Want to know how to live like a local in Naples, FL? Or maybe you or someone you know is thinking about moving to Naples Florida. If the answer is yes, make sure to read this first. Besides the obvious reasons, like an average temperature of 75℉ and beautiful beaches, Naples has a lot to offer. I’ve lived here for five years. My only regret is that I didn’t move sooner. Website visitflorida.com perfectly describes Naples as, “high-end shopping, world-class culture and sophisticated dining. ( . . . ) also an affordable family destination that appeals to nature lovers and beach aficionados.” For the third year in a row, Naples was named by Coastal Living Magazine as The Happiest and Healthiest Place to Live in America. Continue reading and you will be packing your bags either for a vacation or to load the moving truck!
Naples by the Numbers
- Hours of sunshine per year: 2,900
- Sunny days per year: 300
- Miles of white sandy beaches: 10+
- City size: 16.45 square miles
- City of Naples Population: 21,948 
- Metro Area Population: 322,000
- Median Household Income: $84,830 
- Median closed home price: $335,000 
- Median Property Value: $770,000 
- Championship golf courses: 80+
In Naples, we are fortunate to enjoy a sub-tropical climate with an average temperature of 75°F. With over 2,900 hours of sunshine, it is the perfect location for those seeking their daily dose of vitamin D. Our rainy season begins in late May and runs into the month of September. Typical rainfall is about 50 inches annually. When it’s not rainy season, we might get an occasional shower. The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1st and ends November 30th. Floridians pay close attention to hurricane forecasts and prepare accordingly. Fortunately, we have enough notice to prepare our homes and evacuate; if needed. Most of our days are spent basking in the wonderful sunshine, gentle breezes and swaying palm trees. There’s a reason why the Naples area is called the Paradise Coast.
Who doesn’t love being at the beach with their toes in the sand, surrounded by beautiful blue water and palm trees? Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, Naples has more than 10 miles of wonderful beaches. The Naples Pier is a well-known landmark popular with photographers, tourists and locals. There are several beaches in Naples - just bring a chair, towel, a good book and simply enjoy. If you have time, stay for the magnificent sunset. There’s nothing like watching the sun slowly fade into the Gulf of Mexico. Here are a few of my favorite beach-areas in Naples;
Barefoot Beach County Preserve, 503 Barefoot Beach Road
Barefoot Beach has it all - butterfly & cactus gardens, one mile walking trail, showers, restrooms, Doc’s Beach House and other restaurants within walking distance like Coconut Jack’s and The Fish House. If you are a Collier County resident, make sure to park in the lot that is free to Collier County residents, with valid beach sticker. It’s a bit tricky to find. When you make a left off of Bonita Beach Road onto Barefoot Beach Boulevard, make a quick right to find your way to the correct parking lot.
Clam Pass Park, Seagate Drive & Crayton Road
Located in North Naples, Clam Pass Park is one of the most popular beach areas in Naples. It has 35 acres of coastal habitat, a .75 mile boardwalk, tram to the beach, a restaurant and restrooms. The Naples Grande operates the bar and restaurant along with beach chair/towel service. There is a terrific children’s area to dig in the sand, complete with umbrella coverage and plenty of sand toys to keep them entertained. The tram runs every 15 minutes and is a fun way to arrive at the beach. With only 171 parking spots, plan to arrive early. Clam Pass Park is open daily from 8 am until sunset. If you are a Collier County resident with valid beach sticker, parking is free. Without a valid sticker, it’s currently $8.
Delnor Wiggins State Park, 11135 Gulf Shore Drive
This beach is known for winding paths, natural dune areas and nature-watching. There is a concession stand near parking lot four where you can not only purchase food, but rent paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, umbrellas and beach chairs. There is a $6 fee per vehicle. It is a State Park, so Collier County beach stickers do not waive the parking fee. Delnor Wiggins State Park is open daily from 8 am until sundown.
Lowdermilk Park, 1301 Gulfshore Boulevard North
Parking can be a challenge at this beach with limited spots available. Even more coveted and limited than a parking spot are the tiki huts. They are perfectly perched along the dunes and provide ample shade for your beach experience. If you have young children, choose your place in the sand close to the restrooms, showers and concessions. If you plan to spend the day, stop at Publix on Route 41 across from Coastland Mall and get your Pub Subs, snacks and drinks. Collier County residents with a valid beach sticker enjoy free parking. Non-residents pay for parking at the meters.
