Naples, Fla. - Naples is a charming resort city on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico along Southwest Florida's Paradise Coast. Visitors luxuriate in the area's stylish atmosphere, which includes beautiful pedestrian walks with shops, art galleries and restaurants, along with palatial homes surrounded by tropical landscaping. The area is famous for its beautiful white sand beaches, golf courses, fishing, boating, water sports, arts and culture and spectacular sunsets. In the slower season (May through December), visitors often enjoy significant savings on hotel room rates, while still enjoying the elegant ambience and charm of this beautiful coastal city.
Long known as a hideaway for retirees, the area has evolved to appeal to a wider, more diverse and younger audience with its vibrant downtown cafe scene and exhilarating outdoor adventure activities.
Life's a Beach
The splendor of Naples begins with its powdery, white sand beaches, which extend from the parks and public beaches near downtown Naples to more secluded seaside havens to the north.
Naples' beaches are regarded among the finest in the world, and offer visitors a tranquil and beautiful escape from everyday life. Barefoot Beach Preserve, just north of downtown Naples, appears in the top ten of Dr. Beach's 2006 America's Best Beaches list issued every year by coastal researcher Dr. Stephen Leatherman. Travelocity also named Barefoot Beach as one of its Top Ten Secluded Beaches for the summer of 2005. Conde Nast Traveler put Naples on its list of Top Twenty Beaches in America in 2006. The Travel Channel named Naples America's Best All-Around Beach for 2005 because of the wealth of activity choices in the area along with its lovely white sands. Consumers at Yahoo! Travel voted Naples Beach in the Top Ten USA Beaches in 2003. Boardwalks allow visitors to cross the dunes to the beach throughout the downtown Naples area, offering public access for those not staying at a Gulf-front resort.
Take a Stroll
Naples is also perhaps one of the best places in Florida for a scenic stroll. Opportunities for relaxing walks are plentiful in Naples, as beautiful architecture meets window shopping and trendy cafes. Secluded courtyards, outdoor sculptures and beautiful fountains highlight historic buildings throughout downtown Naples.
The Naples Historical Society offers guided walking tours downtown beginning from the historic Palm Cottage on 12th Street near Naples Pier. The beach is always within easy reach for an invigorating jog or relaxing stroll at sunset. Nearby, Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary provides a 2.25-mile boardwalk through the country's last old growth bald cypress forest, home to hundreds of bird and animal species.
For those that want to tour the Old Naples area without walking, both Naples Water and Land Tours and Naples Transportation, Tours & Event Planning offer guided Segway tours. Hop on these innovative human transport devices for a completely new way to experience Naples.
More families are discovering the delights of Naples. Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is fully accredited by the national Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and offers unique shows and interactive animal experiences including the Meet the Keeper series, the multimedia Planet Predator show, and a boat ride past the zoo's primate islands where the residents live cage-free.
Along with beautiful beaches lining the Naples and Marco Island coastlines, there are countless guided boat tours for dolphin watching, shell collecting and sightseeing that delight every age.
Guided Segway and Waverunner tours also offer fun ways to combine a fun ride with a memorable sightseeing experience involving birds and wildlife.
The Sun-n-Fun Lagoon water park at North Collier Regional Park offers huge water slides and a lazy river for tubing through the park.
Airboat rides in the nearby Everglades are popular, as is the Naples Pier, a great spot for fishing or wildlife and people watching. C'MON, the Children's Museum of Naples, opened with state-of-the-art interactive exhibits in 2010. Naples Botanical Garden offers extensive gardens, trails and exhibits.
With nearly 90 golf courses in the greater Naples area, the region is frequently either first or second in USA rankings of most golf holes per capita. A growing number of public courses provide ample opportunity for visitors to get into the swing, including the new Golf Club at Del Webb at Ave Maria.
However, many area resorts either own their own private courses or have affiliate relationships with area private clubs. Many avid golfers have discovered that the best way to obtain tee times at Naples premiere private golf clubs is to choose an affiliated hotel for a visit. Entry onto area courses may be obtained through stays at resorts that have their own courses, including LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, Naples Grande Beach Resort, Edgewater Beach Hotel, Marco Beach Ocean Resort, The Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples (yes, there are two - The Ritz-Carlton, Naples and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples), The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, the Marco Island Marriott, GreenLinks Golf Resort and the Quality Inn & Suites Golf Resort.
In historic shopping districts and waterfront plazas, Naples visitors can find unique treasures ranging from original artwork by the masters to designer fashions.
Third Street South and the Avenues, Naples' business district at the turn of the century and now a recognized historic district, offers premier shopping and dining. This trendy area has more than 100 distinctive shops, art galleries, outdoor cafes and restaurants and is within walking distance to the beach. The area includes Gallery Row, a collection of distinctive art galleries located near the intersection of Broad Street and Third Street South. The district even has its own Street Concierge booth which is staffed daily with friendly helpers eager to offer advice and directions. Free music and entertainment is offered along Third Street every Thursday evening January through May and every third Thursday evening from June through December.
