What to do with kids in Naples/Ft. Myers

We’re flying down to Naples this weekend to stay at a friend’s condo and just escape from the cold for a few days (get down there Saturday and return Tuesday). Besides going to the beach, what can we do with a 15 year old boy and a 7 year old girl? We do plan on taking my daughter parasailing and hopefully find a dive charter for my son (he has been certified for two years so if anyone can recommend a charter group or dive center).

Besides that, what other things are around. I realize we’re only going to be there for a couple days but I hope you have ideas. Thanks.

Edison gardens/museum.

There also used to be the best miniature golf course, Best 18, that replicated the best actual golf course holes (but with edges unlike the edgeless fad a decade ago,) but sadly it almost certainly is no longer, as nearly every time we went there we were the only ones there, and it was huge!

You could rent a boat. I’ve rented before from the Port Sanibel Marina with no problems. Pack a lunch and head out to one of the mangrove islands in the bay.

If your kids are at all into nature, there’s the “Ding” Darking National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel. Just FYI, there’s a $6.00 toll to cross the Sanibel Causeway, but no offbound toll. Which works out perfectly, because once you’re ready to leave Sanibel you won’t have any money left over anyway.

Farther south, there’s the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, though I can’t vouch for it as I’ve never been there myself.

(You’d think I’d have more to offer, but all I can think about is how boring it was to go to high school in that town.)

OK, this is scary. Only two responses about things to do in Naples? We’ll definitely hit Sanibel (that was the first place I ever saw horseshoe crabs) and maybe go to the zoo. Any other thoughts?

Well, I hate to say it, but there isn’t much to do in this area. There’s the Audobon preserve at Corkscrew swamp. It’s a nice little museum/ presentation with a board walk for the entire walking tour and lots of birds this time of year including rare wood storks and woodpeckers. And it gets you outside in the nicest part of the year. A smaller version of this is the Six-Mile Slough preserve in the middle of Lee County.

If you like kayaking, you can rent some on the Estero River and take a few hours to go to the mouth of the river to Mound Key, a former Calusa indian mound settlement. There’s also an indian mound research center on the north end of Pine Island at Pineland.

Also on the Estero River is the restored Koreshan Unity site, a sort of cool historical community of religious whackos from the late 1800’s.

And Naples is have an art festival sometime soon.

And Fort Myers Beach is the classic touristy beach if you’re into that.

I second the Corkscrew Swamp. It’s very cool. Best viewed in the early morning or near dusk.

Well, there’s the shell museum on Sanibel. That’s good for an hour or two. Not so sure about diving, though. In my experience, the Gulf is so silty you wouldn’t be able to see more than an inch in front of your nose. But maybe there’s someplace I don’t know about.

You could rent a car and drive down to the Everglades. That’s more fun than anything in Naples. A drive to Marco Island is also lovely. Or you could take them to the dog track in Bonita Springs, also more fun than Naples. And if you are looking for fun on the beach, go to Ft. Myers. They’ll have more in the way of parasailing and Waverunner rentals, and you can get a fabulous rum runner at the Top of the Mast. If there’s a more relaxing way to watch the sunset, I don’t know what it is.

I would also advise NOT to go to Jungle Larry’s by the mall in Naples. The signs make it look good, but it is a very depressing place. I can’t remember much about the Carribean Garden. It has been, jeez, 17 years since I lived in Naples! But I was down there a couple of years ago and all of the things I mentioned are still there.

After looking at that link for Carribean Gardens, I’m convinced that it IS Jungle Larry’s and that they changed the name. Hopefully they’ve cleaned it up a bit and are treating the animals better. I remember thinking those animals looked suicidal.

It is the same place and it seems to be somewhat better now.

I forgot to mention that if Slyporks family likes to get out in the wild they can always head down to Janes Scenic Highway in the Fakahatchee Strand. But you really have to be into being one with nature because otherwise, it’s a whole lotta boring. AND you do come into close, unguarded proximity with gators, Water Moccasins , and maybe even panthers.

Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll pass them along to the family and see what we decide. Personally, I don’t care what we do. Anything is better than snow and sub-zero wind chills.

Take the Tamiami Trail (US41) heading east; you’ll hit lots of places with airboat rides, Seminole villages, assorted tourist traps, etc., etc. If you go far enough, you can head into the Shark Valley part of the Everglades National Park. You’re guaranteed to see all the alligators you might wish for, up close and personal: they sun themselves on the paved hiking trail. You can even take a tram ride if sunbathing gators are more than you’re ready for. Also, you should stop at the Big Cypress Park headquarters for some interesting sidelights into the glades.