My grandparents have had a house in Naples for 17 years, and it has been a family favorite ever since. It is an oasis after long Chicago winters. As a family, we share time there throughout the season. We visit my grandparents while also enjoying a mini vacation.
Naples has a lot to offer a tourist, but it’s also a great place to just slow down and relax, enjoying the simplicity of doing nothing. Because we’ve been coming here for so long, all of the members of my family have different “favorites” in Naples. They may not be the traditionally exciting touristic activities, but my aunt loves going to the beach, while my dad loves boating, and my poppy loves cocktails at sunset. After soliciting the feedback of a few family members, I compiled a top 10 things to do list according to the Arzbaechers!
1) Boating in the Intercoastal
Just south of Naples is the top of the island and everglades region of Florida, also known as the Intercostal. A series of inlets, islands and swampy rivers, my dad loves taking us out on the boat and searching for manatees while soaking in the sun. It’s so scenic in this part of Florida, and there is so much wildlife and nature to enjoy. It’s a usually a full day excursion, but well worth the time. Try to go on a day with a bit of a breeze, and don’t forget your swimsuit!
2) Hanging out at the Beach
This is the top activity for my aunts. They can spend the whole day on the sandy Naples beach! Even though I like the beach, I don’t usually have the endurance for a full day there. But man it feels good for a few hours. Reading, tanning and people watching with a full cooler is a great way to spend an afternoon. And the sand is full of cool shells!
3) Wandering the Naples Pier
A short walk from the shopping district, the pier is a great place to people watch. There are always fisherman trying to catch something, and couples walking around enjoying the ambiance. It’s a good place to watch the sunset while slurping down some fresh fruit juice. Enjoy the views of the beautiful ocean front homes too!
4) 3rd & 5th Avenue Shops
My mom is a shopper, even if she never really buys anything. She loves to wander around the 3rd and 5th street shops, checking out the little art shops and boutiques. Naples has a ton of nice stores to explore in the downtown area, so I typically tag along on mom’s window shopping tours. The demographics of the clothing stores are a little bit older than me, but there are so many other quirky shops that’s still worth a visit! The art galleries are the highlight!
5) Pool time
This is a family favorite, especially when we were younger. My grandparents have a beautiful (and unique!) backyard pool with hand laid tile bottom. This pool was handcrafted by the former Tile King of Southwest Florida and it is so colorful and special. It’s my favorite thing about this house. When I was a kid, we’d spend hours snorkeling around, doing jumping contests, and underwater handstands. I still love swimming and taking a dip in it too and it’s a great way to rinse off after a long day :)
6) Farmer’s Market (on Davis)
Saturday morning has always been a farmer’s market day for me, so this is one of my top 10 items! I love local produce, and Florida has a much longer growing season than the Midwest. Plus the selection of food is so much broader! There is seafood, fresh citrus, and local produce available, as well as a mixture of other handcrafts and goodies. I definitely have to give a shout out to Capitan Ken, who always serves us up the best freshly caught lobster and shrimp. After years of going every Saturday, he is now friends with my grandparents.
My grandpa started the sunset tradition long ago and now it’s a part of nearly every trip to Florida. We pack up the car with beach chairs and a well-stocked cocktail cooler at about 7pm to head to the beach. It’s only a few blocks away from the house, but with a west facing view, the Naples beach on the gulf shore is so beautiful. We always look for the ever elusive green flash while talking about everything and anything, and enjoying a lovely end to each day.
I’m not a golfer, but pretty much everyone else in my family is, which is why this made the list! With nearly 365 days of sunshine, what better place to enjoy 18 rounds than Naples. My dad is a member of Old Florida, which the other family members love to mooch off of. They typically go at least once or twice a trip, and will play as a group. But there is also the Naples Beach public golf course, which is steps my grandparent’s place and is a much more approachable club to play at.
9) Outdoor Dining
Naples has an amazing food scene with more restaurants than you’ll have time to try. Everyone has their favorite, and there are tons of great options. My grandparent’s love Cosmos & Nemos, while my mom loves Grouper and Chips. The nearby dairy queen is my little cousins top choice, and my sister loves Roys. I’m not a picky eater, as long as it’s good quality, so my top criteria is outdoor seating and fresh seafood! We also love to eat dinner poolside at home, cooking up all the tasty treats we got on at the farmer’s market. It’s so relaxing to hang out with family and just enjoy a delicious home cooked meal. On the menu this trip was butter poached lobster and Easter ham.
10) Bike Rides
No shocker, this is one of my Top 10 items. I love biking in Naples! It’s so flat and easy to cycle that I always take out a beach cruiser style bike. The drivers are pretty respectful of the bike laws so you can feel safe on the road. I love riding on the side streets and back roads, oogling at the amazing architecture and stunning homes. There are tons of tear downs in Naples so there is always new homes to see! Plus there are tons of fresh flowers and bushes that you can smell blocks away!