It's home to notables including Judge Judy (Sheindlin) of TV fame, NFL Hall of Fame football player and coach, Mike Ditka, Boston Celtics famed basketball player, Larry Bird, and movie-maker, Steven Spielburg, to name a few. For a few days, it was home to my wife and I as well. Naples, Florida is billed as a paradise of sun, shore and nature blended with an ample amount of culture and fine dining. We took advantage of each of its delectable assets.
Boasting 35 golf courses and counting, (there are over 80 in the combined larger geographical area) Naples gives Hilton Head a run for its money and wins with the highest ratio of golf courses to golfers in the USA, enabling its proud residents to refer to it as the golf capital of the USA. Tennis enthusiasts also thrive here as well as do water lovers seeking pristine beaches, complete with colourful shells free for the picking and an array of sea sports catering to every whim or desire. On a boat tour aboard the Naples Princess, I saw every kind and size of vessel imaginable.
We visited the Naples Museum of Art in time to catch a display of paintings by Monet and Picasso, not bad viewing for a lazy afternoon. The Museum itself displayed attractive sculptures that caught our collective eyes. There are many galleries and the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, located in North Naples, has played host to celebrities and musical talents from across the globe.
Here, you may fish, view dolphins, pelicans or stroll along the long beach or pier for a panoramic view of gorgeous sunsets. The beach encompasses 10 miles of walking and is noted for its cleanliness and pristine white sand. In 2005, Naples was voted the best beach in America by the Travel Channel.
Shoppers will not be disappointed for there is everything available from fashionable centers and plazas to small boutiques and shops.
I visited the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens to view its colourful inhabitants as well as rare species of flora indigenous to the State. The lounging gators and brilliantly coloured birds were my favourites.
Naples is the crown jewel of Southwest Florida, nestled on white beaches where I hunted whelks, the spiral-shaped shell tossed ashore by Gulf of Mexico turquoise waters.
It was founded in the late 1880's by former Confederate General and Kentucky senator, John Stuart Williams, and his partner, Louisville businessman Walter N. Haldeman, the publisher of the Louisville Courier-Journal, acquiring its name from developers who cleverly marketed it in the north as "a bay comparable to that of Naples Italy."
There are only 21,000 residents in Naples proper, and with Marco Island and the Everglades, the city makes up the popular vacation area known as the Paradise Coast.
Paradise indeed; we joined other hotel guests each evening to witness the dazzling sunsets over the darkening water.
Judging by the incredibly-sized homes with water access and huge boats docked at massive piers that we viewed on a one-hour boat tour and the array of exotic automobiles parked downtown, it was no surprise to learn that Naples is home to an estimated 250 Fortune 500 CEOs. One almost smells the money in the air.
Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.
Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/