Our “Cities We Love” column has a new name! With a shared passion for travel, AAA has teamed up with Samantha Brown to explore the world, and we want you to come along on our next adventure. “Samantha Brown’s Places to Love” takes viewers on a discovery of the emotional heart of travel with an in-depth look at the people and places who make each destination so special, and our new “Places We Love” will feature all the lures of those destinations.
By Alex Higgins
Perched on the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Florida, Naples is known for its sophisticated, beach-casual vibe, world-class golf and exceptional cuisine. It’s also an affordable family destination with plenty of activities to please nature lovers and beach aficionados. The aptly named Paradise Coast really is a destination that has it all.
Each beach along the 30-mile coastline has its own personality. At Barefoot Beach Preserve County Park, stroll the picturesque nature trail or kayak the mangrove estuary for wildlife watching. Naples Beach and Pier is an excellent vantage point for spotting dolphins, pelicans and gulls. It’s also a popular family swimming spot and just a short stroll from some of Naples’ most beautiful beachfront mansions. Vanderbilt Beach in north Naples is a locals’ favorite spot to watch stunning sunsets.
Parks & Preserves
Mother Nature is on full display in the many protected wilderness areas on Florida’s Paradise Coast. From tiny painted buntings to massive bald eagles, the swamps, prairies and marshes of Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary are flush with winged wonders. The lush Everglades in Big Cypress National Preserve, bordering the Everglades National Park, offers many options for the nature lover, including a boardwalk from which you can spy wild manatee observation deck.
There are more than 90 golf courses in the greater Naples area, set in a spectacular variety of both manicured and natural settings. Two Greg Norman-designed courses in the shadow of the AAA Four Diamond-rated Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort draw golfing guests from around the world. And at the AAA Four Diamond-rated Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, the historic course just steps from the beach dates back to 1931.
Naples is a foodie’s paradise with a delicious array of dining options. The Bay House is an upscale restaurant with river views and a seafood heavy menu. Sleek and trendy HobNob Kitchen & Bar serves everything from small plates to desserts. The Turtle Club dishes out steaks and area-sourced seafood, with some tables right on the sand.