Naples Zoo can look back on a long tradition. Already in 1919, exotic plants were on display here. Today, the zoo houses 70 animal species, many of which are endangered. With more than 300.000 visitors a year, the zoo is a hugely popular tourist attraction. It has also been accredited by the AZA, an organization that rates American zoos according to conservation efforts and the animals´ well-being. If you are looking for family-friendly fun and exciting animal encounters, Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is the perfect place for you.
THE ANIMALS AT NAPLES ZOO
One glance at the map is enough to see: At Naples Zoo you can take a journey through different continents and habitats. Navigating the park is easy thanks to the loop trail that goes around multiple lakes.
Starting point is Alligator Bay, where you can watch Florida’s famous reptiles being fed. Countless water birds live here as well. Further to the south, two species from South America are found: ant eaters and agoutis: rodents that populate an area from Mexico to Argentina. Furthermore, you can see turtles and endangered tamarin monkeys.
The trail continues through an African savannah populated by lions, zebras and gazelles. Bongo antelopes live here, too. This species is extremely rare, with not even 100 animals left in the wild. A resident from South East Asia is the clouded leopard – a shy cat easily recognizable by its blotched fur pattern.
Lake Victoria, a miniature replica of Africa’s most famous lake, makes up the largest part of the zoo. Here, you can board a boat and watch primates like chimpanzees, lemurs and gibbons that live on a small island. There are no fences, so you will have prime photo opportunities while listening to the knowledgeable guides.
Back on land, it is time to visit the giraffes. You can even pay to feed the animals. Cheetahs, hyenas and Florida panthers live nearby, and black bears run around in their spacious enclosure. The animal shows featuring cute armadillos, genets and skunks are a fun and exciting highlight for children and adults alike.
More animals at Naples Zoo include:
- honey badgers
- black vultures.
Naples Zoo is the perfect place for families with children: not only because the paths are easy to walk and lie in the shade. There are also picnic areas and multiple playgrounds. Cafés and snack/drink stalls are available for hungry and thirsty visitors. Unlike in many other zoos, it is not allowed to pet the animals or take selfies with them. Instead, the animals are kept in an appropriate and natural way. Not surprisingly, Naples Zoo is involved in countless conservation programs. This way, you can be sure your entrance fee serves a good cause.
OPENING HOURS AND FEES AT NAPLES ZOO
Naples Zoo is open every day from 9 am–5 pm. Free on-site parking is available.
Tickets cost 22.95 USD for adults and 14.95 USD for children aged 3–12. Naples Zoo can charge these very fair prices because it enjoys tax-exemption as a non-profit organization. What is more, with coupons from websites like dealscove, mustdo and groupons, you can save up to 50 %.
EVENTS AT NAPLES ZOO
In addition to daily animal shows and feeding times, Naples Zoo also houses the following popular events:
- Safari Squad: educational parent-child-programs for little guests aged 3–5
- Conservation Lecture: expert lectures on conservation topics
- Zoo Yoga: yoga courses amidst lush, natural surroundings
- Spring Fest: Easter egg hunts and photos with the Easter Bunny for children
- Boo at the Zoo: Halloween decorations, trick or treating and costume contests
- Winter Fest: children’s games, cookie decorating and a meets and greets with Santa Claus.
In addition, you can host your own event at Naples Zoo – for example, birthdays, corporate events or weddings with up to 350 guests.
DIRECTIONS TO NAPLES ZOO
Zoo Naples is centrally located in Naples and can be reached on foot from many sights in the city.
When it comes to excellent dining options in Naples, the name USS Nemo gets dropped frequently. In this ship-themed restaurant with its bull’s eyes and atmospheric lighting guests feel like they are on a luxury cruise. The quality of the food matches the beautiful design: Fish and seafood of the highest quality, tender steaks and fresh ingredients are accompanied by a fascinating blend of Western, Mediterranean and Asian flavors. In addition, all the dishes are so aesthetically pleasing that you will almost feel bad for eating them.
CULINARY CHOICES AT THE USS NEMO RESTAURANT
The USS Nemo Restaurant is known for its fresh seafood and fish specialties – from classic Maine Lobster and scallops to salmon, snapper, swordfish and rare sorts like wild halibut. For the most part, the ingredients come straight from the nearby coast.
For a culinary trip to Southern Europe, try the wood-fire grilled sea bass with steamed artichokes, feta cheese, tomatoes and warm olive-pine nut vinaigrette. This fish is well known to connoisseurs for its tender meat and flavorful taste. If you like it spicy, the yellowtail snapper with Asian Aioli Cream is perfect for you. Or do you prefer the flavors of India? Then you should order the blackened tuna with tandoori spices and irresistible mango chutney. Of course, you can also have prime tuna fillet prepared just the way you like it. And do not forget the restaurant’s signature dish: grilled sea bass with citrus-ginger sauce. The New York Times even called this specialty “almost worth a trip to Naples in and of itself”.
