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    Naples in Florida: what to see in the city? Beaches and places of interest

    Who I am
    Joel Fulleda
    @joelfulleda
    SOURCES CONSULTED:

    wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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    If it is called Naples, it could only have at least one important analogy with our Naples: the sea. Yes, because this town in southwestern Florida is the destination of those who put the sea among the priorities of their vacation in Florida.

    With less than 22.000 inhabitants, it is little more than a town, but other urban areas are developing around Naples that add another 300 inhabitants to the hinterland. And among these, wealthy people abound, and by wealthy we also mean many millionaires. The reason is simple: in Naples there are beautiful beaches, tranquility and relaxation, but also many ways to have fun and pass the time.



    But if our Naples is on the same parallel as New York, and it is much easier to find Italian immigrants in the north-east of the States, why is there a place that bears the name of the Neapolitan city in this corner of Florida? The first draft of a village had been founded in 1886 and the newspapers talked about it comparing its beauty to that of the bay of Naples, in Spain, with which it also had in common the mild climate and the fruitful fishing activity. The comparison was so popular that this denomination became official.

    Index

    • Where is it and how to get there
    • Visit Naples: what to see and what to do
      • Old Naples: the historic district
      • The museums of Naples
      • Parks and gardens: nature in Naples
    • The beaches of Naples
    • Excursions nearby
      • Keewaydin Island
      • Marco Island
      • Picayune Strand State Forest
      • Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
      • Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
      • Big Cypress National Preserve
      • Everglades National Park
    • When to go to Naples? Climate and events
    • Where to eat
    • Accomodation

    Where is it and how to get there

    Naples has its own airport, but if you come here directly from Europe, you will most likely land at Miami International Airport or in one of the other major Florida airports, such as the one in Fort Lauderdale or Southwest Florida international airport: to be clear the airport of Fort Myers. The most suitable way to get around Naples from all the major airports is by car, considering that the Everglades and other natural parks connected to them occupy a large part of the south of the state, consequently reducing public transport connections.



    In any case, there are also gods bus connections: less than an hour and a half from Fort Lauderdale, about two hours from Miami and only half an hour from Fort Myers (in the latter case, however, the bus leaves the city and first you have to reach the center of Fort Myers with the airport shuttle ).

    You can check on this site if there is any link that is right for you.

    On the territory of the county of Collier, where Naples is located, if you do not have a car you can travel with CAT buses (Collier Area Transit), which connect all the localities in the area in a widespread manner. If you are traveling on an itinerant trip but this is your first stop, you may want to arrive in the city by taking the bus from the airport, travel by CAT transport and then rent the car directly in Naples so as not to waste the rental money until you leave. to other locations.

    Info and advice on car rental in Florida

    Visit Naples: what to see and what to do

    Naples is a purely tourist town and the beaches are undoubtedly its strong point. But this does not mean that we should limit ourselves to lying in the sun: a holiday here can be enriched in many ways. Let's analyze together what we can see and do during our stay.

    Are you planning a Florida tour?

    I recommend these articles:


    • How to organize a Florida tour on your own?
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    • Miami Travel Guide: Useful Tips for Planning a Vacation
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    Old Naples: the historic district


    The heart of Naples is the neighborhood known as Old Naples: the oldest and most historic part of the city. In fact, you shouldn't expect a truly ancient neighborhood, like in other cities, considering that we are in a town of the late nineteenth century that initially had less than a hundred inhabitants and therefore the first buildings were very few. However, it is from this area that every visit to Naples should start: walking along the 5th Avenue South, the long central street where shops, restaurants, art galleries and a bit of everything else to do in the city are concentrated.

    What we can consider the second most important street in the city is the 3rd Street South: close to the port and full of colorful buildings. Here the old-fashioned houses, the numerous green areas and the fountains make the walk really pleasant. The same goes for Cambier Park, the main public park in the center. During the day it is the perfect place to seek shelter from the heat in the shade of the large trees, while in the evening you can attend various entertainment events under the stars.


    The museums of Naples

    Despite being small and having a tourism based mainly on beach life, Naples also offers its visitors some museums.

    • Collier County Museum (3331, Tamiami Trail E.). As the name suggests, it is the museum that tells the history of the county, explaining its natural characteristics and deepening its main chapters of history.
    • Revs Insitute (2500 Horseshoe Dr. S.). Over 100 historic automobiles are exhibited in this museum dedicated to the evolution of the car. Next to the machines there are books, documents, catalogs and photographs that enrich the visit.
    • Depot Museum (1051 5th Avenue). In this case, not just cars, but a great variety of means of transport that have alternated throughout history. An exhibition that varies from Indian canoes to carriages, from cars to trains.

    Parks and gardens: nature in Naples


    Florida is a particularly luxuriant state, where nature is the undisputed master in large areas, such as the Everglades park, which extends not far from here. Even the city of Naples itself has its own beautiful parks and gardens, where you can immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the tropics. In addition to the aforementioned Cambier Park, here are three places to see if you want to add a touch of greenery to your vacation.

