Foodies in the Naples area dream they died and went to Oakes Farms. Because it has been a to-die-for source of fresh produce for as long as many residents can remember. Its current marketplace in East Naples has blossomed into so much more than the produce and products that come from the 20-year Oakes dynasty. Oakes Farms promotes the seed to table movement through its marketplace and delivery to restaurants and area schools. For the shopper, that means you can get a good hot (or cold) meal while you shop for everything you could possibly need for your next meals – from potted fruit trees to seafood, meat, bakery goods, coffee beans, wine and key lime pie. The selections are top shelf and exclusive – and often organic.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: This is the definitive shop for local foodies with edible souvenirs to take home.
Chelle's expert tip: Oakes Farms products include dressings such as peach pecan, apple pecan and roasted garlic with Vidalia onion and sweet pepper vinaigrette. There are fuzzy navel and zesty horseradish jams, plus fresh salsa and guac.
First, let's dispense with any notion that Naples might be a big surfing destination. It's not. When winter and tropical storms whip up, you will see surfers head to the beach. Nonetheless, every Florida town has its surf shops, and Naples is no exception. It's a refreshing presence along tony Third Street South's designer shops and claims to be "Naples original surf shop since 1983." It does sell and rent surfboards and gear as well as paddleboards, skimboards and skateboards – typical surf shop fare. If you're looking for souvenirs for young adults on your list, you will find here all the name-brand surf wear for guys and girls. The shop also sells its own logo line of T-shirts and rash guards, which make great localized gifts.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Naples oldest "surf shop," it sells gear and souvenirs to support the destination's water sports reputation.
Chelle's expert tip: Skimboarding is more dependable and common than surfing in Naples, and this shop sells equipment and gives lessons.
Of course the best souvenirs from Florida are strewn all over its beaches – free for the taking. Bonita's beaches provide a good selection, especially after a storm front blows through. If you don't find the shells you are seeking on the beach, you can find them at a shell shop that sells specimen shells in addition to supplies for making shell crafts, identification books and gifts made out of shells. The Sea Shell Co. carries all of those items in a pleasant store a short drive from the beach. It also carries the usual array of tacky Florida souvenirs, if you must. But who wouldn't be happy with a pretty little wentletrap shell or huge lightning whelk?
Recommended for Best Shopping because: The Naples area has several shell shops, but this one has the best selection and atmosphere.
Chelle's expert tip: The treasured shell finds in these parts are junonias and lion's paws - easiest to find in a shell shop.
Naples Soap Company opened its first store in Tin City in 2009 and has since expanded to five other upscale locations throughout Florida. Founder Deanna Renda suffered eczema and psoriasis. She founded the company to relieve her symptoms and those of others with similar afflictions through the use of natural and organic ingredients. She cleverly localized the scents of her soaps, sea salt scrubs, body butters and moisturizer sticks. Her soaps, for instance, come in "flavors" such as grapefruit tea tree sea salt, Florida key lime, Florida rum runner, orange slice, pineapple cilantro salt and two-toned Florida sunrise/sunset sea salt.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: The company's soaps have quickly become a favorite of locals, expanding throughout Florida.
Chelle's expert tip: The loofah soaps build a ring of loofah into the soap - very cool!
Marco Island, as the jumping off point for Florida's Ten Thousand Islands, runs on boat horsepower. So it follows that one of the most apt souvenirs you can buy would be for sale at a marina. You will be surprised that the ship's store at Rose Marco River Marina carries so much more than boating and fishing supplies. It is the best place in town to find boating, fishing and Florida-appropriate men's and women's wear. It starts with a line of Columbia shirts - the unofficial fishing uniform shirt of Florida. From there, you can find everything from sandals and shorts to dresses and jewelry. Oh, and by the way, you can also find fishing gear and boat supplies.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: It is the best place in town to find boating, fishing and Florida-appropriate men's and women's wear.
Chelle's expert tip: Don't expect to find bargains here, but the line of clothing is unlike anywhere else on the island.
