Photograph: Naples Botanical Garden
Photograph: Naples Botanical Garden

The best things to do in Naples

From its world-class beaches and scenic overlooks to abounding outdoor experiences, there's so much to do in Naples, FL

Written by Nicole Lopez-Alvar in association with TD Bank

When tourists and snowbirds set their sights on a Florida vacation, chances are they’re thinking of Orlando, Palm Beach, Miami Beach, or Key West. Naples, Florida is a west-coast destination that some might overlook but shouldn’t. This haven for visitors and locals (and retirees, if we’re being honest) sits along the sandy shores of the Gulf of Mexico, which is fittingly known as Paradise Coast—a fast-growing region that should be on everyone’s radar. Below, the 10 best things to do in Naples, your new bucket-list travel destination.

What is it? The Naples Botanical Garden is one of the most impressive botanical gardens in the Sunshine State. The 170-acre garden is one of the youngest gardens in history to receive the American Public Gardens Association’s prestigious Award for Garden Excellence.

Why go? The botanical garden welcomes over 220,000 visitors per year. Plus, the gardens also help preserve endangered plants from around the world.

Don’t miss: Make sure to stop by the Fogg Café and the Berger Shop in the Garden to unwind after experiencing so much nature.

What is it? The Naples Pier is a historic pier facing the Gulf of Mexico at the west end of 12th Avenue South. It’s a favorite location for sightseers for its views of the sunset, fishermen, and for great photo opportunities.

Why go? The pier is filled with historical signs, a gorgeous beach, and is great for people watching and bird watching. It’s also walking distance to the town’s boutique shops and restaurants.

Don’t miss: The sunset.

What is it? This beautiful beach with white powder sand is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Why go? The sand is soft, the water is warm, and you can grab food at the concession stand or rent a cabana.

Don’t miss: Make sure to take advantage of the gorgeous weather by renting a paddle boat.

What is it? Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a 13,000-acre nature preserve known for walking tours among the swamps of the Gulf Coast.

Why go? Ever wanted to go eye-to-eye with an alligator? On the tour, you’ll be able to see everything from large alligators to small lizards and frogs.

Don’t miss: Don’t forget to bring your camera in case you run into wildlife (the trail is also great for birdwatching.

What is it? The nationally accredited zoo and historic tropical garden features exhibits and rarely seen animals like giant anteaters.

Why go? This zoo offers activities for a full day of fun (plus, you can even see some of your favorite animals like lions, giraffes, monkeys, pythons, and bears)!

Don’t miss: The short boat ride around the islands that the primates that is included with admission.

What is it? Third Street South lies two blocks from the Naples Pier and is surrounded by original beach cottages and houses of Old Naples. It’s filled with shops, fine restaurants, and courtyards.

Why go? It’s a great place to grab drinks or dinner, to go art gallery hopping, and to go shopping with friends.

Don’t miss: The Third Street South Farmer’s Market every Saturday.

What is it? Tin City Waterfront Marketplace in Downtown Naples, also known as “Tin City,” is the original shopping destination on the waterfront boardwalk. It boasts more then 30 boutiques, two waterfront restaurants, and more.

Why go? There’s unique and local craft vendors galore, so expect to encounter some one-of-a-kind shopping. (It’s also a great place to take the kids!)

Don’t miss: There are plenty of unique shops to find great souvenirs to take back home from your trip.

What is it? The Baker Museum is one of the foremost fine art museums in Southwest Florida. Emphasizing modern and contemporary art, the museum has several traveling exhibitions annually in addition to their permanent installations of works from its collections. 

Why go? It’s a small museum, but it has an impressively diverse collection of art that even includes an impressionist exhibit.

Don’t miss: Be sure to visit the adjacent exhibits in the performing arts center across from the museum entrance.

What is it? We couldn’t end this list without mentioning a classic day out on the water. Whether you rent kayaks to go out on a tour of the mangroves or embark on a sunset cruise, any activity on the water will complete your stay in Naples.

Why go? Depending on the season, you can see dolphins, manatees, and seabirds of all kinds on a tour or cruise.

Don’t miss: “Backwater Adventure's CraigCat Tours of the 10,000 Islands” by Backwater Adventure. You’ll be able to operate your own two-person catamaran through the Naples waterways.

What is it? This isn’t your average state park – it boasts one of the most pristine stretches of white, sandy beaches in the world. Besides the picturesque views of the Gulf of Mexico, visitors love to sunbathe, paddleboard, kayak, hike, bird-watch, fish, picnic, and search for seashells here.

Why go? This state park is filled with picnic tables, showers, bathrooms, shade, and beautifully maintained sandy beaches throughout.

Don’t miss: It’s the perfect photo opportunity due to its numerous areas of white sand, old trees, and picnic areas.

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