Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is on my list of the top 10 things to do when visiting Naples, Florida. This tropical oasis is unlike any other zoo. It is a beautiful combination of a tropical botanical garden and animal exhibit. While you are visiting Naples Zoo, you can feed giraffes, take a boat ride, have lunch, and watch an educational show.
I visited Naples Zoo a few months after Hurricane Irma hit Southwest Florida. Other than a few damaged trees here and there from Irma, the grounds were immaculate. As soon as you enter the zoo, you are welcomed by chatty macaws and lush flora.
Things you shouldn’t miss at Naples Zoo
Primate Expedition Cruise
The Naples Zoo is laid out in one loop and is easy to navigate so you won’t miss any sites on your path. My favorite experience at the zoo was the (free) Primate Expedition Cruise. The catamaran cruise is on the shore of Lake Victoria and lasts about 15minutes. On the cruise, you get to tour the primate islands up close and learn about the animals residing there. My tour guide was hilarious and made the ride both entertaining and educational.
The islands consist of many endangered animals in the wild. You will see lemurs, gibbons, and spider monkeys. The primates were not only visible but amusing. You will get many opportunities to snap some fantastic photos of them swinging on branches and playing with one another.
Giraffe Feeding Experience
Feeding the giraffes is a big attraction at the zoo. It is one of the main things I wanted to do during my visit. Unfortunately, the giraffes were temperamental that day and did not have interest in visitors. So no one got to feed them while I was there.
It wasn’t a big deal, after all, they are animals and have a mind of their own. The giraffes were still fun to watch. I will have to return and try to feed them another day.
For the Kids…Playground & Camel Ride
There are two play areas for children; one is a playground for older kids (pictured below), and the other play area is smaller and more suitable for younger ones.
Another thing kids will love is going on a camel ride. It is $7 to hitch a ride. Although I didn’t ride the camel, It is still worth a visit. The lush vegetation area through Cypress Hammock is stunning.
It was enjoyable just hanging out in the camel area and learning more about the gentle desert animal. The zoo staff are very friendly and knowledgeable. The staff will talk to you about the animals when you walk up to view them.
Alligator Bay is home to the Naples Zoo’s American Alligator. At specific times a day, you can watch a 15-minute training session and alligator feeding. Check the handout they give you when you enter to see the time of the showing for that day.
Wynn’s cafe near the entrance has the most options for food, but there are stands throughout the zoo that sell drinks and snacks. You can expect sandwiches, hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, and a few other items offered.
Meet the Keeper: African Penguins
The Penguins in Paradise was a seasonal travel exhibit of African penguins. The presentation is a conservation effort to help the penguin species. They are classified as endangered and are “touring” around to raise awareness about overfishing. During your visit check the latest exhibit and the Meet the Zookeeper events for the day.
Historic Toucan Sign
After you enjoyed seeing leopards, bears, cheetahs, giraffes, camels, panthers, and all the other fascinating animals; don’t forget to check out the historic toucan sign. Here you can snap a picture and read about the history of the zoo.
Exit through the Gift Shop
It took me about 3 hours to casually walk through the zoo, take a boat ride, and watch a show. When you leave, you will exit through the gift shop. The shop has animal themed stuffed animals, books, and trinkets. There are also bathrooms there to use before you leave.
To sum it up these are things you should do at Naples Zoo:
- Check your daily program for the current exhibit
- Take a Primate Expedition Cruise
- Feed the Giraffes ($5 for lettuce)
- Ride a Camel ($7)
- Attend at least one of the Meet the Keeper events
- Get a photo of the historic Toucan sign
- Watch the Alligator Bay Feeding
- Have fun!
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Looking for more things to do in Naples? Check out my article below!