Naples Pier Beach Area, 12th Avenue South
Naples Pier is a must see if you are visiting Naples. The Pier is iconic and a well-known beach spot for locals and tourists. The Pier was redone after Hurricane Irma and still offers food options from Cosmos Ristorante & Pizzeria, showers and restrooms. It is a terrific spot for fishing, dolphin-spotting and to watch the stunning sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. When you visit The Naples Pier, you are within walking distance to so many great restaurants and shops on Third Street South and surrounding areas.
Photo Credit: Hilda Champion
Vanderbilt Beach Park, Vanderbilt Beach Road
This is by far, my favorite beach area in Naples. If you choose the right sandy spot for your beach chairs, you will be just a short toes-in-the-sand walk away from Gumbo Limbo at The Ritz-Carlton. As you walk to Gumbo Limbo you’ll think you’re suddenly on a tropical island. The meandering, tiki torch lit boardwalk takes you on a path over water and natural landscapes. All while being serenaded by the perfect beach vibes playlist. If you pick the right day, you might get to enjoy a live band playing an event at The Ritz-Carlton. Arrive early to grab a prime location to watch the sunset while enjoying an expertly crafted island-style drink, sandwich or seafood meal. They are open daily 11 am until 8:30 pm. Besides access to great food, you will find concessions, beach chairs, cabanas and restrooms. Vanderbilt Beach is open daily from 8 am until sunset.
What to Do in Naples
There is always something to do in the Naples area. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you have found the right place to explore. Love adventure? We’ve got that, too. Looking to relax? No problem.
Celebration Park, 2880 Becca Avenue
Looking for a lively venue to enjoy a variety of food and drinks? This will become your go-to place in Naples. Featuring eight food trucks, including Shark Tank famous Cousins Maine Lobster, Red’s Pizza, Gyros 2 Go and more, there is a dining option that will work for even the pickiest eaters. The bar offers drink specials, called COD (cocktail of the day) as you are entertained by local bands. If you are looking for something a little different, try a cruise on the Tiki Hut or Pedal Power boats. While you are there, take a quick walk over the bridge to Three60 Market for the best wine selection and prices in town.
Off The Hook Comedy Club, 2500 Vanderbilt Beach Road
Need a good laugh? Get your tickets to see nationally known performers like, Chad Prather, Bert Ernst, Erik Myers and so many others. Comedians are hilarious, food and drinks are great and service is always exceptional.
5th Avenue South, from Tamiami Trail to the Gulf of Mexico
5th Avenue South is the pulse of Naples. The vibe is casual, but with an upscale feel. It's a great place to spend an afternoon wandering in-and-out of the many locally-owned retail shops, with an occasional stop at one of the restaurants to enjoy a wonderful meal and an expertly crafted drink. You will also find arts & entertainment venues and many special events year round. Or just enjoy a stroll up and down the iconic "Main Street" lined with Royal Palms and tropical flora. In the evenings, the Palms are beautifully lit, making the entire stretch of Fifth Avenue South a magical place to be. Some of my favorites on Fifth Avenue South;
- Ocean Prime - Always provides top notch service, vibrant scene, and great happy hour menu.
- La Trattoria - If you're looking for a quaint, friendly, family-owned Italian restaurant, this is it. The food is wonderful, service is attentive and the cozy design will make you feel right at home.
- Hobnob Kitchen & Bar - A lively restaurant, terrific bartenders and great happy hour menu. This is my favorite place to dine on Halloween night. Enjoy great food while seeing many in creative costumes.
- Caffé Milano - Friendly service and great for people watching, Caffe Milano is welcoming and never disappoints. This is also a happy hour favorite.
- Molto Trattoria Caffé & Pizzeria - Their motto is simply my mom in the kitchen. You’ll feel like you’re at an Italian family dinner complete with vibrant conversation, lively atmosphere and lots of laughter. All pastas are made in-house. Try the mushroom truffle pasta, add in some shrimp. It’s amazing!
