NAPLES, Fla. — How do you type the sound of waves crashing on the beach? Or capture sounds of surf splashing on the sand? Of seagulls cawing and the endless quiet descending as you walk on the Pier toward a rippling plane of purest blue?
That’s the beach. That’s Naples. That’s why we live here. We live with the white sand that gets between your toes (and inevitably into the car mats). And we worship those fiery halos of crimson, lavender, vermilion and bright saffron coruscating into the water as thousands gather on the shore hoping for a glimpse of the mysterious “green flash.”
Good luck finding a parking spot.
People watch the sun set from the Naples Pier on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. (Samuel Wilson/Staff)
Friday, 6 p.m.
Sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico’s tranquil waters are a ritual. So is the fight to capture the best memento possible of your vacation in paradise. Join the crowd taking #selfies of #sunsets at the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, 851 Gulf Shore Blvd. N. Those liquid refreshments go down as smooth as that golden orb slipping below the horizon as you dip your toes in the sand and ponder life in paradise.
The inside scoop: Do sunset in style with your own personal firepit and a bottle of Champagne. Just $350 at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, 9891 Gulf Shore Drive.
Friday, 8 p.m.
Food is serious business in Naples. Restaurants open and close in this city faster than a politician’s mouth during campaign season, although much of the cuisine caters to the broad middle — of the country, the waistline, the palate and the taste buds.
In this 2012 file photo, Bob and Debbie Smart, of Bullhead City, Ariz., enjoy lunch at Cracklin’ Jacks on Monday Nov. 12, 2012. William DeShazer/File photo
The solution? Head toward the swamp. Loosen the belt buckles and put some South in your mouth at Cracklin’ Jacks, a down-home shack slinging ribs, fried chicken, catfish and “vittles,” at 2560 39 St. SW. If you’re not from where sugar usually comes with a dash of tea, “vittles” are side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, white beans and pickled veggies, served community style. P. S: Hush! Puppies!
If it’s fish with a side of action you’re after, head to The Dock at Crayton Cove (845 12th Ave. S), a first stop for locals with houseguests of any stripe. Walk the planks at the City Dock, stroll nearby shops and art galleries, then sidle up for waterside delights. Vin DePasquale keeps a copy of The Dock’s original 1976 menu in his office; a half-dozen oysters cost $2 back then.
Friday, 11:30 p.m.
Most of Naples doesn’t stay out this late, although the sidewalks don’t roll up quite as early as they used to. If you’re looking for trouble, North Naples favorite Pelican Larry’s, 1046 Pine Ridge Road, is the place to be. Known affectionately (in the ironic sense, of course) as “Dirty Larry’s,” it’s the kind of dive where the beer’s always cold and they fry food till 2 a.m.
Fifth Avenue South
Passerby’s walk by Gallery on Fifth at Mercado on November 1, 2014, in Naples, Fla. The gallery exhibits work for sale from Russian and European contemporary artists. (Dania Maxwell/Staff)
Hit up Fifth Avenue South favorite Avenue Wine Café, 483 Fifth Ave. S., for craft beers and cigars. Peer over at Paddy Murphy’s, 457 Fifth Ave. S., a few doors down, for people-watching of all stripes.
By 1 a.m., the city’s handful of late-night cabdrivers have turned the task of picking up what few customers emerge from downtown bars into all-out war, waged with honking horns, passive-aggressive idling and sheer bloody stubbornness as traffic backs up for two blocks. It’s time to sip one last Funky Buddha Floridian at Avenue and head on over to the Naples Pier, 25 12th Ave. S., to check out the night fishermen and spy on couples in love. Bonus points if you find an abandoned bra on the beach.
Saturday, 7 a.m.
Are you crazy? Nobody gets up at 7 a.m. Go back to sleep, then have a Nutella muffin from Sunburst Café, 2340 Pine Ridge Road, or a Sunset on Fifth smoothie from The Café on 5th and Raw Delicious Juice Bar, 821 Fifth Ave. S. The chocolate chip cookies at The Café are the size of your fist and probably have enough sugar to power a 5-year-old for a week. Eat two if you really need to get the day moving.
Jim and Barbara Williams enjoy the coffee and doughnuts of Trackside Donuts & Cafe on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. The Williams say they can be found three or four days of the week eating breakfast at Trackside. (Samuel Wilson/Staff)
Fix the hangover and eat breakfast at the same time with a bacon Bloody Mary from Jane’s Café on Third, 1209 Third St. S. If you’re a “get me to the beach on time” type, grab a half-dozen chocolate frosted doughnuts with Nestle Crunch sprinkles (yes, that’s a real thing) from Peace Love & Little Donuts, 3106 U.S. 41 N., and skedaddle off to Delnor-Wiggins Pass, 11135 Gulfshore Drive.
Saturday 11 a.m.
There’s a lot of nature around here. Work off breakfast at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, 300 Tower Road Kids of all ages might like the educational exhibits and touch tank, while you can explore the mangrove forest by boat, boardwalk or kayak. Bonus points for friendly dolphins. Farther afield, there’s the sprawling natural wilderness of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, 137 Coastline Drive in Copeland. Bike, hike, fish and canoe in the place where orchids bloom, snakes swim and gators loll in the sun. Don’t forget the bug spray (and a hat!)
