Florida is known for its huge theme parks. It is where you’ll find Disneyland, Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm, LEGOLand, and even Six Flags. Hence, it’s not a surprise why it is often one of the first states that comes into the minds of kids and kids at heart. But this state is not all about just fun.

Apparently, the state also has numerous good zoos that are also perfect destination for families.

Tampa alone has a number of zoos that families will surely love. This is because these zoos aren’t just educational but they are also entertaining. Some zoos are even connected to aquariums, gardens, and even theme parks, making your visit all the more memorable. But among all of the zoos available in the city and the whole state, one of our favorites is the Naples Zoo.

A Closer Look at Naples Zoo

Naples Zoo is actually one of the oldest attractions in Florida. But before it became popular as it is today, the site actually started as a botanical garden. In 1919, Dr. Henry Nehrling, an ornithologist and horticulturist, acquired the Naples site aiming to avoid a repetition of the disastrous freeze to his plant collection in central Florida back in 1917. His garden then grew bigger containing 3,000 species of tropical plants. But when he passed away in 1929, his garden started being forgotten.

Thanks to Julius Fleischmann, Nehrling’s forgotten garden was restored. He chose a dedicated staff to nurture Nehrling’s old plantings, dig lakes, and even plant a multitude of new species. An array of tropical birds were even added to complete the site to delight guests.

Years after, Larry Tetzlaff and Frank Buck introduced wild animals to the gardens. And because of the tranquility of the gardens, it inspired numerous successful breeding programs too. Eventually, the site opened its doors to the public as the now-known Naples Zoo.

Things to Love About Naples Zoo

There is actually a lot to love about the Naples Zoo. That is probably why its doors are still open today to the public. And we’re sure, in case you get to set foot on this attraction too, you will love it as well. Here are some of the things we love about the zoo that we’re sure you will love too.

1Its Tropical Garden

A peek at Naples Zoo’s beautiful botanical garden (source)

Of course, the site where everything started. But aside from the fact that it is where the zoo started, what made us love this garden is that you can get to see various species of plants. Some even witnessed the site’s early days as many of them have been residents of the zoo for 100 years. Of course, the place is also Instagrammable. Of course, this spot isn’t only for the eyes. Naples Zoo’s garden also offers educational tours. Guided by the zoo’s knowledgeable staff, this place will surely help you get to know more about the plants that it houses, as well as the site’s history. Whether you want to take a break, relax for a bit, post for photos, or whatnot, this place is one of the things that will make you comeback time and again.

2The Wildlife

Naples Zoo’s fossa on exhibit (source)

Of course, the zoo houses various species of animals. Here, you can get to see reptiles, birds, and mammals. You can get a closer look at these adorable creatures and get to know them well. Through guided tours, you can understand the animals better, how they are taken care of, and even learn about their habitats. But what piques the interest of many is that it is the only zoo in the southeastern part of the US that features the rare Madagascar predator Fossa.

Apart from that, Naples Zoo is one of the top zoos in the US that helps in the conservation of animals. In fact, it has invested more than $1.5 million in programs to help animals, as well as plants in the wild. The zoo also holds various conservation programs to help endangered animals and raise awareness about them.

3Primate Expedition Cruise

The catamaran that will take you on a Primate Expedition Cruise (source)

Speaking of animals and their habitats, what we also love about Naples Zoo is its Primate Exhibition Cruise. For starters, the primates that the zoo houses are not in a kind of exhibit that we’ve gotten used to – in a man-made exhibit with a glass enclosure that looks like an aquarium. These animals actually live in the wild. And by that, we mean on islands where they can run free, feel real grass, and climb real trees. And to get a closer look at them, you will need to go on a cruise – which, of course, is yet another unique experience to love.

For this experience, you’d hop on a catamaran on the shore of Lake Victoria. There, a Primate Expedition Cruise guide will welcome you aboard and tour you for 15 to 20 minutes through the islands of primates. Your guide will narrate nearly every interesting detail about the primates such as monkeys, apes, and lemurs.

Another reason to try out this activity is that Naples Zoo is not funded by taxes yet they care for these animals. And to help them, your visit, membership, and donations counts. Many of these species are now classified as endangered in their native lands too. And through your visit, you can help them to not go extinct and be taken care of well.

Through this tour, you can see them enjoy their lives in their natural habitat so don’t forget to bring your camera to not miss any opportunity for photography.

