Naples, Florida is home to sunshine, beaches and my parents in the winter. It is a popular destination for retirees; my sister once coined it as spring break, but 40 years later! Naples sits on the Gulf Coast just south of Fort Myers. It is known for its beautiful beaches, fine dining and shopping. We were able to visit my parents this winter and only had 3 full days to enjoy it. Here are some suggestions for your stay in the area:
Day 1: Vanderbilt Beach
This is a long white sand beach that the Ritz Carlton sits on. If your looking to do some water activities, then this is the place for you! They had paddle board, surfboard and Sea Doo rentals not far from the beach entrance. We enjoyed watching some of the experienced paddle boarders doing yoga out in the surf. One even had his dog joining in! The surf here was quite calm and water cold in early February.
We decided to take a walk along the beach towards the Ritz. Closer to the resort they have beach loungers and umbrellas out for guests. Past the hotel is a string of apartments where there is barely a soul on the beach. If you are looking for some privacy and serenity, then this is your spot. We found a walkway here that was great for photos.
In the evening we had dinner at the Turtle Club on the same beach. It has oceanfront seating and is a perfect place for a sunset dinner. The restaurant reminded me of Hawaii as it had a tropical vibe. I would consider it fine dining, although some people were dressed in suits and others were in shorts. I would recommend the grilled Mahi Mahi, The Filet Mignon and Shrimp and the Key Lime Pie. Was a lovely meal in a beautiful setting.
Day 2: Lover’s Key Beach
This beach is within Lover’s Key State Park. There is so much to do here that you could spend days. There are hiking trails, areas to fish and kayak and an expansive beach. We visited the South area of the beach which can be accessed by a tram from the parking lot. The tram runs until 4:45pm. The North area can be accessed by walking over a bridge. The South area has bathrooms, a picnic structure and snack shack. It was extremely windy the day we were there so we sat next to the picnic area as it was sheltered.
The beach here is wide open and there are not many trees. We walked North along the beach until we saw some beautiful dead trees in the water. This is a great spot for photographers.
We built up quite an appetite from our long walk and decided to eat at the snack shack. Pretty standard burgers and hotdogs available there. To the left of the shack is a path to a fishing pier. This is a nice place to get a view of the mangroves and channel in the park.
In the evening we ate at Zookie’s Sports Bar which is a local favourite in the Naples. It was the night of the Super Bowl and it was a perfect place to see the game. The walls are plastered with T.Vs and projector screens. Everything here is reasonably priced and tasty.
Day 3: 5th Avenue and Naples Beach
You cannot go to Naples without visiting 5th Avenue. It is in the heart of their downtown and has a long stretch of shops and restaurants. It really comes alive at night, as all the restaurants become filled to the brim. Make sure to make a reservation a week or two in advance. We tried to get a reservation at the popular Ocean Prime with no success.
Close to 5th Avenue is the Naples Pier. The sunset here is spectacular. We saw several dolphins jumping in the water below the pier, which really drew in a crowd.
The pier sits on Naples Beach, which was our personal favourite. It is a soft white sand beach with houses that sit along it. The water here seemed to be warmer as it is quite shallow. If you walk north from the pier, you will come across some old piles in the water, which is photographers dream.
We walked back to our vehicle along Gulf Shore Blvd, which allowed us too see the beautiful homes in the area. It is like the Beverly Hills of Florida, with property values that match! We found a casual place to have dinner as we were in our beach clothes. The Parrot Bar and Grill looks onto the Marina in Tin City. The fish tacos and chicken salad sandwich were great. Drinks are very strong! I thought I may have to be carried out of there after one drink!
Naples is a place that you should add to your travel list. We would have never visited if it weren’t for my parents. It has everything you would want for a warm holiday; great beaches, sunshine and excellent dining. Our trip was a nice break from our cold weather. Wish we had a couple extra days to visit the Corkscrew Sanctuary and Sanibel Island. I guess we can do that on our visit next year!
Kira Canadian Girl