• There’s nothing like music and dance to sooth the soul in challenging times. Happily, visitors to Naples can enjoy a fresh new season of culture at Artis-Naples, where a varied program of chamber music, jazz, dance, Broadway-infused shows and more are guaranteed to lift the spirits of any attendee. For example, from Feb. 16-20, 2021, “A Night in Paris” offers the songs of Edith Piaf and other French immortals via the silky stylings of Tony-nominated songstress Louise Pitre. March 4-5 brings the Naples Philharmonic and conductor Andrey Boreyko to the stage for Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3.
• Those who like to immerse themselves in the local history will enjoy their time at the Collier Museum at Government Center. This repository of paintings, posters, artifacts and more depicts the evolution of the Gulf Coast from the time of prehistoric mastodons to the golden age of the Seminole and Calusa tribes of Native Americans and up through the era of the railroad barons and pioneering hoteliers. The venue also offers five surrounding acres of gardens.
• The colorful Third Street South shopping district is springing back to life after experiencing a number of Covid-related closings. Open again are favorite stores such as A Mano, with beautiful glassware from carafes to vases; Charlotte Kellogg for chic women’s resort wear; Gattle’s for fine linens and tableware; and Marissa Collections, featuring top fashion, jewelry, beauty products and more.
• Charter boat operator Pure Florida has added a new vessel, the Sea Flight, to its fleet. This 45-foot, high-speed catamaran can comfortably host groups of up to 20 for half-day fishing excursions. With a boat this zippy, groups can get as far as 25 miles offshore into the Gulf of Mexico, where fish like grouper and snapper are plentiful.
• For the young at heart,
especially if they’re attendees looking to spend an enjoyable couple of hours
decompressing from the meeting room, the Naples Train Museum
in the heart of town offers the perfect getaway. The museum, a converted former
train station, features beautifully preserved examples of engines from the
Golden Age of Rail. There’s also an elaborate indoor track where no less than
10 trains operate at a time among a gallery-size miniature landscape that
includes a drive-in movie, a colorful circus and a verdant park, all with
interactive features to make the trackside attractions seem alive with motion.
The venue also sponsors an outdoor railway running parallel to Fifth Avenue and
Tenth Street South, taking passengers on a delightful excursion through town
• For a rare authentic taste of Old Florida, visit the restored Palm Cottage, a jewel in the Naples Historic District, near Naples Pier. Built in 1895, the house is one of the few remaining to have been built with "tabby mortar," a local handmade mixture consisting of burned sand, shells and water. On the National Register of Historic Places, the cottage is the city's oldest residence and features guided tours of its history and period furnishings.
• Naples has been reinventing itself as a health-conscious destination for the past few years, and a recent spa overhaul at a major resort will surely raise the area's profile among wellness destinations. The 474-room Naples Grande Beach Resort has rolled out a new spa menu that includes more than a dozen new holistic therapies including cryotherapy, salt flotation therapy in a "weightless" flotation tank, and detoxification in an infrared sauna. Plush pampering sessions also can be had at local day spas, including Healing Multiverse and the Woodhouse Day Spa.
• The picturesque white-sand beaches of Sanibel Island — some 50 miles north of Naples — are a mecca of sorts for seashell
lovers, and even if you don't have time for a beachfront stroll, there's no shortage of gift shops, galleries and boutiques where you can shop for an ocean-inspired bounty of souvenirs, crafts, jewelry and other seashell creations.
Getting Active & Outdoors
• If nothing but sun, sand and surf will do for downtime, Lowdermilk Beach Park hits the spot with 1,000 feet of pristine beachfront, picnic tables, volleyball, outdoor lunch outlets and even a duck pond. Outdoor showers and plenty of parking complete this sunny picture.
• Head for the Gordon River Greenway, Naples’ own scenic nature walk. The 140-acre Greenway is ideal for strollers, joggers, cyclists, birders and other nature lovers. Winding through the heart of town, the Gordon River itself offers fishing, kayaking and other activities.
• Located at the far end of 12th Avenue South on the Gulf of Mexico, the historic Naples Pier was erected in 1888 and was an important point of entry for the building materials and supplies that help build the city. Today the pier is a favored recreational spot for locals and visitors alike. Fishing from the pier is encouraged, with no special permits required, and you can also enjoy people-, bird- and dolphin-watching. A beckoning white-sand beach stretches out below.
• Whether in a group or on your own, go just 30 miles east of Naples to
Copeland for Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park,
a sprawling home of plant and animal life unique to the continental United
States. A great place to start exploring is at the park’s Big Cypress Bend
Boardwalk, which winds through a pristine section of the Fakahatchee Strand
swamp and culminates in an alligator pond and observation deck. Canoeing on the
East River, fishing on the lakes along the Jones Grade and hiking the 11-mile
Janes Memorial Scenic Drive are other great ways to enjoy this soul-replenishing
repository of nature.
