Located on the western edge of Florida, about 100 miles from Miami, Naples was first developed in 1886 when a small group of travelers from Kentucky and Ohio bought long stretches of beachfront property. Although today Naples attractions feature lively shopping and dining scenes, the city's leisurely pace and historic elegance create its biggest draws for out-of-towners.
After construction of a hotel and pier in 1888, a string of luxurious homes were built in the area, eventually becoming known as Olde Naples. Largely unchanged, this historic sector presents Victorian-era mansions and cozy cottages nestled beneath coconut palms. Residents regularly walk to the beach or visit seaside Naples restaurants at dusk for sunset watching. Visitors join in this beloved tradition, marveling at the colors and sometimes glimpsing "the green flash," a verdant burst of light that appears just before the sun dips below the horizon.
Thanks to its location along the Gulf of Mexico, Naples boasts numerous beaches that are easily accessible from nearly all east-to-west streets. In the early morning, locals collect shells and other ocean treasures, and bird watching is favorite activity. If you like to sleep in, stroll the fishing pier that juts out from the main municipal beach after the early birds have flown. Naples attractions like beach volleyball, children's playground areas, and seaside picnic tables create just the right mix for rest and play.
After lounging by the ocean or watching loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings make their way to the Gulf, dust off the sand and head east into downtown Naples for some serious shopping. The district offers a broad range of quaint specialty boutiques, art galleries and luxury brand retailers. Fifth Avenue South is particularly well visited for its sophisticated apparel and art, set among rows of flowering Poinciana trees. "Evening on Fifth" events, scheduled monthly year-round, turn the street into a showcase for performers from musicians to comedians and magicians.
Just a short walk west, Third Street South offers another stellar shopping and relaxation opportunity. The street is noted for abundant art and antiques, at retailers such as The Englishman, which offers fine art from the past three centuries. Visitors seeking wearable creations should stop by Four Winds Gallery, recognized for its museum-quality American Indian jewelry. In addition to its distinctive stores, Third Street South is also suffused with historic charm and lush landscaping. Wander around the antique European fountains, flower-draped courtyards and luxurious gardens. A sense of quiet rejuvenation permeates the avenues, encouraging visitors to linger by pools of lily pads or walkways lined with calathea foliage that resembles bird plumage.
Appreciate the outdoors on one of Naples' many golf courses or natural attractions. Test your skill on highly rated courses that include The Links of Naples and Eagle Lake Golf Club, or explore Naples Botanical Garden and its complex tropical landscapes. At day’s close, dine at the beach’s edge at the romantic Turtle Club or pursue Naples’ Italian restaurant theme at Ristorante Ciao, a 25-year institution.