Museums, Parks + Top Sites

From historic homes to dolphin tours to swamp safaris, the region offers visitors a nearly endless itinerary. We’ve narrowed down some of the best ways to spend a perfect day in paradise.

BY September 1, 2022
Colorful lighting during Night Lights at Naples Botanical Garden
In the Bayshore Arts District, Naples Botanical Garden hosts creative programming, like their Night Lights in the Garden during the holidays. (Photo Courtesy Naples Botanical Garden)

Call or check organization’s websites for the latest information.



Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda


Babcock Ranch Eco-Tours
8502 FL-31, Punta Gorda, (800) 500-5583.
View wildlife on a 90-minute buggy tour (reservations required) and walking tours through Babcock Ranch, set on more than 14,000 acres.

Cape Haze Pioneer Trail
Starts at the parking lot at 1688 Gasparilla Road, Port Charlotte, (941) 627-1628.
This trail spans nearly 8 miles along former rail lines: Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railway.

Fishermen’s Village
1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda,  (941) 639-8721.
The shopping, entertainment and resort complex overlooking Charlotte Harbor includes a full-service marina, more than 30 shops and restaurants and dozens of waterside suites.

Military Heritage Museum
900 West Marion Avenue Punta Gorda, (941) 575-9002.
Honoring all who serve, from the Revolutionary War through modern conflicts and across all five military branches, with 20,000 plus artifacts, veteran guides, flight simulators, graphics and live performances.

Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens
5827 Riverside Drive, Punta Gorda,  (941) 621-8299.
These waterfront gardens showcase sculptures and blooming botanicals.

Peace River Wildlife Center
3400 Ponce de Leon Parkway, Punta Gorda,  (941) 637-3830.
This wildlife education and rehabilitation center feature small animals and birds, such as bald eagles, owls and ospreys. 






Historic Smallwood Store: Ole Indian Trading Post & Museum
360 Mamie St.,  (239) 695-2989.
Established in 1906, this once-isolated Everglades trading post has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and is now a museum.


Everglades City


Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours
30999 Tamiami Trail E.,  (239) 695-3377.
Run by an Everglades guide whose great-grandfather built one of the first commercial airboats, Captain Mitch’s focuses on private marshland tours.

“The Original” Everglades City Airboat Tours
907 DuPont St.,  695-2400 and (877) 222-6400.
Capt. Josh Minton is a fourth-generation Everglades guide, so you’re bound to get your money’s worth on these swamp tours.

Everglades Day Safari
(239) 472-1559.
This is an intense, all-day excursion from the Ten Thousand Islands’ backwaters to the Everglades’ swamps. Find pickup locations throughout Southwest Florida.

Everglades Florida Adventures
815 Oyster Bar Lane, S.R. 29, (855) 793-5542.
Enjoy family fun while kayaking or on a boat tour.

Everglades National Park Gulf Coast Visitor Center
At 815 Oyster Bar Lane, Everglades City,  (305) 242-7700.
Explore the Everglades by canoe/kayak or walking trails, or stay overnight at a campsite. Boat tours depart from the visitor center, which holds interpretive exhibits.

Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park
137 Coast Line Dr., Copeland,  (239) 695-4593.
About 20 miles long and 5 miles wide, the swamp is home to the world’s only bald cypress-royal palm forest.

Jungle Erv’s Airboat Tours
804 Collier Ave.,  (877) 695-2820.
The service offers guided tours of marine and estuarine environments.

Museum Of The Everglades
105 Broadway Ave. W.,  (239) 252-5026.
The free-admission museum tells the story of 2,000 years of human habitation in the western Everglades and the building of the Tamiami Trail across swampland.

Speedy’s Airboat Tours
621 Begonia St.,  695-4448, (800) 998-4448.
These airboat tours seat no more than six people at a time and have access to a 1,000-acre private stretch of the Everglades.




Immokalee Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch
1215 Roberts Ave. W.,  (239) 252-2611.
The 15-acre living history museum tells the story of cattle ranching in Southwest Florida.

Lake Trafford Marina – Airboats & Alligators
6001 Lake Trafford Road,  (239) 657-2214.
This operator offers airboat rides and boat tours through the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed.

Seminole Casino Hotel
506 S. 1st St.,  (239) 658-1313.
Find gaming machines, live-action poker and table games at this casino.


