The sophisticated seaside retreat of Naples, stridently protects its "old Florida" charm by guarding its natural resources and preserving older districts, so that visitors can now bicycle through the city’s quiet neighborhoods to explore its diverse architectural past. Spot intriguing widow walks and open porches around homes built nearly a century ago or bright tin roofs and wide verandas of down-to-earth Florida cracker-style homes. In Old Naples, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, cyclists can ride past unchanged, turn-of-the-century homes where members of Naples’ original families still live. At day’s end, join locals at the landmark Naples Pier and watch as the dazzling Gulf Coast sunset illuminates the beachfront estates known as "Millionaires’ Row."
Along the pristine shores of Naples families can enjoy beachcombing and the Ten Thousand Islands. Public beaches offer plenty of picnic facilities, playgrounds, showers and other amenities for a memorable day in the sun and sand. Setting off from Marco Island, the largest inhabited isle of the Ten Thousand Islands, visitors can explore a maze of mangroves and marshes.
To the south, the Naples-area is known as the "Golf Capital of the World" for the more than 53 private and public courses that dot its plush landscape. Tennis enthusiasts will find hundreds of courts available at area resorts, city parks and private clubs.
In the eastern interior of Collier County, nature lovers can explore the vast freshwater marshlands of the Big Cypress National Preserve, located 35 miles south of Naples. The sanctuary affords leisurely automobile or bike rides along miles of scenic roads, where wild pigs, otters, alligators and wading birds can be easily spotted.
Visitors will find a wealth of pleasures await them further south in the seaside paradise of Naples, where romantic pursuits include window shopping along waterfront avenues, bicycling through friendly neighborhoods and sight-seeing aboard an old-fashioned trolley.
Picturesque shopping districts steeped in history offer a special ambiance for strolling, shopping, dining or simply absorbing the relaxed lifestyle for which Naples is famous. Hugging the sparkling Gulf of Mexico, Old Naples retains much of its turn-of-the-century charm and many of its original structures are still in use today. Visitors will find upscale boutiques and gourmet eateries tucked inside 1920s-era buildings as well as art galleries, outdoor cafes and antique shops tucked off fountained courtyards and lush green parks.
And visitors will be delighted by the Village on Venetian Bay’s pastel-hued shops topped with terra cotta roofs. Reminiscent of its Italian namesake, the village offers sunny sidewalk cafes, art galleries and boutiques set along the sparkling waterfront.
Nearby, the Waterside Shops provide an open-air setting nearly as spectacular as the shops themselves. Stroll along covered walkways en route to dozens of designer boutiques and elegant restaurants or relax on garden benches amid cascading waterfalls and lush tropical plants. Shoppers-in-the-know make stops at Tin City and Dockside Boardwalk, where treasures and trinkets are sold side-by-side in a rustic waterfront setting.
The Naples Trolley offers daily tours covering more than 100 points of interest, and guides tell fascinating tales about the days when Ponce de Leon, the Calusa Indians and Gaspirilla the Pirate were exciting residents in the
area. On Naples Horse and Carriage Tours, you can explore Old Naples to the gentle clip-clop of horse’s hoofs. Or hop aboard an authentic riverboat sternwheeler for dining and dancing under the stars over Naples Bay.
The one-of-a-kind Teddy Bear Museum, in Naples, whimsically displays nearly 3,000 teddy bears, from antique to animated and tiny to tremendous. Visitors can attend a teddy bear wedding, observe a "Beard of Directors" meeting and spot bears hibernating in their dens. A life-size replica of the Three Bear’s house is sure to be a favorite with the kids.
Nearby, the 52-acre Caribbean Gardens and Zoological Park offers close encounters with some not-so-cuddly animals. Enjoy free-roaming primates as they entertain the crowd from their own private island, or hold your breath as expert handlers come face-to-face with wild lions, tigers and leopards.