- Gelato & Company - Instead of an after dinner drink enjoy an in-house made gelato, beautifully created desserts and fresh coffee, espresso and more.
- Bistro 821 - Locally owned and operated since 1994.
- Seventh South Craft Food + Drink - Craft food and beer is their specialty with a focus in quality ingredients and hospitality.
- The French - The French is one of my favorite places for lunch with friends. Enjoy wonderful menu options outside in the courtyard, try a signature frose and relax Naples style.
- Naples Soap Company - Need a last minute gift? Stop in at Naples Soap Company for sea salt scrubs, naturally better skin care, bath bombs and so much more!
- Peach Tree Designs - Looking for an unusual decorative accessory for your home? Make this your first stop for artwork, hostess gifts and more.
Mercato, 9132 Strada Place
Anchored by Whole Foods Market and Silverspot Cinema, Mercato is a fun place to shop and dine. There are many dining options for everyone's taste buds. AZN Azian Cuizine, Bravo! Cucina Italiana. Burntwood Tavern, Capital Grille, Bar Tulia, Hampton Social, Rocco's Tacos, The Pub and more. Mercato often has events on the lawn opposite Silverspot. Mercato hosts Cars and Coffee 239 event where all makes and all models are welcome. It's the third Sunday of the month and always draws a fantastic crowd. In season, parking can be a bit challenging. Thankfully, many locations offer valet parking.
Cars & Coffee 239
Photo Credit: Cars & Coffee 239
Pure Florida, 1200 Fifth Avenue South
If you feel the need for speed book a one hour jet boat ride leaving from Tin City. The guide will take you on a thrilling ride with 360-degree turns guaranteed to make you laugh and love every minute of this ride. If you are lucky, you will see dolphins jumping and many native birds nesting in the mangroves. Pure Florida also offers sunset cruises, boat rentals, eco tours, fishing charters and jet ski rentals.
Revs Institute, 2500 South Horseshoe Drive
According to their website, "Revs presents the Miles Collier Collections of over one hundred significant automobiles built between 1896 and 1995. The automobiles on display at Revs are some of the rarest and most important cars ever built at anytime, anywhere. They are the ones that variously blazed technical pathways, redefined aesthetic standards, made history, and changed the world." If you have even the slightest interest in automobiles, their history or preservation, this is a must-visit museum. As you wander the building, take advantage of the knowledgeable docents. They will provide you with as much or as little information as you'd like. Advanced reservations are required. Photo credit: Mark Ghorayeb
Photo Credit: Mark Ghorayeb
Seed To Table, 4835 Immokalee Road
If you dislike grocery shopping, Seed to Table is going to change your weekly shopping trip to a time you actually look forward to. This 75,000 square foot farmer's market inspired store is nothing like your traditional grocery store. The smell of fresh produce, baked goods, pasta, freshly prepared foods and more greet your senses from the moment you step foot inside this trendsetting market. Enjoy a freshly squeezed juice or glass of wine as you wander the store in search of the perfect items to add to your shopping cart. Celebrate the weekend with nightly entertainment from local favorites Jason Beal, Powerhouse, DJ Mitch and so many more.
Third Street South
If you love to people watch this is your place to be. Third Street South offers many great shopping and dining options including;
- Jane’s Cafe - great breakfast and lunch with vegan options
- Veranda E - outdoor dining at it’s best. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a quaint European town
- Tommy Bahama - great seafood options and attentive service
- Campiello’s Ristorante - authentic Italian food served in the perfect courtyard location
- Tony’s off Third - perfect for coffee, dessert and to people watch
- Bleu Provence - won many awards for their wine and food
- The Bevy - a notable Naples hotspot known for wonderful food and drinks
Tin City, 1200 Fifth Avenue South
Tin City is a historic marketplace in downtown Naples. It's home to 30 charming shops and restaurants including; Pinchers, Riverwalk and Naples Soap Company. There are three buildings where visitors can wander and explore. Have lunch with a water view, cool off with ice cream then enjoy walking on the boardwalk watching boaters go by.