Just a few blocks away, Fifth Avenue South has undergone a renaissance. Famed architect and urban planner Andres Duany lead the innovative redesign effort about 14 years ago that has transformed Fifth Avenue South into a dynamic pedestrian-friendly scene both day and night. Art galleries, clothing, gift and design boutiques, the The Naples Players at Sugden Community Theatre, a hotel, cafes, bars and restaurants line Naples' official downtown MainStreet. Entertainment and special events like art festivals are scheduled regularly by the Downtown Naples Association and other organizations. Evenings on Fifth with free live music and other entertainment happens every second Thursday.
Just a short walk from Fifth Avenue South is historic Tin City. Located on the Gordon River leading into Naples Bay, the eclectic tin-roofed shopping and entertainment venue features nautical and nature-themed gift shops, clothing and souvenir shops and casual seafood restaurants on the water. Located on the site of a 1920s clam shelling and oyster processing plant and incorporating waterfront buildings once used for the boat building and maintenance industry, Tin City captures the rustic maritime spirit of what was once the center of Naples' fishing industry.
Across the street from Tin City you'll find Bayfront, Naples' newest shopping, dining, arts and entertainment center. Colorful Mediterranean architecture houses a collection of upscale shops complemented by restaurants, bars, fine art galleries and the newly renovated Bayfront Inn on Fifth, all overlooking the Gordon River.
The waterfront Village on Venetian Bay, evocative of the townhouses of Venice, is a destination for sophisticated fashion, jewelry, gourmet shops and fine dining. It's located in a picturesque environment in the Park Shore neighborhood just north of downtown Naples. Nearby at the Waterside Shops, you'll find boutiques, shops and restaurants surrounded by lush landscaping, covered walkways and sparkling pools and fountains. Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom's anchor numerous elegant specialty shops, with an impressive list of luxury retailers including Tiffany & Co., Hermes and Cartier.
The Mercato development continues to open new restaurants and shops, including the Whole Foods natural and organic market and cafe, Capital Grille steakhouse, AZN pan Asian restaurant, Pub at the Mercato, an authentic English pub and McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant. A movie theater opened in May 2009 featuring independent and art films along with general release movies.
Coastland Center Mall, the regional mall in Naples, encompasses 950,000 square feet of enclosed climate-controlled shopping, including 150 stores and small specialty shops and an impressive list of new restaurants.
Naples Outlet Center is a haven for those with an eye for value. This treasure chest of designer outlet stores, located mid-way between Naples and Marco Island, is home to more than 40 shopping destinations, including Mikasa, Jones New York, Harry & David, Izod and Dansk.
Just to the north, not far from Southwest Florida International Airport, shoppers will find designer discounts at Miromar Outlets and a wide range of shops at Gulf Coast Town Center, including Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.
Some of the most unique and charming gifts may be found at the area's hotel and resort gift shops, excellent places to shop for the perfect keepsake of your visit to paradise.
Area art centers including Art League, Marco Island's Center for the Arts and The von Liebig Art Center in downtown Naples also have gift shops with art produced by local artists. The The Baker Museum at Artisa-Naples has an excellent gift shop. Popular Naples clay artist Jim Rice has a studio and shop called Clay Place, featuring his signature brightly painted ceramic fish that can be used as wall hangings, serving pieces, clocks and more.
And, since Naples is home to many affluent winter and year-round residents, the city also has a wealth of consignment and resale shops with incredible bargains on fine furnishings and designer clothing. There is even a collection of second-hand shops that collectively make up an area called the Treasure Trail along downtown's 10th Street.
Another interesting place to shop is the gift shop at Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, with a wide array of stuffed animals, books, games and children's clothing. Money from some of the stuffed animals goes to support global conservation causes. Two other animal and nature themed gift shops may be found at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida's nature center and Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
Naples has arrived on the culinary map. Chef Tony Ridgway displays Southwest Florida inspired innovation with classic touches at his Ridgway Bar & Grill in Old Naples. Olio on Naples Bay at Naples Bay Resort brings the tastes of Napa to Naples utilizing fresh local ingredients. Fresh seafood, including local stone crab claws caught in season between October and May, and the latest continental and fusion cuisines are abundant, along with many opportunities for cafe, al fresco or waterfront dining - from casual to elegant. To learn more about the many local independent restaurants in the Naples area, visit Naples Originals.
Arts and Culture
Culture abounds in Naples. From theatre to dance, to its 100 art galleries and numerous fascinating museums, greater Naples is recognized internationally as a destination for the culturally minded.
