Naples, Florida: Paradise Found! Top Activities for Women Traveling Solo, with Girlfriends or Family 

Hannah Rinaldi Avatar

Mom and toddler son in Naples, FL
Caption: Hannah and her son, Max, on the Naples Dock. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

This post is sponsored by VISIT FLORIDA.

Once considered a retirement destination, Naples, FL, also known as the Paradise Coast, has a surprisingly large number of engaging activities that are suited for all ages, even young families.

My family and I have lived in Naples for 10 years. We’ve seen the city grow, add new restaurants and open more green space. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the Old Florida vibe that makes visitors and residents of all ages feel like they’ve stumbled into a world-class land of perpetual summer vacation.

Located only 40 miles from Fort Myers and about two and a half hours from Miami, Naples is an ideal destination. The location is perfect if you want to explore Florida through day trips. However, there is no need to go far for sightseeing, beautiful beaches and the vacation lifestyle.

This list is divided into two categories:

  • Things to do in Naples for all ages
  • Things to do in Naples for young families

The best thing about Naples is that the age demographics are so wide that no matter where you visit, you’ll find a variety of ages. You will rarely bring a child to an event and feel like they are out of place. And it’s not often that you’ll be the oldest in the room!

Read More: The Best Resorts on the West Coast of Florida

Must-Do Things in Naples for All Ages

Woman sipping a cocktail at happy hour in Naples FL, one of the fun things to do for adults
Third Street South is a fun place for happy hour. Here’s Hannah enjoying a drink at The Bevy. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

1. Visit Old Naples

A visit to Naples wouldn’t be complete without a stroll through Old Naples and 3rd Street South.

Third Street South is the birthplace of Old Naples. Once you’ve arrived on 3rd Street South, explore the boutiques, grab a cup of coffee or stop for happy hour and dinner, and then walk the two blocks from the Naples Pier. Along the way, you’ll pass original beach cottages including the Historic Palm Cottage with the Naples Historical Society.

If you’re looking for coffee suggestions, I recommend Tony’s off Third or Bad Ass Coffee. If happy hour or dinner is more your thing, check out any of the restaurants. Every restaurant we have tried has wonderful food and drinks.

A 5th Avenue South street sign in Naples
5th Avenue South is a fun street to visit in Naples, FL. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

2. Explore, Shop and Eat Along 5th Avenue South

Not every small town in America is lucky enough to have two popular downtown destinations. Fifth Avenue South is a historic main street that boasts a mix of glamour and laid back ease. This is the place on the Paradise Coast for luxury dining and shopping — but you won’t be out of place in shorts and flip flops. It is Florida after all!

While technically walking distance from Old Naples, 5th Avenue South is a destination in its own right and deserves to be explored independently of the other.

SheBuysTravel Tip: It can be pretty busy on 5th Avenue South during dinnertime in season (October through Easter). If you have a restaurant in mind that you’d like to visit, be sure to book reservations in advance, especially if you prefer eating open-air.

View of the Naples Pier from the mainland.
Peek through the sea grape trees to see the Naples Pier after a stroll down 3rd Street. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

3. Visit the Naples Pier

Note: The Naples Pier is currently closed while rebuilding after Hurricane Ian.

Before Hurricane Ian hit in October 2022, the Naples Pier was an iconic place to visit. The pier was teaming with lively energy all day long from early morning shell seekers with coffee, and all-day fisherman to people enjoying beer, wine and pizza from the snack bar in the evening for sunset.

However, you can still stroll the beach near the pier and check the beach off your Naples bucket list. Getting there can be confusing because it is nestled into town. Head to the end of 12th Street South in Old Naples to find public parking for beach access.

Pro Tip: To ensure Florida travel is accessible to people of all abilities, VISIT FLORIDA has recently debuted three new videos in its “Limitless Florida” series highlighting how people of different abilities can – and do – enjoy Florida’s experiences fully. For example, Kennedy Space Center offers a guide for families with autism to prepare for a visit. St. Augustine has a Braille Trail that lets visually-impaired visitors explore tactile art while listening to free audio descriptions via an app. New Smyrna Beach and Daytona Beach offer free non-motorized beach wheelchair rentals. Get all of the state’s accessibility resources at the VISIT FLORIDA Accessible Travel Hub.