4Safari Canyon Show

An eager crowd watching the Safari Canyon show (source)

The learning doesn’t stop at the Primate Exhibition Cruise. Apart from primates, you can also get to have a closer look at the predators that the zoo houses and are not on exhibit. This is because of the seated shows that you can watch at the zoo. Through this activity you can get to know the animals in the zoo better, thanks to the zookeepers who further illustrate the facts about the animals in the zoo. Quick wildlife clips and close up view on the live cam are also shown not just for your entertainment but to help every visitor to understand the animals better. Aside from that, you can also learn recent conservation data, as well as fun nature facts.

You can also get a closer look at venomous reptiles in the Safari Canyon. With this, every guest can get to learn the importance of these animals. Myths are discussed as well. In this way, you can get to appreciate reptiles more and maybe even get to overcome your fear of these venomous reptiles.

This is yet another educational activity in Naples Zoo that you don’t want to miss, especially if you’re traveling with kids.

5Training Alligators

One of the zoo’s staff caring and training an alligator (source)

Not all zoos train alligators. And not all zoos let you see how they train the wild animals. But in Naples Zoo, you can get to see that with your own eyes. But aside from seeing how the alligators are trained, zookeepers will also help you learn more about the truth behind every myth about these interesting creatures. In addition to that, you can get to see other numerous native species such as an annual rookery of herons. This is because the presentation is held at the zoo’s natural lake environment.

6Meet the Keeper Talks

Naples Zoo’s friendly and knowledgeable keepers (source)

If that’s not enough, Naples Zoo also offers Meet the Keeper Talks. As its name suggests, you can get to meet the keepers in the zoo through this activity, which is yet another unique thing about the zoo. But what we love about this is that they also share their knowledge on how they keep the animals and how they help some of the species in the wild. In addition to that, you can also get to know more fun facts about the zoo and the animals through this activity.

However, due to the pandemic, this activity is currently canceled as the zoo opens in phases as of writing. But don’t worry, because the zoo has dedicated itself to conservation and education, you can still get to enjoy a virtual Meet the Keeper Talks experience. In case you’re interested, you can keep an eye out here to see what’s on. Even if you’re not in the zoo by the flesh, you can still get to enjoy it with your family for sure.

Florida has a lot more attractions to offer. But Naples Zoo is one that stands out more for us. This is because of its many programs that are not only entertaining but are educational too.

Now that you know what’s there to love about the place, we’re sure you’re wondering how you can get to experience these things at the attraction too. Take a look at the info we’ve gathered.

Things to Know for the Best Zoo Experience

Whether you’re visiting the Naples Zoo or other attractions, it is always best to gather enough information about the place before you go. In this way, you can maximize your visit and make every second memorable. In Naples Zoo’s case, here are a number of things you need to know first before you visit.

Naples Zoo Ticket Prices

Naples Zoo’s admission prices vary. For adults (those who are aged 13 and older), tickets costs $22.95. Meanwhile, children’s (aged 3 to 12) admission price is $14.95.

On the other hand, military personnel’s tickets are discounted. If they have their valid ID with them, their ticket only costs $17.95. The military personnel’s spouse and children can also get a discount worth $2 off the standard admission prices.

Naples Zoo’s entrance (source)

If you are a Naples Zoo member, though, you can enjoy the attraction all year round for free from the date of purchase. Plus, your friends and/or family’s admission tickets are discounted when they visit with you. Adults can get a $4 discount while children can get $2 off. Your purchases at the Zoo Gift Shop and Wynn’s Café are also discounted. Programs, lectures, and camps, are discounted as well. For as low as $50, you can already become a member and enjoy a lot of perks.

Naples Zoo Reminders

Some tarps with reminders placed at the entrance of the zoo to keep you safe from the SARS-CoV-2 virus while you enjoy the attraction (source)

Some attractions also have their own policies and other guidelines. In this way, you will not just get to enjoy your visit but it will also help you to be safer while on site. Naples Zoo also has guidelines for you to remember, especially at this time of the pandemic. Aside from the ticket prices, here are more things you need to take note of.

