A&A Travel Review Of Naples, Florida
End of Week #87
Neapolitan Cove RV Resort, Naples FL > Boondocker's Welcome, North Fort Myers FL > Oscar Scherer State Park, Venice FL
Miles traveled since last week's post = 110 miles
Total miles traveled to date = 12,107 with trailer
We have been on the move again this week, leaving Naples on Monday, and spending the next 3 nights in North Fort Myers. We stayed at another Boondocker's Welcome host site, our second one, and we had an excellent time. Yesterday we packed up again and took off just another 50 miles north to a Florida State Park in Venice. I had been eye balling this place for the past several months and FINALLY was able to score 2 nights here. You have no idea how tough it is to get into Florida State Parks... quite a challenge, but we will take what we can get. We are in the beautiful Florida "jungle" again and happy to be here - if you can get into any of the State Parks in this state, they sure don't disappoint! After here, we move onto Fort De Soto campground off the coast of St. Pete, which we are super stoked for. And then a week after that we will start another month stay in Palmetto, Florida!
Since we did spend a whole month in Naples, I figured it would be a good point to review the city, what we did for fun, and what we thought of the area overall! We had never been to that portion of Florida before, and we had a lot of things we expected to be different, however we still had a great time too. It's always nice to have a month long pause somewhere after a lot of chaos, and even better when it's somewhere warm during the winter months!
A&A Travel Review Of Naples, Florida
To be honest, we sort of picked Naples on a whim, and were not originally planning to stay here. While working the tree lot, once we knew an anticipated end date, we started researching areas to stay in Fort Myers, and also south in the city of Homestead (just north of the Keys). In talking with a lot of our lot help staff on the tree lot, we learned Homestead maybe wasn't the best place to stay, and we were really trying to stay as far south as we could, for as long as possible. That's when the idea kicked in to start looking at Naples as an option. In our minds it sounded so nice, clean, and fancy, and it sounded like exactly the type of R&R we would want after all the hard work we were doing with Christmas trees. There were only a few RV resorts to pick from and they were either in the same ballpark as some of the places we were looking in Fort Myers, or they were cheaper. In our minds this felt like the perfect thing to do and we imagined we would spend every waking minute at the beach... however it didn't exactly go that way! Keep reading to find out more...
Where did we stay?
Neapolitan Cove RV Resort - The chosen place for us to park for our first month long stay in Florida was a newer park, and smaller, which to us meant cozy and quiet. In hind sight, we may have screwed up, and we may have better enjoyed a larger park with more activities and things to do, as there really wasn't much to offer at this particular campground. The demographic was twice our age, and there were not any events to partake in or any amenities to partake in. They had a small swimming pool, too small for me to have any interest in.
The sites were beautiful, but a bit closer together than we would like, and they did not offer a whole lot of privacy. But it was enough space for me to do outdoor workouts in, as we had a concrete pad next to the area we parked our trailer. We also had the ability to receive mail, as we had an actual address for a month, and this was by far the greatest amenity we could have asked for. Adam and I were able to order some "Christmas presents" for ourselves, AKA new clothing and some supplies from Amazon. We also purchased the cats a new cat tower that better fits in the RV, and we upgraded the enclosed table that is used for the litter box.
All in all, we would recommend this place for others to stay, but we would forewarn them that it is a small park, the sites are close together, and it is the most money we have ever spent on an RV spot... like 3 times more than we have ever spent on a one month stay anywhere else... and for that price, we would not return.
What did we do?
Naples Beach - Naples has a humongous stretch of beach along the whole city, with numerous beach access points. Most parking lots are paid lots, however if you are willing to walk a few blocks you are able to find FREE street parking. The beach itself was always busy, but was the busiest during the holiday week from Christmas to New Years. After that the crowds slowed down a bit, but the beach was always full of people. The main issue we had with the beach was that the water was too cold to swim in, compared to the East coast, the water was not as turquoise as the East coast. Also, the first 3 weeks we were in Naples the red tide* was so present that we were not able to stay at the beach for long. We did squeeze two beach days in towards the end of our stay where the red tide did not feel present and it was much more enjoyable.
Naples Beach also features Naples Pier, which is a long walking and fishing pier that stretches out into the Gulf. Halfway through the pier there is a concession stand and there is also public bathrooms at the beginning of the pier.
*Red tide is an invasive algae bloom that periodically happens in the Gulf of Mexico and causes sea life to die and will cause respiratory issues in humans. The most immediate symptom is an uncontrollable tickle in your throat and cough you can't control.