A sand dollar found at the beach in Naples.
Naples is a fun place to go shelling. You can find all sorts of things, even live sand dollars. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

4. Get Out on the Water with a Boat Rental or Guided Tour

Naples is a boater’s paradise and known for an array of outdoor activities. You never know what you’ll see, but you’re likely to see dolphins, manatees, and maybe even a sea turtle! Here are a few of our favorite boat rentals and related activities.

A view of the sunset from the Naples Pier, one of the best things to do
Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico by the Naples Pier never disappoints. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

5. Catch a Naples Sunset at Lowdermilk Beach or any of the Other Beautiful Beaches in Naples

Hands down, the absolute best part of visiting a beach on the west coast of Florida is viewing a sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

There are multiple public beach access parking lots with metered parking throughout Naples, and a number of state parks. Any of these could win an award for best beaches in Florida.

Check out our favorites:

  • Lowdermilk Beach (with public restrooms, concession stands and volleyball courts)
  • Clam Pass Park
  • Seagate Drive beach access
  • Horizon Way
  • Vedado Way
  • Via Miramar
  • Lowdermilk Park
  • 8th Avenue North
  • 5th Avenue South *handicap ramp
  • 8th Avenue South *handicap ramp
  • Broad Avenue South – 100 Block
  • Broad Avenue South – 200 Block
  • Pier / 12th Avenue South *handicap ramp, public restrooms and volleyball courts
  • 13th Avenue South
  • 13th Avenue South – 100 Block
  • 14th Avenue South
  • 1977 Gulf Shore Blvd N (pathway – no parking)
  • Central Avenue
  • Pier – only 100-feet west of stairs, includes 12th Ave S parking (No fishing allowed on the pier)
  • 13th Avenue South
  • 17th Avenue South
The Riverwalk restaurant in Tin City.
Tin City is located on the water and has several waterfront dining options. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

6. Be Touristy at Tin City

Tin City is one of those places that looks like a tourist trap but actually attracts locals too!. Filled with locally owned boutiques and open-air restaurants on Naples Bay, Tin City is a delightful place to shop and dine.

Located on Naples Bay, this is a great place for waterfront dining or to book a boat excursion with Pure Florida.

A beer from Bone Hook Brewing Company in Naples.
Grab-and-go beer in a crowler from Bone Hook Brewing Company. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

7. Plan a Brewery Hopping Day

There are four breweries in Naples, with many more in the surrounding towns. In fact, we have a whole SWFL Ale Trail with 21 participating breweries in three counties.

You could plan an entire visit to Naples just to visit the breweries!

The Naples breweries are:

SheBuysTravel Tip: Naples breweries are all kid friendly and most have food trucks.

The author's kids playing in front of a mural in Bayshore.
A mural on the side of a building in the Bayshore Art District makes for a fun photo opp. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

8. Drive through Bayshore Art District to See the Murals

The Bayshore Art District has been named “Southwest Florida’s Coolest New District” thanks to the eclectic art vibes.

The district is home to our local food park, the Naples Botanical Gardens, Ankrolab Brewing Company, the Bean to Cup organic coffee shop, and so much more, all located along the boat canals. You can get a sense of the innovative art vibe just driving around and checking out the murals.

Food from a barbecue food truck at Celebration Park.
BBQ from one of the food trucks at Celebration Park. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

9. Eat at Celebration Park in Bayshore

Celebration Park in the Bayshore district is home to Naples’ first food truck park. There are currently nine different food truck eateries in Celebration Park, along with a permanent tiki bar and picnic tables located on the water.

You can find live music playing most days of the week. During the day there are children running around playing games. At night, you can enjoy more of an adult only atmosphere with twinkly lights.

The author and her son at the Corkscrew Swamp boardwalk.
Hannah and her son on the boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

10. Walk the Boardwalk at Corkscrew Sanctuary

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary encompasses 13,450 acres of Corkscrew Watershed, an important part of the Western Everglades. The 2.25-mile boardwalk meanders through the wetlands, mangrove forests, and wet prairies. The walk is short enough for kids but long enough for an avid birdwatcher to spend all day marveling at the wonder of the great outdoors.

