Want to see what’s beyond the glitz and glamor of Naples, FL? Bedazzle your itinerary with some of the best day trips from Naples, Florida. Within minutes of the city, you’ll be able to explore the exceptional beauty of Southwest Florida, from national parks to pristine beaches to popular islands. Whether you want to relax on the white sands of Tigertail Beach on Marco Island or see alligators and crocodiles up close in Everglades National Park, make your Naples visit unforgettable with this complete side trips guide!
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If you are an avid beach lover with a taste for city flare, Marco Island is one of the Naples area’s must-sees. A 30-minute ride from Naples gets you to this magnificent island with its pristine white sand beaches, beautiful waters, and infinite shells.
The powder sand and crystal waters of Marco Island will whisk you off to a state of relaxation unlike any other place near Naples, FL. With the island’s proximity to estuaries and sandbanks, it’s home to one of the best shelling beaches in the world.
Start your day trip to Marco Island from Naples with a trip to Tigertail Beach. On top of being one of the most beautiful beaches on Marco Island, it’s considered one of the best birding sites in Southwest Florida.
If hanging out on beaches is too relaxing for you, fear not: There are plenty of other riveting activities to do on Marco Island. Get your adrenaline pumping by racing through the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico on a jet ski.
On your excursion, you can visit Cape Romano Dome House, a hidden gem with a dramatic story to tell. Try your hand at fishing the bountiful waters of Florida’s Gulf Coast and reel in snook, tarpon, and grouper.
Still not satiated by beautiful beaches and amazing islands? Head on over to Fort Myers, only a 30-minute ride from Naples.
Fort Myers Beach offers beachgoers more than they expect. Lounge on the snowy white sands and bathe in the turquoise waters on one of the beautiful beaches around Fort Myers. There’s also the option of adding a cup of excitement to the day by setting out on a kayak or even going parasailing if you’re bold enough.
If fishing is the name of your game, head to the pier, one of the coolest places to visit in Fort Myers. With a bait shack right there for your convenience, you’re sure to reel in that silver monster you have always dreamed of.
Cayo Costa State Park is a great option for escaping the mainland. Private charters and a ferry will take you from Fort Myers to this unspoiled barrier island. Spend your time away from the hustle and bustle of the mainland by shelling or bathing in the transparent tranquil waters around the island.
Everglades National Park
If you need to get immersed in nature, Everglades National Park should be part of your Florida road trip. The Gulf Coast Visitor Center entrance is only 45 minutes away from Naples.
Everglades National Park is a world-renowned, two-million-acre ecological paradise in South Florida. The first thing people think of when they hear Florida Everglade is “crocodile’ or “alligator.” This fascinating park is the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators co-exist. The crocs and gators also share this slice of paradise with over 360 different bird species, more than 300 fish species, and over 40 species of mammals.
Take one of the swamp airboat tours, do an overland exploration excursion, or hike the land and wade through the shallow swampy waters. With the abundance of wildlife, you’re bound to see many species of animals, birds, and reptiles. It’s not uncommon to spot pythons, panthers, manatees, leatherback turtles, and, not to mention, countless species of birds.
Shark Valley is one of the most popular spots in Everglades National Park. No, you won’t see any sharks here. But it’ll be difficult not to spot alligators and crocodiles in their natural habitat.
Matlacha and Pine Island
In the mood to see something that is truly unique? Head an hour north of Naples to check out the historic village of Matlacha. Be ready to embrace color and tranquility when you visit this quirky village.
The colorful charm and laidback atmosphere of Matlacha radiate a turn-of-the-century Florida. Neon homes, pink palm trees, and polka-dot dolphins are some of the colorful sights you’ll experience.
During your day trip from Naples, you’re likely to stumble across a few anglers reeling in snook, redfish, and tarpon. Be sure to stop at one of the town’s quaint restaurants. You’re guaranteed to find the freshest seafood that Florida has to offer.
Continue past Matlacha over the bridge onto Pine Island. To many travelers, a visit to Pine Island feels like taking a trip back in time. Acres of palm trees, fruit trees, tropical plants, and mangroves set the backdrop of this idyllic island.
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The Pine Island Sound Aquatic Preserve is an excellent spot for kayaking and canoeing. Pine Island is the largest island off Florida’s Gulf Coast. Enjoy the tranquil small-town atmosphere and historic charm, and let your worries melt away while a sea breeze strokes your hair.
Looking for a way to treat the whole family? Take a day trip out to Sanibel Island, about an hour and 15 minutes away from Naples. Located close to Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel Island is known for its wildlife refuges, shell-strewn sandy beaches, and the famous Sanibel Island Lighthouse.
Kids will be in heaven as they explore the ocean’s natural treasures on the number one shelling beach in North America. Tourists from all over the world visit the beaches of Sanibel Island for this specific reason.
Afterward, take the family to visit the Sanibel Island Lighthouse. This historic landmark first brightened up the night sky in 1884. Situated on a tranquil beach, it’s the perfect place to relax and even spot a few dolphins playfully passing by.
Go birdwatching at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, the most visited wildlife refuge in the United States. The 245 bird species that reside here will surely entertain every family member. It’s no wonder close to a million visitors from all over the world flock to this spot every year.
