Disclosure: We received complimentary admission. All opinions are my own.
On our recent family vacation to Marco Island, we decided to take a break from the beach and the ocean and head out toward Naples to the Naples Botanical Garden. It was a hot afternoon, but we really enjoyed walking around the gardens, and learning about the various plants and trees. While you may not initially think that a botanical garden would be kid friendly, I would definitely recommend it to families.
Naples Botanical Garden With Kids
As soon as you walk into the Naples Botanical Garden, you immediately come upon the Children’s Garden, which includes a butterfly garden (a huge hit with my children!), a splash area (closed for repairs while we were there), and a treehouse. We were greeted in the butterfly garden by a volunteer who offered each of my kids a temporary tattoo. My kids wanted to spend most of our visit in the Children’s Garden, but the botanical gardens are actually quite large, so after a little while, we moved on. I wish the splash area had been open, because it was very hot when we visited. If you go, make sure your kids are wearing clothes/shoes that you don’t mind getting wet, because they will definitely want to visit the splash area!
After the Children’s Garden, we moved on. The Naples Botanical Garden is very walkable and easy to navigate. We pretty much just walked in a loop, and stopped in each section to see the plants, flowers, and structures. Highlights for us were the water lilies and the Caribbean gardens (we especially liked the Caribbean building). One of the friendly volunteers alerted us to this amazing tree (pictured to the left), which naturally peels in vibrant colors. The kids were convinced it was marker or chalk, but it’s completely natural.
Most of the Naples Botanical Garden is organized by the area the plants are from – Florida, Asia, the Caribbean. There’s also a gorgeous water garden that I was completely mesmerized with. Water stations are spread throughout the garden, and there are plenty of places to sit down for a moment to get out of the sun. Snacks are available at the snack bar near the Children’s Garden – picnics are not currently allowed (although I heard they were allowed in the past). There’s also a Garden Cafe that is open seasonally.
Before you plan your visit, check the Naples Botanical Garden website for event information. They host small events, like “Dogs Walk in the Garden” – a time when canine owners can bring their four-legged friends to check out the gardens, along with larger events. In 2014, from February to May, they are featuring LEGO in the Garden, where guests will see 27 huge sculptures built with LEGO bricks by New York artist Sean Kenney. It’s bound to be a popular event for both adults and kids.
I definitely recommend a morning or full day visit to the Naples Botanical Garden, whether you are visiting Marco Island or Naples. It’s a beautiful oasis that serves as a lovely break from the beach. We spent somewhere from one to two hours at the Naples Botanical Garden, but you could easily spend more time if the weather cooperated. Bring a camera – there are so many beautiful things to see.
Visit the Naples Botanical Garden website for more information.