Things to See
With more than 30 miles of soft, white sand beaches, visitors to Florida’s Paradise Coast can enjoy the fun of a crowded shore or find that perfect secluded spot. Favorite options include Naples Beach with its iconic pier stretching 1,000 feet into the Gulf of Mexico, Barefoot Beach Preserve, ranked #2 on Dr. Beach’s Top Ten USA Beaches for 2015; and Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, ranked #9 on that same top ten list; as well as Tigertail Beach and South Beach parks on Marco Island, and many nearby island beaches accessible by boat including Keewaydin Island and the many deserted beach islands within the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Everglades National Park.
There are 91 18-hole golf courses in Florida’s Paradise Coast, which has placed the area as the destination with the most golf holes per capita in the U.S. Close to two-thirds of those courses are private; however, several area resorts allow their guests to play at their private courses. Golf enthusiasts can select from multiple resorts with their own courses, stay in accommodations that have affiliate relationships with private clubs or choose from the area’s excellent public golf courses. Resorts with courses include LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, Naples Grande Beach Resort, Marco Beach Ocean Resort, The Ritz-Carlton, Naples and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, GreenLinks Golf Villas at Lely Resort and Quality Inn & Suites Golf Resort. Top public courses include the TPC Treviso Bay, the Flamingo Island and Mustang courses at Lely Resort, Panther Run, Arrowhead, The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club’s course (newly renovated and the oldest in Naples), and more.
The International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) named Florida’s Paradise Coast the Golf Destination of the Year – North America for 2014.
Three professional tournament events are held in the area each year. Greg Norman’s PGA-sanctioned specialty team play tournament, The Franklin Templeton Shootout – also known as the Shark Shootout – is held at Tiburon at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples in December; The Chubb Classic PGA Champion’s Tour Tournament is held each February at TwinEagles in Naples; and the CME Group Tour Championship, the season ending event for the LPGA Tour, comes to Tiburon Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples in November
Where to Shop
From historic districts to waterfront plazas, the Paradise Coast offers visitors a variety of shopping options, including:
Named by Conde Nast Traveler as one of America’s Best Food Cities, foodies can take advantage of the many distinctive dining options throughout the Paradise Coast including fresh-off-the-dock seafood at waterfront cafes, sophisticated cuisine at five-star restaurants and numerous locally-owned, independent restaurants. Known as the Stone Crab Capital of the World, Everglades City provides restaurants throughout Florida with this fresh delicacy from October 15 through May 15 of each year, Florida’s official stone crab season. About forty of the area’s locally-owned restaurants belong to the Naples Originals, an organization that promotes the concept of locally owned and operated restaurants. Naples Restaurant Week has both a winter and spring edition. During the week, over 25 of the area’s top restaurants offer a specially curated three-course prix fixe menu for $35.
Multi-generational families can enjoy the array of activities, attractions and events throughout the Paradise Coast, such as the Naples Pier, Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples, Conservancy of Southwest Florida and the Naples Botanical Garden.
One of the most interesting activities for families is a cruise on the Dolphin Explorer,
which allows passengers to serve as “Citizen Scientists” assisting dolphin researchers with the ongoing 10,000 Islands Dolphin Project. This experience was recognized in the 2013 National Geographic book “100 Places That Can Change Your Child’s Life.”
In addition to the beautiful beaches lining the Naples and Marco Island coastlines, there are numerous boat and Waverunner tours for dolphin watching, shell collecting, sightseeing and viewing the sunsets, as well as airboat rides in the Everglades.
The Sun-n-Fun Lagoon water park at North Collier Regional Park offers water slides
and a lazy river for tubing through the park. Check schedules, as the park is primarily open during local school breaks.
Author and photographer Karen T. Barlett’s “A Mostly Kids Guide to Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades,” available on Amazon.com, is filled with great