Naples often brings to mind high-end shopping and world-class culture for travelers, but this family-friendly destination draws in thousands of nature and beach lovers each year. Plus, the area's desirable climate means there's never a bad time to visit.
Naples' history dates back to the late 1860s when Roger Gordon and Joe Wiggins arrived. Then, in 1887, Walter Haldeman and his associates purchased the town and began turning it into the Naples we know today. Celebrities including Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone and Gary Cooper all made a visit here, so this place has been attracting visitors for some time. You'll see the city's preservation of its past and the steps Naples locals are taking to keep it a top vacation destination for many years to come.
Naples Activities and Attractions
The city's location on the Gulf of Mexico means it offers plenty of beach access. There are 22 access areas in the Naples area which means you're guaranteed to find a relaxing place everyone in the family can enjoy. Whether you want to build sand castles, go for a swim or try out a new water sport, Naples is the place to do it. Some popular spots for a little fun in the sun include Parkshore Beach, Hideaway Beach, Naples Pier, Sanibel Causeway Beach and Lynn Hall Memorial Park.
Naples is also in close proximity to the Florida Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S. and protects the habitat of thousands of endangered animals including manatees, crocodiles and panthers. Ten Thousand Islands is also a national park and a nursery ground for a number of marine species. Visiting Ten Thousand Islands means you can explore places such as Turner River, Sandfly Island or Halfway Creek.
The Naples Zoo and Caribbean Gardens is the perfect place to take the kids during your stay. A ticket to the zoo includes a primate expedition cruise, Meet the Keeper series, Alligator Bay hand-feeding fun, all animal exhibits, Safari Canyon Theater Shows and the historic tropical garden. Animals at the zoo include lions, kangaroos and monkeys as well as more rare creatures such as the Asian deer that barks and eats meat.
You'll want to visit historic downtown Naples during your vacation. Winter visitors first started to flood the area in the 1930s at Fifth Avenue. When the city was in its early beginnings, there were only a few businesses downtown at the junction known as Four Corners. The occasional car would pass by and the train depot was built just a block away. As more visitors stopped in the city, it blossomed and the residents of Naples wanted to preserve the past so future generations could see where it all started.
Things to Do in Naples
Shopping: Naples is well known as a shopping destination and something you'll have to experience for yourself before you leave. The top spots in the city are located along Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South. Some of the stores you'll find on Fifth Avenue include Back of the Bay Boutique, The Wind in the Willows, Kay's on the Beach, Julie's of Naples and Island Trends. Third Street South has been a shopping mecca since the 1930s. In this historic part of the city there are stores selling apparel, art and antiques.
Dining: There are restaurants, cafes and bistros throughout the city that will satisfy whatever type of food you're craving. Third Street South and Fifth Street South remain the hot spots for dining locations but don't be afraid to check out some stops off the beaten path. When you meander down Third Street, visit places such as Handsome Harry's, Sea Salt and Jane's Cafe. Restaurants and cafes on Fifth Street include Bistro 821, Chops City Grill and Altin's Cafe and Grill.
Golfing: The Naples area is known as the "Golf Capital of the World," due to the more than 80 championship golf courses that are found here - obviously, you will have to problem working on your swing or finding a fairway. There are more holes per capita in Naples than in any other community, so don't forget to bring your clubs. There are a number of public access golf clubs and courses including High Point, Panther Run, Rivera, Vanderbilt, Links of Naples, Golden Gate and Cypress Woods.
Historic Sites: Among the various historic sites in the Naples area is the Naples Seaboard Air Line Railway Station. This depot is located off Fifth Avenue South and was constructed in 1927. The Collier County Museum restored it as the Naples Depot Museum and features railroads, dugout canoes and a swamp buggy. You can visit the Naples Historical Society's Historic Palm Cottage, the former summer home of Naples founder Watler Haldeman.