Other popular items on the menu include:
- grilled lobster with risotto, Asian salad and mushrooms
- Hawaiian tuna fillet with wasabi and avocados
- Wahoo steak with rice, vegetables, shiitake mushrooms and miso-soy sauce
- Crispy grouper with pineapple salad, candied walnuts and mango sauce
- Scottish salmon garnished with red wine-star anise sauce, spinach and vegetable risotto.
Before it is time for the main course, you can enjoy mouthwatering appetizers like steamed calamari, creamy lobster soup and tuna tartar with goat cheese.
Guests who prefer meat instead of fish have come to the right place. The restaurant’s prime Rib Eyes, Sirloins and New York Strips will satisfy even demanding steak lovers. For an extra-tender treat, try the slow-cooked beef brisket with balsamic teriyaki glaze. The crispy sweet and sour chicken is another popular choice.
Vegetarians should try the miso-glazed tofu and the fried cauliflower. In addition, you can choose from huge variety of salads: from classic Caesar Salad and Mediterranean tomato and feta salad to exotic creations garnished with seaweed, pears, truffles and red peppers.
Last but not least, no trip to the USS Nemo would be complete without dessert. Irresistible treats include crème brûlée, coconut pie, nut and pear pudding, fresh berries and Florida’s famous Key Lime Pie.
The USS Nemo is not only a popular place for dinner. The lunch menu draws in guests with crispy sandwiches, fish tacos, tuna pizza and hearty salmon burgers. Hungry vacationers should also try the Poke Bowls with fish salad served on rice – or, as the USS Nemo calls them: “deconstructed sushi rolls”.
The drink menu features a wide variety of beers, cocktails and fine wines. The restaurant’s unfiltered Sake, for example, goes perfectly with Asian dishes.
OPENING HOURS AND OFFERS AT THE USS NEMO RESTAURANT
The restaurant is open at the following times:
- Monday to Thursday: 11.30 am–2 pm; 4.30–9.30 pm
- Friday: 11.30 am–2 pm; 4.30–10 pm
- Saturday: 4.30–10 pm
- Sunday: 4.30–9.30 pm.
By the way: There is no dress code, so you do not have to put on your finest attire to visit the USS Nemo. Children are more then welcome and can choose from an extensive kid’s menu.
Guests are able to make a reservation on the official website https://ussnemorestaurant.com/. This is highly advisable if you want to come for dinner. On the website, you can also purchase gift cards and stay up to date on the newest creations of the USS Nemo Restaurant.
DIRECTIONS TO USS NEMO
The USS Nemo Restaurant is located directly at the Tamiami Trail in Central Naples.
Alligators, turtles, raccoons and a wide variety of birds – visitors in Naples who want to see Florida’s wildlife up-close will love the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. This nature preserve in the western Everglades harbors many rare species and allows a glimpse of South Florida’s unspoiled landscape. Not only nature fans with binoculars come here, though. Benches, picnic areas and easy hiking paths in the shade make Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary a perfect place for families with children.
CORKSCREW SWAMP SANCTUARY IN A NUTSHELL
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary was established in 1954 to save Florida’s native cypress trees. It was the National Audubon Society that first built a hiking trail. Today, this nature preserve houses the last big cypress forest in North America, after most trees had been cut down in the 1940s and 50s. Some of these gnarly giants are up to 600 years old. Rivers, swamps, pine highlands, flooded meadows and wild orchids also make up the sanctuary’s landscape. Another prominent feature is “Salad Lake”, which got its name for the salad-like hyacinths on its surface.
THINGS TO SEE AT THE CORKSCREW SWAMP SANCTUARY
Your first stop is the Blair Audubon Visitor Center. Here, you can watch a movie about the sanctuary and see baby alligators behind glass walls. In addition to postcards, souvenirs, T-shirts and books about Florida’s wildlife, binoculars are available here – perfect for bird-watchers. There are also educational leaflets for adults and children.
Winding through Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a hiking path that is easy to walk, thanks to wooden planks. The path is 2.2 miles long and first runs along flooded meadows where you can spot snakes and rabbits. Afterwards, it leads through a cypress forest. Here, many bird species are found, among them woodpeckers, hawks, blue-gray gnatcatcher and the endangered wood stork. You can also see owls up-close, and the small lizards are not shy, either. Thanks to the elevated boardwalk, you will feel like being in the midst of the wilderness – while keeping your feet dry, that is. Rustling in the undergrowth gives away white-tailed deer and raccoons. If you are lucky, you might even see the very rare Florida panther.
