Right on the Gulf of Mexico is the city of Naples, Florida. If the name sounds familiar, the original settlers compared the location to the actual bay of Naples in Italy. The city founders’ original vision for it was to make the place a tourist destination. Over a hundred years later and many people say they succeeded.
Naples is known for being the perfect tourist destination and retirement spot, thanks to the many places to see and visit in the city. Some natural areas get a spotlight, like the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Urban attractions like the many restaurants and golf courses are also popular attractions for the city.
The Animals at Naples Zoo
Most cities have a zoo, but the Naples Zoo brings something unique. Besides a place to see some beautiful wild animals, it is also a lovely botanical garden. Historically founded in 1919, it began as a project by a local botanist and was primarily for plants. However, new owners came around in the 60s and reopened it as a zoo with some exotic denizens. The layout takes visitors on a mile-long loop that explores the entire 43 acres of the zoo. Some animals to see include alligators, panthers, bears, and tigers.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s Vast Space
Found right outside of Naples, the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a massive nature sanctuary in the heart of the Florida Everglades. The unique ecosystem is perfect for the various creatures that make their home there. It is not just alligators and wading birds that dominate the landscape. White-tailed deer frequent the drier parts of the sanctuary while cute otters are on the hunt for something to eat. The flora of the sanctuary is equally impressive. The cypress trees are a dominant part of the landscape, while ghost orchids grow in the area.
The Forests of the Picayune Strand Forest
There are 37 state forests in Florida, and the Picayune Strand Forest is one of them. Managed by the Florida forestry service, it is over 78,000 acres of heavy forests. Surprisingly, it is just two miles outside of Naples. Considering its history, easy access is an expected feature. Before it became a state forest, the region was the focus of efforts in land development. During the summer, people bought land in the area, not knowing it would flood during the rainy season. After that disaster, the state purchased the land for nature reclamation, and it has been quietly healing.
Sixteen Miles of Beaches
Like any coastal Florida city, Naples has some great beaches. The city has 16 miles of beaches to accommodate everyone’s taste. Those who want a romantic beachside stroll should visit Seagate Beach. There is a paved walkway and the most beautiful sunset to make anything romantic. Keewaydin Island can be an excellent place to find it for those who want some blessed isolation. This small island has the most pristine beaches in the area, just offshore from Naples, thanks to it being inaccessible except by boat. These are only two of the many beaches in the area.
Celebration Park and Its Food Trucks
Everyone loves food trucks, providing delicious meals wherever they set up. In Naples, Celebration Park is where they all go. It is known as the first part that accommodates a permanent food truck rally. People can come here to find the food trucks that they are craving. Everything from pizzas to lobster is available. People can eat what they want as they stroll through this seaside park. Besides the food trucks, there is also an open-air tiki bar that serves all the guests. In addition, there are many outdoor seating options so people can find a seat to eat.
The Historic Naples Pier
If there is one spot people know about Naples, it is the recognizable Naples Pier. Pictures of it are iconic, and it is a street to walk. Stretching out to a thousand feet into the Gulf of Mexico, the pier was essential to how Naples developed. Built in 1888, the pier was the perfect landing point for sightseers, tourists, and others who came to the city. There was no other way to arrive in Naples until 1928. Nowadays, people can do many things on the pier and the surrounding beach, like fishing and eating at restaurants.
Naples Breweries and Their Offerings
Anyone who likes beer will appreciate the boom Naples is experiencing with its breweries. The first one opened its doors in 2012, and more followed. People can have a great time visiting multiple breweries on a beer tour of the city. Several of them should be at the top of any local rankings. First is the first and the best, the Naples Beach Brewery. They usually brew up small and specialized batches with excellent flavor. Next is the Riptide Brewing Company, which offers a local favorite, Old Naples Blonde.
The Naples Depot and Train Museum
Trains were the initial connecting force for the country’s early days. Unfortunately, they only arrived in Naples during the 1920s, after the roads and boats had a solid presence. However, the railroads were precisely what the city needed as it boomed with all the new blood arriving, much faster and plentiful than by car or ship. The city remembers those times well with the Naples Depot and Train Museum. The museum’s main feature is how transportation technology changed a small town into a booming resort city. Children will love the interactive train tour.
Naples’ Thriving Art Scene
The city is also known for its artists. There are a lot of local galleries in the area, and they showcase a lot of local talent. The Naples Art District alone features over 70 galleries, each focusing on a different set of artists. All of them have monthly art events that allow artists to show off. Some of these events have the attention of the wider art world. It includes the Naples Masters Art Festival, Naples Art In The Park, and the Naples Downtown Art Show.
The Joy of Local Theater
Interestingly, Naples has a strong theater presence. The place is probably one of the best cities to watch shows, musicals, and plays. The current strong showing for theater is because of the Naples Players, the city’s own community theater company. Founded in 1953, it is the best live theater company in Southwest Florida. Their home theater is the Sugden Theater which is a promising avenue. Besides that, Naples also has other locations like the Gulfshore Playhouse and TheatreZone, which offer Broadway musicals and more.
Boat Tours Across the Region
As a coastal city, Naples has access to the waterways. It makes it a perfect place to launch a boat tour. Watching dolphins is a favorite activity for many people. There is also the fishing and sightseeing in the warm waters. The Gulf of Mexico is not the only destination for a water-borne tour in Naples. People can try an excursion into the Everglades. A swamp tour allows nature lovers a closer look at flora and fauna of this unique ecosystem. Besides the enjoyable sites, these tours also have excellent meals.
The Golf Capital of the World
One interesting name that Naples has for itself is that it is the world’s golf capital. This title is mainly because the city has the most 18-hole golf courses inside it. According to the records, there are 90 courses in Naples. However, only 30 of them are open to the public. The best of them require that players stay at their associated resort hotel. With all the golf going on, there are also golf pros. Those with the time and money can get top-notch instruction from golfing superstars.
700 Restaurants to Choose From
As a resort town, Naples needs to accommodate them all. Part of this is being able to feed them properly. The result is more than 700 restaurants operate in the city. They have cuisine from all over the world, ready to eat. One of the best places to eat is the French Brasserie Rustique. Serving the best French cuisine, dinner at the French is a treat. Another place to consider visiting is Sails, one of the city’s finest seafood restaurants. With fresh ingredients readily available, the dishes here are a feast for the senses.
The Thrill of the Naples Half Marathon
The one big event every year for Napes is its Half Marathon. Began in 1989, it is now a city tradition. People come far and wide to participate in it. Thanks to the flat and shaded course, many consider it one of the best races out there. The prizes are also worth the effort, ranging from cash to stays at the local resorts. It is the reason why many marathon runners keep coming back.