When the rest of the country is preparing to hibernate, Naples is just warming up. From wild animals to wild nights on Third Street South, the Paradise Coast has plenty to offer all autumn long.
Naples in the fall unfolds like red standing cypress flowers that dot the area’s natural areas. From cultural events like fashion shows, film festivals, and art exhibits to great food found in both the farmers’ markets and annual Stone Crab Festival, the Paradise Coast pulls out all the stops for this under-appreciated season. Temperatures dip making it an ideal time to explore the great outdoors either through a telescope or with the help of the Naples Zoo.
Activities & Attractions
Enjoy Up-Close Animal Encounters
When you think of meeting Florida wildlife, you probably picture flamingos and dolphins. Offered on Tuesdays starting in August but ending for the season on November 27, Wild Encounters at the Naples Zoo actually gets you up close with some a-typical animals, including Uno, the one-eyed panther; Dee Gee, the giant anteater; and the zoo’s three honey badgers (who are part of only a handful still remaining in the US). You’ll get to see these creatures behind-the-scenes, as zoo officials feed, train, and exercise them.
See Some Seasonal Sentries
Though it may be fall, you get to experience all four seasons in one fell swoop at The Baker Museum, through The Four Seasons exhibition. Opening in September, the installation by American artist Philip Haas consists of four 14-foot-tall human busts that are whimsical representations of each season and are entirely constructed of natural elements, like vegetables, fruit, branches, leaves, ivy, and moss. Inspired by Italian Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s paintings, the exhibition has been on a five-year, nine-venue tour of museums and gardens in the US and Europe, including New York Botanical Garden and the Gardens of Versailles – and has now landed in Naples until June 2019.
Find a Farmers’ Market (Out of 15!)
While most farmers’ markets around the country are preparing to call it quits as the warm weather begins to fade, Florida is just starting to roll theirs out. And Naples is no exception, offering over 15 different farmers’ markets (yes, 15!), starting in October and running until April. A few we suggest you seek out: Third Street South Farmers’ Market, overflowing with fresh produce, grass-fed beef, seafood, pastries and baked goods, prepared foods, jams, relishes, and more behind Tommy Bahama in the Neapolitan Parking Lot; St. John Farmers’ Market, with 40 vendors that set up shop alongside a scenic lake; and the Vanderbilt Farmers’ Market, said to be the largest in Naples with more than 80 vendors.
Go Stargazing with a Native
By mid-October, the humidity in the area drops from 90 percent to as low as 50 percent, therefore, creating the best conditions to stargaze in Naples. Environmentalist, educator, and fourth-generation Floridian Linda Jacobsen offers personalized tours of the cosmos with the aid of a high-powered telescope as she points out constellations, planets, and individual stars.
Festivals & Events
International Film Festival, 10/25–28
This film festival has been running for over a decade and now attracts a wide range of directors, both emerging and established in their careers. The films shown at both the Artis–Naples campus and the Silverspot Cinema range from documentaries to short films to narrative works from across the US and the world.
Paradise Coast Food & Wine, 10/27
This foodie festival showcases the best of all things local, from wine and beer to chefs and mixologists. Expect a few foodie celebrities in attendance, like Chopped judge Scott Conant.
Stone Crab Festival, 10/27–29
October is the official start of stone crab season. To celebrate the unofficial dish of Florida, Naples hosts this weekend festival in the crab’s honor and includes block parties, eating contests, deals across the city’s restaurants and stores, live music, and more.
Scene to be Seen, 11/1–2
This “runway arts show” is meant to have all the glamour and energy of New York Fashion Week with the atmosphere and attitude that is totally Naples. The models and featured designers are all internationally recognized, but call the Paradise Coast home.
Christmas Glow Fun Run, 12/15
When runners in other parts of the country are hanging up their sneakers or turning to treadmills, Naples is donning day-glow and light sticks and taking to the streets for this festive 5K. The track is lit with Christmas lights and a decorative snowfall at the finish line.
New Years Fireworks, 12/31
Starting at 6 p.m., Third Street South – Naples’s historic high-end shopping district – becomes ground zero for NYE entertainment. Expect twinkle lights, tinsel, and live music on the sidewalks and champagne and buffets in the district’s various restaurants. The festivities end with snow machines pumping the street full of the fluffy white stuff before families head to the water for the fireworks display.
Where to Stay Edgewater Beach Hotel