While plenty of places claim to be accessible to people traveling with their pets, anyone with a large-breed pup can tell you many of those same venues are the first to say no if you're showing up with a dog larger than a guinea pig. With all of the high-end shopping and fine dining associated with a typical vacation along Florida's Paradise Coast, I was pleasantly surprised when a recent getaway with our Labrador uncovered a number of big-dog options.
Activities: The Naples Botanical Garden offers canine-accessible walks three days per week on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays for a couple of hours each. Their walking paths are wide enough to accommodate large breeds, with benches and water bowls available throughout the garden. Their outdoor café area has seating suitable for excitable pooches as well, featuring chairs that are bolted down to the tables themselves with sturdy poles for attaching the industrial-strength leashes necessary for traveling with a bigger breed.
There are also pavilions and other infrastructure where you can stop to read a book in the shade when Buster needs a break from sun and stimulation. In fact, this botanical garden in particular has a noteworthy number of art features that come with seating areas for extended enjoyment. The cost for this particular canine experience is $7.95 per dog plus the regular $12.95 admission for each accompanying adult. Welcome biscuits are provided upon entry.
- Photos: Travel to Naples
- Pictures: Naples Botanical Garden
- Pictures: Collier-Seminole State Park, Naples
- Florida Animal Attraction Guide: Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens
- Florida Animal Attraction Guide: Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Naples
- Pictures: Naples cultural hotspots
See more photos »
- Travel Videos
- Trips and Vacations
If shopping is how you prefer to indulge your pampered pooch, there are a number of pet boutiques in the area. One of note is Fergie's Closet. The venue offers specialty canine accessories and items such as doggie sunglasses, bedding, hand-made attire, food treats and more. It's a fun little shop that's worth the stop.
My own canine isn't exactly into bedazzled collars and coordinated clothing. She's more of a water splashing, trail sniffing and wriggle in the mud kind of girl. It's just how she rolls. Don't get me wrong. She was all over the chew toys and canine jerky. She just wasn't interested in attire and accessories. If your dog appreciates that type of experience however, you'll definitely want to spend some time perusing the custom outfits and canine day beds.
Attractions: Keewaydin Island allows pups to pounce, splash, roll and explore nearly eight miles of deserted white sand beach. A barrier island between Marco Island and the city of Naples, it serves as a sanctuary for recreation and wildlife with roughly 80 percent of its land mass remaining undeveloped. The beach is only accessible by boat. If you are traveling by one with your pooch, then you're good to go.
If not, boat rentals can be booked through Naples Bay Resort for $199 per day throughout the week, providing a hundred dollar daily savings over their regular weekend rate. With the ride to the island an additional source of outdoor enrichment for your pet, and the fact you can spend the whole day on the beach with your rambunctious four-legged friend; this is one of the best value activities in the area.
The boats come with a cooler you can stock with goodies, and the beach is a popular spot for firing up small portable grills and propping up umbrellas. Considering large-breed travel experiences are as hard to come by as they are, this is a memory-making day that your children and dog will remember for years to come. There is no fee to access the Keewaydin Island recreation area.
Ten Thousand Islands Marsh Trail is a free-to-the-public option open to hikers and hitched canines. Part of the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, it allows hikers to explore a portion of the 35,000 acres of sanctuary that host mangrove habitats, peregrine falcons, bald eagles and manatees. The refuge is also home to a variety of sea turtles including green, loggerhead and Kemp's ridley. The trail is a little more than two miles round trip, with paved parking available at the trail head. Plan on about a 30 minute drive from town.
Accommodations: Naples has a Red Roof Inn Plus+ and Suites property which welcomes bigger dogs with no additional pet fee. Premium rooms average $75 and come with extra space, a microwave and small fridge for storing snacks and simple meal items. A dog run area with benches and bag stations, and outdoor barbecue pits with picnic tables are also available so Rover doesn't have to spend all his time indoors.
If you're in a position to upgrade, an extra $30 will score you one of their suites, which comes with a fully-outfitted kitchen, separate living and dining area and a screened porch. It's basically a furnished one bedroom apartment. We found this to be the best option, as finding restaurants where our Labrador can be successful is hit or miss when we're on the road. She also needs to decompress after a public outing, and enjoying some down time while we whip up lunch or an early dinner usually does the trick.
Theriault is a best-selling author, avid traveler and a veteran in the field of international teaching. Her latest book entitled "Teach Anywhere," advises new and experienced educators about overseas employment, international evacuation tips, and inexpensive lessons which can be implemented anywhere from refugee camps to regular classrooms.