Marco Island


Breakwater Adventures At Caxambas Marina
909 Collier Court,  (305) 902-4772.
Private boat tours through the Ten Thousand Islands get you up-close with dolphins, manatees and wading birds. Kids love wakeboarding, tubing and shelling options on secluded islands accessible only by boat.

Florida Adventures and Rentals At Caxamba Marina
909 Collier Court,  (239) 348-5551.
Cruise Marco’s waterways with a dolphin tour by boat or on a jet ski.

Marco Island Historical Museum
180 S. Heathwood Drive,  (239) 252-1440.
The museum offers permanent exhibits, such as life-size dioramas of a Calusa Indian village and traveling exhibits.




Artis—Naples, The Baker Museum
5833 Pelican Bay Blvd.,  597-1900 or (800) 597-1900.
The 30,000-square-foot museum at Artis—Naples features 15 galleries, a stunning permanent collection that includes Dale Chihuly and other heavy hitters and changing exhibitions from legends like René Magritte.

Baker Park
50 Riverside Circle,  (239) 213-7120.
The greenspace stretches across 15 acres with a large lawn, playground, dog park and trails that connect to the Gordon River Greenway. A tall viewing hill looks out to the Naples Airport.

Collier Museum at Government Center
3331 Tamiami Trail E.,  (239) 252-8476.
This 5-acre property highlights the county’s history, archaeology and development in a park setting with indoor and outdoor exhibits.

Collier-Seminole State Park
20200 Tamiami Trail East,  (239) 394-3397.
The park offers canoe rentals, a boat ramp, plus electric and water hookup for campsites.

Conservancy of Southwest Florida
1495 Smith Preserve Way,  (239) 262-0304.
Reopened in fall 2021, the nature center has expanded to educate on local wildlife and habitats, including wildlife in rehab. Nature trails, boat tours and kayak rentals are available.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary & Blair Audubon Visitor Center
375 Sanctuary Road W.,  (239) 348-9151.
Staff offers tours of this 2.25-mile boardwalk, meandering through an ancient cypress forest. Guests can also stroll around on their own to take in the wildlife and unspoiled landscape sights.

CREW (Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed)
Four public locations: Bird Rookery Swamp Trail, 1295 Shady Hollow Blvd., Naples; Marsh Trails, 4600 C.R. 850, Immokalee; Cypress Dome Trails 3980 C.R. 850, Immokalee; and Flint Pen Strand Trails, 15970 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs. (239) 657-2253.
It encompasses 60,000 acres, nearly 30 miles of trails and primitive campsites requiring a special license.

The Edge Johnny Nocera Skate Park
1600 Fleischmann Blvd.,  (239) 213-3020.
This 40,000-square-foot skating and biking facility is located in Fleischmann Park and caters to both beginner and advanced levels.

Everglades Excursions
1010 Sixth Ave. S.,  (239) 262-7300.
Tours depart from Naples or Marco Island on these narrated full or half-day trips aboard an air-conditioned safari wagon.

Fred W. Coyle Freedom Park
1515 Golden Gate Parkway,  (239) 252-4062.
This 50-acre park features a 5-acre lake, 3,500 feet of boardwalk, walking trails and a visitors’ center.

Golden Gate Community Park
3300 Santa Barbara Blvd., (239) 252-6128.
This aquatic facility features a heated pool, children’s activity pool, open and closed slides and diving boards. Closed Sundays.

Golisano Children’s Museum Of Naples (CMON!)
15080 Livingston Road,  (239) 514-0084.
The museum fosters play-filled learning through exhibits that teach children about the Everglades, far-flung destinations, science and more. Closed Wednesdays. 

Gordon River Greenway Park
1596 Golden Gate Parkway and 1590 Goodlette Road,  (239) 252-4000.
The park features a paved nature trail and boardwalk with water access along the Gordon River, with two access points: by the Naples Zoo and from the south side of Golden Gate Parkway.

Historic Palm Cottage
137 12th Ave. S.,  (239) 261-8164.
Built in 1895, the oldest home in Naples has been restored to its original condition

Holocaust Museum & Cohen Education Center
975 Imperial Golf Course Blvd., Suite 108,  (239) 263-9200.
The center teaches the history and lessons of the Holocaust period through the stories of survivors and liberators.

Naples Botanical Garden
4820 Bayshore Drive,  (239) 643-7275.
The area features 170 acres of preserves, gardens, lakes, trails, an exhibition space, a café and a gift shop. 