A group on people enjoy a tour from Segway of Naples in downtown Naples on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. (Samuel Wilson/Staff)
And then there’s the lazy way out, seeing the Everglades (or Naples) by air-conditioned minibus. Everglades Excursions, 1010 Sixth Ave. S, offers half-day ($92) and full-day ($130) tours, including an airboat ride (there’s nothing more Florida!) and a chance to chow down on fried gator at lunch.
The concession offers Segway tours ($69) and sells tickets to the Naples Trolley ($24.95), a nice way to scout the city’s alleged hot spots while enjoying a bit of a sit-down. Fair warning: You’ll look like the ultimate tourist on a Segway, but you’ll be having so much fun you won’t care!
Saturday 2 p.m.
Every tourist town has its tourist traps. Tin City, 1200 Fifth Ave. S., is the one you might fall in love with. Three buildings that once housed the city’s fishing industry bustle with tiny cafes, shops selling coconut postcards, trinkets beachwear and more. There’s even a scattering of old-style rides, such as a truck and rocket ship (the type you used to see in front of grocery stores) for kids, with convenient change machines. But please, don’t ask the stores for change (so sayeth a sign posted on mechanical bull T-Bone).
People walk around Tin City in downtown Naples on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. (Samuel Wilson/Staff)
Do yourself a favor and stop in at MonKey Bread Factory in Tin City. MonKey Bread’s namesake pastry is a kind of hybrid sticky bun and cinnamon roll that pulls apart when you eat it. Ask for one of those chocolate chip MonKey Breads (and if you’re greedy, an extra cup of the vanilla cream topping). Go to town. It’s like a religious experience.
While the credit cards are burning a hole in the next decade’s income, sportsmen can play on the same course as PGA pros. The Tiburón Golf Course (between $160-$195 per person) at The Ritz-Carlton (2620 Tiburon Drive), designed by Greg Norman, hosts the Franklin Templeton Shootout and the LPGA CME Group Tour Championship. Call 239-254-3340 or tiburongcnaples.com for tee times.
Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
Food is serious business in Naples. Did we say that already? But seriously. Going out to eat is what you do here — and you try to get there either before or after everyone else. That especially matters at The Turtle Club, 9225 Gulf Shore Drive, a quintessential Naples experience with tables right in the beach sand and gorgeous views of the coast. Order a Turtle Tini, sit back, relax and order another one.
Photo gallery: 36 hours in Naples
Enough beach? Neapolitan seafoodies hit up Swan River’s raw bar (3741 U.S. 41 N.) for the best oysters in town, while Pelican Bend (219 Capri Blvd.) has been serving Old Florida seafood since ‘79, complete with hush puppies, frog legs and the signature wedge of iceberg lettuce with homemade dressing (it’s an OMG moment).
Sunday 10 a.m.
Fifth Avenue South
Ryan Smith and Leta Deitz, of Naples, peruse the artwork at Gallery on Fifth at Mercado on November 1, 2014, in Naples, Fla. The gallery exhibits work for sale from Russian and European contemporary artists. (Dania Maxwell/Staff)
Upscale fashionistas and decoratrix might like classic Neapolitan favorite Village at Venetian Bay, nestled along the backwater bays of 4200 Gulf Shore Blvd N. Tres chic French home goods store Lavender offers free smells and beautiful sights, all dedicated to the signature herb. End the morning with an enormous shrimp cocktail while brunching on the second floor of Bayside Seafood Grill & Bar.
Downtown? If you’ve still got the hankering to spend money, head for Treasure Island, 12,000 square feet of everything from porcelain, paintings and vintage jewelry to fabulous clothing finds and midcentury modern furniture. By this time, you might be able to squeeze into a table at The Coffee Shoppe at The Cove Inn, 900 Broad Ave. S. Think Mel’s Diner, from long-ago television sitcom “Alice,” with servers that have been there for years and pancakes that float. It’s tiny, it’s cozy and it’s always packed.
Finally, put down that New York Times crossword you’re trying to finish. Culture beckons. The Baker Museum at Artis-Naples (5833 Pelican Bay Blvd.) is in the midst of “Exploring America;” a current exhibit looks at how artists discovered the wild, wild West. If you want to be outdoors, take your four-legged friend for a walk at the Naples Botanical Garden (4820 Bayshore Dr.). Check naplesgarden.org for a handy list of what’s blooming at any time so you, Fido and the foliage can color-coordinate!
Sunday 1 p.m.
Naples resident Peter Luthringer dries off on the Naples Pier on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. (Samuel Wilson/Staff)
We end where we began, at the beach, but this time on a return trip to the Naples Pier.
Someone tried to drive off the Naples Pier once; that’s why those traffic barriers were installed. There’s always a little bit of everything there — wildlife, fashion faux pas, tourists with cameras, fishermen with poles, lovers and other strangers. The squawk of sea birds mingles with the smell of brine and fish guts as another small child drops an ice cream cone into the sand and two people walk hand in hand down the beach.
Toes in the sand. The feel of salt on our face and the smell of sea and sand challenging us to stay another minute, another hour, another lifetime. As the rays beat down and the waves “whoosh, whoosh, whoosh” against the wooden pilings of the city’s most treasured landmark, time fades away.
Editor’s Note: The New York Times visited Naples as part of its “36 Hours In …” travel series in late October. We asked what Neapolitans would recommend, and they responded with dozens of suggestions on what they would do with “36 hours in Naples.” Here’s our version of a weekend in paradise.
Story provided by: http://www.naplesnews.com/lifestyle/travel/36-hours-in-naples-florida-neapolitan-way_07671179