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Ritzy Naples offers metropolitan glamour alongside the white sands of the Gulf Coast. Mediterranean-style mansions, marquee golf courses, and upscale shopping and dining corridors make Naples the posh centerpiece of Southwest Florida. Naples is also home to such world-class cultural institutions as the Baker Museum, where 15 galleries focus on contemporary and modern works. You can stroll among turn-of-the-century homes and mature palms in charming Old Naples, or drive inland to explore the sun-dappled environs of pristine swampland. Opportunities for day trips to suit all moods also abound: You can make the short journey to glossy resort-mecca Marco Island, or opt for a more laid-back excursion to outdoorsy Bonita Springs.
Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), located in Fort Myers, is the closest major airport to Naples, at 35 miles away. Once you arrive, renting a car is the easiest way to get around the city and out to surrounding attractions, although you might consider a taxi or rideshare for weekend beach excursions, as parking lots get crowded.
Naples enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine a year. June through September are hot, with average highs in the low 90s Fahrenheit. October and November cool off slightly, with average temperatures in the low to high 80s, and from December through February, temperatures dip into the 70s. March through May climb back into the 80s. Naples experiences lots of rainfall June through September, and a little bit all year round, so plan ahead and pack for wet weather.
Among the offerings of this 170-acre park are nine distinct gardens, a Javanese temple, hammocks, bocce ball courts, and a children’s garden outfitted with a treehouse. The plants, of course, are the stars: They include orchids from around the world, banyan trees, colorful and fragrant plumeria, and towering palms, all thriving within meticulously landscaped grounds. The park is also home to a 90-acre nature preserve inhabited by gopher tortoises, and a visitor’s center built of ancient cypress logs reclaimed from the bed of the Apalachicola River.
About 20 minutes from downtown, this is a lively beach where sunseekers play and mingle. The appeal of this stretch of powdery white sand, lapped by the gem-toned waters of the Gulf of Mexico, hasn’t gone unnoticed by developers, and vacationers from nearby hotels and resorts come here to frolic in the shadow of luxury. This means you’ll find everything you need for a fun day at the beach close at hand, including gear rentals and tropical drinks. Arrive early in the morning for a more sedate atmosphere and top-notch shelling.
Leave the city behind and enter this fascinating and beautiful 13,000-acre nature sanctuary, where a 2.5-mile boardwalk will carry you through a dazzling mixture of flora, including the largest old-growth bald cypress forest in North America. Bald cypresses, which are related to redwood trees, can grow to 130 feet and are furred in gently swaying mosses and colorful bromeliads. In the summer, look out for the white blooms of delicate and rare ghost orchids.
The park is home to deer, alligators, otters, and turtles, but many flock here for the birds. The park is a vaunted stop on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, and is home to barred owls, red-tailed hawks, and the rainbow-hued painted bunting, to name a few.