Luxury and family-friendly are two travel concepts that usually do not exist in the same sentence. The Naples Grande Beach Resort, however, is a luxury family-friendly hotel that satisfies the needs of a wide variety of clientele. While I sometimes feel out of place traipsing with my kids though upscale lobbies, as men and women in fine clothes watch my flip-flopping family carry water toys to the pool, I never once felt out of place at the Naples Grande.
Besides boasting a beautiful beach on the Gulf Coast, which is reached via a boardwalk through protected mangroves, the resort also offers 3 pools. Do not worry child-free adults, there is a pool just for you where you can relax without the happy noises that children exude. One of the pools is used mainly for water aerobics and lap swimming, but the kids will be excited by the Mangrove pool. The Mangrove pool includes a water slide and a zero entry that allows smaller children to wade slowly into the deeper portion of the pool. My toddler spent a lot of time splashing and attempting to swim in the shallow end, while my two older kids slid down the slide over and over again. (Unfortunately, my toddler was too short to go down the slide, since kids must be at least 48” to ride.) Next to the pool are ping pong and pool tables and nearby is a life-size chess set. Also close to the pool is a kids’ room that includes video games and an air hockey table. The room is a great place for older kids to break up a long day of swimming. Usually when a resort offers up both a beach and a pool, my family goes the beach route. At the Naples Grande, my kids chose the pool over the beach. And if you visit this resort, you’ll understand why.
Often times my family can get a little stir-crazy at a hotel, even at great resorts like Naples Grande. Luckily, there are plenty of things to do in the town of Naples. One of the highlights of the trip for my kids was visiting the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples (affectionately known as C’MON). The Museum offers a wide variety of activities for kids, but is geared primarily for kids under the age of 10. My 10 year old had fun for a little while, but the limited amount of activities that was aimed at his age group quickly wore off. My 3 year old and my 8 year old could have stayed for hours and hours. The highlight for my 8 year old was being able to play around on a virtual graffiti wall, while my 3 year old enjoyed picking up leaves, pretending to serve dinner, and many other fun activities.
Another great adventure we had was exploring Tin City, a must see tourist stop for anyone visiting Naples. Tin City is filled with restaurants and shops, so visitors can grab some clothes or mementos. We had a great seafood dinner at Pinchers Crab Shack, and after walking around the shops, ate some delicious homemade ice-cream at M&M’s Café.
Naples is also located within driving distance of Everglades National Park, and we made the hour long drive to the Everglades City entrance to the park. We’d booked ahead for a boat tour of the mangrove estuary, and the entire family enjoyed relaxing as we saw birds and other wildlife in abundance, visited the Indian shell mounds, and heard stories from our guide about the history of the area. Boat tours are also available to the Ten Thousand Islands, and friends who took that tour raved about it as well. The Everglade National Park Visitor Center also hosts special activities and tours – we were lucky enough to hit the park during Calusa Days and our kids were able to learn about the Native American history of the park and try their hand at weaving, rope-making, and pottery, among other things. After a fun-filled day, we ate dinner at the Oyster House Restaurant in Everglades City, where the kids snacked on frog legs and alligator nuggets.
Naples wasn’t on my list of places that I wanted to visit with my family, but after staying at the Naples Grande and exploring the town, I am looking forward to the day that we go back.