Itinerary: A Safe and Healthy 3 Days on Florida’s Paradise Coast

By Eric Snider
From open spaces to local safety measures, it’s easy to travel responsibly in Naples, Marco Island & the Everglades.
A trip to the spa in the Paradise Coast will have you immersed in culture as well as tranquility.
You’ve probably been wished “safe travels” more times than you can count. It’s just something nice that people say — or it used to be. In 2020, the notion of safe travels took on a whole new meaning.
Fortunately, Florida’s Paradise Coast is taking the idea of “safe travels” more seriously than ever.
From luxury resorts to famous restaurants to kayak tour guides, more than 200 of our businesses and attractions have signed the Paradise Pledge to show their commitment to keeping visitors healthy and safe through social distancing, face coverings, sanitizing and disinfecting, daily wellness screenings of staff members and more. Their goal is to exceed all established safety protocols. (Look for the above logo.)
 
What follows is a weekend travelogue that outlines a dream visit to our destination, with an emphasis on health and safety above all. Each of the places mentioned here has signed the Paradise Pledge
 

Friday: Check In & Unwind

The first order of business: check-in. Florida’s Paradise Coast overflows with accommodations. While we’re especially renowned for luxury resorts, more budget-conscious travelers will find plenty of options as well. Here are a handful of options to consider:
 
The JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort is a vast, Gulfside property with an ambience reminiscent of the island of Bali. The all-suite Marco Beach Ocean Resort is another A-list property on the four-mile strip of expansive, white-sand beach that is Marco Island.

If in-town lodging is more to your taste, the fabulous Inn on Fifth sits right on downtown Naples’ main drag, Fifth Avenue South. That puts you within easy walking distance of dozens of restaurants and shops and a half-mile from municipal Naples Beach. The Gulf-front Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, two and a half miles north of downtown, is a 319-room hotel with its own adjoining championship golf course.

If you’re looking for a more rustic home base, the Ivey House Inn in Everglades City puts you amid one of the world’s most famous wetlands. The hotel offers eco-tours as well.
 
Florida’s Paradise Coast boasts one of the most sophisticated culinary scenes in the Sunshine State.

Evening: Head out to Dinner

It’s dinner time. Where to begin? Florida’s Paradise Coast boasts one of the most sophisticated culinary scenes in the Sunshine State. It starts with the abundance of fine-dining restaurants, but you’ll also discover terrific burgers, pizza, cafes, coffee shops and ethnic restaurants clustered in and around downtown Naples.

The Continental adds ever more allure with a meticulously designed indoor and outdoor setting of New York Steakhouse meets 1920’s Parisian Bistro.

The Continental is a top-end steakhouse with indoor and outdoor seating; Sea Salt is acclaimed for its seafood. Naples does excellent Italian, with excellent choices like Grappino, Campiello Ristorante and Barbatella Spirited Italian Trattoria located within three miles of each other. For Indian cuisine, four miles southwest of downtown you can savor 21 Spices, and A Passage to India has locations in Naples and Marco Island. In North Naples, there’s Le Indya. Also in North Naples, you’ll find Lamoraga, a chic spot for Spanish tapas and craft cocktails.

If you’re staying at a Marco Island resort, you can choose from several restaurants right on property, from casual to chef-driven and upscale.

After dinner, feel free to stroll the immaculate, well-lit streets for a dessert place or a nightcap. Cesibon in North Naples is famous for its handcrafted artisanal gelato.

 

Saturday: Open-Air Fun

It’s a perfect day to get outdoors and play. Florida’s Paradise Coast offers so many lavish experiences that sometimes it’s easy to overlook the fact we’re surrounded by a natural wonderland.
 

Morning & Afternoon: Breakfast and Aquatic Activity

Grab coffee and a quick bite at the hotel, and off you go.
 
You can’t go wrong lounging on our gorgeous beaches, but other adventures await.
You can’t go wrong lounging on our gorgeous beaches, but other adventures await — from cruises aboard a luxury yacht in local waters to guided kayak or airboat tours through the Everglades.

A woman sits on a dock during a hike in the Everglades

Enjoy a nature excursion in the Everglades.

Here are several outdoor adventures offered by operators that took the Paradise Pledge, ranging from physically challenging to pure relaxation. If you plan ahead, you can probably fit a couple of these into your sunny Saturday.

Eco-tours are big on Florida’s Paradise Coast. The wildest adventures are out in the Everglades, the world-renowned “River of Grass” where you’re bound to see gators. Jenny’s Eco Everglades Wilderness Tours will take you on a guided kayak trek and hiking excursion led by a park ranger. Everglades Boat Tours, based in the tiny Old Florida island of Chokoloskee, provides eco-educational hiking, paddling and powerboating tours. Wild Florida Eco Tours takes groups of three to six people out on pontoon boats through mangrove forests and across open water. They also offer fishing charters aboard a 25-foot, fully rigged boat.
 
