Naples is my happy place. I have been visiting for several years since my aunt and uncle bought a condo down there (hello free place to stay!) and I honestly find it the most relaxing place I have ever visited. Sometimes you just need a vacation where relaxation is the only thing on the agenda, and that is how I like to vacation in Naples. Beach, eat, and drink is kind of the majority of my activities, but because I have been there so much I have lots of fun activities to share!
Obviously, the top-go to activity is enjoying the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast. With powder-like sand and calm, clear water there is nothing better. All of Naples sits on a beautiful coastline which offers so many entry points. This allows you to find a different spot every day! There are several larger beaches; Naples Pier, Vanderbilt, and Lowdermilk Park if you are looking for areas with facilities; but these tend to be much more crowded.
My favorite spots are less crowded, drive down Gulf Shore Boulevard, find yourself a pay as you go parking spot (try 7th Avenue South, but most of the street have these parking areas), and enjoy an almost private beach, trust me! You will be sitting on a pristine beach surrounded by some of the most amazing mansions, not too shabby!
As you all know by now, I love to eat! While on vacation, the diet takes a break and I like to eat some good food! Here are my favorite spots in Naples for all aspects of your vacation! I am hungry just thinking of these places!!
Beach Lunch – Publix
(All my friends and I housing some Publix Subs!)
Do not question me here! Publix is the Southern version of Stop and Shop, but waaay better, and no I am not at all exaggerating. For your beach picnic you need a good sandwich and look no further than Publix, which make them fresh to order on the most amazing bread! Try the Multigrain, it’s amazing. (Think Subway, but actually good!) They also offer a lot of delicious prepared foods, a salad bar, wraps, sushi, the options are endless.
If one day you are not feeling a beach lunch, The Bayside is my go to lunch spot. I have to go there every time I am in Naples, not only for their stunning rooftop views, but for their Blackened Mahi Mahi Sandwich.
Sushi – Araya
This is by far my biggest hidden gem! This place has the best sushi I have ever had. It is a local place, away from the main tourist areas of Naples, and it is a must stop for anyone visiting the area. Trust me! Go for the Tuna Nachos, JB Roll, Pad Thai, and save room for the Thai Donuts…
Italian – MiraMare, Brio, and Café Milano
So because Naples is named after Naples, Italy, there are a ton of Italian Restaurants; so choosing just one seems unfair. These three restaurants are all in different areas of Naples, so you can truly try them all in one trip, (if you are like me and eat Italian food every other day)!
MiraMare is located right on the water in Venetian Village, and besides it probably being one of the best spots in Naples, the food is also delicious. Their Antipasti is to die for!
Brio is a more casual Italian restaurant located in the Waterside Shops. It is owned by the same group as Bravo Italian Restaurant, but Brio is far superior. Try their bruschetta and wedge salad, their pastas are also delicious.
Café Milano is located right on Fifth Avenue. It is gorgeous inside and offers seating outside on Fifth. The bread was warm and served with a large container of seasoned olive oil and olives; so they sold me right there. Try their meatball appetizer and homemade mozzarella.
Something Different – Bha Bha Persian Bistro
How many times when you are thinking of places to go to dinner do you say to yourself…I feel like something different? Well Bha Bha is that place! They offer Persian/Middle Eastern cuisine and it is like over the top delicious. They serve warm homemade pita bread for starters and it just gets better from there! Try their freshly made Hummus, Kabobs, and my personal favorite the Kermani Beef.
Besides eating and sitting on a beach, there are other fun activities to do in and around Naples…
These are the two main streets in Naples. They are filled with great restaurants and bars, cute stores, and lots of fantastic people watching. Plus everyone needs some pictures of beautiful palm trees lit up with twinkle lights!
Naples pier is a long pier where you can walk, fish (not that I would personally do that!), and hope to see some adorable dolphins. The views are breathtaking; check it out in the morning for the best chance of dolphin sightings or at night for the sunset.
If you are feeling wealthy, Naples has got you covered. The Waterside Shops, Venetian Village, Fifth, and Third all offer lots of high end shops to splurge or just browse. If you are looking for some good, inexpensive accessories check out the Best of Everything!
This was one of the best zoos I have been to. I mean I got to feed a giraffe, so I was obsessed. They also have a boat cruise through their monkey habitat which allows you to see the monkeys close up. I also like that the monkeys aren’t kept in cages, (the water keeps them on their own islands) it seem much more humane.
If you are lucky enough to go in the spring time, MLB Spring Training is in full effect! Watching the Red Sox play at Fenway South maybe even better than watching them in Boston! (Don’t kill me for saying that!) Tickets are inexpensive and the park is beautiful; plus who doesn’t want a Grapefruit League T-shirt?!
I am determined to see a manatee, and it has yet to happen. Manatee Park in Fort Myers is where it is usually guaranteed to have a spotting, however, because I have terrible luck and they are wild animals, I have never gotten to see one in person. (Check the website before you go, they give the likelihood of seeing the manatees there) It doesn’t stop me from walking around this cute little park. It also has a butterfly garden and a walkway where gators can often be spotted (also, no luck there!).
If you are looking for the traditional, honky-tonk, spring break version of Florida; Fort Myers Beach is the perfect spot. Just be warned the entire town shuts down at 10; so it is a day outing for sure. Check out the Smoking Oyster Brewery for lunch or dinner!
Now after all of this I just want to go back!