A Visit to Naples, Florida
We have friends who live in lovely Naples, Florida. They are kind enough to invite us every winter for a week or so. Naples is so lovely - especially in February or March where we have 2 feet of snow on the ground at home!
Located on the southwest coast of Florida, Naples is a beautiful spot to land. You fly into Ft. Myers and then get your rental car and hop on I-75 and head south to Naples. It takes about 45 minutes to drive into downtown Naples where you will find lots of wonderful hotels and guest houses for your stay. Be warned that in the winter months, reservations are definitely needed.
Our friend lives in the Port Royal section of Naples. While this is not a gated community, it might as well be so. Port Royal is at the southern most tip of Naples and looks out onto Gordon Pass. Port Royal boasts the likes of Tom Cruise, and other well known movie stars who like this area for the privacy it offers to them. I went out walking every morning but didn't run into any movie star - darn it! Port Royal is filled with canals so people can dock their boat right outside of their house. Our friend always takes us on a canal tour so we can see all of the (huge) houses from the water.
Naples boasts a beautiful bay and there are several wonderful restaurants right on the water. Again, be warned, reservations are a must during the winter months.
The Pier, located at 12th Avenue South, is huge. It goes out into the ocean for what seems like miles. It takes a good twenty to thirty minutes to walk out to end. You can bring your fishing rod and fish all along the pier. No need to purchase a fishing license because the City of Naples purchased a bulk fishing license for all residents and visitors to fish off the pier. The pier attracts many pelicans. They sometimes get caught up in the fishing lines and hooks and must be carefully manipulated to free them from the lines or hook.
Shopping - well, what can I say. The shopping in Naples is extraordinary! Fifth Avenue Shops as well as Third Avenue Shops abound with art, clothing, jewelry, sportswear, and everything you need or don't need. Restaurants and cafes are abundant in these shopping areas for your drinking or dining enjoyment. A personal favorite is Ridgeway Bar and Grille on Third Street South. A lovely porch awaits you for cocktails. This porch, located right on the front of the restaurant, overlooks the street so you can watch shoppers go in and out of the wonderful shops in the area. You can also pass the time by counting Rolls Royces as they drive by. I think I got up to 7 or 8 one evening. Their side porch is lovely so be sure to make a reservation during the winter months so you are not disappointed.
Naples also has a city pier on the bay where boats can tie up and visit the many restaurants that are along the bay. Laundry, bathrooms, and showers are there for the boat people to use. There are lots of boat tours you can take. A special favorite is the
tour which leaves from the Naples dock on the bay to Marco Island. You travel down an inland waterway - through Dollar Bay, then Rookery Bay, then Johnson Bay and into Marco. The water life is amazing - pelicans, osprays, Bald Headed eagles, and so many others. If you are lucky you may see a manatee or two swimming close to the shore. They are a protected species and boats need to follow the no-wake directions when given in the bays. I personally love manatees - these gentle giants are harmed so much by speed boats. They just can't move quickly enough to get out of the way.
Getting back to Naples, if you don't like shopping, the beaches are calling you. Be warned that the parking meters gobble up a quarter every 15 minutes so it costs $1.00 per hour to park on the streets. If you are lucky you can find a parking spot behind the Third Street shopping area which is free. Happy hunting!
The beaches in Naples, while lovely, don't offer much in the way of shade so bring your own beach umbrella and chairs. That Florida sun can toast you quickly. I have a favorite spot on a beach which does offer a little shade and I try to stay in it as much as possible. While you are on the beach, take a walk and see all of the wonderful, huge beach houses. A personal favorite of mine - I watched it being built - looked to be two football fields long. One couple was moving into this house. Oh my.
Naples is a wonderful vacation destination - pricey but worth the money to enjoy the sun, sand, shopping, and fine dining. Happy travelling!