To cruise around a different watery area, try Paddle Marco on Marco Island. They’ll rent you a kayak or paddleboard (with free delivery and pickup), or take you on a guided tour through Marco Island’s remarkable mangrove tunnels.
You should really put an airboat ride on your bucket list. On Florida’s Paradise Coast, skilled captains zip around and through mangrove islands and into open water, making hairpin turns and stopping at different points to say hello to alligators and provide various photo ops. You’re strapped in, so safety is assured. 
Wooten’s Everglades Airboat & Swamp Buggy Tours glide around 259 private acres. Back at the base, you can take in the Live Alligator Show. Likewise, Captain Jack’s Airboat Tours will put the wind in your hair and a smile (and sun) on your face.

For a more relaxing experience, Florida’s Paradise Coast offers an array of sightseeing tours aboard watercraft. The Miss Naples, which embarks from downtown Naples, is a 48-foot sailing catamaran that can accommodate 48 passengers for a lovely day on the Gulf of Mexico — and their sunset cruise is not to be missed! Pure Florida takes folks out on a double-decker sightseeing boat and even rents jet skis if you’re looking for something a little faster-paced. If you prefer a luxe excursion, there’s the gorgeous Naples Princess, a sleek, 105-foot, air-conditioned yacht.

Explore Naples with kids at the zoo.
For a casual saunter surrounded by natural beauty, you’ll love the 43-acre Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, with exotic animals amid trees and plants in a tropical garden founded in 1919. At Naples Botanical Garden, you’ll find bliss on 170 acres of cultivated tropical gardens and beautifully restored natural habitats.

Evening: Casual Gourmet

By now you’ve undoubtedly worked up quite the appetite. After Friday night’s splurge, try one of the more casual restaurants that have taken the Paradise Pledge. They’re ideal for either lunch or dinner. Brooks Burgers in downtown Naples is legendary — it was once named the No. 2 Burger Joint in the Nation by TripAdvisor. For craft pizza, there’s Twisted Sheep Pizza & Brew in East Naples. Nearby is Kareem’s Lebanese Kitchen.

If dining waterside is on your to-do list, we have you covered. Sunset Beach Bar & Grill in North Naples was named the "Best Place to Catch a Southwest Florida Sunset" by the readers of Gulfshore Life magazine. HB’s on the Gulf in Naples and CJ’s on the Bay in Marco Island offer tasty food and delightful views. The Dock at Crayton Cove is a renowned seafood institution.

Sunday: Treat Yourself to Culture, Shopping & Spas

We’ll spend today mostly indoors, although no one’s stopping you from carving out some beach time.
So what’ll it be? Shopping? Arts and culture? A little pampering? Your options are almost endless.
 

Morning: Marvelous Museums

Let’s start with our museums. We offer five different museums that give you a unique look into our destination’s history and culture, all of which are Paradise Pledge members. There’s the Naples Historical Society, located in the historic Palm Cottage, Naples’ oldest house (built in 1895). Collier Museum at Government Center is a five-acre site that includes historic cottages. The Museum of the Everglades is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Marco Island Historical Museum is home to the famous Key Marco Cat, created by Calusa Indians. The Naples Depot Museum lets you see how early visitors experienced our destination. And the Immokalee Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch chronicles Florida pioneer life on its unique 13-acre site.

Afternoon: Spas & Shopping

Want to find your bliss? Florida’s Paradise Coast is celebrated for its spas. You’ll marvel at the ones located within luxury resorts, and in most cases you don’t need to be a guest to enjoy their services. We have stand-alone spas, too — like Rick’s Island Salon & Day Spa and Skin Renewal Systems Salon and Spa, both on Marco Island. All are safe and ready to take your appointment.

Waterside Shops Naples

Paradise Coast shopping is world-class, with a bevy of upscale brands operating their own retail stores. Waterside Shops, seven miles north of downtown Naples, features Saks Fifth Avenue, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and others, plus superb dining. Downtown Naples has an array of unique boutiques you’ll love to browse, featuring everything from unique home furnishings and art to designer clothing and more. If handcrafted jewelry is your thing, don’t miss Unique Boutique in the Third Street South shopping district. And if you love the thrill of the find, stop in at Up For Grabs, a 10,000-square-foot, upscale consignment shop. Note: If you prefer to shop on the web for curbside pickup, check the store website for buying options.

Whatever you decide to do, we’re pretty confident your three days in Paradise will be memorable. So plan your visit, and make sure to come see us soon.

Oh, and one last thing before you go:
Safe travels.