BEST NAPLES SPOTS TO PARTY DAY OR NIGHT
By Chelle Koster Walton
Naples Local Expert
Here, we distill the best local nightclubs and bars down to an elite selection of ten that gives you the broad flavor of the destination's party scene. These places promise a stellar experience and a taste of the city that you just will not want to miss.
Naples may be best known for its Fifth Avenue South nightlife scene filled with twinkling lights, music and crowds. The city's beautiful people hit the street and its club-restaurants starting early with an older crowd and into the wee hours with the city's young executives and late-nighters. At first glance, the scene looks conservative, but it can get surprisingly rowdy. Newer, the bars and pubs of Mercato entertainment center in North Naples have sparked serious competition for downtown's scene.
You will find a lively scene throughout Naples and Marco Island. Although it is known for its sophisticated nightlife with upscale clubs such as the new Alto - Live, Jazz, Kitchen and the longtime favorite, Bayside Seafood Grill and Bar, the destination also has its funky fun bars filled with character - and characters - places such as Snook Inn.
10 MASA Grille
Brought to you by the folks that introduced D'Amico & Sons and Campiello to Naples, this restaurant and tequila bar takes you South of the Border with stylized authentic cuisine and a connoisseur's selection of tequilas. Categorizing its tequilas under headings such as crisp and luscious, bold, silky, rich and juicy and La Lista del Capitan, the tequila menu describes the nuances of each with the exquisite detail you find on a fine wine list. Drink and dine streetside among lush greenery or inside where it's properly festive, but not in your typical tacky Mexican restaurant motif. The handsome bar dominates the interior with drama and style. (239-598-0887)
9 Silverspot Cinema
Its smart lounge and dining room make it easy to do dinner and a movie. Or you can go to the counter and order from a selection of gourmet to-go sandwiches such as mini-sliders or blackened chicken, grab a drink from the full bar and head into the theater with your meal. The top-of-the-line seats with their soft leather upholstery and ample platform between them handily accommodate drinks and food boxes. This experience is all about comfort and quality - the best digital projection and sound design plus ample seats and leg room. (Rows are set 60 inches apart rather than the traditional 45 inches.) (239-592-0300)
8 Sugden Community Theatre
Do not be fooled by the "community" in the theater's name - the Naples Players troupe that performs here is anything but amateur in quality. During its more than 50 years of performing, the company became so popular, it was able to raise funds to build its own modern theater in the late 1990s. And on post Fifth Avenue South, no less! The Naples Players mounts more than 220 performances each year. Besides its main stage and an experimental black box theater, the Sugden features an outdoor stage. In addition to the Naples Players, it plays host to the Naples Jazz Society, ballet, opera and other performance art. (239-263-7880)
7 Snook Inn
Chickee bars are a signature form of the Naples area party scene. Because of the destination's close proximity to Seminole and Miccosukee Indian tribes, many resorts and restaurants hire local tribesman to construct the open-air thatched structures for the best local color. The chickee at Snook Inn overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway and hosts live island music daily - what could be more purely Floridian? Whether a soloist or a small band, the music starts at 1:30 p.m. Lunchtime attracts an older crowd that comes for seafood with their rum punch and dancing. The music plays until 10 a.m., and the dinner-time crowd becomes younger and more local. (239-394-3313)
6 Old Naples Pub
The Old Naples Pub is located in the thick of one of Naples' leading shopping zones. Folks trying to avoid the sticker shock and relatively formal air of Third Street restaurants and bars head here for a casual setting indoor and out. The lunch and dinner menu strays a bit from the traditional pub fare, offering everything from fish and chips and burgers to Caesar salads and bratwurst. The bar's extensive beer list makes a splash with brew-heads. This is a cool place to hang, and patrons are always treated like long-lost friends. The shaded courtyard area holds tables that fill up on cool, sunny days. Inside has a typical pub feel. The happy hour prices are more than reasonable. (239-649-8200)
