A Traveler’s Guide to Naples, Florida

It’s always sunny along Florida’s “Paradise Coast”—especially when it’s spring break time.

No matter where you go in Naples, the beach is the main attraction. / Photo via Getty Images

Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, Naples is Florida’s West Coast equivalent of Palm Beach, without all the attendant hassles of being on a barrier island but with equally sprawling Spanish Colonial estates, world-class shopping, superb restaurants, and nearly 9 miles of white-sand beaches. The self-styled “Golf Capital of the World,” Naples boasts the most courses per capita of any U.S. city, according to Newsweek, and there are countless other opportunities for outdoor recreation along with impressive cultural offerings. It rarely gets colder than 65 degrees, but the best time to visit is March through May, when temperatures are in the 70s and 80s, the crowds thin out, and prices drop from their peak-season highs. Perhaps Naples’s biggest advantage over its sibling on the Atlantic, though, is the West Coast sunsets. Nothing beats having your toes in the sand while watching the sun sink into the ocean, a rarity on this side of the country.

A view of the boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. / Photo via Getty Images


Besides being a haven for golf and tennis, Naples excels in the fishing department. Unfortunately, the iconic Naples Pier—which allows fishing without a license—is still partially closed due to damage from Hurricane Ian, but fishing charters are widely available. With 40 access points to the beach, it’s also easy to find your own secluded slice of bliss, and many of the beaches boast amenities ranging from restrooms, showers, and equipment rentals to picnic tables and snack bars. Tired of sun and sand? Try taking the kids to the Naples Zoo—where the animals are integrated into a botanical garden—or, for a more au naturel encounter with local flora and fauna (alligators, otters, and tropical birds), drive 45 minutes north to the Everglades for a visit to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and its extensive network of boardwalks. Back in town, both children and adults will be fully engaged with the art at the Baker Museum, with its extraordinary ceiling by glass artist Dale Chihuly.

Seafood and wine at Ridgway Bar & Grill. / Photo by Michael Caronchi, courtesy of Ridgway Bar & Grill


“Old Florida” is a phrase that many people use to evoke an idealized past, but it lives on in Naples at eateries like the Ridgway Bar & Grill, an institution serving classic lunch fare like gazpacho and the Honeycutt salad (grilled chicken, greens, tortilla strips, and peanut sauce in a lime vinaigrette). For al fresco contemporary Italian food, Campiello is an excellent choice, with an outdoor/indoor bar that stays buzzy from lunchtime on and offers live music from 7 p.m. Another local favorite is Sails, where the fresh seafood will transport you to the Amalfi Coast.

The shopper’s paradise known as Waterside Shops. / Photo via Getty Images


Nothing beats Naples for retail therapy. Waterside Shops is an outdoor mall in the northern part of town featuring designer stores like Hermès, Gucci, and Saks Fifth Avenue. However, both Third Street and Fifth Avenue in downtown Naples are the place to find smaller boutiques carrying less well-known brands. Carter & Finley, part of the upscale menswear clothier John Craig, specializes in luxury resort wear, while Marissa Collections is an iconic women’s clothing store that also sells exquisite fine jewelry. For home goods or host gifts, Gattle’s Fine Linens is a not-so-well-kept secret. The neighborhood also boasts numerous art galleries for both casual browsers and serious collectors.

The glamorous façade of the Ritz-Carlton, Naples. / Photo courtesy of Marriott International


For decades, the Ritz-Carlton, Naples has been a favorite among locals and tourists alike, but a recent facelift has amped up the glam factor, with champagne tastings at the Lobby Bar, a pool complex that caters to both adults and families, and oceanfront rooms and suites. Lunch and/or sunset cocktails overlooking the beach at Gumbo Limbo is a daily ritual for many Naples habitués, while the hotel’s other dining options range from Mediterranean fare at the new restaurant Sofra (with its tableside pushcarts of house-made breads and artisanal olive oils); sushi and tapas at Dusk; mouthwatering steaks and seafood at the Grill; and coffee and sweets at Moka. The spa, meanwhile, uses local botanicals in its treatments and features a steam room, saunas, aqua lounges, and an outdoor mineral pool. The pièce de résistance, however, is the hotel’s stunning beach, where the navy-blue umbrellas signal the toes-in-the-sand luxury that’s the hallmark of Ritz-Carlton.


Delta, JetBlue, and Spirit all offer nonstop service from Logan to Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, a 40-minute drive to Naples.

First published in the print edition of the March 2024 issue with the headline, “Boston Traveler: Naples.”