Shoppes at Vanderbilt, 2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road
With over 300,000 square feet of retail space, Shoppes at Vanderbilt is home to many businesses including;
- Naples Wine Collection - wander and find the perfect bottle (or two) then dine next door
- The Cave Bistro and Wine Bar - perfect for small plates and wines by the glass
- Mister 01 Extraordinary Pizza - great, trendy local spot for pizza and service with a smile
- Title Boxing Club - with multiple classes daily, now's your change to become "title tough"
- Ninja Hibachi Steakhouse - fun hibachi shows and great food
- Nawty Hogg BBQ - delicious BBQ and weekly car shows
Stop by on Saturdays from 8 am until 1 pm for an amazing Farmer's Market; operating year round. Check their Facebook page for special events including car shows and Toys for Tots Christmas Lights Trolley Tour pickup location.
Parks & Recreation
Baker Park, at Goodlette-Frank Road and Central Avenue
Enjoy the recently completed renovations and additions at Baker Park. This wonderful park connects Central Avenue and Downtown Naples to the Blair Foundation Bridge and the Gordon River Greenway. There is a kayak launch, picnic shelters, playground, splash pad, grassy knoll observation area, outdoor fitness facilities and so much more. It’s a great place to wander and look at nature. The Gordon River Greenway trail is just about a mile walk and has many scenic areas where you can stop and enjoy the view. Bring a book, lunch, your dog... and just relax and enjoy the beautifully planned 15 acre park.
Freedom Park, at 1515 Golden Gate Parkway
Turtles, including a Florida softshell
Cambier Park, 755 8th Avenue South
Cambier Park is just under 13 acres right in the middle of downtown Naples. It is easily accessed walking from 5th Avenue South, Third Street South and surrounding areas. While there you can be as active or as quiet as you choose. Home to the Arthur L. Allen tennis center, shuffleboard and bocce courts, a softball field, covered pavilion and playground. This park is popular with locals and tourists. The Sunday Concert Series is a favorite. Bring your own chair or blanket and enjoy the music.
Fleischmann Park, 1600 Fleischmann Boulevard
Located between Goodlette-Frank Road and Route 41, across from Coastland Mall, this park offers;
- Four lighted racquetball courts
- Three lighted base/softball fields
- Two lighted sand volleyball courts
- Two lighted multipurpose courts (pickleball/basketball)
- Lighted football field and practice field
- Toddler playground (Ages 1-5)
- School age children playground (Ages 6-12) with sun shades and water splash zone
- The Edge Johnny Nocera Skate Park
- Several picnic pavilions
- Restrooms with water fountains
- Community Center: Two dance studios, main room, game room, and meeting rooms
You can easily spend the day at this park. If you get hungry walk across the street to Coastland Center Mall and enjoy The Cheesecake Factory, Aurelio’s Pizzeria and the food court.
Naples Dog Park, 99 Riverside Circle
With 1.35 acres of fenced, lush grass area, there is a room for dogs of all sizes to run and play. The South section is for larger dogs, while the North section is for smaller dogs. The Palmer House offers shade, seating and water. The park is open from dawn to dusk. Dogs must be registered and up-to-date on all shots and have a Collier County license.
River Park Aquatic Center, 451 11th Street North
River Park Aquatic Center features year-round free general admission. The heated pool offers six lap lanes, a teaching pool where the 47' slide and a beach entry pool with interactive water features. They have restrooms and showers at the park.
Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive
Relax at this park's freshwater beach alongside the 60-acre Lake Avalon. Sugden Regional Park hosts Pro Watercross World Championships, Legends Concert series benefitting fallen officers and so much more;
- Water skiing
- Sailing classes
- Paddle Boat rentals
- Walking path around the lake
- Picnic areas
Sugden Regional Park hosts an annual Fourth of July celebration very popular with locals. Open daily from 8 am until sunset.
Where Locals Dine
- The Cafe, 821 5th Avenue South - All I have to say is lobster omelette. The Cafe is my favorite breakfast place for omelettes and fresh juices. Try the immunity or a shot of ginger and turmeric.
- Capriccio's Italian, 2344 Pine Ridge Rd - I don't think they've changed a thing since they opened and that's a good thing. Food is plentiful and service is like you're dining with family guaranteed to always make you feel welcome. If you don't see it on the menu, just ask.