Naples Depot Museum
1051 Fifth Ave. S.,  (239) 252-8419.
Set in a historic passenger train station, the museum allows visitors to trace the evolution of local transportation—from canoeing to rail to automotive.

Naples Preserve
1690 Tamiami Trail N., (239) 261-4290.
Get an up-close look at Florida ecology with this .4-mile self-guided tour of the preserve. The elevated boardwalk and the nature center are both currently open.

Naples Trolley Tours
1010 Sixth Ave. S., (800) 592-0848 or  (239) 262-7300.
This narrated trolley tour covers 100-plus points of interest.

Naples Zoo At Caribbean Gardens
1590 Goodlette-Frank Road,  (239) 262-5409.
Daily activities at the Naples Zoo include Meet the Keeper, giraffe feedings, primate expedition cruises and other presentations.

NGALA Wildlife Preserve
2755 Inez Road, (239) 353-3572.
Sign up for small-group excursions with animal encounters at this exotic wildlife preserve that doubles as a venue for social functions.

North Collier Regional Park
15000 Livingston Road,  (239) 252-4000.
The park features a Calusa fossil dig play area for children, an interactive playground,
the Sun-N-Fun Lagoon water park and a preserve area.

Paradise Coast Sports Complex
3940 City Gate Blvd. N., Naples,  (239) 252-4386.
The recreation and entertainment complex features pro-level synthetic turf fields for soccer, lacrosse and football events. A public gym area and restaurant are next to the fields.

Rising Tide Explorers
Two locations: Isle of Capri Paddlecraft Park, 1295 Capri Blvd. and Shell Island Road Kayak Launch, 1 Shell Island Road,  (239) 734-3231.
Local biologists guide these kayak tours of the Rookery Bay nature preserve around Naples and Marco Island. You can also opt for the guided boat tour or rent a kayak on your own.

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
300 Tower Road,  (239) 530-5972.
The preserve offers camping, shelling, birdwatching and an environmental learning center with exhibits and nature art.

Salt Island Seaplanes
Naples Airport/Naples Aviation Private Terminal,160 Aviation Way N.,  (239) 263-7258 or Page Field Fort Myers 5200 Captain Channing Page Drive.
Book a seaplane for a flight to spots like the Keys, Captiva Island, Cape Romano, Miami and other locales. Flying season ends in April and resumes in October.

Shy Wolf Sanctuary Education & Experience Center
1161 27th St. N.W, Golden Gate, (855) SHY-WOLF or (239) 749-9653.
This 17-acre private facility is home to wolves, a cougar, a North American bobcat, fox species, prairie dogs and Florida gopher tortoises. The center offers both educational programs and therapeutic animal encounters. By appointment only.

Wild Florida Ecotours
25000 Tamiami Trail E.,  (239) 218-5852.
Book an eco-tour of the Ten Thousand Islands and the Everglades or a light tackle, inshore and offshore fishing trip for the angler.




Big Cypress National Preserve
33100 Tamiami Trail East,  (239) 695-2000.
Just 50 miles east of Naples, the 729,000-acre preserve includes cypress swamp, mangroves, sawgrass prairies and freshwater rivers.

Clyde Butcher Big Cypress Gallery
52388 Tamiami Trail East, (239) 695-2428.
More than a collection of the photographer’s black-and-white Everglades photos, the gallery also offers swamp eco-tours, photo safaris and cottage and bungalow rentals.

Ochopee Post Office
38000 Tamiami Trail East,  695-2099, (800) 275-8777.
Learn about delivering mail on a 170-mile route in the swamp at the country’s smallest post office.

Shealys Skunk Ape Research Headquarters
40904 Tamiami Trail East, (239) 695-2275.
Why does everyone say that Florida’s version of Bigfoot is so elusive? His headquarter is right here. A must-see stop in the Everglades, it holds live animal exhibits, a gift shop and a campground.

Wooten’s Everglades Airboat Tours
32330 Tamiami Trail East,  (239) 695-2781.
Take an airboat or swamp-buggy tour through the Everglades and Big Cypress National Preserve. Features alligator shows and an animal sanctuary.






Caloosahatchee Regional Park
19130 N. River Road,  (239) 694-0398.
This riverside park offers nature and horseback riding trails, a rugged mountain biking course, camping and kayaking.

Hickey Creek Mitigation Park
17980 Palm Beach Blvd.,  (239) 229-0522.
The park features more than 800 acres of wildlife preserve with 5 miles of trails, fishing docks and picnic areas.