You’re sure to see something interesting on your walk —an alligator, roseate spoonbill or snake, at the very least. If you’re lucky you’ll see a bear, panther or river otter!

SheBuysTravel Tip: Order tickets online in advance as the front desk no longer sells tickets. You can trade your car keys to borrow binoculars for the walk.

The author and tourist group taking an airboat ride.
Airboat ride through Billy Bayou Swamp Tours. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

11. Explore the Everglades National Park by Airboat or Kayak

While it is possible to explore the Everglades by foot, exploring by boat provides a different perspective of the “river of grass.”

There are many ways to explore the Everglades by boat. A canoe or kayak tour is perfect for the adventurous, while an airboat tour works well for those who aren’t as adventurous or with less mobility.

The Baker Park sign.
Baker Park is one of the entrances to the Gordon River Greenway. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

12. Walk the Greenway at Baker Park & Explore Many Other Collier County Preserves

Explore the Gordon River Greenway by starting at Baker Park near the heart of Downtown Naples. You can play with the kids at the playground, splash pad and large fields, or take a walk along the 2.5-mile greenway that is suitable for biking and dog walking as well.

If you’re interested in exploring more hiking trails, check out the other preserves in Naples. Collier County has preserved more than 4,324 acres of native habitat. You can see the full list of preserves here.

A photo from the traveling Chihuly exhibit.
Hannah’s three boys explore the Baker Museum at Artis-Naples. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

13. Check out the Naples Art Scene at Artis-Naples and The Baker Museum

If music and art galleries are your thing, then you have to check out Artis-Naples. The Artis, as locals call it, is home to Naples Philharmonic and the Baker Museum.

The Artis hosts events almost every day of the year with everything from the Naples International Film Festival to Broadway shows.

The Baker Museum hosts traveling exhibitions throughout the year and has a permanent collection. There are Art After Hours events and lectures.

SheBuysTravel Tip: The Baker Museum is welcoming of all ages. You will often find kid activities to accompany exhibits. The volunteers are careful to watch for young kids and will help guide them in a kind manner.

One of the author's sons enjoying some flowers.
Max enjoys the giant marigolds at the Naples Botanical Gardens. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

14. Visit Naples Botanical Gardens

The Naples Botanical Gardens is a 170-acre garden that specializes in the conservation and research of the flora between the 26th latitudes. The result is a fantastic representation of tropical plants from Florida, the Carribean, Asia and Brazil.

You don’t want to miss the spectacular orchids.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Grab a snack, meal or drink from the Fogg Cafe. The food is great and the atmosphere in the garden is perfect for dining al fresco. 

A stone crab claw at a local restaurant.
Stone crab claws in the shell. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

15. Visit a Local Eatery to Try Stone Crab, Grouper and Shrimp

If you are visiting Naples and you like seafood, then you have to try some local catch.

You won’t be disappointed with grouper and shrimp caught in the Gulf of Mexico, but the true delicacy of Southwest Florida is stone crab. From October through May, you can enjoy the large claws of the stone crab. The claws are so big that many people can get full off of 3-5 claws!

Best places to eat local seafood in Naples:

The author's son plays in the sand at a local beach.
Hannah’s son Jackson enjoys the beautiful sand in Marco Island. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

16. Spend the Day in Marco Island and Check Out the Ten Thousand Islands

The Ten Thousand Islands begin in Marco Island and extend to the mouth of the Lostman’s River near the Everglades National Park. Marco Island and the Ten Thousand Islands are only about 30 minutes from Naples, which makes it a wonderful little day trip.

There is so much to do there! If you’re only going for the day, we suggest taking a 3 hour guided tour from Marco through the Ten Thousand Islands. This will give you enough time to explore Marco Island for lunch or dinner as well.

17. Take Your Favorite Car Enthusiast to the Revs Institute

The Revs Institute is more than just a car museum. It’s a library, research institute, and a haven for anyone who loves the history of automobiles. The 80,000-square-foot museum houses more than 100 cars on display and hosts events for car enthusiasts.