  • Due to the pandemic, as of writing, masks are required in some areas of the zoo such as the gift shop, restrooms, Safari Canyon, and Wynn’s Pavilion. Masks are also required at the Black Bear Hammock Bathroom, as well as in the Primate Expedition Cruise and queuing area. You’re only allowed to take it off when you’re eating or drinking. Masks aren’t required to walk around the path to the exhibits, though.
  • Social distancing should be observed too, particularly around the animal exhibits.
  • Speaking of your safety, hand sanitizing stations are installed around the zoo. But for your convenience and safety, the zoo encourages its guests to bring their own hand sanitizer as they visit.
  • The zoo is open between 8:30 AM and 4 PM from Monday to Sunday. However, note that the last entry is allowed until 2 PM. During holidays such as Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, however, the zoo is closed.
  • Inclement weather can also cause unannounced closing for the safety of the animals, as well as the zoo’s guests. Hence, don’t forget to also check the weather before you hit the road.
  • If you are traveling with kids and they feel the need to take a break and play, you can take them to the playground. However, it closes daily from 11:30 AM to 12 PM for cleaning to assure your safety.
  • The Primate Expedition Cruise is open with limited capacity so everyone can observe social distancing. Hence, we suggest that you bring more patience with you as you wait for your turn to hop on board. Or, you can try to arrive a little bit earlier to avoid the crowd and the queue.
  • The zoo holds various events too. To make sure that will not miss anything, we highly suggest that you keep an eye out for the zoo’s schedule here.
  • The zoo is quite large too. In order to maximize every minute of your visit, familiarize yourself with the place and check out their map here.
  • The giraffe exhibit area and feeding station are closed for the summer. This is because it has been undergoing a major and much-needed renovation to give you a better experience. That said, we suggest that you always keep an eye on the zoo’s announcement as to when it will reopen.
  • The zoo used to have water fountains. However, they are not available due to the pandemic. Thus we suggest that you bring your own water and food. You can even get to save more by doing so.
  • Don’t worry if you forgot to bring your own food and water. Wynn’s Café is still there for when you need to grab some snacks or drinks. There are also water bottle fill-up stations available.
  • For your wellness and the safety of others, the zoo asks to postpone your visit for another day if you are sick or running a fever.

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Nearby Attractions

If you crave more activities and attractions to see, there are plenty of them near the zoo. Here are osme activities and sites you can check out after your trip to the zoo.

Naples Pier

A beautiful sunset at Naples Pier (source)

10 minutes away from the zoo, Naples Pier is a must-see, especially after your visit to the zoo. This is because this place offers a nice spot for sightseeing. This site is also one of the best places to see the sun set. In addition to that, you can also get to enjoy covered seating spaces and shops full of beach supplies. Fishing is also a popular activity here so prepare your fishing rod too.

Naples Beach

A closer look at the Naples Beach’s beautiful white sand (source)

If you’re already at the Naples Pier, check out the beach too. Loved for its white sand and turquoise waters, this place is perfect for when you want to swim or get a good tan. So don’t forget to bring your sunblock and swimwear if you’re traveling to Naples.

Naples Botanical Garden

Burle Marx’s mosaic in Naples Botanical Garden’s Kapnick Brazilian Garden (source)

If you want to see more flowers and plants, we also suggest that you visit the Naples Botanical Garden. 13 minutes away from the zoo, this site has 170 acres of gardens filled with various species of plants from around the world. Its plant collection is so impressive that in 2017, it received Award for Garden Excellence from the American Public Gardens Association. But aside from that, what we love about this place is that it has various gardens with different themes, from an Asian-themed garden to a water garden. In addition to that, what we love about this place is the tranquility that it gives. This attraction is definitely a good place to stop by and relax if you want to take a break from exploring the city. The botanical garden also holds various events where you can enjoy exploring exhibits and even get to see various performances such as concert series.

Lowdermilk Park

The white sand beach at Lowdermilk Park

Speaking of the beach, there is also Lowdermilk Park where you can also enjoy the beach along with various activities. For starters, Lowdermilk Park is one of the premier beachfront parks in the city. This place has volleyball courts for sporty visitors. If you are traveling with kids, you can let them play at the park’s two playgrounds. Don’t forget to bring packed food as the park also has picnic tables and benches. Of course, you’re free to take a dip in the beach. Restroom and shower facilities are also available. This place is also good for those who want to celebrate a reunion with your friends or family, this place got your back as it has two gazebos that you can rent. The beachfront attraction is also a place for those who want to celebrate a special occasion such as beach weddings. Whether you want a place to bond with your family and/or friends or celebrate something, this place is a must-visit.

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With so many things to explore in Florida, you’ll definitely need a place to stay and file a longer vacation leave. With all of these things that the state has to offer, you will surely enjoy every second of your visit. Naples alone has countless attractions to offer for every traveler. Whether you’re traveling with your family, friends, or even when you’re lone, you’ll surely enjoy Florida.

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Florida may have been known as the place to find the happiest place on earth, the Universal Studios, and more popular attractions but this state is more than its theme parks. It also has good beaches and other attractions. Some of them are even educational like the Naples Zoo which a good destination for families, especially those who have kids. This place isn’t just for fun but is also for those who crave knowledge. So why not add this to your travel itinerary today?



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