10 can’t-miss activities in Naples, Florida

Published Date: January 6, 2023

Downtown Naples
Located right on the Gulf of Mexico, Naples is a dynamic and sophisticated Southwest Florida city. With so many great things to do, it’s hard to know where to begin! Start with these 10 must-do activities when exploring Florida’s “Paradise Coast.” 

Wander the Naples Botanical Garden 

One of the city’s most popular attractions is the Naples Botanical Garden, boasting 170 acres with seven distinct natural habitats and over 1,000 native plant species. Special garden exhibits showcase plants from Asia, the Caribbean and Brazil. Give yourself ample time to explore the gardens, wander the paths and walk through the Ghost Orchid Boardwalk in search of native orchids. The garden also offers themed monthly educational events for kids. 

Walk the boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Head inland to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary to experience the natural beauty of the area. The sanctuary is over 10,000 acres and filled with swamps, marshlands and old growth bald cypress. The well-maintained 2.5-mile boardwalk through the sanctuary offers glimpses of alligators, otters, turtles and deer. It’s also one of the best places in the Western Everglades for birdwatching. 

Paddle through estuaries and mangroves 

Kayaking is incredibly popular in Naples, and many local tour companies provide guided excursions through mangrove estuaries, backwater inlets, barrier islands and wildlife refuges. Whether you just want to take a quick early-morning paddle or spend the day exploring the area’s unique flora and fauna from the water, kayaking is the way to go. 

Sample local seafood

Naples has an incredible 700 restaurants to choose from, serving all kinds of cuisine. For a truly local experience, fresh seafood is a definite must. From casual seafood markets to raw bars to multicourse fine-dining establishments, you can treat yourself to fresh gulf seafood for every meal of the day.  

Watch sunsets from the Naples Pier 

Since Naples is on the west side of the state, you can watch the sun set every night, and in Naples it’s truly a must-do. The town is known for its colorful and fiery sunsets, and the Naples Pier is the perfect place to get a front-row seat. The pier, constructed in 1888, has been restored and renovated multiple times over the years, most recently in 2017 after Hurricane Irma. Arrive an hour or so before sunset to watch local fishers, grab snacks and drinks, and find the perfect spot along the railing to take in the big event. 

Dine at Celebration Park’s food trucks 

Located in the Bayshore Arts District, Celebration Park is home to a permanent open-air food truck park. Sample international cuisine served up from a dozen-plus food trucks, and then find a spot to sit along Haldeman Creek or at a picnic table. There’s even an open-air tiki bar. 

Picnic at Lowdermilk Beach Park

Lowdermilk Beach Park is one of the most popular beaches in the area, with more than 1,000 feet of beachfront, plus loads of amenities: two sand volleyball courts, two playgrounds and a freshwater pond. Want to get an earlier start? You’ll find beachfront yoga classes at the park every Saturday morning. 

Take an airboat tour through the Everglades

This is a quintessential south Florida experience! From your seat on an airboat piloted by an experienced captain, you’ll explore this unique ecosystem and, if you’re lucky, see alligators, snakes, dolphins, manatees, bobcats and maybe even the elusive Florida panther. Most tour providers are based in Everglades City, 30 miles or so outside of Naples.  

Shop at quirky Tin City 

Naples is well known for its luxury shopping scene, but for a more unique experience, stop by Tin City. This collection of waterfront shops is the perfect place to find a wide range of items: local art, handmade soaps, jewelry, sweet treats and more. Tin City is also one of several locations for the Stone Crab Festival every October. 

Meet local artists in the Naples Art District 

The Naples Arts District has the largest concentration of professional working artist studios and galleries in Southwest Florida, making it a wonderful place to shop for art and watch artists at work. From November through May — on the first Wednesday, first Thursday and third Saturday of the month — stop by for Art Alive, where you can participate in free open studio events in ceramics, photography, painting, sculpture, printmaking and more. 

Find your second home on the Paradise Coast

There’s so much to explore in southwest Florida, it’s impossible to do it all on one vacation. Become a local by co-owning a Pacaso second home and discover the joys of Naples and a second home. 

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Jen Lyons

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