safe trip. The tours are also narrated by certified Florida Master Naturalists, so you’re sure to learn quite a bit about these stunning creatures.
14. Journey to Marco Island
Marco Island is the largest and only developed land in Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands. Known for its pristine and unspoiled beaches, it’s one of the most beautiful Naples attractions, and visitors love spending a day over on its soft white sand.
You can visit the Briggs Nature Center to stroll along a half-mile boardwalk and look for the native wildlife in its natural habitat. Or you can disembark from the center on a self-guided canoe trip. Marco Island boasts many local businesses that can help you better explore the area. Go fishing with Jungle Jim’s Safari, glide through Marco Island’s mangroves in custom Go-Cat boats with Go Cats on the Water, or take a private sunset cruise with Off the Hook Adventures.
Marco Island is also known for its fine dining, especially when it comes to seafood. For the freshest seafood on the island, head to Fin Bistro, where they cook their fresh catch every day. For delicious American comfort food, stop into Hoot’s for breakfast or lunch. If you’re looking for classic Italian dishes, you can’t get much better than Sale e Pepe, which specializes in Southern Italian cuisine.
15. Take a Shelling Tour
This Florida city is known for being home to a vast collection of beautiful seashells, which is why going shelling is one of the most fun things to do in Naples. Many tour companies offer boat tours that are specifically meant to allow you to go hunting for the best seashells.
From spotted slippers to sand dollars, you’ll find tons of souvenirs to add to your collection. Just be careful that no one is calling these shells home before you try to add them to your net or bucket.
If you’re taking a trip to Marco Island, consider hopping aboard one of the Sand Dollar Shelling Tours, which launch from Marco Island and take you off the beaten path and into the Ten Thousand Islands. Or, if you’re taking off from Naples, climb aboard the M/V Naples Explorer from Pure Naples, which will take you around Rookery Bay for some bird-watching and dolphin spotting before you disembark at Keewaydin Island.
Some of the best seashell hunting can be found at Keewaydin Island, which is also easily accessible from Marco Island with the help of the Hemingway Water Shuttle. So even if you’re not taking a tour, you can still visit this seashell haven. Also, while none of the beaches in Naples or Marco Island allow dogs, Keewaydin does, making it a great spot to visit if you’ve brought your pooch along for your vacation!
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Naples, Florida. What’s your favorite thing to do in Naples?
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