This is part 3 of my series of how to enjoy parenting time when parenting alone in Naples, Florida.  Whether you’re divorced, separated or just have the kids for the weekend,  healthy, constructive activities with your children is how you turn your quantity of time into quality time.  I hope these suggestions can help fill your weekends in Collier County, Florida.

If you keep taking Immokalee east into the everglades, the gated communities and strip malls make way for old Florida farms.  Just off of Sanctuary Road is the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. 

Visiting a bird sanctuary may not sound thrilling for you or the kids but consider the peace and tranquility compared to the constant buzzing and dinging of the games at Chuck E. Cheese.  To preserve that sense of peace and tranquility, rent as many pairs of binoculars are there are kids.  Otherwise, there will surely be a fight over the binoculars once you spot an animal.

2.25 miles of boardwalk crisscross the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary so you can enjoy pure Florida vistas of lakes, grassland and (most of all) swamp.  The admission rates are:

Adult: $ 14.00
Full-time college student with photo ID: $ 6.00
National Audubon Society member with membership card: $ 10.00
Student (6-18 years old): $ 4.00
Children under 6: free

The amount of wildlife you’ll find there is especially fascinating.  You’ll even be greeted by a chalkboard where earlier visitors note the animals they saw that day.  A good idea is to make a list of possible animals to see.  Something as simple as “white bird” and “black bird” may suffice for younger children. Alligators are very well camouflaged in the swamp but you should see one or two (they alligators cannot get onto the boardwalk).

An especially fun feature is the chart that helps you identify animal scat (poop).  Kids always love to learn that panther poop includes bones and hair.  You’ll probably find some on your walk to inspect.

There are always a few volunteers minding the boardwalk who are happy to point out animals and answer any questions you or your children might have.  Older kids might enjoy doing a guided walk so they can learn how birding works. There are complimentary tours starting at 9:30 AM on many days (please call ahead)

Please bring a lot of water and a snack because neither is available along the 3 miles of boardwalk.  If you’re making this trip in the summertime, go during the morning cool because it is a lot warmer 20 miles inland without the ocean breezes.  If you go during March you can stop at the Collier county fair on the way back to Naples.  Otherwise, stop for custard at Culver’s on Collier and Immokalee on your way back.

The boardwalk suffered severe damage during Hurricane Irma and only portions of it are currently open.  Feel free to call the office in advance of your trip to determine if all of the boardwalk is open.  It will be a short visit, otherwise.

The Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is just 22 miles from my Naples, Florida law office on Pine Ridge and Livingston.  Below I’ve attached directions from my office to the Audubon Swamp Sanctuary sanctuary.  I’m not just a lawyer, I’m also a dad.