- Cosmos Cafe and Pizzeria, 536 Tamiami Trail North - If you're looking for a friendly place where you'll feel like family, go visit Gianluca and his staff at Cosmos. In season, prepare to wait or go early. It's a popular spot for locals.
- Deep Lagoon Seafood & Fishmarket, 10395 Tamiami Trail North - Dine in or take it with you for a home-cooked seafood meal. Their chowder and coconut shrimp are the best in Naples.
- Jane’s Garden Cafe, 1209 Third Street South - My favorite is the vegan rancheros with multigrain toast. Everything is fresh and flavorful. It can get a little warm in the outdoor courtyard. Position yourself within reach of one of the many fans.
- Kareem's Lebanese Kitchen, 4270 Tamiami Trail East - Looking for something other than the usual? This is the place. Not sure what to order? Start with Chef Rachid's Platter. It gives you a terrific sampling.
- Moura’s Bistro, 3369 Pine Ridge Road - Craving authentic Lebanese food? Stop in and see the owner, Nabil. His mouth watering dishes are only topped by his outgoing personality, always making everyone feel welcome.
- Mr. Big Fish, 754 Neopolitan Way - It's a local hangout with the best seafood in town. Great food and service. If you're from New England, you'll appreciate that they offer haddock.
- Namba Ramen & Sushi, 8847 Tamiami Trail North - It's a small place, but worth the wait. Wonderful food in an intimate setting.
- Hogfish Harry's, 600 Neapolitan Way - Self described as, "Hidden in a tucked away island oasis in the heart of Naples, Hogfish Harry’s captures the essence of tropical dining through eclectic coastal delights and refined seafood creations." Enjoy your walk to the restaurant crossing a quaint bridge and stopping for a moment to watch the turtles swimming below.
- Organically Twisted, 13040 Livingston Road - Stop in for a healthy vegetarian, vegan or gluten free option. Lunch is created with care by John and his small friendly team. Order yours rolled or bowled. You can never go wrong with John's daily specials.
- Pelagos Cafe, 4951 Tamiami Trail North - Nothing fancy, but great falafels and hummus. Family owned and operated, it's another local favorite.
- Real Macaw, 3275 Bayshore Drive - Travel to the Caribbean without getting on a plane. The Real Macaw is a mix between island vibes and Key West cool. The courtyard is charming with string lights and lush foliage in an intimate setting. It’s a local favorite so make sure you have a reservation.
- Steamers of Naples, 5317 Airport Pulling Rd N - This hole-in-the-wall New England style seafood restaurant will make you feel like you're at a roadside stand in Maine. It is 100% not fancy. But, the food is the best seafood I've had in Naples. Their lobster rolls, lazy lobster and Manhattan chowder are must-haves.
- Swan River, 3741 Tamiami Trail North - Known for their crab cakes, this is the perfect place to grab seafood in Naples. My favorite entrees are fish and chips and shrimp scampi. Swan River also has a fish market - terrific if you are having guests for dinner. Only downside is that their wine list by the glass is limited.
- Tacos & Tequila, 4834 Davis Boulevard - With two local locations, this local favorite is about to become a franchise opportunity. Stop in when they offer two-for-one margaritas. Raspberry is my favorite. They have many taco options for vegetarians, too. Try the Idaho. So good!
- Taqueria San Julian 2, 3575 Bayshore Drive - Small and authentic, you won't leave hungry.
- 21 Spices by Chef Asif, 4270 Tamiami Trail East #21 - Go there not only for the food, but the ambiance and interior design. It's the perfect location for a date or special occasion.
Tacos & Tequila
They are always a great option for farm fresh fruits, vegetables and more. We are fortunate in Naples to have so many wonderful farmer's markets. Some operate year round; others are seasonal. Many of our markets have various vendors like;
My favorite farmer's market is year round on Saturdays at Shoppes at Vanderbilt. Take a look at the Vanderbilt Farmer's Market and Shoppes at Vanderbilt Facebook pages for up-to-date information. Most markets are pet friendly and a wonderful way to get to know your neighbors. Check my weekend blog post for a current list of farmer's markets.