Boca Grande


Gasparilla Island State Park
880 Belcher Road, (941) 964-0375.
Swim, snorkel, fish and picnic on these beaches. The park also features the Boca Grande Lighthouse, built in 1890. Closed in August.


Bonita Springs


The Wonder Gardens
27180 Old 41 Road,  (239) 992-2591.
The historic botanical garden is also home to rescued birds and reptiles and offers lorikeet encounters and yoga with flamingos.

Farmer Mike’s U-Pick
26031 Morton Ave.,  (239) 498-4576.
The 100-acre sustainable family farm offers a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers and hosts field trips.

Riverside Park
10450 Reynolds St.,  (239) 992-2556.
This green space in the heart of downtown is home to the historic Liles Hotel, artist cottages, a butterfly garden and a bandshell—plus events.


Cape Coral


Cape Coral Museum of History
544 Cultural Park Blvd.,  (239) 772-7037.
The museum offers exhibits and special programs throughout the year dedicated to historic preservation. Guided tours begin at the top of the hour. No unattended viewing.

Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve
2500 S.E. 24th St.,  (239) 549-4606.
The preserve includes 365 acres of mangroves and 6,600 feet of trails. Kayak rentals are available seasonally.

Gator Mike’s Family Fun Park
35 N.E. Pine Island Road,  (239) 574-4386.
The park features an aerial ropes obstacle course, a 600-foot zip line, a 19-hole miniature golf course, an arcade, go-kart tracks, ropes and a virtual reality arena.

Sunsplash Family Waterpark
400 W. Lake Kennedy Dr.,  (239) 574-0558.
The 14-acre water park features high-speed slides, a river ride and a 457-foot Electric Slide.




Estero Community Park
9200 Corkscrew Palms Blvd.,  (239) 533-1470.
This 55-acre site features an amphitheater, lighted playground, dog park, golf course, pavilions and two transplanted historic structures.

Hertz Arena Public Skating
11000 Everblades Parkway,  (239) 948-7825, ext. 1306.
The arena offers daily public skating sessions for all ages. Call the day of to pay and to reserve a spot.

Koreshan State Park
3800 Corkscrew Road,  (239) 992-0311.
The historic site has campgrounds, picnic areas, a playground, a boat landing and nature trails.

Mound Key Archaeological State Park
3800 Corkscrew Road,  (239) 992-0311.
There are no facilities at the park. At the mouth of the Estero River, only interpretive signage and a trail to the top of the mound. Visitors can access the park only by boat or paddle from either Koreshan or Lovers Key State Parks.


Fort Myers


Butterfly Estates
1815 Fowler St.,  (239) 690-2359.
Tours and classes here teach about the life cycle and the importance of butterflies.

Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium
3450 Ortiz Ave.,  (239) 275-3435.
Find access to trails, a natural history museum, a butterfly aviary, Audubon aviary and a planetarium. Stop in for evening hikes and late-night movies.

Edison and Ford Winter Estates
2350 McGregor Blvd.,  (239) 334-7419.
Tour the historic homes of inventors Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. The property houses a laboratory, gardens and a museum.

17455 Summerlin Road, (239) 481-9666.
The amusement park features video games, race go-karts, a duckpin bowling alley and a bistro. 

Fort Myers Skatium
2250 Broadway,  (239) 321-7509.
The rink provides in-line and ice skating; skate rentals are included. There’s also an athletic gymnasium and a fitness center.

Gaea Guides—Guided Kayak Nature Tours
Five locations to launch from,  (239) 694-5513.
Certified Florida Master Naturalists lead kayak clinics and bird, manatee, full moon, sunset and bat kayak tours throughout Southwest Florida.

Gulf Coast Kayak on The Great Calusa Blueway
4120 Pine Island Road, Matlacha,  (239) 707-7981.
The 190-mile trail passes from Pine Island Sound to the Caloosahatchee River.

Hammond Stadium
14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway,  (239) 533-7695.
This stadium hosts Minnesota Twins spring training games, plus the minor league Fort Myers Mighty Mussels.

IMAG History & Science Center
2000 Cranford Ave.,  (239) 243-0043.
The children’s center is home to hands-on exhibits to learn about everything from weather to water to animals.

JetBlue Park
11500 Fenway S. Drive,  (239) 226-4700.
This spring training ballpark and player development complex for the Boston Red Sox is a major league facility with games, daily tours and events.

