old naples pier ,florida

Naples is the crown jewel of Southwest Florida -- nestled on the sun drenched beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and is known for world class shopping, dining and abundant, challenging golf courses. It is also only steps away from island seclusion or the untamed tropical wilderness of The Everglades.

Downtown or "historic" Naples dates from early 20th century - today it has pastel-coloured buildings and is a very pleasant area to explore. In 1960 Hurricane Donna destroyed most of the 19th century houses in the area and also claimed the original 1887 pier. This was rebuilt in 1961 and is always a popular spot for fishing and watching the sunset. Dolphins can often be seen swimming close to the pier in the evenings.

Naples has 10 miles of white sandy beaches and offers easy public access - just look out for the blue public beach signs along the road.

The best way to explore is to take the Naples Trolley Tour. This starts at Old Naples General Store at 1060 6th Avenue and is a hop on hop off tour which roughly lasts for two hours, depending on how many times you choose to hop on and off. It is a narrated history and shopping tour which takes in over 100 points of local interest and travels as far north as Vanderbilt Resort and south to the City Dock. Although the tour starts at the General Store, we tend to park at the Vanderbilt beach area and hop on there - much easier for parking than in town. Tours run from 9:30am to 5:30pm 7 days a week. Don't forget to clip the coupons, saving you $2 per adult, book on line and a full timetable is available on their website.

You can also explore the Everglades from Naples - try the Everglades Excursion for either a half or full day tour on a Safari wagon. If you take the full day tour then it includes an airboat ride through Ten Thousand Islands and a jungle cruise too.

Other places to visit from Naples are Sanibel and Captiva island, Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda and one of my favourite well kept secrets - Boca Grande. You can only reach Boca via Rotonda and Placida - take the 75 or 41 north. It has beautiful beaches, ideal for children to swim and everyone goes about on golf carts or bikes. Don't forget to eat at The Loose Caboose in the centre - if no time to eat then try one of their homemade icecreams !

Don't forget to include a trip to Myakka River State Park - approximately 1 1/2 hours drive north of Naples, close to Sarasota and just of I-75. It's the place to see Gators and take an airboat ride - highly recommended.

More information on places to visit along this coast can be found by clicking on the Regions menu above on Gulf Coast and sliding over to the right until the drop down listing appears.

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