Marco Island - Just to the south of Naples is the infamous Marco Island, where every house is a mansion and costs more than you could ever imagine. This community is very prestigious and exclusive, with their own private parts of the beach and beach parking lots. Our first time attempting to come to Marco Island we did not succeed as there are only 3 public access parking lots for you to utilize, and you are not able to park on the street at all. We had driven around for an hour to no prevail, so we gave up and left. Our second time attempting, we had waited until after the holidays and DID find a parking spot right away. The beach was packed, but it felt a lot more spread out than Naples Beach. The water seemed to be a bit prettier here, and the red tide was not as present here during the times it was extreme at Naples Beach.
We liked Marco Island, but considering it cost $12 to park, we did not find it worth it to travel there over Naples Beach, where we could find free parking. As well as it took about 30 minutes to get there from our RV resort, and Naples Beach only took about 15 minutes (with traffic).
Fort Myers Beach & Bonita (Springs) Beach Park - Naples is not that far south from the beaches of Fort Myers and the surrounding area, and it can be a nice option to take a drive north to check things out. We only did this one time, and quickly learned that we should have done it more, but one nice afternoon we drove up to Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach Park, and spent an hour at each one. Parking up here was $2 an hour, much cheaper than you would find in the Naples area. The beaches were even more packed, but the overall energy and vibe of the area was a lot lighter, friendlier, and happier than in Naples. It seemed to house a lot more vacationers and people out to party and enjoy Florida, and that was something that really resonated with us.
Right away we were kicking ourselves for not better pursuing a month stay in Fort Myers over Naples... but more to come on that one another time!
Tour of the Everglades
Airboat Tour - During the month of January, a lot of the airboat tour companies in the Everglades were doing a promotion where you could buy one adult admission ticket and receive one free, and that also included their combo deals. Airboat tours were not on my horizon, as I more so just wanted to visit Everglades National Park, however there was not an easy access point from the west coast, versus the east coast to get to the park. So in order to see what we could of the mangroves and the alligators, we ventured out on a tour. The company we used was called Wooten's, and we did their combo airboat and swamp buggy tour. I was actually surprised at how busy they were on the random week day we selected to go, but we had about 10 other people on our airboat with us. I had expected the tour to last about an hour, but it lasted about 30 minutes, as we whipped around the Everglades and saw gator after gator - up close and personal! After thinking about it more, I guess you really wouldn't need it to last much longer as you would just be seeing more of the same stuff you had already saw... but we had a great time nonetheless!
Swamp Buggy Tour - Our swamp buggy tour (technically through Captain Jack's, but paired with Wooten's) took us back into Big Cypress, as we rode on a large open deck vehicle that had tires to roam through the swampy conditions. We saw some Florida deer, much smaller than you would expect, and took a little drive through some of the jungle. We had a really good tour guide who knew a lot about the area and all the wildlife that live there, and I would highly recommend this adventure to anyone willing to check it out!
Other areas you can explore in the Everglades include Everglades National Park, and Big Cypress Nature Preserve. You will have to research more into how to access each park, as it may be a bit of a drive from Naples, but if you are in the area it could be worth it to explore.
Gordon River Greenway - This was a beautiful preserve in the middle of the city, that felt like you drove out of the city to get to. It was filled with a few miles of walking trails through the jungle, boardwalks through the swamps, and seemed to be a popular place for walkers, joggers, and bikers alike. Out of all of our nature walks this place was my favorite!
Freedom Park - Another smaller city park in the more northern part of the city. A lot smaller than the Greenway, but still a beautiful place to get out and stretch your legs.
Sugden Regional Park - About halfway through our stay we discovered there was a small city park within walking distance from our RV park. In fact if we walked there, and around the lake, it was about 4 miles total - perfect for an outdoor activity for the day. We ended up doing that walk a few times over our last few weeks, and on our last day I actually went there by myself and went for a run. It was very well kept, had bathrooms, and facilities where people could I believe take sailing lessons or something. A lot of older folks seemed to go here and feed the ducks, and take afternoon naps in their chairs. We caught a few people sleeping and also noticed some beers in hand... ha!
Another great place to check out for nature walks is Collier Seminole State Park, about a half hour south of Naples. This was actually somewhere I had intended to camp for a few nights before we planned to stay a month in Naples, and it is set just north of the Everglades in a beautiful jungle setting. There are also biking and walking trails here to check out.
Bicycles were very popular in Naples and seemed to be a primary way of transportation. I definitely felt like we were missing out and wished we had a few bikes to go on some more adventures!
