While Naples is known for its pristine beaches, the city also has flourishing wetlands such as the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary - home to an ancient cypress forest and colony of nesting American woodstorks. The Audubon facility is also the gateway for the South Florida Birding Trail, part of the Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail. Save a morning to meander down the park's 2.25-mile boardwalk, which is interpreted with educational signs that lead visitors along a self-guided tour. The walkway allows guests to travel through a wet prairie, a cypress forest, pine uplands and a marsh as they observe the native wildlife.
A leading tour operator in the Everglades City area, it offers outdoor adventure types a number of different options to explore Everglades National Park, Marco Island, Big Cypress National Wildlife Preserve and environs. The operation is best known for its boat-assisted eco-kayaking tours, which transport you and kayaks to some of the out islands of the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge that would otherwise take you days to reach under solely paddle power. It also leads narrated and fully outfitted paddle only tours that can last anywhere from a couple of hours to nine days. Specialty tours include kayak fishing and charter boat fishing.
At Marco Island's northern end, a sand spit peninsula intercepts the sand, stealing the beach from the main island. Sand Dollar Spit, known for its seashells, is accessible from Tigertail Beach, the public access operated by Collier County. Meanwhile at the Tigertail public access, a lagoon has formed between it and Sand Dollar Spit. It fills with birds, especially in the morning breakfast hours. The access also has playgrounds, water sports rentals, a food concession and restrooms. To get to Sand Dollar Spit, you can swim across the lagoon or walk south to where it connects to land.
The quintessential Naples boating experience, the elegant, 105 foot long Naples Princess dining yacht offers various excursions departing from the downtown area on a daily basis. Passengers have the option of sightseeing only and not taking lunch or dinner on the meal cruises. The 90-minute lunch cruise includes a buffet of premium deli meats and cheeses, fresh bakery breads and rolls, various pasta salads and homemade cookies.The two-hour sunset dinner cruise serves passengers two entrees plus Caesar salad, vegetables and potatoes. Alternatively, there's a two-hour "More Than Hors d'Oeuvres" sunset cruise with dessert in addition to a selection of light nibbles.The narrated cruises take in the wealthy neighborhoods around Naples Bay plus the wildlife of the Gulf of Mexico and back waters. Naples Princess offers cash bars and special live entertainment cruises.
The spa at Naples Grande Beach Resort is a freestanding facility featuring 12 treatment rooms, a floating hair and nail salon, plus a couples villa for romantic treatments for two. Set amid gardens, waterfalls, fountains and a meditation labyrinth, the spa induces immediate relaxation with outdoor spaces and a meditation lounge furnished with Zen inspired chaises. Body scrubs and wraps complement the menu of individual massages, facials and special packages from two to five hours long. At The Spa at Naples Grande Beach Resort, locals and hotel guests will find a variety of treatments and top-of-the-line western therapies. Most recently, the spa has incorporated ayurvedic and eastern therapies too. Ayurveda is the traditional healing system of India - one of the world's oldest and based on the idea of restoring balance to the whole person by addressing body, mind and spirit.
Dinner and a movie comes at the utmost convenience at Silverspot. Order from a full menu selection of gourmet to-go sandwiches, snacks and entrees such as mini-sliders or blackened chicken. Grab a drink from the full liquor 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.)
Highlights of its beautifully designed 170 acres include a Caribbean Garden with a traditional re-created chattel house, a dramatic waterfall feature with giant lilypads in the Brazilian Garden and preserved natural wetlands with a birding tower. The Lea Asian Garden adheres to the property's mission to showcase the plants and culture of subtropical climates. In addition to a 250-variety plumeria collection, a rice paddy and Asian water elements and vegetation, it incorporates a re-created 15th century Hindu temple and other exotic shrines and structures. The Florida Garden takes an educational path with an enabling garden designed for physically impaired visitors, a section devoted to eco-gardening, a boardwalk and birding tower and stunning lake views.
Docked at the Naples City Dock at Crayton Cove, this beautiful 53-foot catamaran sails three times daily and is available for private charters. The popular beach trip takes up to 40 passengers through Naples Bay and along its waterfront mansions and natural mangroves scenes. Once in the Gulf of Mexico, the sailboat heads to Keeywadin Island, an historic island accessible only by boat. It is known for its superb shelling and plush white powder. Twice weekly the trip includes naturalists from the Southwest Florida Conservancy to narrate. Other tours include nature watch excursions, shelling trips and a nightly sunset cruise.
Downtown 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, vital theaters, 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. 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.
A staple in the community for more than 100 years, the Naples Fishing Pier is a must-see attraction close to the downtown goings-on around Third Street South. Once the entry point for those who arrived to Naples by boat, the main mode of transportation in the early days, today its importance lies in the recreational rather than practical realm. Six miles of flawless, white sand meets aquamarine waves that lull beach lovers into relaxation. Bring a rod to try fishing off the pier, or just watch as others reel in their catches. The pier and beach never close, and provide the perfect spot to watch the setting sun dip into the endless sea. It's a nightly ritual for fishermen, strollers, lovers and pelicans.