Exploring Florida: Downtown Naples and Beyond
In Naples Florida, there are all kinds of activities from the zoo to botanical gardens, from nature and wildlife tours to beaches and piers, from state parks to water sports.
You have some of the best boating and fishing in the world by the Gulf and the gateway to the Ten Thousand Islands. Of course, the Naples area sports a dozen or so golf courses in and around the dozens of hotels, resorts, and country clubs west of I-75. Not to mention, downtown Naples features shopping, restaurants, bars and live music around restaurants, bars, and live music around Third Street South, up and down Tamiami Trail and along the waterside.
Coming across the bridge over the Gordon River, where Tamiami Trail takes a right turn to the north is where you’ll find the edge of Downtown Naples. Head to the foot of 5th Avenue South and you’ll enter Bayfront, an upscale oasis of shops, restaurants, residences and a hotel. Its colorful European-esque architecture overlooks the waters leading down to the top of Naples Bay. Take note of the old world columns, arched entryways, open balconies and rounded awnings that grace the buildings above the marina. Imagine you’re in Italy and stroll down the brick-laden paths that lead to piazzas with fountains, boutiques, galleries, cafes, and salons.
Across the way is Tin City Shops, a collection of restaurants, bars, snack & gift shops, a comedy club and sightseeing tours. You could walk from Bayfront, but you’d probably wish you had your car for all of the shopping bags to put in the trunk. Just a half-mile west on 5th Avenue South is the start of what many consider “main street.” After picking up a new pair of shoes, a piece of fine art or jewelry, pop into several real estate brokerages and mortgage lenders — where you can shop for your next piece of property while sipping a latte. In the middle of the 5th Avenue South shopping scene, look into show tickets for a musical or play at The Naples Players performing arts venues. And nearby in Cambier Park, make it a point to stop by the Veterans Memorial to pay tribute to fallen heroes. You’re not done yet.
Naples is known for its golf, and for good reason. In this city, you have your choice of courses, events, shops, and classes all dedicated to the classic sport. At the top is Tiburon, the golf club at The Ritz-Carlton. Two courses designed by Greg Norman can be played to a par of 72, and host five sets of tees. If you prefer to watch the sport being played, you can enjoy both the LPGA Tour’s CME Group Tour and the PGA TOUR’s QBE Shootout at Tiburon. Or, golf in an environment completely catered to your golf needs at Naples Grande Golf Club, and play on their 18-hole, 6,955 yard, and par 72 course. It has been known for garnering accolades from establishments such as Golfweek Magazine and Golf Magazine. The on-site Durland Golf School was established in 2005 by Mark Durland, who has collected recognition for his teaching skills. Adjusted for every skill set, enjoy professional training by golf instructors.
Motor down 3rd Street South and you’ll find another upscale area featuring a variety of art galleries, boutiques, ﬁne dining and culinary delights. Spend the day browsing modern furnishings or antiques, swim fashions or evening gowns, deck shoes or pumps. Then, how can you not try one of the many restaurants that line the streets? There’s no way to see and taste everything, so plan on coming back again and again.
There’s more fare and ware to explore at Crayton Cove near the Naples Yacht Club, before heading west to Naples Pier and the beach. After a day on the town, catch a miraculous sunset over the Gulf. And maybe next time, plan for a day in the sand or out on the water.
With so much to see and do, it’s not so much what’s there as it is what you experience — and the memories you’ll make until you return again.
For more about the Naples area, request a free copy of Naples Unplugged Magazine. This comprehensive travel guide is full of local tips that even residents may not know about.