Things to Do in Naples
Situated on Florida’s beautiful southwest coastline, Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades are thought by many to be Florida’s last paradise. By blending its picturesque setting with over-the-top attractions and activities, the area has become a top destination choice for visitors in search of an extraordinary travel experience. Whether you are looking for golf, fishing, shelling, shopping, boating, the beach or the arts, you’ll find plenty of activities in the Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades area.
Naples’ star attraction – the beaches – have been rated among the top ten in the U.S. by consumers at the Yahoo! Travel Web site, according to a poll conducted by National Geographic Traveler magazine. And the Travel Channel named Naples the “Best All-Around Beach” in 2005. Within easy walking distance of the Inn on Fifth, the award-winning white sand beaches and emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico are a “must see” while visiting the Paradise Coast.
Visitors can take a walk on the wild side at Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens. Named “Best Place to Take the Kids” by Gulfshore Life Magazine, the 52-acre, nationally accredited zoo and historic botanical gardens feature tropical ambiance, exciting wildlife shows, and hundreds of animals, from tigers to African Wild Dogs to antelope. In 2008 two rare fosas, predators from Madagascar, took up residence, and in 2009, the zoo opened its Black Bear Hammock, the southeast’s largest zoo exhibit for black bears. It will be a stretch, but the zoo will welcome giraffes in 2011. Guests can wander the many walking trails or cruise a lake populated by islands that provide cage-free homes to lemurs, apes and monkeys.
Rookery Bay Reserve represents one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. Visitors can explore an amazing world within the 110,000 acres of pristine mangrove forest, uplands and protected waters of Rookery Bay.
Families will enjoy the Sun-N-Fun Lagoon Water Park, offering five waterslides, a Lazy River, a heated family pool, children’s activity wading area and special pool for 5-12 year olds.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Naples Nature Center is just down the road from Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, with various educational exhibits allowing adventurous visitors to touch a snake, count an alligator’s teeth, and explore Southwest Florida’s natural side with a narrated boat tour. The 14-acre conservancy offers narrated boat rides, trails, and, for the truly adventurous, canoe and kayak rentals to explore the natural waterways of the Gordon River. Narrated cruises and sunset cruises on the Cocohatchee River take visitors through a pristine mangrove estuary, home to a variety of bird species, at the Cocohatchee Nature Center. Cruise passengers often spot marine life, such as manatees and dolphins, during their voyage. The 166-acre Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park features beaches lined with sea oats and cabbage palms, along with wooded trails. Known for its mile-long, unspoiled, natural beach, the park also offers picnic facilities, an observation tower, and educational summer sea turtle programs.
Cruise the streets of Naples and take in the warm Florida sun and cool gulf breeze on a Segway. Naples Segway at the Experience Naples visitor center offers guided Segway tours through downtown Naples. Segway not your style? Biking is another great option in Naples. In fact, the city recently added several bikeways.
History and train buffs alike enjoy the Naples Depot & Lionel Museum Train Display located in Naples’ first passenger train station. Collier County’s newest historical museum, the Naples Depot allows guests to relive Florida’s early railroading days with exhibits featuring a Seminole dugout canoe, antique swamp buggy, and restored railroad cars. Children delight at the miniature train rides and extensive model railroad layout. The Naples Depot is listed on the National Register of Historical Places
Tours by Land and by Sea
See the best of Naples while onboard a vintage trolley cable car on the Naples Trolley Tour. Hop on and off at 23 stops on this narrated tour, which departs every hour from convenient locations around the Naples area. Those visitors wanting to stretch their sea legs may opt for a relaxing cruise or a dolphin watch or shelling excursion aboard the lovely catamaran, Sweet Liberty. Another option is the Naples Princess, a luxurious yacht offering sightseeing, lunch, sunset hors d’oeurves and sunset dinner cruises daily. Cruise Naples offers sightseeing cruises aboard its Double Sunshine double-decker boat, fishing charters and JetSki rentals and tours from the docks at Tin City. The Dolphin Explorer, sailing from nearby Marco Island, welcomes passengers on board to serve as citizen scientists alongside naturalists studying the resident dolphin population for the 10,000 Island Dolphin Project. Special group charters are available from Port O’ Call marina in Naples.
Tee Off Inn-Style
With nearly 1,600 beautifully-designed holes of golf, Naples is a perennial hotspot for golfers of all skill levels. PGA TOUR® professionals Jim Hardy and Peter Jacobsen designed Hammock Bay, an 18-hole luxury golf course with 6,912 yards and a par-72 layout. The course embraces the lush Florida landscape, creating a balanced mix of natural beauty and challenging holes that golfers love. Tiburon is known for its two challenging courses, Gold and Black. One of only seven Greg Norman courses found in the US, it boasts a unique combination of stacked sod wall bunkers, an absence of rough, spectacular green surrounds and tricky coquina shell areas. Designated by Golfweek as one of “America’s Best” and given a four-star rating by Golf Digest, the Flamingo Island Course at the Lely Resort in Naples offers hourglass fairways and countless fingered sand bunkers designed by golf mastermind, Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The Mustang Course at the Lely Resort was expertly crafted by golf great Lee Trevino and follows his philosophy of making the game challenging, but fair for the average golfer.
