I love Naples, Florida. We’ve been multiple times to visit friends who live there and even considered a move ourselves, which is still in the realm of possibilities. The area has so much to offer from the beaches to their dedicated bike lanes to the most gorgeous sunsets to first class restaurants. For us, it’s an easy flight to Naples out of Westchester Airport in White Plains. In under three hours, we land in Ft. Myers, get in a car, and head out for the 45 minute drive to Naples. Aaah…
It’s tough making a choice of what we want to do when we land in Naples, Florida. Often, especially if it’s winter where I’m from, doing nothing but getting warm from the sun is a popular choice. But if we want to be a bit more active, we’ve found there’s no shortage of activities.Here are some of our favorites.
Favorite Things to Do in Naples
Hitting the Beach
Naples seriously has one of the prettiest and longest white sand beaches I have ever seen. You literally can walk or run for miles. But, if that’s not your thing, just bring beach chairs or towels, mark your spot, and spend the day doing nothing but enjoying the water and catching some rays. There’s also the Naples Pier where many people like to throw in their rod and fish. Kids and adults alike also seem to really enjoy getting their hands dirty building sand castles, turtles, crocodiles, or whatever else sparks their creativity.
Naples Botanical Garden
Strolling through the Botanical Gardens is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, feel the warmth on your body, and see much beauty. It actually consists of a variety of gardens in one, such as the Asian Garden, Caribbean Garden, and the Smith’s Children’s Garden where kids can explore the world of nature and visit the butterfly house. The Garden always has a special exhibit going on such as the current LEGO Sculptures.
The Farmer’s Market on Third Street South is amazing and overflows with fresh produce, baked goods, flowers, seafood, palm frond hats and baskets made on the spot, and paella being made in the largest paella pan I have ever seen! It is only open on Saturday mornings from 7:30 – 11:30 a.m., but is well worth the visit. Then you can do a little shopping and have lunch on Third Street.
If you have kids (this includes the big kid) with you who like trains, head over to the Naples Train Museum, Naples Depot Museum, and the adjacent Lionel Train Museum. They’re filled with Americana and you can even ride a train that circles the grounds.
The Revs Institute
If you love cars, the Revs Institute is a must visit. You can not only learn all about the most profound automotive innovations of our time, but the institute also has one of the finest, if not THE finest, sports car collections in America. From a 1909 Model T Ford to a 1956 Porsche Spyder to Formula racing cars, there will be something to enthrall you, guaranteed. You do have to buy tickets in advance, however, but you can do this online and kids under eight get in free.
The sunsets in Naples are nothing short of spectacular, so why not get some of the best views out on the water and take a sunset cruise. Sweet Liberty offers a two-hour catamaran cruise that passes through the canals, so you can see all the gorgeous homes while you’re at it, before heading out for open waters…
The downtown area of Naples – actually there are two areas: 5th Street and Old Naples – has tons of restaurants and little shops for browsing. But, if Third Street and Fifth Street don’t have enough shopping for you or you crave Gucci or Saks, head on over to the Waterside Shops. It’s a really upscale outdoor mall that even has mists for keeping you cool on a hot, humid day, plus several very nice restaurants.
The city is very bicycle and pedestrian friendly with over 30 miles of bike paths and cycle-friendly roadways. They are also adding new bike lanes throughout the city and the rule of the road is for cars to keep a three foot distance from the bike lane/cyclists. We actually saw motorists swerve out to maintain that distance. You can easily rent bikes at one of the many cycle shops, such as Trek Bikes, Naples Cyclery, or Fit & Fuel Bicycle Cafe.
If you are a runner, there are many routes to choose from which vary from easy to hard. I have to say that the roads are in great shape; the people are friendly; the terrain is pretty flat; there were no issues getting lost. It was so easy to navigate; and traffic was very courteous. You can always choose to take a gorgeous stroll or run on the beach.
If swimming in the ocean isn’t your thing, there are several pools in the area, such as the YMCA and the Golden Gate Aquatic Complex and Fitness Center.You are on the ocean,of course, so there are a slew of water sports to choose from, such as stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking.
If you enjoy a round of golf, there are multiple courses (I think at least 19) available and also tennis courts.
But, I think my favorite activity came during the last night of our last visit. It had been a picture perfect day, so we strolled down to the beach around 5:30 p.m. to watch the sunset. Based on the number of people present, we weren’t the only ones with this brilliant idea. And disappoint it did not….
I am sure we will be back to Naples for many more winter escapes and to spend time with friends and family. If for some reason you get bored in Naples, you can always venture out to Sarasota or Venice, which are short hops and believe it or not, Miami and Tampa are actually only 2 hours away!