You’ll discover many exciting ways to go green on Florida’s Paradise Coast, from tours that put you deep into pristine wilderness to explorations that minimize your carbon footprint. Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades are home to some of the greatest parks and nature preserves in the world. Just one of these is Everglades National Park, designated as a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve and a Wetland of International Importance.
With so many great offerings for Earth-friendly fun, it’s never been easier to enjoy a vacation while respecting your commitment to a green lifestyle. Here are just a few great ideas for earth-friendly fun.
Big Cypress Gallery features the black and white landscape photography of Clyde Butcher, who has spent more than 40 years preserving pristine wilderness settings on film.
Collier County Museums offer a fascinating look at the history and heritage of Florida’s Paradise Coast. Five separate and unique museum facilities each provide a different glimpse into the area’s past, including long-vanished civilizations, stunning archaeological finds, curious inventions, turn-of-the-century trading posts, cowmen, cattle ranches, and some of Florida's most adventurous and colorful characters. All the Collier County museums offer free admission.
Naples Botanical Garden, a 160-acre complex, features 90 natural acres in The Preserve, which includes lakes, seven distinct natural habitats and ecosystems, nature trails and a birding tower. The cultivated gardens feature the plants and cultures along 26 degrees north and south, with gardens of Florida, the Caribbean, Brazil and Asia with over 600 species of subtropical and tropical plants. There is also an interactive Children’s Garden and a Water Garden, along with a growing selection of workshops and events. This exciting new attraction has been honored for its green practices, winning the 2009 Intelligent Use of Water™ Leadership Award by Rain Bird, the leading manufacturer and provider of irrigation products and services. Naples Botanical Garden has also incorporated high performance and sustainable green building practices into the design of its landscape and facilities.
Naples Zoo places a strong emphasis on conservation, with a portion of admissions and some gift shop sales going to support the Naples Zoo Conservation Fund, providing critical conservation assistance to a variety of groups worldwide, such as the Madagascar Fauna Group. When visiting the zoo, be sure to experience the Primate Expedition Cruise where you can see all the zoo’s primates, including lemurs from Madagascar that live on cage-free islands within a large lake.
Stroll through historic Third Street South and the neighborhoods of Old Naples. Try the docent-guided tours of Palm Cottage, Naples’ oldest house built in 1895 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the adjacent Norris Gardens.
Third Street Farmer’s Market, an outdoor market featuring stands with fruits, vegetables, pastas, cakes, flowers, plants and more, is staged every Saturday year-round from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Neapolitan parking lot between Third Street South and Gordon Drive. You’ll find locally grown produce, fresh baked treats for humans and dogs and other artisan products.
Both Segway of Naples and Naples Gliding Adventures let you zip through historic downtown Naples on Segway Personal Transporters for an informative sightseeing tour, switching your consumption from petroleum to battery power for a more eco-friendly alternative. Highlights include the Naples Pier, Port Royal, Aqualane Shores, Fifth Avenue and Cambier Park.
The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples or C’mon, presents a well-rounded universe that is rarely experienced by children or, for that matter, the adults in their lives, from the swamps of the Everglades to outer reaches of the galaxy, from the annual change of seasons to a farm to a day at the beach. At the heart of the exhibits is The Banyan Tree, a soaring, two-story banyan tree with cubbies nestled in vertical prop roots, a lookout platform, and crawling branches that lead to the fascinating tree house at the top. The Golisano Children’s Museum is housed in a LEED-certified building. This is the first green museum in Collier County and serves as a learning lab as to how visitors can make their own home green. Environmentally friendly features in C’mon include recycled materials, rainwater harvesting, natural sunlight and a wind turbine.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Naples Nature Center has new and updated exhibits, activities and a working space that makes it one of the greenest nature attractions in the country. The center utilizes an integrated energy consumption approach through geothermal cooling, solar, LED lighting and "smart buildings" technologies, and all new buildings received the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification.
Experience the thrill of sailing on Florida’s Paradise Coast with Off The Hook Adventures, Island Sailing or Sailing Adventures. Learn the sailing basics or kick back and relax on this adventure powered by the wind. Local tours and guides, many members of the Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism, offer eco-friendly journeys into the area’s vast wilderness. You’ll also discover more than 30 miles of pristine beaches. There are even deserted white sand beach islands within the Gulf Coast portion of Everglades National Park and the Ten Thousand Islands Wildlife Refuge that you can paddle to in your canoe or kayak and spend a night under the stars.
Countless eco-tours are also yours to enjoy on Florida’s Paradise Coast, whether self-guided along miles of wilderness trails or guided tours by canoe, kayak and more. For an unforgettable look at the area’s beautiful coastline and world-famous Ten Thousand Islands, don’t miss the Paradise Coast Blueway, the area’s network of paddling routes. Bring your own canoe or kayak, rent one or enjoy a guided trip. Continue the adventures by heading south on Everglades National Park’s Wilderness Waterway, a 99-mile waterway trail leading through total wilderness between Everglades City and Flamingo on the Florida peninsula’s southern tip.