Posh Paintings & Performances
Truly a world-class facility with performances of the same caliber, the Philharmonic Center for the Arts hosts events every year, with everything from plays, to dance and art shows for Naples visitors and residents. Attached to the Philharmonic, the 30,000-square-foot Naples Museum of Art allows visitors to peruse 15 galleries, a glass dome conservatory, entrance gates by renowned metal artist Albert Paley and spectacular chandeliers and a Persian ceiling by acclaimed glass artist Dale Chihuly. The museum displays permanent collections as well as traveling exhibits. Located next door to The Inn on Fifth is the Sugden Community Theatre, home of the Naples Players, a 40-year-old community theater troupe. The gorgeous, multi-million dollar theater on Fifth Avenue features a main theater, studio theater, and outdoor stage. Located one block from The Inn on Fifth, the von Liebig Art Center showcases work from local, national and international artists and collections.
Shopping in Naples
From top fashion designer collections to incredible discounts at outlet stores, the shopping experience in Naples offers something for everyone. The Inn on Fifth is situated at the center of upscale Fifth Avenue South, lined with a fashionable blend of stylish boutiques, unique shops and one-of-a-kind art galleries. Third Street South is on the National Register of Historic Places and has retained many of the original structures. Today, the stylish, flower-filled shopping district has the world’s first street concierge, situated in an outdoor gazebo. Formerly an oyster processing plant, Tin City is a lively and colorful tin-roofed complex offering more than 32 shops and three delectable Florida restaurants. The Village on Venetian Bay takes shoppers to a canal-side town in Italy with its waterside shopping and colorful Mediterranean-style architecture. The charming and elegant village provides more than 40 exquisite shops, art galleries and gourmet restaurants. World-class shopping is at its best at the outdoor Waterside Shops, with 60 distinctive shops and restaurants including Saks Fifth Avenue, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., and Kate Spade. The Mercato provides visitors with high-end national fashion retailers, restaurants, outdoor cafés and a luxury movie theatre. The recently expanded Coastland Center surrounds shoppers in a Key West-style atmosphere, featuring 150 stores including large national chain department stores and a variety of specialty stores. Bargain shoppers also have access to Miromar Outlets, located just 15 minutes north of Naples. With more than 140 brand name factory outlets, the outdoor mall offers top notch designers such as Adidas, Escada, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor. The new Coconut Point Mall in Bonita springs offers 130 stores, shops and restaurants for shoppers to enjoy, including favorites such as Sephora, Coach, Coldwater Creek, Brookstone and Super Target.
Marco Island & Everglades City – Explore the wilds of The Everglades and the rustic town of Everglades City, just 45 minutes east of Naples. Marco Island, 20 minutes from downtown Naples, is located at the southernmost tip of mainland Florida’s west coast, and the largest inhabited isle of the “Ten Thousand Islands.” At Everglades Area Tours, Capt. Charles Wright sets guests up with the adventure of your choice, including kayak eco and fishing tours, kayak camping excursions, fishing charters, bicycle and aerial tours. Adventurous explorers can hop aboard Speedy Johnson’s Airboat Rides to zip through mangrove jungles and grasslands. For a gentler experience, visitors can join captains Barry and Carol on their Manatee Sightseeing Adventure where guests will visit a manatee hideout and get up close and personal with the sea cows.
Immokalee/Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary – Spend the afternoon at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, an 11,000-acre preserve that is the “crown jewel” of the National Audubon Society’s sanctuary system. Named as a Gateway Site for the southern section of the Great Florida Birding Trail, the sanctuary is home to hundreds of native and migratory bird species, alligators, bears, deer and more. A spectacular and rare ghost orchid has bloomed with multiple blossoms for the past three summers and is visible from the sanctuary’s boardwalk with the aid of a viewing scope or binoculars.
Lover’s Key State Park – Fishing, biking, camping, canoeing and kayaking are all offered at Lover's Key, only 10 minutes north of Naples. The north side of the island features natural canals and tidal lagoons fringed with mangroves, which support an array of fish and diverse aquatic animals. Accessible by foot or boat, the park has modern bathhouses, picnic shelters, hiking trails and beautiful remote beaches. For those looking for a unique experience, the park offers adventure paddling day trips, including a visit to Mound Key to see Calusa Indian-built shell mounds, and overnight tours with experienced guides are available.
Paddling Trails - The Paradise Coast Blueway is Collier County’s system of paddling trails, providing GPS-marked routes through some of Southwest Florida’s most pristine estuarine environments. Phase One includes paddling trails in the Ten Thousand Islands region between Everglades City and Goodland on Marco Island. The Blueway system is identified using virtual trail routes marked by GPS coordinates. Phase One includes one long route and six shorter day trip routes. Eventually the Paradise Coast Blueway will identify paddling trails throughout Collier County.
Fishing Excursions – Catch the “big one” on one of many fishing boat charters in the area. Specific tours explore the fertile waters of Rookery Bay and Ten Thousand Islands for snook, redfish, tarpon and other game fish species. Bass, crappie and blue gill can be found in fresh water at Lake Trafford, while the deep waters play home to grouper and snapper.
The concierge at The Inn on Fifth will be happy to find a fishing charter that meets your needs.
Experienced fishermen also have the option of renting a boat at one of the many area marinas and heading out into the fertile waters on their own. Of course, the historic, 1,000-foot-long Naples Pier is a perfect alternative for those wanting to stay on dry land. The City of Naples provides a blanket fishing license for the pier, so anyone can fish there whether they have a Florida fishing license or not.
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