Restaurants on the Water

By Judy Lawrence
Fine dining at Naples restaurants.

Cuisine with a view: Restaurants on the water

The Paradise Coast is not called that just for its beaches and attractions—it’s also a succulent paradise for fresh seafood sourced straight from the Gulf of Mexico and the Everglades. So when you’re visiting or vacationing in Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades, you’ve gotta try the gator, grouper, snapper, mullet, frogs' legs, blue crab and stone crab claws. The best way to enjoy it is right on the water.

Ask any local to recommend some of their favorite waterfront restaurants. They know where to go for local, fresh cuisine—like fresh-off-the-boat, caught-this-morning seafood. You can drive your car, of course, but you can also dock your boat outside many local restaurants or even walk up from the beach with sand still between your toes.

Listed below are a few of the many waterfront seafood palaces that locals frequent. FYI: Before you make plans to crack open a stone crab claw, you should know they’re only available October 15 to May 1st. The closed months between May and October gives the species a break during its annual spawning season. Fresh Florida blue crab is available year round.

Waterfront Dining in the City of Naples

Riverwalk at Tin City is a popular spot for waterfront dining.

Historic Tin City sits on a marina overlooking the water. Visitors love to browse the unique boutiques and souvenir shops, but locals go for the two eateries with their waterfront views of the Gordon River/Naples Bay. It’s a laid-back atmosphere in both—not to mention the fresh, locally-caught fish, crab, seafood and more: Pinchers and Riverwalk at Tin City. Whether its grilled, seared, roasted, barbecued, fried or raw, you will find new favorites on the menus. Pinchers, which owns its own regional fishery, has actually trademarked the slogan “You Can’t Fake Fresh!™

A  Naples tradition since 1976, The Dock at Crayton Cove on 12th Ave. South is a casual open air restaurant accessible by boat with views of Naples City Dock and Naples Bay. The seafood is prepared with Caribbean and Latin influences and the raw bar is open any late afternoon or late evening. 

The Boathouse, located next to the Cove Inn is an “over-the-water” waterfront restaurant on Naples Bay with a panoramic view, whether you’re dining on the open air breezy deck or inside the fully air-conditioned split-level dining room.

Tavern on the Bay in Bayfront is a sports bar and grill with live entertainment. Located where Goodlette-Frank Road meets U.S. 41, it is accessible by boat, with outdoor and waterfront dining.

Kelly's Fish House has been open since 1952, making it the oldest seafood restaurant in Naples. Located directly on the Gordon River, it has an open-air dining/cocktail area running the length of the dining room. You can’t miss it—the fishing boats moored next to the restaurant belong to Kelly’s—one fishes for grouper daily and the other goes out for stone crabs (in season). 

Village Shops on Venetian Bay is a favorite waterfront dining and shopping location for locals and visitors with a half dozen excellent restaurants. At Bayside Seafood Grill & Bar you can choose between two full bars, casual dining in the first-floor Café, sophisticated dining at the second-floor Grill, as well as year-round casual dining and live music on the Upper Deck overlooking Venetian Bay. 

Not a local? Don’t want to drive or pilot your own boat through Naples Bay? You can dip your toe in the Naples waterfront restaurant scene with a progressive dining experience via the Naples Bay Water Shuttle. It provides convenient transportation between downtown Naples' main waterfront shopping and dining locations, including Naples City Dock, Tin City, Naples Bay Resort and Bayfront. Hop on and off as many times as you like for $10 per day.