Breweries on Tap
The perfect activity for a rainy SWFL day is to spend it touring some local breweries. We have many options in the Naples area. Some have full menus, others have rotating food trucks or pop-up food vendors. Most are pet friendly and welcome customers to sit back, relax and stay awhile. Remember Cheers!? Walking into our local breweries is what I imagine it was like to walk into Cheers! and have people call your name. The breweries are friendly, casual and a place to become a local where everyone knows your name.
Ankrolab Brewing Co., 3555 Bayshore Drive
Ankrolab Brewing Co. is the latest addition to the Naples area craft beer scene. Their location is perfect right along the ever-changing Bayshore Drive. It's an easy walk from Celebration Park to Ankrolab. You could make it a progressive food, beer and wine night. Start with appetizers and wine at Three60 Market. Cross the bridge to Celebration Park for a lobster roll at Cousins Maine Lobster or gyro from Gyro 2 Go. Then head back over the bridge for a short stroll to Ankrolab for an amazing beer sampler, entertainment and, of course, more food!
Make sure you sign up for my weekend blog posts to see when Asanas at Ankrolab is happening next, taught by Revival Yoga Fitness Studio.
Bone Hook Brewing Co., 1514 Immokalee Road
Located in North Naples, this brewery offers fun weekly events like Burgers & Beer, WineDown Wednesdays and Trivia Night. It's a great place to watch the game, listen to local musicians, play cornhole and enjoy gathering with friends at this newly expanded local favorite. They have an on-site kitchen, making them different from most breweries that rely on rotating food trucks to serve their customers.
Photo Credit: Bone Hook Brewery
Naples Beach Brewery, 4120 Enterprise Avenue
Naples Beach Brewery is a hidden gem tucked in an industrial park, easily accessed off of Airport-Pulling Road or Livingston Road. You will feel welcomed from the moment your eyes adjust to the dimly lit interior. They are pet friendly and offer an always changing line-up of craft beer. Order a sampler of three to five different beers. My recent favorites are Kee Lime and Bucha Town. I highly suggest you stop in when American Grilled Cheese Kitchen is there serving the most amazing macaroni and cheese and other comfort food favorites. Try the mac and cheese topped with carmelized onions and jalapenos!
Naples is well-known for cultural activities. We enjoy several theaters, presenting performing arts, visual arts and musical performances. Among them are Artis-Naples, Sugden Community Theatre and Gulfshore Playhouse. During the 2019 season, there were many well-known performers and performances including;
- Michael Feinstein
- Leslie Odom, Jr.
- Tony Bennett
- Kristin Chenoweth
- Chicago The Musical
- Guys & Dolls
- Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
I recently attended a concert by The Hit Men in the Myra J. Daniels Pavilion at Artis-Naples. With a maximum seating of 294 people, it’s an intimate setting that allows the audience to have an up close and personal experience with the performers. Artis says, “We are driven to inspire, educate and entertain by presenting world-class events that enrich our community.” It truly is a venue that inspires anyone interested in film, dance, music, visual arts and more. I’m sure there will be something at Artis-Naples to keep everyone in your family happily entertained. View their schedule, here.
In SWFL, nationally touring shows often stop at the Hertz Arena, Barbara B. Mann Center and Off the Hook Comedy Club. Some recent shows include;
- The Lion King
- Cirque du Soleil
- Country artist, Kelsea Ballerini
- Comedians, Kevin Nealon, Tommy Davidson and Jay Mohr
For visual arts, make sure to visit Naples Art Association, Artis-Naples and the many art galleries around town.
Corey Billie’s Everglades Airboat Tours, 20610 Tamiami Trail East
Corey Billie’s is nestled between Collier-Seminole State Park and Picayune Strand State Forest. On their website they describe the adventure as, “Prepare yourself for exotic tropical wildlife and lush plants as the Florida Everglades spreads out before you. During your Everglades day tour you’ll glide effortlessly through waterways and marshlands, down paths and around ponds. Be sure to keep a lookout for alligators.” The tours are led by native Floridians that know the area and wildlife well. The tour is a combination of fast-paced twists and turns amongst the natural preserve, paired with some quiet gliding above the water to watch for wildlife. You will lose your hat if it’s a big, floppy sun hat. Wear something with a strap, sunglasses are a must and it’s always a good idea in the Florida sun to protect yourself with an SPF sun shirt. Be ready for adventure and lots of laughter. Bring a group and make it even more exciting. In season, make sure to make reservations in advance.
