Naples, Florida, is a desirable city on the West Coast of the state in Collier County, twice the size of Delaware. It is known for its high-end shopping, upscale dining, ecotourism, and spectacular sunsets. You’ll find an incredible amount of outdoor offerings, pristine beaches, and beautiful nature in Naples (part of the Paradise Coast), an affluent family-friendly seaside setting. Here are eight fun things to do in Naples, Florida, that won’t break the bank.
1. Do Some Shopping
Shop, dine, relax, and people-watch at The Village Shops on Venetian Bay. From men’s and women’s fashions to home accessories and great gift items, you can find a little of everything at this upscale shopping complex. There is also a fantastic kid’s boutique, All About April, with clothes, toys, and one-of-a-kind finds. My other favorites are Panache (Lilly Pulitzer, Vineyard Vines, and Brighton) and Pratt’s Shoe Salon, which may or may not cause you to gasp at the beautiful collection when you walk in the door.
If you need a pick-me-up drink or dessert, visit M Waterfront Grille, an impressive waterfront dining spot with excellent offerings, or have a dip of ice cream from Naples’ only Ben and Jerry’s. The Village Shops are also a spot for desirable photos and people-watching.
2. Play on the Beaches
Naples has award-winning white sand beaches with stellar sunsets and magnificent gulf breezes. Situate yourself in a good lounge chair and sit back to relax for a bit. The laid-back vibe of Naples should help you achieve that feeling sooner, rather than later, and the elbow room to move around without others on top of you is a nice change of pace from some Gulf Coast cities.
3. Chow Down at a Food Truck Park
Celebration Park Naples is a permanent waterfront venue for food trucks. Unlike many food truck locations I’ve visited, this one has excellent seating options with a covering and large fans to keep the heat from being a factor. At the end is an open-air waterfront bar with high-top tables that afford the ultimate views of Haldeman Creek.
Food trucks at Celebration Park include Islands Seafood, Dutchkinz, GiGi Gourmet, Mega Sabor, Nawty Hogg BBQ, Gyros 2 Go, Cousins Maine Lobster, and Rudino’s Pizza & Grinders. The settings for each are meticulously decorated and very welcoming.
4. Get Up Close and Personal With 5th Avenue South
I adore the glamorous 5th Avenue South part of Naples. While purchases are certainly a splurge, it is still a wonderful place to walk around, enjoy the sites, and people-watch. You’ll also find the galleries incredible in this part of Florida. The promenades and store-fronts are all well-maintained, with a nice mix of historic and modern buildings. Vibrant blooms peek out from attractive planters all around the streets, and sculptures are plentiful.
Naples has impressive performing arts, and 5th Avenue South is home to three of the top; Naples Players, von Liebig Center, and Gulf Shore Playhouse.
Pro Tip: There are free public parking garages on 8th Street South (between 4th/ 5th Ave. and 5th/6th Ave. South).
5. Explore Incredible Gardens
Naples Botanical Garden is a 170-acre paradise with themed gardens and exotic plants and trees from across the globe. The Brazilian Garden is the stand-out with a brilliant water feature and colorful lotus flowers that make perfect pictures. A Caribbean garden has an excellent selection of tropical plants, while the River of Grass is mystical and breathtaking. You can see world-famous orchids on the Uplands Preserve boardwalk, and walk the Smith’s Upland Trail, too.
The Naples Garden Club’s Idea Garden gives the average gardener some ideas to take home to their gardens, and children will love their own unique garden, too, with a butterfly house. Other unique garden exhibits include a succulent, Asian, and Florida gardens, and a birding tower. Stay for lunch at the Fogg Cafe, and don’t miss the gorgeous artworks inside the Kapnick Hall.
Read more about this sensational garden and others in Florida in this post.
Pro tip: Wear bug spray, there are lots of biters around the brackish marsh, mangroves, and lakes.
6. Visit Tin City
Tin City, in the Old Naples part of town, is an iconic restored fishing village from the 1920s with four fully air-conditioned buildings that are fun for locals and tourists alike. This is easily one of Naples’ most popular attractions.
Tin City’s indoor markets are filled with open-air shops, some cheesy, some with great selections, some with artisans sharing their talents. Inside you’ll find souvenirs, a magic shop, resort wear, wine, antiques, toys, candles, and plenty of locally-made novelty items. There is plenty of parking nearby, so it shouldn’t be hard to visit Tin City.
Enjoy a meal along the Gordon River at places like Pincher’s Crab Shack and Riverwalk, or grab an ice cream from M&M’s Cafe, offering 28 flavors. Or, if you’d prefer to be on the water, Cruise Naples offers a variety of chartered boat tours.
Pincher’s, at Tin City, is a casual chain dining spot with indoor/outdoor seating and a friendly, knowledgable waitstaff anxious to serve. Start with real Crab Rangoons while you polish off a perfect margarita, then dive into a plate of fish tacos or peel & eat shrimp for your main course. I’m not typically one to promote chain restaurants, but when they are good, they are good. Pincher’s is really good.
7. Feast on Something Unique
Fuse BBQ (on the Tamiami Trail) is a restaurant with an unexpected food combination that will blow you away—Mac and cheese WITH pepperoni. OMG, yum. The creation pairs perfectly with Fuse BBQ’s pulled pork on a sandwich called Mac & Pork, or as a separate side dish. Enjoy impeccable service and a menu with tasty treats at this great find. Note: the collard greens are spectacular and the best I’ve had in Florida.
8. Ride Bikes
It is easy to get so carried away by the beautiful historic homes (or mansions) in Naples that suddenly you realize you’ve pedaled your bike miles and miles further than you anticipated. That happened to me twice. Naples has great streets for riding bicycles, and the lush landscaping is fascinating, no matter where you go.
I recommend riding along the neighborhood streets and through the parks, taking a peek at the beach along the way for the impressive scenery. Pay close attention to the incredible trees, too, with fragrant screw-pines found at Lowdermilk Park, one of Naples’ premier beachfront parks.
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