Naples

Perched on the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Florida, Naples is well known for its high-end shopping, world-class culture and sophisticated dining. Naples is also an affordable family destination that appeals to nature lovers, beach aficionados, and snowbirds.

But what is the Christmas Season without snow? Do not fear because Collier County Parks and Recreation has taken care of that question. They will bring 100 tons of the white stuff to their  32nd Annual Snowfest on Dec. 2nd to kick off the holiday cheer! From 3-9 p.m. at the Golden Gate Community Center, join in the fun with “Snowmazing Attractions” for only $2 Admission. (children 3 and under are free).  Other attractions include a full scale carnival, entertainment, hands on arts & crafts, food vendors and Collier Rotary Club, Children’s Bike and Christmas tree Giveaway.

 People to See in Naples:

Naples is Rockin’ on December 9th when Sugar Ray, 20ride, and Casey Weston (“The Voice” finalist will appear in concert to benefit those who were hit hardest this summer by Hurricane Irma. The celebration and concert will begin at 5 p.m. at the corner of Fifth Avenue south and Goodlette-Frank Road in downtown Naples. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Over the course of the evening several other surprise musicians and guests will be introduced, all coming together in support of our community moving forward. Many are still recovering in the Everglades, Goodland, and Immokalee areas, although the downtown and beach areas are clear for guests, according to the Naples CVB. Tickets are $25-55. The Community Foundation of Collier County’s “Collier Comes Together Disaster Relief Fund” will distribute proceeds from the concert to the Collier County community to offset unmet needs in our hardest hit areas. Tax deductible donations can be made directly to the Community Foundation at CFCollier.org.

Naples Botanical Garden

A 170-acre world-class garden paradise minutes from downtown Naples, bringing a world of tropical plants and cultures of the tropics and subtropics to more than 220,000 visitors per year. Themed gardens represent the culture and flora of the tropics with seven distinct natural habitats and ecosystems, and featuring over 1000 species, with special emphasis on the ecosystems between the 26th parallel north and the 26th parallel south. . A hands-on interactive Children’s Garden along with 90 acres of beautifully restored natural habitats, walking trails and a Butterfly Garden offer educational entertainment and enjoyment for people of all ages.

The Water Garden is my favorite, located right in the center of the property. Among the seasonal water blossoms from around the world, a waterfall and fountain, there is also a sound stage where live musical entertainment is featured periodically.

Take time to rest a bit and enjoy the view during lunch at the Fogg Cafe. It is located in the visitor center right on the grounds. In addition to incorporating an exciting garden-to-table inspired menu, the cuisine represents Brazilian, Caribbean, Asian and Floridian themes from each garden. The menu changes seasonally, focusing on exceptional quality and moderate pricing in a fast casual service setting. Open for breakfast and lunch, Fogg Café also features a kids menu, snack options and refined selection of wine and beer. Plan a minimum of two hours to see all the gardens. Admision is only $14.95 each, ages 4-14 are $9.95. Open 9-5. >MORE

Conservancy of Southwest Florida

The newly renovated Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center, located just south of the Naples Zoo, is designed to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the water, land, and wildlife in the region.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida began in 1964 when community leaders came together to defeat a proposed “Road to Nowhere” and spearheaded the acquisition and protection of Rookery Bay. The Conservancy is a not-for-profit grassroots organization focused on the critical environmental issues of the Southwest Florida region with a mission to protect the region’s water, land and wildlife.  This is accomplished through the combined efforts of environmental education, science, policy, and wildlife rehabilitation. The von Arx Wildlife Hospital treats in excess of 2,200 injured, sick and orphaned animals each year and releases about half of them back into their native habitats.  1450 Merrihue Dr., Naples, FL. Phone: 239-262-0304, Web:www.conservancy.org.

If you are in town the first week of Nov., join in the fun for the Redsnook Charity Fishing Tournament, Nov. 3-5. The event is a reminder of one of the treasures of our region – our waterways. Without clean and abundant supplies of water, recreational and sport fishing would be a thing of the past. The tournament supports the work of the Conservancy to keep our waters clean and to preserve and enhance our fisheries. For more information, call 239-403-4219.

Water Sports

A visit to the Paradise Coast means spending quality time submerged, floating or looking at the ocean. Be sure to explore the Everglades by airboat. There are several tour groups available. Paddle in the Ten Thousand Islands, fish in the Gulf and spend the day catching your own dinner. The Ten Thousand Islands section of the Everglades is known as an angler’s paradise, with tarpon, snook, redfish, permit, pompano and other species in abundance. Now you don’t need a drone to see what the beach looks like from up above. Instead, be adventurous and try a once-in-a-lifetime parasailing adventure. Starting from a sitting position on the back of the boats, you will be gently lifted into the air. It’s a smooth ascension and afterward, a smooth descend back to the boat. Fly solo, double or triple. Whatever your choice, as Naples Beach Water Sports says, “It’s for the Time of Your Life!”

Accomodations

Indulge by reserving a Beachfront Suite stay at Edgewater Beach Hotel. Having access to a private section of the beach and the breathtaking view is worth every penny. There are no beach closing hours here. Watch the gentle waves of the Gulf roll onto the shore from your private balcony. Unwind after a full day of water sports or sightseeing in your spacious living room, and enjoy the convenience of the suite’s modern kitchen, featuring a full-size refrigerator, microwave, and a granite counter breakfast bar or a separate dining area. With additional premium amenities including iPod docking stations, in-room safes and wireless Internet access, Edgewater’s Beachfront suites offer the ultimate Naples getaway. The last evening there, the grand finale was watching the sunset from our dinner table at the Coast Restaurant. We made reservations to assure a table by the spacious windows. With a luxureous atmosphere, live piano entertainment, attention to every detail, impecible service, perfectly prepared internationally-inspired cuisine, I can’t really say which was best: the view or the meal. Together, it was truly a memorable dining experience we won’t soon forget.

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