On our recent vacation to Marco Island, Florida we decided to visit the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens in Naples, Florida. It was a 30-minute drive from the house that we rented.
The weather forecast for the day was sunny skies around 85 degrees. We are not a family that does that well in the heat so we decided to go early to avoid the mid-afternoon blazing sun. Also, many animals do not like the heat either so once it gets really hot out they tend to hide in shaded areas where you can’t really see them.
We got there right around the time that they opened, which is 9 am every day of the week. Wouldn’t you know, we were the 1st car in the parking lot! I don’t think that has ever happened to us before. Parking is free by the way. Admission cost is $22.95 adult, $14.95 child, and free under 2. Parents beware: the ticket counter is in the gift shop. Parents worst nightmare!
We had visited this zoo on a trip to Marco Island that we took 2 years ago so we kind of had an idea of the layout and logistics. Based on the previous time we visited we knew that the primate expedition cruise can be a long wait so we headed there 1st thing.
It is a 15-20 minute cruise around a small lagoon area where primates are living in their natural habitats on little islands. The primates living there are monkeys, lemurs, and apes. Here is a picture of one of the monkeys just swinging from tree to tree!
Next, we headed over to feed the giraffes. Yes, I said to feed the giraffes! For $5 you can buy 3 lettuce leaves and hand feed the giraffes. This was the highlight of the day for our family. It seems so exotic to get so close to animals that are usually off limits.
You stand near the enclosure with the lettuce in your hand and your arm in the air and they bend their long, majestic necks down and wrap their long purple tongues around the lettuce and take it out of your hand. This is pretty amazing stuff people! Be careful, because this can be pretty addicting and you could easily end up spending $50 on lettuce to do it over and over again.
As we make our way around the zoo there are all kinds of beautiful animals. You can see zebras.
There are lemurs.
Some amazingly fierce-looking lions.
You can feed ducks for 25 cents. There are little food machines that resemble the machines you can put in a quarter and get a prize from. They eat right out of your hand! A word of caution that they can be pretty aggressive so be careful if you have small children or kids that get easily frightened.
The last thing we did for the day was the safari canyon show. It is a seated show in an outdoor covered arena type area. It was about 10-15 minutes long and talks about preditors and other animals in nature. They show lots of animals. Parrot, sloth, hedgehog, and skunk to name a few. It’s very interesting and we really enjoyed it!
A few other helpful pieces of information to enjoy your day:
There is a cafe where you can eat lunch but we did not eat there so I can not say how it is. We did get some snacks but they were pretty pricey so you might want to bring some food. They allow you to bring in food and coolers to have a picnic if you like. Personally, I do not like carrying stuff around all day so we rarely do that.
They have wagons you can rent for the day for $6 plus a $10 deposit.
Guess what parents? The only way out is a trip through the gift shop again. Or should I say death trap! I hate when places do that. We got stuck in there for over 30 minutes. And the stuff is not cheap…
So either bring a lot of determination and willpower and expect maybe some tantrums and breakdowns because you won’t let your kid buy the $20 tiger stuffed animal with 1 eye or plan on spending some money.
Ultimately, we had a great time and spent about 3 hours there. You could definitely spend more time there but like I said earlier we don’t like the heat so by noontime we were done. You can check out their website here: http://napleszoo.org/ Happy Vacationing!!