Still hungry for more beaches and shells? Continue your drive past Sanibel Island toward Captiva Island. Shelling, dolphin watching, snorkeling, and sailing are some of the activities you can enjoy while visiting this pristine destination.
If you’ve already collected more shells than you could care for and are ready to embark on the next adventure, you’ll love exploring the top Captiva Island attractions. Go diving and explore the wrecks and artificial reefs or take the family snorkeling. Experience marine life such as barracuda, grouper, amberjack, moray eels, nurse sharks, and numerous other fish species. If you’d prefer to stay dry, you can also learn how to sail at the sailing school.
Take a cruise on the Pine Island Sound Aquatic Preserve and watch the inquisitive dolphins glide in the waters next to the boat. After a spectacular day observing the abundance of aquatic life in the preserve, sit back and enjoy the picturesque sunset over the ocean with a cold beverage in your hand.
Can’t get enough of the great outdoors? Everglades City is not a metropole like its name suggests, but a small village with just over 400 residents. About 45 minutes from Naples, Everglades City is the gateway to Ten Thousand Islands and one of the major entrances to Everglades National Park.
Outdoor enthusiasts will fall in love with this tranquil town. From Everglades City, it’s easy to explore Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, and Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve.
Exciting adventures await the intrepid traveler. There’s an option to rent a kayak or canoe and explore the Ten Thousand Islands from here. If your pockets are a little deeper, you could also treat yourself to a floatplane to get a birds-eye view of these beautiful islands.
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If you’re lucky enough to visit the area in February, pop into the annual Everglades Seafood Festival. The annual event delivers upon its promise of dishing out a variety of fresh seafood dishes served in a festive atmosphere.
Keen to discover one of the most underrated cities in the USA? Fort Lauderdale exists in the shadow of Miami’s fame. Many visitors to this vibrant city, however, believe that it’s equally amazing as Miami. Famous for its beaches, arts, culture, and access to many national parks, Fort Lauderdale is sure to become a highlight of your holiday in Florida.
Las Olas Boulevard is one of the top places to see in Fort Lauderdale. Locals and visitors from all over the world congregate here to feast at award-winning restaurants, shop at stylish boutiques, and enjoy the vibrant nightlife.
From Las Olas Boulevard, you can easily hop onto Fort Lauderdale’s longest-running tourist attraction, The Jungle Queen Riverboat. Enjoy sightseeing, drinks, and meals from the deck of this historic boat.
Rather spend the day lounging around on a paradise-like beach? Fort Lauderdale has plenty to choose from. From family-friendly beaches with lifeguards all year round to clothing-optional beaches, the top-rated beaches around Fort Lauderdale are a must-see.
For a family-friendly alternative, stick to Fort Lauderdale Beach, close to the city center. Or, to get the all-over tan you’ve always dreamed of, head to Haulover Park Beach, the city’s only legal nude beach.
When you get bored of lounging around, there are plenty of adrenaline-rush activities to explore in Fort Lauderdale. Snorkeling, diving, jet skiing, and parasailing are only some of the beach activities that visitors can partake in.
If you’re keen to divulge in culture and history while in Southwest Florida, make time on your itinerary for Sarasota. Museums, theaters, arts & crafts markets, and beautiful architecture entice travelers with a taste for the finer things in life. Sarasota is less than a two-hour drive away from Naples.
Enviable cultural amenities attract thousands of tourists annually. One of the most popular things to do in Sarasota is visiting the Ringling Museum of Art. This museum plays host to spectacular pieces of art ranging from the Roman, Greek, Medieval, and Renaissance periods. Spread among the 21 galleries, you’ll also spot endless American paintings and contemporary works.
Classical music lovers will be elated to discover that Sarasota’s Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota Opera House, and the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center are open all year round. Make sure to book your tickets in advance; some of the events at these venues tend to sell out fast.
Held in April, The Downtown Sarasota Art and Craft Festival hosts contemporary drafts of over 100 of the USA’s most talented artists. Pottery, jewelry, ceramics, photographs, clothing, paintings, and more are on display and for sale. Wander through the festival’s Green Market to find exotic plants, flowers, handmade soaps, gourmet spices, and many more natural products.
Big Cypress National Preserve
Need to reconnect with nature? The gigantic 700,000-acre Big Cypress National Preserve is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the great outdoors. Whether you enjoy hiking, camping, kayaking, or off-road vehicle excursions, you’ll find all of this—and more—within an hour of Naples.
Whether you’re exploring Big Cypress National Preserve on foot, on water, or by vehicle, you’re certain to feast your eyes on a variety of animal species. Nature lovers can spot over 200 species of birds throughout the year. Visitors can also witness river otters, bobcats, coyotes, black bears, and cougars in their natural habitat. And let’s not forget the many snake species and, of course, alligators and crocodiles!
Anglers don’t need a special permit to fish within Big Cypress National Preserve. All you need is a Florida state fishing license to fish in all the preserve’s rivers, canals, ponds, and lakes.
Fishermen from all over the US have been flocking to Florida over the last century to try their luck with the native tarpon. These fighting fish will test the might and skill of every angler who dares to hook them.