The last part of the trail leads through a swamp. Here, splashing sounds indicate the presence of alligators hunting for food in the water. The wetlands are also home to turtles, frogs and fish otters. Before it is time to head back towards the parking lot, you should stop by at Salad Lake where countless water birds like herons, spoonbills and storks live. You can also watch alligators sunbathing there.
By the way: It is possible to take a shortcut midway on the trail. In this case, you will only walk for one mile. If you want to tackle the whole trail, you should account for 2–3 hours. It pays to take your time and walk slowly and quietly. This way, you will see a lot more of the shy animals. As a nice addition, volunteers often walk on the path. They will gladly answer your questions and point out animals that are difficult to spot.
BEST TRAVEL TIME FOR THE CORKSCREW SWAMP SANCTUARY
Except for days with heavy storms, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary can be visited the whole year round.
In summer, the weather is hot and humid like the rest of South Florida. Most days start sunny. In the afternoons, temperatures and humidity levels tend to rise, leading to intense, but mostly short showers before the sky clears up again in the evening. The winter months see more temperate and dry conditions, making them the most popular time for visitors.
The flora and fauna changes dramatically with the seasons, so it pays to visit the park more than once. Summer is the perfect time to see blooming ghost orchids and watch swallow-tailed kites perform their aerial stunts. In springtime, alligators build their nests in the mud. Come summer, the reptiles can be seen with their young. Flocks of migratory birds populate the sanctuary in the winter, among them colorful painted finches. Herons and storks concentrate around dwindling waterholes, where they can easily be observed.
Please note: From March to November, especially between April and June, many horseflies plague the sanctuary, so you should bring long clothes and insect repellent.
GUIDED TOURS AT CORKSCREW SWAMP SANCTUARY
If you want to explore the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary with a group and learn more about South Florida’s biodiversity, you can choose from the following tours:
- Free guided tours on the boardwalk; duration: 1.5 hours
- Early Birding Walk: guided bird-watching tours in the morning
- Ancient Forest Tour: Tours through the ancient cypress forest
- Hikes in the flatwoods, away from the boardwalk
- Butterfly Orientation Workshop: Talks and excursions about butterflies
- Sunset Strolls: Hikes at sunset with interesting infos about the park’s nocturnal animals.
- Night Walks: the perfect opportunity to hear the park’s animals after dark.
To find out more about available tour dates, hours and prices, visit the official website corkscrew.audubon.org. There, you can also read about events such as lectures, concerts, art exhibitions at the visitor center and open-air meditation courses
INFORMATION FOR VISITORS
The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary features multiple picnic areas. Eating on the boardwalk, however, is forbidden. From December to April, sandwiches are sold at the visitor center.
The boardwalk is accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. Dogs are not allowed at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. You will find more information and a map of the hiking trail on the official website https://corkscrew.audubon.org.
DIRECTIONS, OPENING HOURS AND PRICES
The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary can be reached from Naples in 40 minutes by car. Just follow the brown direction signs on Immokalee Road. On-site parking is free.
The boardwalk is open daily from 7 am to 5.30 pm. Last admission is at 4.30 pm, and the visitor center closes at 5.30 pm every day.
Tickets cost 14 USD for adults and 4 USD for children aged 6–18. Children under 6 visit for free. If you purchase your ticket in the afternoon, you can use it again the next day in the morning.
Naples Information & Travel Tipps – learn what makes Naples the ideal place for your next vacation.
Best Sights and Attractions
Naples is known for its white, sandy beaches, scenic nature, historic architecture and family-friendly activities. Once little more than a fishing village, this town at the Gulf of Mexico has transformed into an exclusive holiday destination. Elegant villas, luxurious hotels and high-class boutiques speak volumes about Naples´ popularity with well-to-do vacationers. Not surprisingly, the palm-lined streets are amazingly clean. Naples is also one of the safest places in the US. Idyllic parks and plenty of sunshine further add to the city’s appeal.
Only a one hour car ride separates Cape Coral from Naples. Going by car from Miami takes twice as long, but there are shuttle services available. And of course, you can always take the plane. Naples´ own airport is served by numerous airlines, although there are no direct flights from Germany. If you want to fly non-stop, you can buy a ticket to Fort Myers Airport just 40 minutes away.
For culinary ocean treasures, you should visit the with its fresh seafood and fish caught straight off the coast of Naples.