Lakes Regional Park
7330 Gladiolus Drive, (239) 533-7575.
The park offers a water playground, nature trails, mini-train rides, bike and boat rentals, picnic sites, concessions and Wi-Fi. Pavilion rentals are available.

Lee Civic Center
11831 Bayshore Road,  (239) 543-8368.
The multi-purpose arena hosts concerts, trade shows, expos, rodeos, company picnics and fairs.

Manatee Park
10901 Palm Beach Blvd., (239) 690-5030.
This park features picnic areas, fishing on the Orange River and native plant habitats.

5531 Six Mile Commercial Court,  (239) 323-4653.
The Tiger Woods-designed mini-golf complex features two 18-hole putting courses facility connected to a full-service restaurant.

Seminole Gulf Railway
2805 Colonial Blvd.,  (239) 275-8487.
Expect murder-mystery dinner train and holiday-themed excursions; reservations required.

Shell Factory & Nature Park
16554 N. Cleveland Ave.,  (239) 995-2141.
This park features shell-themed shopping, dining, a nature park, a botanical garden and amusement rides.

Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center
2301 First St.,  (239) 333-1933.
Located in a historic building, the center features art exhibits and holds events like concerts, galas and art experiences for children and adults.

Friends of Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
7751 Penzance Blvd., on the Six Mile Cypress Parkway (1.5 miles north of Daniels Parkway),  (239) 533-7557.
The preserve features a boardwalk, picnic areas and an interpretive center.

Sky Zone
14181 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite 140,  (239) 313-5448.
You’ll find epic ways to play, gather and compete through trampoline activities, a zip line, warrior course, bouldering wall and aerial silks.

2095 Andrea Lane,  (239) 482-7789.
This renovated roller rink includes a snack bar and game area.


Fort Myers Beach


Estero Island Historic Cottage & Nature Center
161 Bay Road,  (239) 463-0435.
The center celebrates Fort Myers Beach’s history.

Matanzas Pass Preserve
199 Bay Road, (239) 229-1610.
The preserve is a nearly 60-acre sanctuary for estuarine and hardwood native plants with trails to the bay.

Mound House
451 Connecticut St.,  (239) 765-0865.
As Fort Myers Beach’s most impressive historical and recreational facility, it preserves the town’s oldest standing home and an ancient Calusa shell mound you can walk into to witness a video and the mound’s various layers through time. It hosts programs like kayak tours and botanical walks around its native gardens.

Ostego Bay Foundation Marine Science Center
718 Fisherman’s Wharf, San Carlos Island,  (239) 765-8101.
This science center provides by-donation visits with touch tanks and interactive exhibits.


Pine Island


Museum of The Islands
5728 Sesame Drive, Bokeelia,  (239) 283-1525.
The museum features island culture, past and present, through artifacts and artwork.

Calusa Heritage Trail
13810 Waterfront Drive, Bokeelia,  (239) 283-2157.
Tour the internationally significant Pineland archaeological site and learn about Calusa culture and its environment.


Sanibel Island


Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum
3075 Sanibel Captiva Road,  (239) 395-2233.
The museum offers live mollusk aquariums, including one with giant Pacific octopuses and exhibits displaying shells from Southwest Florida and worldwide.

BIG ARTS – Christensen Performance Hall & Dunham Family Gallery
900 Dunlop Road,  (239) 395-0900.
The community arts center is set among the breathtaking scenery of Sanibel and hosts performances, fine art shows, films and educational programs.

Cabbage Key
At channel marker 60 on the Intracoastal Waterway,  (239) 283-2278.
The tiny island built on a Calusa Indian shell mound is accessible by boat and features a restaurant, bar and inn.

J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge
1 Wildlife Drive,  (239) 472-1100.
You’ll find a mangrove forest, wetlands and West Indian hardwood hammocks along Wildlife Drive and its many trails at this lauded preserve. Rent bicycles, canoes a
nd kayaks to tour the site.

Sanibel Historical Museum & Village
950 Dunlop Road,  (239) 472-4648.
Tour eight restored buildings, including some that date back to the late 1800s.

Sanibel Lighthouse
112 Periwinkle Way,  (239) 472-1080.
Though you can no longer climb this monument, you can see the lighthouse, first lit in 1884, on the eastern tip of Sanibel. There’s also beach access and a pier.

Sanibel Sea School
455 Periwinkle Way  (239) 472-8585
A partner with Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF), the school offers programs for kids and families, including SUP excursions around the area’s waters and guided beach walks.

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