What better souvenir to capture the essence of a place than a work of art inspired and created there. It does not have to be an expensive piece of work by a name-brand local artist – of which you will find plenty in the Naples area. To find affordable works by local artists that offer a sense of place in the bargain, head to the Gallery & Gift Shop at the Center for the Arts near downtown Bonita Springs. The work created here by members of the community in the center's studios and classes is for sale on site. Clever wall hangings made from palm fronds, fused glass and other artistic jewelry, beachscape paintings, ceramic creations, note cards and prints make wonderful mementos of a visit. In addition, the gift shop sells toys and games that bring out the creative spark in children, plus art supplies.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: The gift shop sells locally inspired works of art at affordable prices.
Chelle's expert tip: Check the center's web site to see what's showing in the gallery, where you might find a piece of fine art worth paying extra for.
Nothing says "Naples" like jewelry. The town is virtually dripping with gold, diamonds and precious gems. Nothing says "Naples jewelry" more specifically than downtown's Cleopatra's Barge. When Marilyn Janss first opened her jewelry shop on Third Street South, the street was so quiet she would often hang a "Gone Fishing" sign on the doorknob and grab her rod and reel. Nearly 50 years later, Janss is still designing gold pieces and selling jewelry of all sorts in the small shop. She is most famous for her Naples Medallion, which depicts the Naples Pier in gold for bracelets, charms and exquisite diamond-wreathed pendants. In recent years, she has also designed medallions featuring the Marco Cat, an ancient, iconic archaeological find from Marco Island.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Cleopatra's Barge makes the iconic Naples Medallion and other local-centric pieces.
Chelle's expert tip: Besides Naples Medallion jewelry, the sealife line of charms, earrings and pins make lovely wearable mementos.
Naples' best art gets its inspiration from the birds, fish and marine creatures and their habitat. Nora Butler has created a novel way of portraying the environment with whimsical, mosaic-style designs that she has licensed and sells all over the United States and in the Caribbean. At her Naples shop in the Crayton Cove neighborhood of Old Naples, she sells the composites on canvas (giclees), T-shirts, beach cover-ups, sweatshirts, aprons, bags, prints, note cards and in other forms. Some of her most popular designs portray a pelican, flamingo, butterfly, dragonfly, dolphin, palm tree, conch shell, crab, lizard, manatee, mermaid and sand dollar.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Nora Butler is known nationwide and beyond for her whimsical designs and tropical themes.
Chelle's expert tip: Stop at the gallery next door featuring the fine art paintings of Phil Fisher.
Sometimes you find the best souvenirs at attraction gift shops. The Nature Store at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is one of the best for nature-lovers and souvenir-seekers alike. Set at the edge of Everglades habitat, the attraction celebrates local nature, and so does it store. Besides the expected logo T-shirts, hats and other clothing, it carries attire and gear featuring Corkscrew's flora and fauna. Books cover birding, native vegetation and all topics relating to South Florida nature. For kids, there are toys and games that make nature fun. Art, jewelry and other gifts are all nature-themed. And even better, proceeds from all purchases benefit wildlife and its habitat.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Natural attractions make up a huge part of Naples character; nature gifts are a perfect souvenir.
Chelle's expert tip: Another great place to find nature-related toys, books and gifts is the shop at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida's Nature Center.
Often called the "Ansel Adams of Florida," Clyde Butcher has become a legend in these parts by heightening awareness of the Florida Everglades through the beauty of large-format, black-and-white images. He has gone on to capture local beaches and other natural landscapes across Florida, the U.S. and Cuba. His dramatic images have the power to draw you into the picture so you feel as though you are there. Tucked into a small plot in the midst of the Everglades, Butcher's gallery sells his limited edition prints and books of images. They are known for their dramatic clouds and exquisite detail available only to a large-format camera.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Clyde Butcher is one of Florida's most well-known nature photographers.
Chelle's expert tip: Ask about Butcher's annual swamp slogs through the cypress wetland that surrounds his gallery.