NAPLES' BEST SHOPPING CENTERS FOR THE SERIOUS BUY-HARD
By Chelle Koster Walton
Naples Local Expert
Downtown Naples shopping has a character all its own. Several distinct neighborhoods range from historic upscale to salty and spicy. To experience the spectrum, don't miss Fifth Avenue South, with its sophisticated, youthful vibe, or nearby Tin City, a throwback to Naples' commercial fishing days.
Away from downtown - also known as Old Naples - you will find plenty to tempt your credit card. Fashion-forward shopping centers in North Naples such as Waterside Shops and the newest, Mercato, are pure meccas of shopping for the die-hard buy-hard. Like most of the shopping arenas in and around Naples, dining experiences from ultra-casual to sitdown fine with water views complete the "shop 'til you dine" equation.
You'll also find opportunity for entertainment to enhance your shopping experience - everything from live bands and movies to theater and the beach.
If your travels take you to Marco Island, you will want to browse the many strip malls and shopping centers for souvenirs, jewelry, beachwear and gifts, plus there's a nearby factory outlet center.
North of Naples, Coconut Point has 140 stores that range from big-box outlets such as Best Buys and Target to specialty boutiques such as Brighton and Coach. In a lush boardwalk setting, it makes for a day trip complete with dining, movies and live entertainment at night.
10 Naples Outlet Center
Bargain shoppers head to this outlet mall for great deals. South of downtown Naples on the way to Marco Island, it is a modern, pleasant collection of nearly 30 factory outlet stores including Ann Taylor Outlet, Bass Outlet, Coach Outlet, IZOD Outlet, Jones New York Outlet, Loft Outlet, Kitchen Collection, Samsonite Factory Outlet, Swim Mart, Bonworth and a number of local specialty shops selling everything from ladies' apparel and men's shoes to golf equipment and consignment wares. Pretty in design, it covers about 146,000 square feet. Currently it recovers from the recession years, and many of the storefronts remain unoccupied. (239-775-8083)
9 Coastland Center
With more than 150 stores - including anchor stores Dillard's, JCPenney, Sears, and Macy's - the indoor, air-conditioned mall is a good place to shop on hot summer Naples days -- if you are looking for chain stores. You will find Abercrombie & Fitch, Old Navy, American Greetings, Bath & Body Works, Game Stop and more of the usuals, plus a tidy selection of one-of-a-kind or small local chain shops. The mall also boasts a food court plus a few chain sit-down dining restaurants. (239-262-2323)
8 Coconut Point
This mega-complex north of Naples combines residential condos, big-box stores, great dining, movie theaters and name boutiques. Its 140 stores include Dillard's department store, Target, Barnes & Noble, Apple Store, Best Buy, Yankee Candle, Boston Proper (the first storefront for the women's clothing catalog), Banana Republic and Bath & Body Works. Dining ranges from Five Guys Burgers & Fries and Moe's Southwest Grill to upscale choices such as Blue Water Bistro and Ruth's Chris Steak House. In season, January through Easter, Coconut Point hosts a weekly Farmers' Market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday. The outdoor mall also provides free shuttle service around its massive breadth. (239-992-9966)
7 Village on Venetian Bay
Lining the waterfront on two sides of the road (a tunnel allows you to drive or walk under the bridge instead of having to cross the busy road), it effects European style architecture. Another well traveled district for shopping and dining, its stores are of the upscale ilk selling jewelry, art, home accessories and clothing - nearly 60 businesses in all. Aqua Beachwear for women and Mondo Uomo for men are popular fashion stops. Try a Horse of a Different Color and Fabec-Young & Co. for gifts and home decor items. Five jewelry stores specialize in everything from watches and pearls to estate jewelry. (239-261-6100)
6 Waterside Shops
Burburry, Coach, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Hermes: Yes, that sound you are hearing is cha-ching. Expect to find the most luxe brands in a setting of pure architectural magnificence. It wasn't built on the waterfront, but its many water features earn the shopping center its name. Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue anchor chi-chi Waterside Shops, part of the exclusive Pelican Bay development. After a little retail therapy, there are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat -- high-end chains such as Brio Tuscan Grille, Silver Spoon Cafe and California Pizza Kitchen. (239-598-1605)
5 Crayton Cove
Small and tucked away from the downtown limelight, cozy and compact Crayton Cove has both nautical and historical charm. Known as Back Bay in the early 1900s, it was later renamed for early developer E.W. "Ed" Crayton and attracted a lively mix of commercial fishermen, workers building the Tamiami Trail and business folk who started an inn, a grocery store and Naples' first pharmacy. Today, despite Crayton Cove's deep roots and home to City Dock, the neighborhood has retreated into something of a hidden Naples secret. As far as shopping goes, there's a nautical hardware store filled with fun browseables and close to a dozen galleries and gift shops. A few restaurants add to the character, the most popular being the Dock at Crayton Cove, host of the goofy Great Dock Canoe Race every May. (239-821-5219)
Naples' newest shopping arena, Mercato builds on the Waterside Shops model of chain stores, but with less sticker shock and more restaurants, a vibrant night scene and residential real estate. Whole Foods Market and Sur La Table are the largest tenants. Interspersed around indoor-outdoor restaurants and a deluxe movie theater that offers dining options, shops are of the chain variety -- Pandora, Sperry Top-Sider, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers and the likes. Most of the restaurants turn into bars in the late hours. Places such as Blue Martini, MASA, AZN and the Pub Naples keep the shopping center hopping into the wee hours. ((239) 594-9400)
3 Third Street South
It intersects with the more vital Fifth Avenue South, but the shopping and dining district is five blocks off Fifth, so a bit of a walk. Near the Naples Fishing Pier and beaches, it's popular with the apres-beach crowd. Known for its Gallery Row, it also has earned fame for having one of the first, if not the first, shopping concierge, who can advise and see that your packages get back to your hotel. A plaza lies at the heart of the shopping district, but the recession of late has taken its toll, leaving several shops empty. Most of the remaining shops are high-end, one-of-a-kind, such as Marissa Collections, which sells prestige designer fashions, and Gattle's, carrying fine home linens and accessories. (239-434-6533)
2 Tin City
Once a tin-roofed dockage facility for the downtown Naples area, Tin City retains its rustic, salty charm and its dockage. What's changed is its reinvention into a fun shopping and dining complex. Most of the shops and eateries carry extremely casual and inexpensive wares with a nautical, beachy backbeat. The 30 or so shops occupy two ramshackle buildings and tend to be a little on the touristy side. It's a good place to find souvenirs in all price ranges. When it's time to dine Riverwalk and Pincher's Crab Shack are favorites with water views and local seafood on the menu. (239-262-4200)
1 Fifth Avenue South
Old Naples' comeback story is one of the most successful in the annals of downtown redevelopment. Reinvented in 1996 with careful planning, Fifth Avenue South was at the heart of the renaissance. What has resulted is a tony street lined with sidewalk cafes, mostly one-of-a-kind shops and galleries, a vital theater, an arts center, hotels and a city park. But let's talk shopping: Mixed in with great restaurants, the shops sell art, resort wear, jewelry and fun gifts for everyone, including the pets. You will find chains such as Chico's and Tervis, but also unique shops such as Port Royal Jewelers, where you have to ring a bell to gain admission. The restaurants of Fifth Avenue South present some of the town's most divine dining options.Throughout the year, the merchants host a number of street art and other festivals. (239-692-8436)
About Chelle Koster Walton
Chelle Koster Walton -- the Local Expert for Naples, Florida and the Caribbean -- 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 was contributing editor for Caribbean Travel & Life for 12 years and has written guidebooks on the Bahamas. 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.