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While many attractions are conveniently grouped in bike- and foot-traffic-friendly Old Naples, a car is handy for the North Naples beach parks and a must for the swampy ecosystems 15 to 50 miles away in the Everglades, Big Cypress National Preserve, and Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. An eagerly anticipated children's museum opens in North Naples in 2010 (

Things to do in Naples

Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Alligators, river otters, white-tailed deer, and the elusive Florida panther lurk among the sanctuary's 11,000 acres of marshes, cypress forests, and pine uplands; it's also home to the endangered ghost orchid, the floral star of Susan Orlean's best-selling book, The Orchid Thief. Alas adventurers, visitors must stick to the raised 2.25-mile boardwalk trail. Open daily except during violent weather; October 1 to April 10, 7am-5:30pm; April 11 to September 30, 7am-7:30pm; last admission one hour before closing.

375 Sanctuary Rd. West, FL, 239-348-9151,
Tags: editor pick | eco-friendly | off the path | things to do | wildlife | walk

Conservancy of Southwest Florida

This grassroots organization puts an emphasis on education; its Discovery Center teaches lessons about wild Florida with a sea-life touch tank and simulated panther habitat. A birding trail, kayak rentals, and electric boat rides on the Gordon River entice grown-up explorers.

1450 Merrihue Dr., FL, 239-262-0304,
Tags: family | kayaking | editor pick | eco-friendly | things to do | wildlife

Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park

A mile of Naples's famous white sand runs through this Gulf Coast park, which is good for swimming, snorkeling, shelling, and picnics. Fishermen cast their lines at Wiggins Pass, which is off-limits to swimmers; parking area 2 is closest to the offshore reef where scuba diving is permitted; a tower at the north end provides great coastal views. Open daily, 8am to sundown.

11135 Gulf Shore Dr., FL, 239-597-6196,
Tags: beach | family | editor pick | great value | things to do | diving

Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens

Although small in size, the tropical garden setting and added attractions included with admission, like a 20-minute boat ride around islands populated with monkeys and lemurs, make this eco-minded local zoo a pleasant surprise. Don't miss the alligator and tiger feedings and the only chance to see Madagascar's largest mammalian predator, the fosa, in the southeastern United States. Open daily, 9am-5pm, last ticket sold at 4pm.

1590 Goodlette-Frank Rd., FL, 239-262-5409,
Tags: family | eco-friendly | things to do | wildlife

Philharmonic Center for the Arts

"The Phil," as it's locally known, unites the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and the three-story, 15-gallery Naples Museum of Art, which focuses on modern and contemporary works (Jackson Pollock, Marsden Hartley, and Alexander Calder are in the house), in one 120,000-square-foot complex. A 1,425-seat theater, a black-box space, and two sculpture gardens complete this artsy playground.

5833 Pelican Bay Blvd., FL, 239-597-1900,
Tags: things to do | culture | museum | gallery | performing arts

The Holocaust Museum of Southwest Florida

Minimal opening hours and a nondescript strip mall location make this worthwhile museum easy to overlook. What began as a seventh-grade class project grew into a collection that includes over 300 Holocaust armbands, photos, and other artifacts, plus a WWII boxcar used to transport Jewish victims to the Nazi concentration camps. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 1-4pm.

4760 Tamiami Trail North, Suite 7, FL, 239-263-9200,
Tags: things to do | history | museum

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