From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
Naples is a city located in southwest Florida overlooking the stunning Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps most famous for its high-end shopping boutiques and prestigious golf courses, Naples is also home to endless white-sand beaches, the famous Naples Pier, several state parks, and other fun and family-friendly attractions.
Naples was founded during the late 1880s, earning its name after being likened to the sunny Italian peninsula. It really gained momentum as a tourist attraction, however, after it was praised for “surpassing the bay in Naples, Italy” in terms of beauty. Even to this day, locals still believe this to be true.
Those who have lived in the city for a decade would agree they haven’t experienced all that Naples has to offer, while for those new to the region – well, they’ve got a lot to look forward to as well.
Ready to discover the best of Naples, Florida? Let’s get started!
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Naples has plenty of state parks and national parks both within and surrounding the area, all of which provide a tranquil escape for those looking to surround themselves by nature.
Less than a 25-minute drive from the center of Naples is the Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park. The park boasts one of the most pristine stretches of beach within the region and offers stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico. At this water lover’s paradise, you can enjoy activities such as paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking, bird watching, fishing, picnicking, and guided tours.
Also close to the city is Lovers Key State Park, which is home to over 2 miles of beautiful beaches. The park is most famous for the numerous weddings it hosts every year, as it one of the most romantic settings within the region. For outdoor enthusiasts, there are plenty of activities to enjoy here, including bicycling, hiking, boating, fishing, paddling, and swimming.
Just 25 minutes south-east of Naples is the popular Collier-Seminole State Park, which is home to rare palm trees and a swamp-like landscape. In fact, it features one of the largest mangrove swamps in the world – but don’t let that make you think it’s anything but beautiful here! The park features vegetation and wildlife typical of Florida’s Everglades and even contains the site of a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, which is the last existing Bay City Walking Dredge. Enjoy camping, hiking, boating, fishing, paddling, and more.
The Koreshan State Park was once home to an eccentric group of pioneers, known as the Koreshans. They built a settlement within the area back in 1893 and established a farm, nursery and botanical gardens. View the remaining historic sites in person, and enjoy fun activities such as boating, geo-seeking, camping, hiking, fishing, paddling, and more.
If you’re craving seeing even more of the beautiful scenery that surrounds Naples, then there are also plenty of hiking and walking trails for you and your family to enjoy.
Perhaps the most famous trail of the Naples region, the Gordon River Greenway is a 4.5 kilometer moderately trafficked out and back trail. It’s suitable for all skill levels and also features a picturesque river along the way. Much of the trail contains boardwalks and will take you through intriguing mangroves, so be on the lookout for wildlife! Be aware of cyclists around blind corners and be sure to pack your hat, as shade is limited.
You’ll find the Marsh Trail within the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, which is just a half-hour drive from Naples. It’s a 3.7 kilometer moderately trafficked out and back trail offering scenic views and is accessible year-round. The trail contains plenty of benches, viewpoints, and even an observation tower. Due to the wetland environment, it’s advised you don’t bring your dog along on this hike, as alligators are often spotted in the water.
If longer trails are more your thing, then you’ll love the Bird Rookery Swamp Trail, which is 12 miles in length. Part of the trail is a boardwalk, while the remaining trail is crushed shell, sand, or grass. With its maple-cypress swamp setting, the trail is home to plenty of wildlife, including alligators, otters, bobcats, white-tailed deer, and an abundance of birds. Again, it’s best to leave your four-legged friends at home for this one (and perhaps even small children), as the trail is located just inches above the swamp waters.
Naples is home to a bustling and trendy dining scene, so there’s sure to be a restaurant, café, or diner to satisfy your cravings. If you’ve worked up an appetite after a long hike, or simply feel like treating yourself to a delicacy, then you’re in luck. Here are our top restaurant recommendations!
For a selection of authentic Mediterranean dishes with a strong emphasis on Italian Cuisine, you just can’t look past the highly popular VERGINA Restaurant. It’s located on Fifth Avenue South in the Heart of Naples and serves a wide variety of delicious meals, including appetizers (grilled Sicilian octopus, anyone?), salads, pizza, pasta, fish, and meat.
For some of the tastiest seafood in Florida, we recommend heading to the ol’ faithful – Pinchers. Their hot crab and cheese dip is always a winner, but other menu favorites include the conch fritters, shrimp scampi, mussels marinara, and jumbo lump crab cake sandwich (that’s a mouthful!).
Caffè Milano is a modern and rustic Italian restaurant that has been serving Naples and its surrounding communities for over 5 years now. The restaurant aims to serve glorious and gourmet Italian food in a casual setting, making it affordable and enjoyable for all. Try their signature “skizza” (skinny and light pizza), or embrace all things carbs by chowing down on their homemade breads and pastas. You won’t even regret it!
Brooks Burgers is a family owned business that was established in 2010. Locals call them “Florida’s best burgers”, but don’t just take their word for it! The join is consistently among the Top 10 burger restaurants within the nation, taking out the #2 spot as recently as 2018. With burger combinations such as pesto and goat cheese, Angus beef and blue cheese, and (get this) American cheese and bacon between two glazed donuts – who could blame them?
It might have earned a name for itself in locations across the country, but the first and original Tommy Bahama Restaurant was opened right here in Naples in 1995. It’s the home of the world-famous coconut shrimp, not to mention other popular, tropical inspired dishes such as coffee crusted ribeye, filet mignon flatbread, and just about every cocktail you can imagine. You’re certainly in for a good time here!
After feasting and enjoying all that the hiking trails and state parks have to offer, you may be wondering: “what next?” Well, when it comes to Naples’ attractions and activities, you’re only just getting started. Here are some of the most fun things on offer in and around the city!