    • Botanical Garden (4820 Bayshore Dr.). The botanical garden opened in 1993 is a real explosion of nature within the city. It is home to tree and flower species from all over the world, a pond, a Balinese sanctuary and a temple. Admission is paid, but it is worth a visit.
    • Naples Zoo at Carribean Gardens (1590 Goodlette Frank Rd.). If you are traveling with children, a visit to the zoo is always a pleasure. Animals from all over the world, but in particular those with a tropical climate, are housed here among exotic plants. It is also a zoo run by a non-profit organization that uses the proceeds from the tickets to keep the zoo alive.

    If you want to immerse yourself in nature even more deeply, the surroundings of Naples offer several options. One of them is to cross the mangrove forest by canoe or on a paddleboard!

    Mangrove Canoe Tour

    Tour mangrovie in paddleboard

    The beaches of Naples

    You have already figured it out: one of the things that attracts the most tourists to Naples are its coasts overlooking the warm Gulf of Mexico, where we can find some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. If you intend to live by the sea, this is the right place, but even during your on the road a little relaxing break on an expanse of golden sand is not to be discarded. The question of course is: where to spread your beach towel? So here are some tips on the best coasts in the area.

    • Naples beach. Right in front of the inhabited center we find a long beach, obviously frequented by anyone who does not want to take the car moving from the city. The proximity to all city services is the strong point, but it is also excellent for those looking for a place to take a romantic walk at sunset. It is from here that the Naples pier: the pier which is one of the symbols of the town.
    • Lowdermilk Beach. A little further north of the previous one, we find this beach which, although always facing the city area, is bordered by greenery. Behind the strip of sand, in fact, extends the Lowdermilk Park, where in the shade of the trees it is also possible to take advantage of the picnic tables by the lake.
    • Clam Pass Beach. Even more immersed in the green, along the line of the gigantic Clam Pass Park, there is this other beach. To reach it, you can take a shuttle that crosses the lagoon over a wooden walkway. Although it is much wilder than the previous ones, in the south there are all the services, including a restaurant. In the northern part, on the other hand, you can immerse yourself more in nature, the habitat of many birds.
    • Vanderbilt Beach. Further north, facing the residential area of ​​Naples Park, a series of large hotels and resorts form the backdrop to this beach. Very simple, without particular services, it is to take into consideration if it is more comfortable for you and you do not have particular needs.

    If you are looking for a seaside experience that goes beyond sunbathing, a good idea is to join one of the bay boat tours, or perhaps a trip that has fishing as its main activity.

    All Naples sea tours

    Excursions nearby

    If you visit Naples quickly, that doesn't mean it can't be a good one starting point for a series of excursions in the surroundings, where things to see abound, especially from a naturalistic point of view. Both by car and by guided tours you can enjoy excellent excursions.

    Keewaydin Island

    Among the most recommended tours is the one on an island just 15 minutes away from the city. Elongated in shape, it actually constitutes a stretch of coast about 13 kilometers long, separating the lagoon from the open sea. And the Keewaydin Island: a real one wildlife sanctuary. On one side of the island you can walk on the white sand of the beach overlooking the sea, where it is easy to meet dolphins as well as fish of various species. On the other hand, we overlook the lagoon, with its rich biodiversity.

    Here we can also visit the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Rookery Bay Environmental Center. The conservation of the forms of life linked to this aquatic environment is the fulcrum of the work of this nature reserve, of which a part of it can also be visited independently. Sea turtles lay their eggs on these beaches, while countless bird species nest among the mangroves. It is a perfect place to immerse yourself in Florida nature. If you go to the Briggs Nature Center, between this area and Marco Island, you can walk on a boardwalk to admire different animals in their habitat, including alligators.

    Marco Island

    South of Keewaydin Island is Marco Island, one of the places that most deserve a visit around Naples. If you want to know more, I invite you to read our article entirely dedicated to Marco Island.

    Picayune Strand State Forest

    Leaving the coast to move inland, we find the Picayune Strand State Forest, which we could define as a forest in the water. It is in fact a swampy environment where the forest mixes with the marshes. Here live different species of wild animals: from birds such as eagles, kites and storks, to small rodents such as squirrels, passing through large mammals, in particular black bears and the rare Florida panthers.

    Thanks to some paths, there is the possibility to enter the forest safely. An example is the Sabal Palm Trail, about 6 kilometers long and accessible on foot or by bicycle. A valid alternative are the waterways: through the canals you can move with rowing boats in various areas of the swamp.

    Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

    We look north, towards Bonita Spring, to meet the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. In this case the protagonists of the protected natural area are the cypressesbut the variety of trees and animals that live in their shade is remarkable. Thanks to a three and a half kilometer long route, you will cross the various areas of the park, which change from wooded to swampy. Here, too, waterfowl is easy to spot, but there is no shortage of white-tailed deer and aquatic animals such as turtles, otters and alligators. Through the official website it is also possible to organize a tour with a guide.

    Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge

    As you can guess from the name, the Florida panthers are the animals for which this reserve was established. This puma subspecies it is now very rare and since 1982 it has been the symbolic animal of the state of Florida. If spotting a puma is not easy, and it is not even an encounter to be taken lightly, in Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge you can find many other animal species, more docile and easier to see and perhaps photograph. The setting itself is worth it too, considering the large variety of tropical flora that grows in the area. The reserve is located in Immokalee to be exact, east of Naples.

    Big Cypress National Preserve

    Also to the east of the city we find a huge natural area, over 295.000 large, which also in this case sees the cypress trees as protagonists and here too the Florida panther lives. There Big Cypress National Preserve it is a reserve where it is possible to do tours accompanied by rangers, both on foot and by canoe. The visit becomes interesting from the very first steps, since right next to the Visitor Center we can see alligators in a moat. Access to the park is free and the visit is possible throughout the year, but the best time, as for most of the parks in this area, is winter. In fact, from November to April, being the driest period, you can move better on the paths that cross these humid areas.

    Everglades National Park

    Finally, Naples is one of the cities from which it is possible to take a tour to visit the suggestive Everglades park. The most famous swampy region of Florida, if not all of the United States, is one of the unmissable stops on a trip to the state of the Sun. 6000 square kilometers of marshes and islands, woods and meadows, where dozens of animal species live wild and undisturbed. We have also dedicated a specific article to the Everglades, which we invite you to read to discover every secret.

    Read more about the organized tour in the Everglades

    When to go to Naples? Climate and events

    From a climatic point of view, we can say with certainty that winter and spring are the best seasons to visit Naples and its surroundings. In particular, every month between December and May they are preferable to the rest of the year, especially to avoid periods where excessive humid heat can be annoying. However, we recommend that you read our article on when to go to Florida, as this will almost certainly not be the only stop on your journey.

    In addition to the climate, however, there are other reasons to choose one period over the other, for example the events that take place in the city. In February the Greek community organizes the Greek Festival which is based at the Saint Katherine Greek Ortodox Church. Greek music and dances, typical food of the Mediterranean islands and Hellenic art transform a part of the city during this event, which usually also has beneficial purposes.

    In October, however, there is Stone Crab Festival: an event that has the crab as its protagonist, cooked with various recipes. Around the gastronomic aspect, entertainment develops in the form of music, family activities, shows. Also in autumn, theOld Florida Festival, a historical reenactment starting from the Collier County Museum. Over two days, you can relive a slice of local history from the days of the Seminole Indians up to the Second World War, with tales of old stories, crafts, cuisine and folk music.

    Where to eat

    If you get peckish while visiting the city, there are plenty of places to indulge your gluttony. Here are some tips to make sure you don't go wrong.

    • Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar (1220 3rd St. S.). An excellent fish restaurant, with a beautiful location a few steps from the port and high quality products. Every night there is Happy Hour, an excellent opportunity to taste something if you are not looking for a demanding dinner.
    • The Village Pub (4360 Gulf Shore Blvd. N.). Located right on the waterfront, overlooking the Venetian Bay, it is a historic venue where meals are accompanied by entertainment in a casual setting. Find different types of dishes at average prices.
    • Gumbo limbo (280 Vanderbilt Beach Rd.). Inside The Ritz Carlton Hotel, there is this good restaurant and bar with a sea view, which mainly offers seafood dishes. The sea view during dinner is not bad.

    Accomodation

    • Lemon Tree Inn (250 9th St. S.). In the center, near 5th Avenue, is a three star hotel in an “old Florida” style building, surrounded by a beautiful garden. You can have breakfast by the heated swimming pool - a great way to start the day.
    • La Playa Beach & Golf Resort (9891 Gulf Shore Dr.). North of the city, this large hotel, very refined and equipped with every comfort, is perfect for those looking for a holiday where the beach life is the protagonist. The hotel overlooks the sea and features a swimming pool, spa and golf course.
    • Red Roof Plus & Suites (1925 Davis Blvd.). Further inland, not far from the airport, is this good hotel with all facilities. Heated swimming pool and picnic area with grill station are two of the spaces that can be used during your stay. Next to the hotel it is possible to rent boats to leave directly from here for an autonomous tour.

    All hotels in Naples

    Are you planning a Florida tour?

    I recommend these articles:

    • How to organize a Florida tour on your own?
    • Car rental Miami and Florida: low cost practical tips
    • Florida climate: when to go and what temperatures to expect
    • Miami Travel Guide: Useful Tips for Planning a Vacation
    • Low Cost USA flights: how to save money for your flight to the United States
    • America health insurance: how to choose the best policy
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