Things to do and see on a weekend visit to Naples, Florida
Naples, Florida, one of the most beautiful areas of the country is also one of the most enjoyable
Plan a fun and relaxing weekend in Naples, Florida. Here's a list of things you might like to do and see:
1 Start out on Friday evening by viewing one of the area’s famous sunsets. The Naples Pier, one of Naples’ most popular attractions, was originally built in 1888 as a freight and passenger dock. Today it stands as a community landmark. Rebuilt after damage by hurricanes in 1910, 1926 and 1960, it remains a public symbol of the area’s history. Equally ideal for sunset views are the nine major Collier county beaches located in Marco Island, Naples, and Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs.
2 Once the sun falls below the horizon it’s time for cocktails and dinner. While there is a plethora or wonderful restaurants and bars in Naples, a few truly stand out. Some of my favorites are: Bistro 821 on Fifth Avenue South (American cuisine artfully prepared - reasonable prices - earns 4 ½ stars on opentable.com); Sophia’s Ristorante Italiano on Pine Ridge Road – (Italian food the way mama prepares it – entrees under $30 – 4 stars on opentable.com); and Inca’s Kitchen on Collier Boulevard (Peruvian food – comfortable atmosphere – reasonable prices – 4 stars on opentable.com.) Of course, these are just three of many, many great restaurants in Naples. As for cocktails, each of the restaurants features a full bar and a nice selection of wines.
3 If it’s just cocktails you’re after, Aura, located in the Waldorf on Seagate Drive, offers great drinks and a pleasing atmosphere. If you like action, check out the Blue Martini on Strada Place in north Naples. There’s always an upscale crowd ready to party at the Blue Martini. Finally, if you’re after some fun in a “t-shirts and flip flops” kind of environment, check out Harold’s Place on Tamiami Trail just north of 26th Avenue. Their slogan is “Where the Fun Never Sets” and they mean it. The joint rocks! For a nightcap, check out Osetra, a new champagne and caviar bar on Fifth Avenue South. Osetra features everything from sparkling wine to Cristal and a nice selection of caviar.
4 So, when you finally decide it’s time to lay your head down, where do you go? Naples features hotels and motels for every price range. At the top, are the Ritz Carlton, LaPlaya Beach Resort, the Bellasera Hotel and the Waldorf Astoria. More moderately priced hotels include Hyatt Regency in Bonita Springs, the Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort and the Hilton Towers. Beyond these, you’re on your own. If you’re after value, there are many locally owned as well as chain hotels that are moderately priced; however, the term “moderately priced” in largely reliant upon the time of year so beware and book early.
5 Whether you’re into fruit and yogurt or a full American breakfast, Jane’s is the place to be. The restaurant features a very nice patio where you can enjoy fresh squeezed juice. It’s Google-rated 4.2 out of 5 stars. The omelets are fantastic!
Okay…so you survived your first night in Naples and now you’re craving breakfast. That stop should be Jane’s Café on 3
6 After breakfast it’s beach time. Just twenty minutes north of Fifth Avenue South you’ll find Vanderbilt Beach Park. The perfect spot for catching some rays but in high season (pretty much all winter) arrive before 10 AM to get a good spot.
7 Once you’ve had enough sun – and it won’t take long here in southwest Florida – check out some of the other attractions, such as:
a. Naples Botanical Garden features include six cultivated gardens, 90 acres of restored native preserve, and 2.5 miles of walking trails.
b. Naples Zoo, which is much more than a walk-through zoo. Hand-feed the herd of seven giraffe, experience premier wildlife shows; watch the hand-feeding of alligators by professional staff, witness venomous snake presentations and cruise through islands of monkeys. Plus see favorites like lions, tigers, and bears.
c. If you’re looking for something a bit more adventuresome, check out Everglades Jet Pack Adventures. You’ll learn to fly the world’s first water-propelled jet pack. (You really have to see it to believe it.) The powerful water jet propels you through the water and in the air; yet the amazing stability makes it easy to learn so that you're flying in minutes!
d. And if you’re looking for something physical albeit more sedate you can check out the kayak rentals at Naples Bay Resort. It’s a short walk from Fifth Avenue South with easy access to the Gordon River and beyond.
8 Ah…lunchtime at last! The Turtle Club on Gulfshore Drive North offers dining on the gulf and a varied menu. It’s a bit pricey but well worth it if you’re looking for “upscale casual.” OpenTable users give it 4 ½ out of 5 stars. Another far less expensive option is Sam Snead’s Tavern, which is located in Lely Resort in east Naples. It’s one step above pub food prepared fresh and the atmosphere is lovely. Finally, AZN Azian Cuisine, which is located in Mercato in north Naples offers Asian fusion at a reasonable price. In addition to the numerous other restaurants and boutiques, while you’re at Mercato be sure to check out the Silver Spot Cinema. It features first-run movies in comfortable, reserved seats and offers beer and wine as well as a nice selection of snacks in addition to standard movie theatre fare. In lieu of Asian cuisine, try the excellent Mexican menu at Masa; it’s not your mother’s Mexican food and the Margaritas are prepared using fresh juices.
9 If you’re not completely tuckered out after lunch, there’s lot of great shopping in Olde Naples. Check out the shops on Fifth Avenue South and those on Third Avenue South and all points between. You’ll also find the very best upscale names (Gucci, Tiffany, Coach, Apple, Cartier, DeBeers, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and many more) at the Waterside Shops on Tamiami Trail just across the street from the Waldorf Astoria.
1 Enjoy Sunday morning breakfast at any one of the five Skillets locations – four around Naples and one in Bonita Springs. No matter which location is convenient to you, you’ll experience friendly waiters and “to die for” fare such as fresh-squeezed orange juice, crepes, Belgian waffles, Frittatas, omelet, breakfast burritos and, of course, the infamous skillet from Skillets. You may have wait a few minutes for a table but Skillet’s is well worth the effort.
1 For a relaxing Sunday excursion head to Marco Island to board the Dolphin Explorer, a thee-hour eco-tour that observes Southwest Florida's dolphin population and makes a beachcombing stop on one of the area's unspoiled barrier islands. Book in advance; the boat sails at 9 AM but there’s also a 1 PM option if you’re out late on Saturday night.
1 On your way out of town on Sunday afternoon check out the great brunch at M Waterfront Grille on Gulf Shore Boulevard. Brunch is served from 10:30 AM to 3 PM. M sits on the edge of Venetian Bay, meaning you might be treated to a bit of dolphin watching with your mimosa or bloody mary. But even if you’re not, you’re still in for a treat because there’s something for everyone on this eatery’s crowd-pleasing menu, from brunch classics to satisfying lunchtime fare. Also, M’s emphasis on organic ingredients and naturally raised foods is apparent across the menu; the restaurant even has its own waterside herb garden.
So there you have things to see and do on a Naples weekend. Oh, while you’re here because to check out the many homes and condos being built. Naples is once again one of the fastest-growing real estate markets in the country but there are still many bargains to be found – both with new construction and with resale homes.