NAPLES,  FLORIDA

By  Mike Miller  Updated April 28, 2024

Naples, Florida Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Naples, Florida is a special town with an interesting blend of history and modernity.  It is in far Southwest Florida on the Gulf of Mexico.  Its population is 22,206.

It is a small city within the larger Naples-Marco Island Metropolitan Statistical Area of 322,000.  In the winter tourist season the population is much larger.

Naples Pier at SunsetNaples Pier at Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico

It is located on Interstate 75 and US-41. Both of these highways come down from the north and when they reach Naples they bend east toward Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

HISTORY OF NAPLES, FLORIDA

Naples history, at least in the modern era, began when the town was founded during the late 1880s by General John Stuart Williams and Walter N. Haldeman.

General John "Cerro Gordo" WilliamsGeneral John "Cerro Gordo" Williams

Williams was a former Confederate general known as John "Cerro Gordo" Williams for his exploits in the Mexican War.

He also served with distinction in the Civil War, and became a United States senator from Kentucky after the war.

Walter Haldeman was publisher of the Louisville Courier-Journal, an influential newspaper that was founded in 1868 and is still active in 2021.

READ MORE ABOUT NAPLES, FLORIDA HISTORY

NAPLES, FLORIDA  TODAY

The focus of present day life in Naples are the two historic business districts: Fifth Avenue South and Third Street


OLD NAPLES IS THE NAME OF THE HISTORIC DISTRICT

Great restaurants and shops abound in both districts, which are in the heart of what is known as Old Naples.

Downtown Naples and Old Naples feature many art shows and classic car shows in the season.

Cambier Park is a local treasure in the heart of the city that has free movies every Saturday evening in season, and free band concerts every Sunday afternoon.

Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club

Free concerts were held for years every summer at the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club

Sadly for locals, this resort is being converted into a condominium development, and the future of the concerts is uncertain.

Downtown Naples also features the Sugden Theater, a community showcase for live plays, and the Norris Center, a smaller venue at Cambier Park for plays and small musical events.

Von Liebig Art Center is on the northwest corner of Cambier Park. It features wonderful art exhibits all year long.

A Naples Condo, Castleton GardensA Naples Condo, Castleton Gardens

The Pelican Bay development just north of town features the Philharmonic Center For The Arts completed in 1989 at a cost of almost $20 million.

The "Phil", as locals call it, has a full program of music, dance and theater. Many traveling art exhibits also stop at the adjacent art museum.

Nature lovers will enjoy visiting the Everglades, whose nearest entrance is at Everglades City. You can explore the Everglades on foot or by canoe or airboat.

You can even ride in a swamp buggy. Or better yet, enjoy the Swamp Buggy Races held several times a year. This is a uniquely Naples vehicle that can go through swampy terrain.

Statuary in Third Street District

THINGS TO DO IN NAPLES, FLORIDA

Naples Botanical Garden

Naples Botanical Garden
4820 Bayshore Dr, Naples, FL 34112 | (239) 643-7275

Located at the corner of Bayshore Drive and Thomasson Drive. 170 acres that were renovated and expanded in late 2009. One of the most unusual Florida tourist attractions.

You will see 7,633 different kinds of plants, 1,000 different kinds of orchids and thousands of fruit, palm and other tropical trees.

Open daily 9am to 5pm (2 pm in the summer), Admission for Adults $ 20.00, children 4-17 $ 10.00, Members and Children Under 4 FREE.

Naples, Florida Tin CityNaples, Florida Tin City

Tin City Waterfront Marketplace
1200 5th Ave S, Naples, FL 34102 | (239) 262-4200

This is more than a shopping venue. It is part of Naples history. The setting recalls Naples's nautical past, since the buildings were once part of a working waterfront in a typical little Florida fishing village.

Tin City's quaint boardwalks, tin-topped building and bayfront shops and eateries overlook the working docks of Naples Bay. A couple of tour boats operate out of Tin City.

This is about as laid back as it gets in Naples, and is one of the best-known Naples Florida tourist attractions.

Naples Trolley ToursNaples Trolley Tours

Naples Trolley Tours
1200 5th Ave S, Naples, FL 34102 | (800) 592-0848

Located at Tin City, this is a picturesque method of seeing the sights that were common in Naples 100 years ago and is still one of the city's most popular forms of public transportation.

This is a fun and educational way to see Naples. The tour is narrated and covers over 100 local features of interest.

Primates at Naples Zoo at Caribbean GardensPrimates at Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens

Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens
1590 Goodlette Rd Naples Florida 34102 | (239) 262-5409

Located just south of Golden Gate Parkway. Tucked into quiet Naples, you may hear the laugh of hyenas, the chattering of monkeys, or the deep roar of lions.

