By Pam Nicholls GSAC Board Member
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Have family in town for Spring Break? We’ve gathered together some ideas to entertain the young and not so young!


St. Patrick’s Day Parade

This very popular parade (now the largest privately-funded parade in the state) draws over 40,000 people to downtown Naples each year to celebrate Irish heritage and Irish culture in America.

The parade begins at 11am on March 16, rain or shine at the corner of 3rd Street South and 10th Ave.  It turns East onto 5th Ave S and then East on 8th Street South to finish in front of the Naples City Hall. You may find it less crowded down around 8th Street.

The organizer, Naples St Patrick’s Foundation, has donated over $200,000 to local high school bands and scholarships in the last five years.

Rookery Bay Reserve

There are multiple ways to experience this national treasure – one of the most beautiful areas of wild southwest Florida and only 10 miles from downtown Naples. But camping and walking can’t beat an on-the-water experience. The 110,000 acres of mangrove forest and protected waters of the Rookery Bay Reserve are best explored by boat or kayak.

An intriguing range of 2-3-hour boat tours (maximum 6 people, minimum age 6 years) are available, each with a different theme.  The kayak tours, led by biologist guides, offer different routes on single or tandem kayaks and can accommodate children ages 3 and up.

All tours include free admission to the Environmental Learning Center. To book a boat tour or kayak trip please go to Rookery Bay Eco Tours. Tel: (239) 530-5972. Proceeds support the non-profit Friends of Rookery Bay.

Good Mood Ranch

A new addition to Naples’ attractions, Good Mood Ranch (306 Sabal Palm Rd Naples FL 34114) has an array of farm animals that children can pet and feed. Owners Luc Goermaere and Liping Wu opened in March last year after purchasing 23 acres in South Naples. Donkeys, pigs, goats, and guinea pigs share farm space with an array of birds, including emus and pheasants. There are more than 400 animals to keep the little ones entertained. There are also activities like rock mining, a playground, and train rides. Open Wednesday to Friday 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM; Saturday-Sunday 9.30 AM to 4:00 PM. Admission $18, under fours go free.


Your Boat Club at Park Shore Marina

This is a new location for the multi-state enterprise which specializes in boat sharing memberships and rentals across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Florida.

YBC will start with 8 boats for renters and members to enjoy and add more as they settle into their new operation at Venetian Village, 4310 GSBN. Their fleet of flat-bottomed, Southbay 224 pontoon boats can accommodate 10 persons and are available for full days ($618) and half days, morning (8am-12, $228) and afternoons 1pm-5.30, $428). Please call 239-236-2720 or click YBC to reserve. GSAC Newsletter readers can benefit from a discount code GSAC10FL for 10% off.

A Rhapsody in Blue

George Gershwin and Modern Art: A Rhapsody in Blue which opened February 10 and runs through June 16 at the Baker Museum, Artis-Naples, is the first major museum exhibition devoted to the composer’s passion for the visual arts.

George Gershwin is widely known for his innovative work as a composer, songwriter and pianist, but his passion and talents extended well beyond that. Before his untimely death from a brain tumor at the age of 38, he produced numerous paintings, drawings and photographs. In addition, his collection of modern art was one of the most significant of his day, including about 150 paintings, drawings, sculptures and decorative objects by artists including Picasso, Modigliani, Kandinsky, Chagall and Siqueiros. Adults $10, Under 17 free. For tickets call 239-597-1900 or book online at The Baker Museum.

Naples Seafood and Music Festival

Get ready to feast, dance and be entertained at the 3rd Annual Naples Seafood & Music Festival which takes place March 15-17 at 7035 Airport-Pulling Road.  This free, three-day extravaganza promises non-stop action, delicious food and musical magic. Festivities begin Friday evening from 4pm-10pm and continue Saturday 11am-10pm and Sunday 11am-6pm. For more information and to reserve a spot please go to Naples Seafood and Music Festival.

Naples Art Fair

Naples Art Institute is holding its 45th Annual National Art Fair at Cambier Park in downtown Naples, February 23 (5pm-9pm) 24-25 (10am-5pm).  A competitive juried event, the National Art Fair is a fine art and craft show that showcases the work of artists in 17 different categories including painting, jewelry, watercolor, ceramics, metal, sculpture, and wood. It is consistently voted among the Top 200 Art Shows in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine. Admission is free.

Painting and Cocktails

The Edgewater Beach Hotel is offering a class in sunset painting on the beach, with painting supplies and step-by-step instruction included. Start time is 6:30 on March 20 with sunset at 7:39. This event is open to the public (cost $65). Contact Edgewater Beach Hotel to book. The hotel is also taking reservations for a four-course sunset dinner featuring Grey Goose cocktails on March 28th. Expert Grey Goose ambassadors will be on hand to talk mixology and food pairings.

Dolphin Watch/Eco Tour  

The whole family is bound to enjoy this sedate, comfortable cruise along the river out to the lovely Keewaydin Island for a spot of dolphin watching and shelling. This 3-hour tour is appropriate for most ages, although no one under 16 is permitted without an accompanying adult. The Pure Florida team provides a knowledgeable narrative along the way and shelling bags. There are two tours a day, at 9am and 1pm, which depart from Pure Florida at Tin City Waterside Shops. Cost $75, Children Under 12, $55. Book online at Pure Florida. 1200 5th Ave S Naples FL 34102.