Looking to entertain some little ones? Or perhaps you’ve got some teenagers in-tow who are starting to get a little bored? Either way, these attractions will entertain both children, teens, and adults alike!
The Naples Zoo and Caribbean Gardens are a must-visit destination for any family – regardless of ages! Founded in 1919, the attraction is home to rare, exotic, and beautiful animals, including lions, giraffes, monkeys, pythons, and bears. Its accompanying historic tropical garden will also delight, with winding paths, colorful blooms, and towering trees.
At the Golisano Childrens Museum of Naples (or C’mon! as it’s often referred to), you’ll experience Southwest Florida’s first museum devoted for children and families to learn through play. Hands-on exhibits invite visitors of all ages to enjoy a variety of experiences, whether it’s journeying through the Everglades, climbing a huge Banyan tree, splashing in the Water Play area, navigating a marge maze, and more.
What should you do in Naples once the sun goes down? We’re glad you asked! Here are our suggested night-time attractions.
With closures not until 11 P.M. at night, Coral Cay Adventure Golf is the perfect night-time activity – whether as a friends or family group outing or for date night! This putt putt golf course is unlike any you’ve experienced. You see, it features a botanical garden setting with tropical vistas, harbor views, mini waterfalls, and a mister that keeps you cool throughout those hot nights.
If a post-dinner opera show is right up your alley, then you’re in luck. Opera Naples is a community-based, non-profit arts organization bringing internationally acclaimed artists and performances right here to the city. Check out their upcoming shows and calendar of events to see what takes your fancy.
What can you do in or around Naples that won’t cost anything more than a few dollars? The answer: plenty! Here are just two of our favorite attractions within the area that can be enjoyed on the cheap.
Summers can get pretty hot here in Florida, and what better way to cool off than with a visit to the refreshing Sun-N-Fun Lagoon? This family friendly water park features numerous water slides, as well as a lazy river, waterfall, playground pool, dive and lap pool, and so much more. The best part? You pay no more than just $13 per person, while children aged 3 and under enjoy free admission.
No time spent in Naples is complete without a visit to the famous Naples Botanical Garden. Across 170 acres, you can enjoy a “tropical garden paradise” featuring the plants and cultures of the tropics and subtropics between the latitudes of 26 degrees North and South. The garden hosts numerous events annually, dog walking days on Sundays and Tuesdays, and food and beverage facilities. Enjoy a whole day here for just $20 per adult and $10 per child aged between 4 and 14.
Looking to get the most out of your time spent within the city of Naples? Whether you want a fun way to waste away a Sunday afternoon or a date idea that won’t break the budget – here are our most recommended things to do in Naples that won’t cost you a cent.
Along with plentiful state parks within the region, Naples is also home to some extremely popular community parks, including the Donna Fiala Eagle Lakes Community Park. Facilities here include an aquatic complex, fitness center, baseball field, softball field, soccer / football fields, a basketball court, picnic shelter, playground and over 3 miles of trails that take you through the natural surroundings. It’s free to attend too, but the pool and fitness center do cost a few dollars per person to utilize.
You’ll find Naples Beach on 12th Avenue S, but you can’t miss it really – just look out for that famous, long pier! The beach itself features pristine white sand that stretches for miles, not to mention sparkling blue water that’s sure to cool you off on those hot summer days.
Alright, by now you’ve probably been on your feet all day exploring the sights and delights that Naples has to offer. If you’re craving some rest and relaxation, or even a bit of pampering, these are two of the best spas in the region.
With the motto “harmony, peace, and bliss”, you know you’re in for a relaxing experience at The Om Spa. They offer highly rated treatments across massages, facials, and body treatments, including body scrubs and body wraps. Just some of their most popular massages include Swedish massage and deep tissue massage, which instantly alleviate your accumulated stress and tension.
Looking for traditional Chinese massage therapy within Naples? The Neapolitan Spa opened in 2017 and has already proven to be a big hit within the city. You can enjoy a relaxing yet therapeutic experience across several types of massage, including Deep Tissue, Swedish, Hot Stone, and more.
If rejuvenation for you is less about deep relaxation and more about sweating it out, then you’re in luck. Naples is home to some of the highest-rated gyms and yoga studios within the region.
BKS Yoga Studio, short for Barbara King Studio, is a go-to for yoga classes within Naples. It’s a locally-owned business that has been running since 2015 and provides numerous classes across gentle, restorative, Yin, Feldenkrias, and so much more.
Have you always wanted to tryCrossFit? Or perhaps you’re a seasoned professional looking to take your CrossFit experience to a whole new level? At CrossFit Naples, the workouts are constantly varied, aiming to increase your strength and conditioning. Classes include groups of around 8 – 10 people and run for approximately one hour. Are you up for the challenge?
Looking to fulfill your wanderlust by heading outside of the region for a day? You could spend decades within Naples without barely scratching the surface of all there is to do in this large city, but consider these day trips next time you fancy a new adventure.
Did you know Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States? It’s located less than an hour’s drive from Naples, so is certainly worth the day trip for those residing in, or visiting, the region. The Everglades is home to numerous rare and endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile, and the elusive Florida panther. It also offers fun recreational activities for the whole family to enjoy, including bicycling, boating, camping, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, guided tours, and more.
Looking to escape to an even larger city within Florida? Miami is the style capital of the state and is celebrated for its art deco architecture, picturesque South Beach, Little Havana, and other popular attractions such as the Bayside Marketplace, Wynwood Walls, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, and more. You may even want to spend an entire weekend here, there’s that much to see and do!
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Naples that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Naples? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.