Umbrella on Naples Beach

Naples is home to stunning beaches. (Photo: Getty Images)

Weekend Getaways

Experience the Sophisticated, Beachy Vibes of Naples, Florida

In the 1880s, newspapers and magazines reported the aesthetic parallels between southwestern Florida and southern Italy. Not long after that, someone described the bay that this Florida town sits on as “surpassing the bay in Naples, Italy.” And that’s how sunny Naples, Florida, got its name.

Today, the city of just 20,000 residents has become a magnet for people who love just-off-the-boat seafood, pristine white-sand beaches, palm-tree-lined streets and a whole lot of sunshine. If you have three days in Naples, here’s how to spend them.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Friday: Hit the Beach

Sunset over pier in Naples Florida
Visit the pier at sunset for breathtaking vistas. (Photo: Getty Images)

After all, you’re in southwestern Florida, and it’s hard to get more tropical than this without going over a large body of water on an airplane. Put down a large towel (and maybe stick an umbrella in the sand) at Naples Municipal Beach, adjacent to downtown Naples.

Swim, sunbathe and lose yourself in that beach novel. Services here include concession stands, picnic tables, volleyball courts, restrooms and showers. You can even borrow a life jacket free of charge. When you get restless, stroll to Naples Pier and walk the length of it — all 1,000 feet into the Gulf of Mexico — taking in the great views.

When hunger hits, head to Truluck’s, a fine-dining restaurant that’s popular with locals. But be sure to arrive in proper attire for your seafood feast — it’s required. If you don’t have the time or desire to change, then plant yourself at Ocean Prime, which has a menu loaded with ultra-fresh seafood.

After lunch, there are plenty of other waterfront activities to entice you. Rent a bike, for example, and cycle along the shoreline and back. Naples Municipal Beach stretches for about 10 miles, providing hours of easy pedaling along the water. You could also rent a stand-up paddleboard or a kayak and paddle around the placid Gulf of Mexico.

After spending the day near (and perhaps on) the water, it would be most appropriate to dine at a restaurant called Sails. Set a couple of blocks from Naples Municipal Beach, the white-tablecloth restaurant excels at extravagant seafood towers for two. There’s also a seafood-leaning four-course tasting menu that’s worth digging in to.

Saturday: Visit Old Naples

Boat next to dock in Old Naples
Old Naples has a charming harbor. (Photo: Getty Images)

Time to embark on a day of leisurely strolling around charming Old Naples. This compact neighborhood was where it all began, and the area still retains a feeling of century-old charm. It’s anchored by Fifth Avenue South, which is lined with trendy cafés (you’ll find a breakfast spot among them), restaurants, bars and shops.

Take your time popping into galleries, including Sheldon Fine Art, which represents more than 200 international artists and sells beautiful paintings depicting seascapes and the area. If you’re looking for elegant beachwear, pop into Kay’s on the Beach.

Take a timeout at the Brick Coffee & Bar, which has outdoor tables and serves up both coffee drinks and a large helping of people-watching.

If you’re dropping from all that shopping, check out the circa-1895 Historic Palm Cottage, located just off of Fifth Avenue and the oldest structure in Naples. Enjoy a tour of the house to admire the original artwork, furniture and decorations — all still in place.

All that ambling is going to build up an appetite, so check out Alberto’s on Fifth for a plate of seafood pasta. Alberto’s also offers a large selection of risotto options and some seriously fresh fish. If Gallic is more your style, then there’s a place for you at the French, a brasserie that serves up classic French fare such as beef tartare and duck leg confit.

Sunday: Get Lost in Gardens and Museums

dragonfly over a water lily
Naples is home to abundant wildlife. (Photo: Getty Images)

After breakfast at your hotel, head inland to the fantastic Naples Botanical Garden, a verdant 170-acre swath of lush greenery where exotic flora, mangroves, ponds, marshes, forests and birds of many species blend together to create an extremely tropical experience.

Once you’re done exploring the outdoor gardens, head to the air-conditioned indoors — specifically to the renowned Baker Museum, a three-floor, 30,000-square-foot fine art institution specializing in 20th- and 21st-century art.

Start with a light lunch (there’s a big dinner in your future) at the museum’s Heidi’s Place restaurant. Along with taking in current exhibitions, browse the works in the permanent collection, including pieces by Jackson Pollock, Diego Rivera, Georgia O’Keeffe, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso and Willem de Kooning, to name just a few.

For a nice meal, top off your three days in Naples at the Grill, an elegant steakhouse inside the equally elegant Ritz-Carlton located in northern Pelican Bay. Or consider trying the Turtle Club, a beachside, fine-dining eatery specializing in seafood, such as miso-marinated sea bass, pan-seared scallops and lobster frites.

For a nightcap, settle in on one of the leather sofas at the chic cocktail spot, Sidebar. Whiskey aficionados can choose from more than 150 bottles behind the bar. If you’re looking for something different, try the fizzy “Hokkaido,” made with lychee vodka, house-made oleo-saccharum (sweet citrus mash) and sparkling sake.