The Miles Collier Collection of cars was put together by the grandson of Barron Collier, the namesake of the county where Naples resides.

Things to Do in Naples for Young Families

The author's son poses in front of the Seaboard Train in Naples.
Max poses in front of the Seaboard Train at the Naples Depot Museum. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

17. Visit the Train Museum

The Naples Depot Museum, conveniently located in downtown Naples, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum is run by Collier County Museums and includes interactive exhibits to tell the story of how trade and travel transformed Naples from a sleepy village to the current paradise coast.

Kids can ride a kiddie train right near the original Seaboard Air Line Railway train tracks that first brought vacationers to Naples.

A tour boat on the Gordon River in Naples.
Electric boat tours are included in the price of admission at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

18. Conservancy of Southwest Florida

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is an environmental advocacy organization with a focus on protecting the water, land and wildlife of Southwest Florida.

The kid-friendly Conservancy Nature Center is located on 21 acres of preserved land and features a collection of outdoor and indoor exhibits showcasing the unique ecosystem of SWFL. Kids will be entertained by the touch tanks and hands-on explorations while adults will learn about the history and future of conservation in Naples.

Explore the indoor exhibits, walk the trails and take an electric boat tour along the Gordon River.

Several kids enjoying a hands-on activity at Rookery Bay.
Kids exploring a hands-on activity at the Rookery Bay educational center. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

19. Rookery Bay

Exploring the natural wonder that the Florida Everglades has to offer can be overwhelming, especially for kids. Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve aims to make learning about the unique ecosystem hands-on with a 2,300-gallon aquarium and interactive exhibits addressing the research and stewardship of the reserve.

Rookery Bay is also a beautiful launching spot for guided tours.

Father with son on shoulders at the Naples Zoo, a fun place to visit for families with kids
Hannah’s husband and son posing for a photo op at the Naples Zoo. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

20. Naples Zoo at the Caribbean Gardens

The Naples Zoo is a family-friendly walk-through zoo that is small enough to walk through in an hour while having enough exhibits and shows that you can easily make a half day excursion out of it.

The most exciting part of the zoo is feeding the giraffes! As an added bonus, the zoo has delicious food, local beer and a playground.

Read More: 10 Best Zoos in Florida

Exterior of the Golisano Children's Museum, one of the best things to do in Naples with young children
Even the outside of the C’mon building is exciting for kids. Photo credit: Hannah Rinaldi

21. Visit the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples

If you’re looking to entertain kids ages 8 and younger, check out the Galisanno Children’s Museum of Naples, also called C’mon.

C’mon packs a lot of fun into the two-story, 30,000-square-foot building. All exhibits are fully accessible and foster creative play. We love that the children’s museum has indoor and outdoor exhibits and a special section just for toddlers and babies.

22. Go Down a Water Slide at Sun-n-Fun Lagoon

If your visit occurs during the spring or summer, then you have to visit Sun-n-Fun Lagoon, Collier county’s only waterpark.

You can spend a whole day there with different pools for small children, certified lifeguards, and food sold on site. There are five different water slides all named after sea creatures.

What to Look for After Hurricane Ian

Naples was hit pretty hard by 2022’s Hurricane Ian, but is bouncing back quickly. Expect hotels and beaches to take some time to recover. The Naples Pier will take a while to be rebuilt. Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park closed after the hurricane and won’t reopen for a couple of years.

Restaurants are up and running and tourists are encouraged to visit! Please remember that our little town has some rebuilding to do and be patient with us as we put our Paradise Coast back together.

Hotel Recommendations in Naples, FL

Hannah Rinaldi Avatar
Hannah Rinaldi is a fabulously frugal traveler who loves to experience the finer things in life on a shoestring budget. She lives in Naples, FL with her husband and two young sons. Originally from Alabama, she has a great appreciation for Southern cities with great cuisine such as New Orleans, Charleston, and Savannah. She’s always looking to take advantage of, as well as share, the best travel deals to make the most out of fine living on a shoestring budget. You can follow all of her adventures in frugal living at Eat, Drink, and Save Money.
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