3rd Street South - Known as the birthplace of Naples, it lies just two blocks from the beaches on the Gulf. This area is full of shopping and dining!
3rd Street Farmer's Market - Every Saturday the city of Naples has a large Farmer's Market on their well known 3rd Street downtown. There were vendors lined up on both sides of the street and a lot of fresh, local, and organic produce, seafood and other foods to enjoy. We each had a bagel and coffee and took in the sites and sounds of a busy, and beautiful Saturday morning.
5th Avenue South - The heart of downtown, also known as the "business improvement district", 5th Ave in Naples is one of the most beautiful downtowns of any city I have ever been to. The architecture screams European, Italian, and expensive. Everything is clean and orderly. The streets are lined with shops, real estate offices, and restaurants and happy hours.
Mercato - The Mercato was a very fancy outdoor mall in Naples that featured a Whole Foods, Chipotle and other fine dining and shopping. It reminded me a lot of the outdoor mall in Woodbury, MN where we lived for 8 years - called Woodbury Lakes. This mall was just bigger, fancier, and could be enjoyed all year long instead of just in the summer.
Cars & Coffee Event at the Mercato - We were lucky to find a fun event to attend - free of charge, that featured all the exotic cars Naples could offer. Cars and Coffee was something that appeared to take place once a month at the outdoor mall, and filled up with cars around every turn. We were able to park for free, pick up a coffee at a local shop, and walk around for a few hours taking everything in and drooling over cars that cost more than our previous townhome we owned.
Other touristy things to do: There are a lot of adventures you can partake in going for cruises on the Gulf, dolphin and whale watching, fishing charters, or fish in just about any body of water you come across. You can also do more adventures in the Everglades or rent kayaks and canoes, or even go parasailing. There is definitely no shortage of activities you can do on the water to make the most of your time in this area!
Food & Happy Hour
Foxboro Bar - This was the first Happy Hour we experienced in Naples, a sports bar featuring all things Patriots and Massachusetts, just about a mile or two from our RV resort. As most places in Naples, they featured two for one drinks, and happy hour food items. We went here on New Year's Eve night for two drinks each and some fried pickles and really enjoyed all of their TV's and entertainment on their walls - even if it was for the wrong team.
Pinchers - A chain bar and restaurant you will find in a lot of places in Florida, but still a neat place to check out. We did not eat anything here but went to the location in "Tin City", right on the water. We had their house margaritas and watched dead fish float by from the red tide that the area was experiencing.
Mr. Tequila - Wouldn't you know that right across the street from our RV park there was a bar named after my favorite alcohol... ha! They did have a sign stating two for one's as well, so one evening we walked over for happy hour to watch one of the big NFL football games. We got free chips and salsa, some guacamole that was unimpressive, and a few cocktails to go with it.
Parrot Bar - Near Pinchers, in the Tin City area, there was a local dive bar we decided to check out one day that we were glad we did. The bar was very relaxing - no masks at all, not even the servers, which is the first time we have seen this since... like a whole year ago when life was still "normal". The bar reminded us of some of our favorite dive bars back in Minnesota and Wisconsin and they had such good happy hour prices we actually went back here another time as well!
Thee City's Diner - Also across the street from our RV Park was a little diner we checked out one day for breakfast when we realized that Dunkin Donut's lobby was not open and we were on foot. It ended up being a fantastic choice as I indulged in a wonderful waffle, however I should probably mention that I did find a hair in my meal and that grosses me out more than pretty much anything.
Yard House - Our last weekend in Naples we ended up meeting my previous boss, her fiancé, and her son and his girlfriend at another local sports bar to watch some more football. They had a long list of draft beers to chose from, and a lot of good menu items. Adam and I each got some of their house beers, and split a huge plate of their nachos.
Overall thoughts on Naples?
It was an absolutely beautiful city to be apart of, don't get me wrong... we loved the beautiful houses, all the palm trees, gorgeous city parks, tons of shopping and happy hours - all of it. However, I don't necessarily think we would return for another stay there, as we feel the city itself is a little bit of an older population and a bit more prestigious than what we are looking for in an RV adventure. But you don't always know these things until you try them, and all in all we still had a great time and made the most of our month stay on the Gulf coast.
I am the process of rebuilding a plan for the next two months out, as I only originally had enough posts planned for January. Bear with me as I catch up to speed in 2021 and put together a whole new list of posts for you! Next week will be another surprise week for us all. :)
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