5 Bayside Seafood Grill and Bar
The downstairs Cafe venue is perfect for an early or late supper, and diners have the pleasure of being serenaded by a pianist on Friday and Saturday nights. The bar's upstairs locale affords patrons incredible views of Venetian Village, the bay and its waterfront homes as they sip their favorite libations. Knows as the Upper Deck Bar, it affords a casual, laid-back atmosphere in an open-air setting and also features live entertainment every day but Monday and Tuesday. Well-rounded menus both upstairs and downstairs cover all the culinary bases for night-lifers looking for sustenance. The clientele is mostly mature adults, so don't expect late-night revelry. (239-649-5552)
Formerly known as the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, it is dedicated to both visual and performing arts in one architecturally forward location. The Naples Philharmonic Orchestra still calls the center home as does the Miami Ballet. And most Neapolitans still refer to it as "The Phil." Its calendar of events cuts a wide swath of entertainment. A Broadway series runs during the winter season, when the snowbirds flock in. The Artis hosts audiences of up to 1,425 throughout the year for touring orchestras, opera, comedians, modern dance and more than 400 events yearly. It also has a 200-seat black-box theater. (239-597-1900, 800-597-1900)
3 Alto - Live, Jazz, Kitchen
Hot and new on the Naples' nightlife scene, Alto -Live Jazz Kitchen opened mid-February 2014, in a jazz club atmosphere inspired by the late, legendary Zanzibar Blue in Philadelphia, where co-owner Chef Charles Mereday served as executive chef back in the 1990s. Located at Bayfront Naples, the club opens for dinner and entertainment nightly, including jazz and other live entertainment groups of three or more performers. Friday and Saturday nights, the club jams until midnight. Chef Nadir Sherwani partners with Mereday, whose nearby Mereday's restaurant has achieved high acclaim, and heads up the kitchen. Small plates such as fontina bechamel crepes, creative flatbreads and main dishes the likes of porterhouse with Yorkshire pudding hit a high note with foodies who love a side of tasty licks with their dinner. (239-261-2586)
2 H B's On the Gulf
Part of the 100-plus-year-old Naples Beach Hotel, H.B.'s draws fans from beyond the resort for drinking and dining with a fabulous view of the beach, gulf and sunset. For nearly 10 years, its wine list has earned the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine, plus the bartenders have a flair for tropical drinks. Have a seat at the bar with a clear view of the sea or get even closer at a row of chairs lined up outside the flung-open windows on the porch. Hungry? Lunch and dinner menus offer a variety of small plates, salads, sandwiches and entrees. ((239) 435-4347)
1 Blue Martini
One of a chain of upscale bars nationwide (but mostly in Florida), Naples' Blue Martini has bars both outside and inside that fill nearly every night. Happy hour from 4 to 8 p.m. discounts all drinks 50 percent. Live bands typically play from 7:30 to 11 p.m., at which time the house DJ takes over, spinning the hits until 2 a.m. The bar also offers weekly specials such as Wednesday Girls Night Out and Champagne Saturdays with specially priced high-end bubbly by the bottle. The over-sized Blue Martini is the signature drink - made with blue curacao and Cointreau and served with a glow stick. It matches the flashy glow of the inside bar, where the dance floor fills with party people all night long. Food from light nibbles to full-blown dinners are available throughout the night. (239-591-2583)
About Chelle Koster Walton
Chelle Koster Walton -- the Local Expert for Naples, Florida -- has been covering the destination for 30 years. Her top-selling Sarasota, Sanibel Island, and Naples guidebook (Countryman Press) is in its sixth edition. She also contributes to the destination's Web site and annual visitors guide. Chelle especially loves Naples' beaches, shopping, and restaurants. For more than 15 years she reviewed restaurants for Naples Illustrated magazine and continues to do so for Naples News. A veteran travel writer, Chelle has published thousands of articles for Miami Herald, USA TODAY, Latitudes; has written/contributed to a dozen guidebooks, and produces travel shows for the local PBS station.
Read more about Chelle Koster Walton here.