Naples was named the #1 Small Art Town in Americain 2005 by author and art critic John Villani; and Naples was named one of the "Top 25 Cities for Art" in the June 2008 issue of American Stylemagazine.
The The Baker Museum at Artisâ-Naples houses 15 galleries with both permanent and traveling exhibits. The Philharmonic Center for the Arts brings the finest in music, theater and dance to Naples each season, including the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and the Miami City Ballet. The Naples Players, recognized as one of the top community theater groups in the country, perform throughout the year at downtown Naples' Sugden Theatre. Theater Zone brings Broadway style professional productions to town. Gulfshore Playhouse brings quality entertainment to the Norris Center in downtown Naples. Opera Naples has an increasing number of performances. Historical museums abound, featuring information on the area's early inhabitants, the Calusa Indians, as well as early southwest Florida pioneers.
Relaxation is a way of life in Naples, and an abundance of spas now serve the area. Some of the newest are the Verdespa at Bellasera Hotel, a "green" themed spa with organic products; the Naples Grande Spa - Naples Grande Beach Resort; the Spa at Naples Bay Resort, The Spa on Fifth - Inn on Fifth, Spa Terre - La Playa Beach & Golf Resort, The Spa at Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club and the spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples. Spa at Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort offers luxurious Balinese-themed spa treatments at its expansive resort property on nearby Marco Island. The Spa Hilton Marco Island is a new 10,000 square foot luxury spa. There is also a growing collection of day spas and medical spas in Naples apart from those at area resorts.
From life at the top to accommodations for the budget-minded, Naples has an excellent array of hotels, motels and resorts. Newer properties include The Hotel at Naples Bay Resort, the Bellasera Hotel and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples -- one of two Ritz-Carlton resorts in the city. Newly renovated properties include Bayfront Inn on Fifth, Naples Grande Beach Resort, Edgewater Beach Hotel, the Inn of Naples, the Lemon Tree Inn, the Inn on Fifth, The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club and the LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort.
Numerous medium-priced chain hotels and motels and boutique hotels provide a wealth of options for the budget minded - all within minutes of the area's many public beaches and shopping. For a full listing of area accommodations and direct online booking, go to the accommodations listings.
On the Water
Whether it-s a sunset cruise aboard the Naples Princess yacht or the Sweet Liberty sailboat, a nature cruise on the Gordon or Cocohatchee rivers or a private charter to either the Ten Thousand Islands or the Gulf, there is no shortage of ways to get out on the water from Naples.
The area's many bays, canals and rivers provide a network of waterways for cruising, kayaking, canoeing, fishing or relaxing. Boat tours are also a popular way to peek into the luxurious lifestyle of Naples' wealthier residents, with elegant estates lining the waters of Naples Bay. There are so many bottlenose dolphin living in Naples Bay and the Gulf that most every boat trip includes numerous dolphin sightings.
Many professional fishing guides offer private or group boat charters that allow anglers to experience the unique thrill of fishing for tarpon, snook, redfish, permit, snapper, grouper and other popular game fish species.
Back to Nature
One of the beauties of Naples is that it is surrounded by thousands of acres of private, state and federally preserved land. Within a short driving distance, you can be bird watching or adventuring at Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Lake Trafford, Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, Collier-Seminole State Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, Picayune Strand State Forest, or Everglades National Park, with an entrance in Everglades City.
Right in town you can get back to nature at popular attractions including the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Naples Botanical Garden and Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens.
Getting to Naples
Getting to Naples is easy - visitors only find it difficult to leave this relaxing paradise. From I-75, four exits offer drivers entry into Naples.
Exit 101 to State Road 84 leads visitors to downtown Naples.
Exit 105 (Golden Gate Parkway) leads to Airport-Pulling Road, the Naples Municipal Airport and US 41.
Exit 107 (Pine Ridge Road) leads you to US 41, Waterside Shops and Naples.
Exit 111 (Immokalee Road) leads to North Naples and Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary - just 15 miles east.
Southwest Florida International Airport, the region's largest airport, is just 30 minutes to the north in Ft. Myers. The airport's new Midfield Terminal offers greatly expanded air service, including daily flights on Southwest Airlines.
Naples Municipal Airport offers daily service to Miami and Atlanta on Vision Air. www.flynaples.com.
If you are driving from Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Palm Beach international airports, take I-75 (Alligator Alley) to Exits 101, 105, 107 or 111. Naples can also be reached from Miami via U.S. Highway 41, also known as the Tamiami Trail, designated as a U.S. Scenic Byway and Florida Scenic Highway.
For a free visitors guide, brochure or other information on places to stay and things to do along the Paradise Coast of Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades, go to Order a Guide or call 1-800-688-3600. International visitors may call 1 (239) 225-1013. The Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau is the official tourism marketing agency for Collier County, Florida, funded entirely by the Collier County tourist development tax.