Art lovers will feel right at home in the galleries of Downtown Naples. Here you can marvel at the works of landscape painters, who love to visit Naples for the beautiful scenery. Modern paintings and Latin American artworks are presented at the Naples Museum of Art, and if you want to get creative yourself, the workshops of the Naples Art Association are ideal for you. At the Naples Depot Museum everything revolves around Florida’s railways. Guests can even go for a ride on the miniature train. The Museum of Military History showcases true to scale replicas of airplanes and ships, and there is no shortage of family-friendly attractions, either. Little guests can play minigolf, try out exciting slides at the Sun-N-Fun Lagoon, see exotic animals at the Naples Zoo and discover the region’s biodiversity in the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
Naples might be a small town of just 22.000 residents, but the variety of stores leaves nothing to be desired. A main shopping destination is Third Street South with its exclusive fashion boutiques, jewelry stores and home deco shops. In addition to modern luxury boutiques, 5th Avenue houses traditional stores selling handmade jewelry. In the evening, guests enjoy sitting outside and listening to live music at the street’s many bars and cafés.
Third Street Farmers Market is famous for its fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, seafood and other delicious specialties from the region. Want to choose from 140 stores and enjoy amazing discounts? Then, the giant Miromar Outlet between Naples and Fort Myers is perfect for you. With its 160 shops, The Edison Mall in Fort Myers offers even more choices.
Guests in Naples do not have to stroll far to enjoy the sea. Naples Beach, for example, amazes with its clear water, fine sand and peaceful atmosphere. Here, you will always find a quiet spot to swim and collect colorful sea shells. What is more, playful dolphins are often seen off the shore. And what better way to end your beach day than watching the sunset at Naples Pier? Following the boardwalk up north, you will reach Lowdermill Park with its beautiful beach and scenic green spaces. Tables and benches make this park an ideal picnic spot.
Clam Pass Park houses yet another beautiful beach that you can reach on elevated boardwalks. The southern part of the peninsula has its fair share of beaches as well, for example at Gordon Pass. If you prefer fresh water swimming, you should visit Sugden Regional Park, one of East Naples best-kept secrets. Here, guests can go boating and sailing on an extensive lake.
Vacationers in Naples have ample opportunity to discover Florida’s varied flora and fauna, for example at the Delnor-Wiggins State Recreation Area. This reserve not only features untouched stretches of beach. It is also home to many animals such as bald eagles, owls, hawks and endangered tortoises. A fascinating underwater world attracts snorkelers and divers, and the beaches are perfect for collecting sand dollars – little crustaceans that resemble coins. Florida’s mangroves play an important part in regulating ocean water. If you want to discover this fascinating eco-system, you should visit the Corskscrew Swamp Sanctuary with its elevated boardwalks. Here, you can listen to myriads of birds, and if you look closely, you might even catch a glimpse of raccoons and snakes in the undergrowth.
Naples is also your perfect gateway to the Everglades, as the entrance to Everglades National Park is only 30 minutes away. This watery world is best explored on an airboat trip. Knowledgeable guides will take you to secluded spots where you can see alligators in the water. Florida’s famous manatees are known to visit the park during the winter months. If you are looking for a daytrip by boat, the Ten Thousand Islands with their scenic beaches and coral reefs are your ideal destination.
Accommadation Options in Naples
Guests who want to spend a few nights in Naples, are spoilt for choice: The Sun Terrace neighborhood features hotels near Naples Zoo and scenic Freedom Park. Or would you rather stay near the city’s botanical gardens? Then, East Naples is your top-pick. There is a wide range of hotels for every taste: The luxurious Naples Bay Resort, for instance, amazes guests with Mediterranean Architecture, a beautifully designed swimming pool and its own marina – perfect for guests arriving by boat.
A touch of Italy awaits you at the Resort Bellasera with its spacious rooms and prime location near Naples´ sights and shopping areas. The 5 Star Ritz Carlton Hotel offers an exclusive holiday experience, round the clock-service and a wellness spa with relaxing massages. In addition, Naples also features budget-friendly accommodation options: Large rooms at fair prices are available at the Best Western just a few minutes from the beach, and located directly by the sea is the Edgewater Beach Hotel. Here, guests enjoy amazing ocean views from their balcony. If you want to visit Naples with your whole family, why not book a vacation home? The choices range from affordable condos to luxurious villas.
Climate and Weather
Naples features a tropical climate with pleasantly warm winters and hot, humid summers. From May to October, temperatures rise to more than 30 degrees Celsius. The summer months also see the most rainfall, especially in September. From November to January, the weather is dryer and colder. Many guests from the northern USA visit Naples during that time. In summer, hot temperatures are perfect for swimming. Rain showers can be intense, especially during Hurricane Season from June to November, but they rarely last long.