Stop at Vanderbilt Beach for a cool-down swim — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
Morning is the best time to bike around Naples, before the day heats up and while the wildlife is most active and visible. So follow this half-day itinerary for a ride around the city.
Start with a ride through Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, which opens its gates at 8 a.m. The paved road takes you through native coastal vegetation to the eponymous pass, where you can climb an observation tower and watch for birds and dolphins.
From there, follow Gulfshore Drive bike path south along the beach resorts and condos of Vanderbilt Beach. Stop in at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort for breakfast beachside at Baleen restaurant. Try the housemade corned beef hash and eggs or coconut brioche French toast.
LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort in Naples — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
Then hit the pavement once again to burn off calories, and pedal the short distance to the Vanderbilt Beach public access, where you can park your bike at the bike rack. Take a cool-down dip into the gentle Gulf of Mexico waves to climate control the rest of your ride.
Pick up a cold drink at the little beach mart just up the road. Head east on Vanderbilt Beach Road, where you will pass the Ritz-Carlton Naples resort before you reach North Pointe Drive at the stoplights. Take a right here to enter the Pelican Bay development, which provides paths for walking and cycling.
Take a right on Pelican Bay Boulevard and continue around the neighborhood, which is shaded with large trees and populated with smaller, upscale neighborhoods of homes, condominiums and parks. Pelican Bay Boulevard eventually passes Artis-Naples and its Patty & Jay Baker Naples Museum of Art. This is a good place to take a cultural break and visit the galleries of changing exhibits and iconic pieces such as its Dale Chihuly Persian Ceiling.
Just past the Artis, take a right turn and continue to the back entrance of Waterside Shops. Here you will find some of Naples' priciest inventory in high-end franchise stores, such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrum. Spend some time strolling through the stores and boutique shops until you have worked up an appetite for lunch.
Waterside Shops boasts a number of fine options for casual dining. Favorites include BrickTop's, which seats you inside or out and serves thin-crust flatbreads, an ahi tuna burger and a variety of fresh salads at lunch time. Reward yourself with the crab cake salad. You deserve it after your morning spent burning calories in the lovely, quiet North Naples area.