Conservancy of SWFL, 1495 Smith Preserve Way
Located on 21 acres, the Conservancy of SWFL is dedicated to protecting the water, land and wildlife in our area. When you visit make sure to stop by the von Arx Wildlife Hospital to see some adorable patients on their way to recovery. The Christopher B. Smith preserve is home to gopher tortoises, which are protected species. Plan your visit ahead of time and book an electric boat tour along the Gordon River. It's a great way to spend an afternoon enjoying the natural habitats of SWFL.
Naples Botanical Garden, 4820 Bayshore Drive
Naples Botanical Gardens is the perfect, quiet enclave when you need a place to relax and disconnect. According to their website, “Naples Botanical Garden is 170-acre, world-class garden paradise that features plants from around the world. We are also the youngest garden in history to receive the American Public Gardens Association’s prestigious Award for Garden Excellence.” Throughout the year, they offer many events that appeal to children and adults, including interactive exhibits. Music in the Garden is a local favorite, featuring local musicians from Naples Philharmonic to solo musicians. During the holidays, this is a must visit location. Holiday lights are delightfully illuminating the garden, creating a magical pathway around the garden. While there, Fogg Cafe offers a nice selection of light bites and beverages.
Naples Zoo, 1590 Goodlette-Frank Road
Who doesn’t love wandering around a zoo? Naples Zoo is so much more than just a zoo. The nearly one mile path meanders around the property allowing visitors to enjoy being amongst the beautiful animals in a lush tropical garden setting. Watch lions, giraffes, monkeys and more as they interact with the lush habitat. In 2019, Naples Zoo celebrated 100 years as a botanical garden and 50 years as a zoo. Besides walking the zoo, they offer conservation, education and events throughout the year.
Photo Credit: Cassandra Lynn
Picayune Strand State Forest, 2121 52nd Ave. SE
Picayune Strand State Forest is 78,000-acre forest with cypress swamps, wet pine flatwoods and wet prairies. Just two miles north of Naples, it is Florida's fourth largest State forest. The Belle Meade Tract offers a 22-mile equestrian trail. There is also the Sabal Palm hiking trail that is 3.2 miles and allows hikers to see not only cypress trees that are more than 100 years old but wood storks, hairy woodpeckers and red-cockaded woodpeckers and many other native Florida wildlife. It's the perfect location for the amateur and professional photographer.
Hammond Stadium, 14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers
Home to the Fort Myer’s Miracle and Minnesota Twins Spring Training, Hammond Stadium is a great option for reasonable family fun. They often have Fireworks Friday events, DQ Family Funday and charity events during the games. Hammond Stadium offers single ticket purchase, season tickets, outdoor hospitality areas and suites. Check my weekend blog posts for upcoming events.
Hertz Arena, 11000 Everblades Parkway, Estero
Hertz Arena is home to the Florida Everblades and Gulf Coast Fire Arena Football team. If you go to watch the Everblades, bundle up. It’s kept around 60 degrees during games.
JetBlue Park, 11500 Fenway South Drive, Fort Myers
Also known as Fenway South, JetBlue Park is home to the Boston Red Sox during Spring Training. It is a family-friendly place to enjoy some great baseball, food and entertainment. Pay attention to your seat selection, though. Depending on time of day, many seats are in direct sun and it gets HOT. Choose your seats wisely and make sure you bring sun protection.
Where to Stay When Visiting
Edgewater Beach Hotel, 1901 Gulf Shore Boulevard North
Voted as 2018 Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards #8 Top Hotels in Florida, Edgewater Beach Hotel lives up to it's reputation. It is perfectly situated on the Gulf of Mexico and offers a charming all-suites boutique experience. Coast restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Enjoy the sunset with light bites at the Pool Bar.
Inn at Pelican Bay, 800 Vanderbilt Beach Road
Begin your day with a complimentary hot breakfast and then gather your beach belongings and hop on a beach buggy that takes you directly to Vanderbilt Beach. With only 100 recently renovated, spacious guest rooms, you will notice the boutique feel, attention to details and impeccable service. They do not have an on-site restaurant, but they are close to many wonderful shopping and dining options.
