A bike ride from boutique shopping and a walk from pristine white sands, Naples offers a worry-free getaway.
By Michael Persson
As home to the second-largest number of millionaires per capita in the US, Naples, you could say, is full of green. Some of it, though, comes in the form of natural beauty. Its proximity to the Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands makes it a major destination for eco-tourists. Then, downtown shopping is king at the 5th Avenue South and 3rd Street South districts. Gallery Row bundles the area’s artists, and the Village on Venetian Bay is where chic is sold and duly bought. The Naples Players, a nationally recognized theater group, has the high-brow taken care of and swamp buggy races held at the Florida Sports Park nails down the other, colorful end. After each experience, you can crash in one of Naples’s hotels and resorts.
Perched along seven miles of Florida coastline, Edgewater Beach Hotel lets you put down your bags in a suite within view of blue gulf waters. Set up a weekend plan with the concierge to reserve a Saturday space for a candlelit dinner that overlooks the water or an afternoon cruise scouting for dolphins.
The idea of arriving at a beach destination and catching a theater play soon after landing might seem crazy, if it weren’t for the fact that Naples is home to the next best stop beyond Broadway, The Naples Players. You’ll be delighted with the chorus of such musicals as Sondheim’s Gypsy in one of the more respected venues in the country.
The Edgewater Beach Hotel is set beside the beach, and so watching the sun rise and gulf waves barely break is as easy as your eggs at Coast restaurant’s outdoor terrace. Or, if you prefer, a little sunshine French toast mixed with Grand Marnier gets the day underway real quick.
The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is 13,000 acres of preserved nature and domain to the largest remaining stand of old-growth bald cypress in North America. The two-and-a-quarter-mile boardwalk trail that runs through it is the chance to observe pristine habitats, such as upland pine forests, open wet prairie, and marsh wetlands, as well as the virgin bald cypresses. With flora comes obviously fauna. The world’s largest congregation of woodstocks can be seen, and, if you’re lucky, you might match the call of the barred owl by actually seeing one.
The art of looking up is rewarded at The Baker Museum for some of its goliath pieces are part of the architecture. High above the 30,000-square-foot museum is a colorful piece from legendary glass artist Dale Chihuly, one of his famed Persian ceilings. And welcoming at its entrance, the two-toned gate by metal artist Albert Paley inspires first-time guests.
Just a four-mile bike ride from the Edgewater Beach Hotel, Fifth Avenue South boasts designer labels, like Boston Proper and White House | Black Market, between fine art galleries. Explore one-of-a-kind jewelry at Kristoff Jewelers or indulge in specialty stationery at Arabesque. Come back in the evening for a quiet stroll and wander the shops under the white-lighted trees.
Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens began in 1919 through the vision of botanist Dr. Henry Nehrling, who wished to preserve “what is still left.” With honey badgers – one of three zoos in the country to have these tenacious creatures – and the rare Madagascan fosa, the wildlife playbill, here, raises eyebrows. And when added to the numerous shows like Safari Canyon, an up-close concert with wildlife footage and live cam action thrown up on video screens, getting your Dr. Doolittle on is a doozy.
Where to Stay Edgewater Beach Hotel