Family-friendly Fun in SWFL
Dave’s daughter Jill here…the guest blogger! You will hear from me on the blog from time to time with my two cents. My husband and I and our three daughters moved down to Florida last year and we LOVE it here! If you’re here on vacation or recently moved or are moving here, this post will give you a little insight on our top 5 favorite places in the area for the whole family to enjoy.
Lakes Park – 7330 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers 33908 (website)
There is SO much to do at Lakes Park. The short list includes ~3 miles of paved paths to walk, bike or run, a rock climbing wall, 2 playgrounds, 2 water feature playgrounds, restrooms, and the Community Gardens, a sensory experience of plants, trees, and shrubs. The Miniature Railroad and Train Village offers a 1.5 mile ride around a portion of the lake. You can also rent a surrey, paddleboat or kayak and go on your own little exploration. There are a number of shelters and barbequing areas, sand volleyball courts and open fields to run. You could literally hang out there all day!
C’Mon-The Galisano Children’s Museum of Naples – 15080 Livingston Rd Naples 34109 (website)
This museum is awesome. Period. Children of all ages can have loads of fun here. From their website… “journey through the swamps of the Everglades, weave through a maze, climb a two-story banyan tree, or experiment with the water play station. Children can become a weather forecaster, a farmer, a chef, a fisherman, an artist, an architect or a veterinarian; explore the cold of an igloo, the whoosh of the wind, the sound of the sea, the effects of water and the colors of the rainbow.” Plus, they have an awesome little café that serves healthy snacks and meals right there on site. Our girls have been to C’Mon a TON of times and have a blast every visit.
Bowman’s Beach – Bowman’s Beach Rd & Sanibel-Captiva Road (website)
It’s not just a beach, it’s a nature hike too! The natural beach is the main feature but the trails and bridge over a fresh water stream are an added bonus. Bowman’s has a park for the children to play, picnic spots, and showers and bathrooms too. The beaches are beautiful and plentiful with many treasures from the Gulf. Finally, the chances are slim that you won’t get a spot at Bowmans – the parking lot is massive and if you’re a local and having a parks & recreation parking pass, it’s free! The parking lot can also accommodate RVs for daily parking as well. Surfs up!
Naples Zoo – 1590 Goodlette-Frank Rd, Naples 34102 (website)
Topical jungle comes to mind when I think about Naples Zoo. Aside from the beautiful surroundings – there are many cool animals to visit like lions, kangaroos, monkeys, bears, giraffes and tropical birds. The monkeys are viewed best by taking a boat tour around the lake where they all live. And, you can even hand feed the giraffes! The zoo is the perfect size – small enough to offer an intimate stroll but large enough to accommodate all sorts of cool animals.
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve – 7751 Penzance Blvd, Fort Myers 33966 (website)
Enjoy a peaceful walk on the 1.2 mile long boardwalk trail through beautiful SWFL nature preserve allowing you to see many different species of wildlife in the natural habitat that will also vary depending on the time of year and season. There are a handful of observation decks which allow breathtaking views, including Otters Pond which we loved! Between the educational displays and provided trail guide, the Explorers Companion (http://www.leeparks.org/pdf/Explorers-Companion.pdf), you are able to find and learn all there is to discover. They also offer guided walks – the schedule is provided on their website. You do not have to pay for admittance to the park; however, there is a parking fee of $1/hour or a maximum of $5.00 per stay. Enjoy!