La Playa Beach & Golf Resort, 9891 Gulf Shore Drive
Where do I begin? La Playa is perfectly placed on the Gulf of Mexico, surrounded by lush tropical plants and a property that will transport you back to Old-Style Florida, but with modern updates and amenities. Guest accommodations are spacious and impeccably maintained. When you walk in, take a deep breath and enjoy your surroundings. You will instantly feel like you are "home" and won't want to leave. Reserve an exclusive poolside cabana package to truly experience the luxury at La Playa. While enjoying your stay, don't miss the sunset while enjoying dinner and drinks at BALEEN. Book weeks before you arrive. BALEEN is a hot spot for locals and tourists and the prime sunset times book quickly.
Naples Grande Beach Resort, 475 Seagate Drive
Conveniently located right near Clam Pass Park, Naples Grande offers golf cart shuttles to the beach where you can relax under a cabana or umbrella. There is a children’s area complete with all the tools needed to build a great sand castle. With chairs, towels, food and drinks beachside, you can stay for the day. Besides wonderful beach access, they offer a resort-style pool, spa services, golf, tennis and seven dining options all on-property. Naples Grande is nearby shopping and dining at Waterside Shops.
Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort, 280 Vanderbilt Beach Road
Perfectly located on the Gulf of Mexico, this is the perfect resort if you love great food, impeccable service and the beautiful sandy beach. They offer 450 luxury guest rooms, a spa, two heated outdoor pools and eight dining experiences, including the beachside Gumbo Limbo. Staying here allows you to also walk to other local restaurants along Vanderbilt Beach Road.
Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, 2600 Tiburon Drive
Located in Central Naples, if you're looking to golf, this is a great option. It's convenient to many local restaurants, Shoppes at Vanderbilt is across the street and it's only a short drive away from the beaches and all that Downtown has to offer.
It's certainly not on anyone's list to need medical care while on vacation, but it does happen. If you need to see a doctor or nurse practicioner, but it's not an emergency room-level visit here are some options;
Advance Medical, 720 Goodlette Road
Advance Medical is a family practice, walk-in and urgent care facility with many doctors and nurses on staff. They are open late and on weekends, They do take appointments and walk-ins are welcome. Some insurance plans are accepted. Call ahead to check on your coverage.
Collier Urgent Care, Two Locations
Collier Urgent Care has two convenient locations staffed by board certified physicians and experienced nurses. Both offer x-rays and laboratory work on-site. Insurance is accepted. Call ahead to check on your coverage.
NCH, 11190 Health Park Boulevard
This was my choice when my kids were younger. They have an excellent children's emergency room. Each time I visited, we were immediately taken into a room and evaluated by a doctor or nurse. It is conveniently located off of Immokalee Road. NCH has multiple locations including;
- NCH Baker Hospital Downtown, 350 7th Street
- NCH Healthcare Northeast - Emergency Department, 15420 Collier Boulevard
- NCH Southeast - Immediate Care, 7717 Collier Boulevard
- Vanderbilt - Immediate Care, 801 Vanderbilt Beach Road
ER QuickCare, 13030 Livingston Road #3
Enjoy Your Stay in Naples
When you visit Naples it's so easy just to stay at your hotel and enjoy the beach, pool and on-property restaurants. Or, maybe venture to Fifth Avenue South or Third Street South. Those areas are great even for locals. But, there is so much more to Naples if you get out and explore a little bit. I hope this guide gives you some ideas during your visit. If you’re still wondering how to live like a local in Naples, FL post on my Live Like a Local group on Facebook.
Any places I should add to this post? Comment HERE to let me know where you are from and what you’ve done in Naples while visiting.
Enjoy your time in Naples!
Weekend Adventures Await
Looking for something to do this weekend? Each Thursday, I share a new weekend blog post featuring events happening on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Naples area.
Unless otherwise noted, photo credited to Sonja Pound.
How to Live Like a Local in Naples, Florida
 2017 Estimate |  https://datausa.io/profile/geo/naples-fl/ |  NABOR, February 2019