“I like anywhere with a beach. A beach and warm weather is all I really need.”—Rob Gronkowski
Author’s Note: This is part one of a travel focus on Naples, Florida. This piece solely features overall highlights of the Naples area. More tourist attractions, including dining points of interest, will follow in another piece.
For many people, summer means travel time. Mountains, lakes, and, yes, beaches, are all popular spots for couples and families alike. In fact, summer travel is often scheduled and planned months in advance in order to get the best deal. However, what if you are planning a trip at the last minute? Are there ways to still get a good deal on a vacation spot? Absolutely!
There are so many wonderful apps and websites that can help you do just that! Two of our favorites are VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owners) and, the ever popular, Airbnb. From secluded, rural destinations, to frenetic urban locations and all areas in between, today’s traveler has a multitude of ways to find their own ideal, last minute vacation spot. It was, in fact, VRBO, that helped John, my husband, and me find our most recent get away—which was, indeed, scheduled just a couple of weeks in advance of our departure.
Without belaboring the details of why, we had not really set in stone in formal plans for the summer travel, despite the fact this is the summer of our 30th wedding anniversary. Therefore, when John and I actually began discussing, in more concrete terms, potential locations, one spot kept entering our conversations: Naples, FL. With its miles of white “sugar” sand beaches and calm waters, Naples’ Gulf of Mexico location makes it a great spot to relax and unwind. Plus, during the summer months, vacation property and rentals are actually less expensive than most beach areas! In fact, we were able to spy numerous budget-friendly properties, including the small condo we ultimately settled upon renting.
One of the great advantages of renting directly from property owners and/or managers, rather than a realty company, is the fact that arrival/departure days, and length of stay are typically quite flexible. Thus, by using VRBO, we were able to compare and select property based upon our budget and location desires, but also look at each location’s date availability in order to narrow down our field of possible candidates. Then, once we settled on a vacation property to rent, we could directly communicate with our chosen property’s manager, Osi Germann, and start our stay on a Monday, and rent for ten days, rather than the usual Saturday or Sunday start to a traditional seven-day stay! Germann was a pleasure with whom to work; she was prompt and courteous in her communication and ever the consummate professional.
As a life-long resident of the Tri-state area (WV, OH, KY), of which many of my early years were spent in KY, I found it of interest to discover that Naples, Florida was founded by two Kentuckians, Water Halderman, then owner of The Louisville Courier, and John Williams, then a prominent politician and senator, in 1885. By 1888, Naples Pier was first built and has become one of the city’s oldest symbols, popular for its views, particularly dolphin sightings, as well as fishing. Even now, Naples’ historic downtown, often called “Old Naples,” still has Victorian era-buildings, including the Palm Cottage, which was built in 1895 and is still open for tours.
Naples Pier, a must visit part of Naples, FL, is known for its dolphin sightings and fishing.
Naples is part of Collier County, the largest county in Florida, and even with the population continuing to rise in Naples, and its surrounding neighbors, 80% of the county is a natural preserve! One such example is Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. A 13,000-acre preserve, this Sanctuary welcomes visitors to traverse along its 2.25-mile boardwalk that winds over and through pine flatwoods, wet prairie, marsh, and into the largest Bald Cypress forest in North America. Other natural sites of note in the Naples area, include: The Bird Gardens of Naples, whose sole concern is parrot welfare, which allows visitors to interact and view numerous varieties of parrots and other wildlife; The Bird Rookery Swamp Trail, which offers 12 miles of walking, hiking, biking trails built from old logging tram roads—it also has a small boardwalk and allows visitors numerous views of cypress trees and bird/animal varieties; The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, which allows visitors to interact with nature and experience their electric boat tours; The Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, though technically not a preserve, is a non profit zoo focused on conservation of endangered species as well as a nationally accredited garden. Additionally there is Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, Clam Pass Park, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, and that’s only scratching the surface of the numerous nature attractions, parks, and preserve areas available to visit in the Naples area.
Images from Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park.
Lest you think Naples is only for nature lovers, Naples is considered the golf capital of the world, with more golf holes per capita than anywhere else. It is also home to Swamp Buggy Racing, which began in 1918; and, visitors can even see the original swamp buggy that started it all at the Naples Depot Museum. Naples is also known for its art, with over 100 art galleries in the area! A water taxi shuttle can be found at Naples Dock with stops including multiple downtown waterfront destinations for shopping, dining, and/or drinking—just $10.00 allows visitors to hop off and one throughout the day. Of course, shopping and dining opportunities are endless while staying in Naples. Plus, there is, of course, that gulf-side beach for those who just really want to relax, unwind, and get away from it all!
Images from Naples City Dock, home of the water taxi shuttle serving multiple downtown locations.
This was not our first trip to Naples, FL, nor do I think it will be our last. However, Dear Reader, in spite of all there was/is to do in Naples, especially with the abundant nature-centered activities, I barely ventured beyond the beach—which was true for this most recent trip. John and I arrived during the last few days of May, a month that had been overloaded with a flurry of long hours and activities. Therefore, this trip to Naples was more about resting/recovering, reconnecting, and most of all, celebrating our 30 years of marriage. (Plus, we enjoyed numerous good meals; and I enjoyed visiting several yoga studios, while John found a great conveniently located gym facility). More about that in my next piece!) Our condo, which was perfectly situated, allowed us to do just that, as it overlooked a peaceful bay and was one short block away from the beach. Additionally, it was conveniently located to ample dining and shopping opportunities, especially those found at nearby Mercato.
From our home to yours, John and I wish you safe, happy, and pocket-friendly summer travels!