The Naples Zoo: Take a break from the beach for a trip into a tropical garden
A visit to Naples’ sugary sand beaches would not be complete without spending a few hours inside another environment known to this subtropical destination… the Naples Zoo.
Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is just as the name says. In the middle of town, this lush tropical garden is filled with myriad animals and plants to bring imaginations to life. You’ll see ancient banyan trees, with countless prop roots that grow so big it’s hard to know where the trunk of the tree begins and the roots end. There are brilliant flowers blooming and swampy marshes covered in lily pads. And then there are the monkeys and giraffes tucked in like living garden gnomes.
The zoo isn’t huge, you can spend a couple of hours there in the cool of the morning and then head out to the beach for some afternoon fun in the sun. But you can definitely make good on your entrance fee and spend the entire day. There are plenty of demonstrations that will wow everyone in the bunch.
A key attraction is a new giraffe exhibit where patrons can pay for a few pieces of lettuce to feed the tallest land animal. Don’t miss the pontoon boat rides around the primate pond either. You putter around the water to view various species of monkeys, whose fear of water helps them stay put on their own cageless island
Some of the fun also comes from exploring the zoo’s walkways. My oldest, nearly 3 years old on our latest visit, liked the boat ride enough but was more interested in feeding the turtles in the lake or sifting through the sea shells used to line the paths. You’ll likely be followed by Ibis, the white tropical birds with long, curved, pink bills, if they think you will toss them a treat. We even spied a snake slithering across our path.
I really enjoyed the alligator demonstration. Years ago, zookeepers would entice these prehistoric creatures to leap from the water toward whole dead chickens dangling a fishing rod. They’d rocket out of the pond making you think twice about walking anywhere that wasn’t paved. On our most recent trip, however, keepers drew the gators from the pond onto a beach while feeding the audience with fascinating facts about this animal, the closest thing we will ever see to dinosaurs. For instance, alligator blood has been found to kill many forms of bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant strains, and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Take your family to this little slice of Naples and you will find entertainment, environmental awareness, and a picturesque setting sure to be one of your key vacation memories.
Plan Your Trip
- Naples Zoo, 1590 Goodlette-Frank Road / Naples, FL 34102ZooLine: (239) 262-5409
- Price: $19.95 Adults/ $12.95 Children 3-12 / Kids 2 and under are free
- Check online for special deals for visitors with other zoo memberships
- Stroller friendly: Yes
- Food and drinks available: Yes