Naples is Southwest Florida's cornucopia of socialites, glitterati, and wealth. Located between Miami and Fort Myers, this affluent city is known for its opulent hidden mansions, resplendent sandy beaches, and restaurants.
Take a 15-20 minute catamaran Primate Expedition Cruise on Lake Victoria and get a personal close look at the endangered wild species on each island.
Hike Audubon's boardwalk, a 2.5-mile expedition through Pine Flatwoods, the Everglades' ecosystem, and the oldest bald cypress forest in North America.
Transport yourself back to a time when rapacious, sprawling saber cats ruled the Everglades' grasslands and discover ancient archaeological artifacts and civilizations detailing Florida's past.
Discover the mangrove habitats of Florida's hidden species as you paddle down the Gordon River on a kayak expedition.
Take a boat ride on the Faka Union Canal for a 90-minute manatee tour and welcome these gentle sea cows as they surface the water to greet you.
Stretching out into the Gulf of Mexico, Naples Pier is more than just a wooden jetty. For one thing, the end of the pier is an achingly romantic place to watch the sun go down, with just the waters of the gulf between you and the horizon. For another, it's a hell of a fishing spot, with plenty of room for you to join in. There's no need to pay for a license either, unlike at some other nearby locations, and you'll be sure to receive no end of tips from the locals.
A mile or so inland and just off Goodlette-Frank Road, you'll find Caribbean Gardens and, more importantly, one of the best zoos in the southeast USA. With an all-day ticket to the zoo you can take primate tours to see monkeys and lemurs, watch alligators being fed by hand, watch lions and Malayan tigers in their enclosures and listen to fascinating "Meet the Keepers" lectures by the experts. For anyone with an interest in nature, it's a blast.
There's hardly a better way to learn about the biological riches of the Everglades than a visit to the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Managed by the Audubon Society, the Sanctuary is built around an enchanting 2.5-mile causeway which winds through various Everglades habitats as well as those of gators, deer, otters and turtles. And for bird-watchers, there are some treasures in store, not least the Painted Bunting, which you are almost certain to glimpse. Again, it's a real delight for nature fans.
170 acres of beautifully managed floral beauty, Naples Botanical Garden is located on Bayshore Drive, a couple of miles south of downtown Naples. It's well worth making the short drive to the Gardens, which seek to show off the distinctive species of the 26th line of latitude. This doesn't just mean Floridian species; you'll also find Caribbean cacti, a stunning Brazilian Garden and the Children's Garden complete with sidewalk chalk boards to draw what kids see, a butterfly house and cooling fountains too.
If you love automobiles, the Revs Institute is an absolute must-visit attraction. This unique institution, which is just to the southwest of the Caribbean Gardens, is dedicated to the study and preservation of vintage cars. The crown jewel of the museum is the Collier Collection, which stretches from an 1896 Panhard and Levassor through to 1920s Packard Speedsters, 1960s Porsche Spyders and even a 1989 Trabant from East Germany. In total, there are over 100 vehicles on display as well as fascinating documents from automotive history. And, even better, there are regular "revealing" sessions where the engines of these vintage beauties are uncovered for visitors to see.
From March to May, Naples' pleasant weather makes for sun-filled beach days. Winter temperatures average in the mid-70s, making it the perfect weather for travel but it is also inundated with tourists and exorbitant prices.
Take United Airlines, American Airlines, or any of the major domestic airlines into Fort Myers' Regional Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW). From there, drive for 42 miles to Downtown Naples.
Amtrak stops at Naples Municipal Airport and Southwest Florida International Airport. Prices vary depending upon which destination you are arriving from.
From RSW, private car services are highly recommended instead of taxis. Fifth Avenue Transportation and Naples Transportation average about a $70 ride to Naples.
Greyhound takes you from Fort Myers to Naples for $15. However, prices vary depending on the departure location.
The Doubletree Suites Naples dwells on the Cocohatchee Creek Preserve two miles from Naples' beaches. Rates start at $140 a night and amenities include laundry/valet service, pool, and a coffee maker. The Park Shore Resort offers a private heated pool and an outdoor Jacuzzi.
Coquina Sands - Coquina Sands overlooks magnificent homes, an alluring landscape, and is a hub for shopping centers.
Old Naples - when you visit Old Naples, you enter a world comprised of traditional architecture and modern real estate surrounded by tropical landscaping and shops.
Aqualane Shores - defined by its lavish stores, restaurants, and sunken canals, this waterfront community overlooks the Gulf of Mexico.
Buses are run by Collier Area Transit (CAT) Monday through Saturday from 6 am to 7 pm. Bus fair is $1 but seniors, students, and the disabled pay half fare. Daily passes are available for $3.
Arkway Taxi provides door-to-door service 24 hours a day for $55 and up. Licensed cabs start their normal tariff at $5 with $3 for every mile.
Enterprise has several facilities throughout Naples and rentals start at $35 a day.
Located in the Old Naples district, 5th Avenue is a cynosure of stores, cafes, hotels, and amazing restaurants that run alongside its sidewalk. Downtown Naples is a fisherman's wharf enveloped by a plethora of retail stores. Naples Fashion House and the Village Shops on Venetian Bay sell stylish women's clothing, handbags, and necklaces that average from $20 to $500.
Naples has a variety of products inspired by its Latin American communities. Oakes Farms Market delivers daily fresh produce with a great selection of dry goods, dairy items, fresh meats, and seafood. A gallon of milk costs $3.63, a loaf of white bread is $2.53, and one pound of rice starts at $2.08.
Known for its spectacular regional food and inventive daily specials, HB's On the Gulf draws tourists who love to spend a romantic dinner facing the waterfront. For a $35 tantalizing filet mignon medallions dinner served with béarnaise sauce and grilled asparagus, visit Shula's Steak House.