This is a nationally accredited zoo, and considered to be one of the finest in the State of Florida. You will get to cruise on a guided boat tour past unique monkey islands.

Naples Zoo has been voted "Best Place for Kids" by several publications, and is one of the most popular Florida tourist attractions. 

Sugden Theater
701 5th Ave S, Naples, FL 34102 | (239) 434-7340

Sugden Theater, mentioned briefly earlier, is a fantastic place to enjoy live performances. We enjoy the variety of shows, from dramas to musicals. The theater is cozy, offering an intimate experience.

Visitors like the quality productions and talented performers. The venue itself is modern and comfortable. It's a great spot for a night out with friends or a special date night. The theater adds a touch of culture to Naples.

Norris Center (at Cambier Park)
755 8th Ave S, Naples, FL 34102 | (239) 213-3058

The Norris Center at Cambier Park, discussed above, is a community hub for arts and activities. We enjoy the variety of programs and events offered here. There are art classes, workshops, and theater productions.

Visitors like the friendly atmosphere and the chance to meet new people. The center also hosts concerts and special events in the park. It's a lively spot that brings the community together.

Von Liebig Art Center
585 Park St, Naples, FL 34102 | (239) 262-6517

The Von Liebig Art Center, located in Cambier Park, is a hub for art lovers. We enjoy exploring the rotating exhibitions featuring local and international artists. The center also offers art classes and workshops.

Visitors like the friendly atmosphere and the chance to meet artists. The gift shop has unique, handcrafted items. It’s a great place to appreciate art and creativity. The center is a cornerstone of Naples' vibrant arts scene.

Philharmonic Center for the Arts
5833 Pelican Bay Blvd, Naples, FL 34108 | (239) 597-1111

The Philharmonic Center for the Arts, also known as Artis—Naples, is a premier venue for performing arts. As discussed earlier, we enjoy the wide range of shows, from classical concerts to Broadway productions.

Visitors like the stunning architecture and state-of-the-art facilities. The center also houses an art museum with impressive collections. It’s a cultural gem in Naples, perfect for a sophisticated night out.

Swamp Buggy Races
8520 Rattlesnake Hammock Rd, Naples, FL | (239) 774-2701

The Swamp Buggy Races are held several times a year at the Florida Sports Park in Naples. These races feature custom-built buggies speeding through a challenging, water-filled track.

Visitors like the unique, muddy spectacle and the festive atmosphere. The event often includes food vendors, live music, and family-friendly activities. It’s a fun way to experience a piece of Naples' culture and history.

The highlight is the "Mile O' Mud," where drivers navigate deep water and tough terrain, showcasing their skills and daring.

The Baker Museum
5833 Pelican Bay Blvd, Naples, FL 34108 | (239) 597-1111

The Baker Museum, part of Artis—Naples, is a cultural treasure. We enjoy exploring the extensive collection of modern and contemporary art. Visitors like the rotating exhibitions and diverse artworks.

The museum's architecture is stunning, adding to the experience. There are also educational programs and lectures. It's a wonderful place to appreciate art and get inspired. The museum shop offers unique gifts and art pieces.

Revs Institute
2500 Horseshoe Dr S, Naples, FL 34104 | (239) 687-REVS (7387)

The Revs Institute is a paradise for car enthusiasts. We enjoy the impressive collection of rare and vintage automobiles. The exhibits highlight the history and innovation of car design.

Visitors like the interactive displays and knowledgeable guides. The Revs Institute is dedicated to preserving automotive history. It’s a fascinating place to explore for anyone interested in cars.

The town has done a great job of preserving its historic residences and commercial buildings. Check out Palm Cottage, the oldest building in Naples, on my Old Naples page. There are additional things to see in Naples listed there.

Palm Cottage in Old NaplesPalm Cottage in Old Naples

ALL ABOUT OLD NAPLES

The neighborhood known as Old Naples within the City of Naples, Florida does not have a precise definition, but I'll give it a shot here.

Cottage in Old NaplesCottage in Old Naples

I always think of the northwestern corner of Old Naples to be the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club.  This was one of the earliest hotels in modern Naples, but it closed a few years ago as discussed earlier. 

The southern limit of Old Naples are the neighborhoods south of 14th Avenue South.

LEARN MORE ABOUT OLD NAPLES



HOW TO FIND NAPLES FLORIDA

Naples is in the far southwestern corner of the state at the intersection of US-41 and SR-84.

These were once the main north and south, east and west routes, but have been supplemented in recent years by I-75. 

It doesn't matter;  traffic congestion is an unfortunate way of life in popular Naples, especially during the winter.


NAPLES FLORIDA GOOGLE INTERACTIVE MAP



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