Poor Man’s Paradise or Rich Man’s Retreat
Naples, in Collier County, Florida has unfairly been called a place where only the wealthy could afford and the average man could only dream about. While this southwestern city in the state has the second largest population of millionaires, growth in the last twenty years has favored people across the income stratus. This gateway to the everglades has become a destination for ecotourists and those looking for a warm climate to live, relax and play in.
Naples once was a winter destination mostly for those who could afford the elegant shops and restaurants along 5th Street and 3rd street South. Today the options go well beyond the upscale district to all parts of the city. In the last ten years the population in Collier County has grown by over 20 percent. Much of that growth has been the suburban area of Naples with a median housing price of $340,000, according to the US Census Bureau. Golf communities seem to be springing up across the county.
As people discover that Naples offers a moderate year round climate, affordable housing, recreational opportunities and a lower than average unemployment, new residents are headed for this corner of Florida. Tourists have found Naples to be a place with sandy beaches, reasonable resorts, a range of good restaurants and friendly locals to guide them around the city. Between the tourists and new residents, Naples economy is flourishing.
Shopping in the city still has the options of the upscale 3rd Street-5Avenue venues, but the Waterside Shops, quirky Tin City and Mercato Shops offer a wide range of reasonably priced fashions and accessories. Restaurants in Naples are numerous. From Cuban, Italian, Irish and Greek, you can find them all, but seafood is still king in this coastal community. Who can resist fresh stone crab claws at Kelly’s Fish House on the River? Then there is The Boathouse on Naples Bay that has been serving great shrimp cocktails forever and their steaks aren’t bad either! Speaking of steaks, don’t pass up Stoney’s Steakhouse at Bayfront! The lobster bisque at T-Michaels at the Village Shops on Venetian Bay is the best you will find. Our favorite restaurant is Riverwalk. Located just at the entrance to Tin City, Riverwalk combines great food, a waterfront view, friendly staff and active boat traffic to make a great experience. Their oysters are the freshest and best in town!
Recreational options are everywhere in Naples. From charter boat fishing, eco-tours, everglades air boat rides, sandy beaches, parasailing and sailboat
cruises, Naples has it all. Don’t forget The Naples Pier. The Pier offers great fishing, bird watching and plenty of people watching! On the way there you can stop off at Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant and Bar for some food and shopping. Both are just west of downtown.
Next time you are thinking of a weekend getaway in Florida, keep Naples in mind. Our choice for a quick stay is the Bayfront Inn. The Bayfront is clean and affordable, but the real attraction is the convenience. The Bayfront is located on the Gordon River at the bridge that crosses the river on the Tamiami Trail (RT. 41). You can walk under the bridge to Tin City, Riverwalk and it’s about a half mile to downtown Naples. You can stay on your side of the bridge for Stoney’s Steak House, and all the water sports and boat rentals just outside the hotel. Other options include the elegant Naples Beach and Golf Club, The Naples Grande Beach Resort and, of course, there are plenty of chain hotels all along the Tamiami Trail running north to south through Naples as the main thoroughfare (Rt. 41). Coming to Naples by boat? Don’t forget The Cove Inn at Naples Marina for a quaint place to stay near your boat.
Naples is a great place to stay on your way to the Florida Keys, traveling to or from Miami or just hobnobbing around Florida. You have the warm weather, plenty of things to do and some great food – not much left to look for!