There’s more outdoor fun to be had at the
Ngala Wildlife Preserve, which offers 42 acres of lush outdoor space. The grounds include a waterfall and tranquil koi pond, habitats for exotic and protected animals like giraffes and Florida panthers and a tented tropical. Interactive animal encounters, facilitated by professional handlers can create a truly immersive experience
• Naples has been building on its initiative to brand itself as a wellness destination with numerous attractions, tourism-oriented businesses, and even breweries offering yoga and meditation activities for individuals and groups — often in picturesque outdoor and natural settings. Pure Florida, which operates nature and sightseeing cruises in Naples Bay, debuted a Yoga Cruise that includes a beach yoga class;The company also has added a custom 45-foot high-speed catamaran available for offshore fishing outings from the historic Tin City Docks.
• For high-energy team building, head to Defy Fort Myers, a unique venue about an hour north of Naples. Among the “extreme air sports” on offer are nearly three dozen trampolines, including several mounted on walls; a rock wall; an indoor zipline trapeze; foam pits, and a host of other ways to get a group bonding over airborne adventures. For adrenaline junkies, Defy’s Ninja Obstacle Course offers even greater challenges.
• As the host of the Minto US Open Pickleball Championships, Naples has declared itself the Pickleball Capital of the World. An easy-to-learn hybrid of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, pickleball is a great activity for group bonding. The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida in East Naples Community Park — a 54-court pickleball mecca and the site of the annual championships — offers group lessons and team-building options.
• There are roughly 90 golf courses in Naples, Marco Island and Collier County, and while most are private clubs or affiliated with resorts, there are a number that welcome the public. Reserve tee time at the Valencia Golf & Country Club, which racked up an impressive four stars from Golf Digest magazine and reopened last November after a massive renovation.
Naples Annual Festivals
Held each January since 2001, the Naples Winter Wine Festival is a three-day bonanza during which hundreds of oenophiles sip, savor and bid on prized
vintages during a big-ticket charity auction, which raised nearly $16 million for the Naples Children & Education Foundation in 2020. Stay tuned for further details about the 2021 festival.
Hot Cocktail Spots in Naples
• The white sand and tropical ocean breezes might call to mind rum runners or daiquiris, but this area of Southern Florida has a growing number of excellent craft breweries. For example, Riptide Brewing Co. has up to a dozen of its own beers on tap on any given day, and also has guest taps to feature the work of other local craft breweries
• For everything you expect from an
upscale, stylish gastropub plus a tasty array of Italian-style small plates (thank
acclaimed chef Vincenzo Betulia), head for Bar Tulia on Fifth Avenue South. Classic libations include the Basilica (bourbon, Aperol,
sweet vermouth and burnt orange) and the Last Dragon (gin, St. George Bruto
Americano, passion fruit, lime and sage). The warm brick-and-wood interior
• Marco Island Brewery might only have a few of its own beers, but you can sample a curated lineup of
local and national craft beers — from bright and hoppy IPAs to full-bodied stouts. And if you still can't get enough suds, South Street City Oven and Grill in Naples claims to have the largest selection of craft beers on tap in Southwest Florida, and offers up to 40 different draft beers, plus Philadelphia-inspired eats like fried calamari, pizza and (of course) cheesesteaks.
To complement your martini, try out one of these Top 10 eateries.
Naples Top 10 Restaurants
- Mediterrano - Seafood, Mediterranean
- Lima Restaurant and Pisco Bar - Peruvian
- La Trattoria - Italian, pizzeria
- Black Forest Restaurant - German
- Maria D'anna Cafe - Polish
- Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro - Mediterranean
- Rumba Cuban Cafe - Cuban
- The European Cafe - Polish
- Brooks Gourmet - American
- Fuse Global Cuisine - Gastropub
Guest Rooms - 295
Meeting Rooms - 15
Largest Conference Room - 7,815 sq. ft.
Total event space - 35,013 sq. ft.
Room Rate Range - $262-$365
Guest Rooms - 447
Meeting Rooms - 14
Largest Conference Room - 10,062 sq. ft.
Total event space - 34,155 sq. ft.
Room Rate Range - $387-$645
The Stella Awards Winner 2021
Guest Rooms - 474
Meeting Rooms - 16
Largest Conference Room - 5,802 sq. ft.
Total event space - 33,802 sq. ft.
Room Rate Range - $178-$496