Day trips from Naples, FL?

Old Aug 8th, 2004, 04:44 PM
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Day trips from Naples, FL?

In Nov, I will be spending 5 days in Naples, FL visiting my sister-in-law with my 10 mo. old daughter. My sister-in-law is new to Naples and doesn't know the area yet. We are planning to spend 2 days in Orlando to go to SeaWorld - I thought this would be the best park to visit because it seems there are many shows we could see and not have to worry about missing out on any rides.

Here are the places I have gathered so far for day trips (any other suggestions are welcome):
Marco Island (is there a public beach?)
Sanibel Island
Everglades (can I see any wildlife without taking a swamp boat tour?)

Which of these would be best for us to visit? I love shopping in quaint towns, good restaurants, great photo opportunities and collecting seashells. I would also like to spend a day visiting Naples itself (shopping, looking at the mega-mansions etc).

Finally, does anyone have a restaurant recommendation in any of the areas that I've mentioned, or in the vicinity, that has great key lime pie? I'm dying for a good piece!

Thank you!
kcapuani is offline  
Old Aug 8th, 2004, 05:13 PM
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I have been to Naples and Marco many times, and in my opinion, Naples itself is by far the best place to plant yourself. It has great shopping and restaurants. The old downtown area is the most unique of the shopping places. There is public access to the beach there, and walking along the beach gives you a grand view of beautiful homes.

Regarding day trips--with only five days, it seems to me that you are setting yourself up for a lot of driving. I would limit myself maybe to only the trip to Orlando and then just enjoy the rest of your days in Naples.

I suppose if you have never been to the everglades it is worth a visit and an airboat ride. I was disappointed because we saw very little wildlife apart from raccoons which frequent my area of the country, so that was no treat. Many people would probably disagree, but I found our drive through the everglades tiresome. There is one nice state park on the road that runs from east to west through the Everglades.

Marco is a lovely island. I have stayed on it several times. However, I am not sure there is any reason to drive from Naples just to visit Marco. I am not sure the beach is any prettier there necessarily. I love staying there, but there are no sights to see, and frankly no really great restaurants that I have found.

Sanibel is more distinctive than Marco, but it is hard to see anything along the road because there are so many plants and trees. There is public access to the beach, but if you have a place to stay in Naples with beach access, I would spend my beach time there. Sorry I can't help you with restaurants on Sanibel.

Save Miami for another visit. (I have vowed to never go to the east side of Florida again, so I am not an unbiased advice-giver in that regard. The west side is so much more pleasant in every way, in my opinion.)
Enjoy your trip. If I were going, I would go to Naples and enjoy all five days there. PJK
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Old Aug 8th, 2004, 05:23 PM
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Marco is a bit too over-built for my taste. You will find more accessible beaches in Sanibel and you'll find nice shells along those beaches--the earlier you go out the better you'll find. Unless you just want to see Sanibel, there are some very nice beaches in the north Naples/Bonita Springs area.

There are a couple of pull-outs on I75 in the Everglades, but it's not likely you'll see much wildlife unless you take an airboat tour. Since your daughter is very young, keep in mind that airboats are very loud and it's an extrememly windy, bumpy ride.

IMO your best shopping will be in historic downtown Naples. There are blocks of stores ranging from the very simple to the very expensive. There is also an outlet mall as well as Coastland Mall. There are many good restaurants in the historic district. There is an Italian restaurant that we particularly like, with indoor and outdoor seating, but the name escapes me.

You might want to save Miami for another trip. It needs more than a day and your schedule will be quite packed with the trip to Orlando.

It can be cool that time of year so check the weather before you pack!
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Old Aug 8th, 2004, 05:26 PM
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My favorite is nearby Corkscrew Swamp--a magical place with exotic birds. Do go and take advantage of the docents to show you were the birds are.
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Old Aug 9th, 2004, 03:01 AM
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I agree with much of what is posted here. Why drive so much? You can get a good feeling for Florida if you go to Corkscrew Swamp. It is an ancient cypress preserve with wild orchids, bromeliads,gators, and all manner of birds. Audubon has managed it forever (it is one of their first sanctuaries).

What you will see on a day trip to Marco is basically a wall of highrises on the gulf. You can see that in Naples.

I would charter a fishing guide, even if you don't fish, and do a back bay fishing trip. I'm most familiar with Pine Island Sound but there are similar areas towards Naples. It is wonderful to pole through shallow grass flats and watch the fish, have the dolphins follow your wake in the deeper areas. This would provide a natural "seaworld" experience. There are also day tours that tour the area by kayak and others that do the tours on personal watercraft (jet skis going very slowly). You can get into the mangrove areas this way. No way can you replicate this at Seaworld.

1 day shopping, 1 day corkscrew, 1 day on the charter or other water tour and two days just beaching it. Nice vacation. Jmvho. LMF
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Old Aug 9th, 2004, 03:23 AM
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We spent a few months in Napels, Fl. We liked Barefoot beach the best. It is near Bonita Springs. We also went to Ca d Zan Mansion which is the winter home of John and Mable Ringling in Sarasota Florida. They have a great art musuem.
msmolly is offline  
Old Aug 10th, 2004, 03:57 AM
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Thanks for the advice! I'll definitely skip Miami and probably Marco. I keep forgetting that I'll be heading down there with the whole family at Xmas for a week and will be able to see more then.

Is it worth driving to Key West for a night on my Xmas trip? I've never driven on US 1 and was thinking that the drive through the keys would be half the fun. But, I know it will take 5 hours + to get there...
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Old Aug 11th, 2004, 12:28 PM
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You can take a boat charter from Naples to the keys and not have to drive. The drive is not that great, really, unless you are stopping off and staying at one of the keys on your way to Key West. Carrabba's is an Italian restaurant chain that has great food (there's one in Naples and one in Bonita Springs - both off US41). There's also a fish place (don't know the name) in Tin City near downtown Naples. Also, a month ago my sister-in-law and I ate in downtown Naples at a Brazilian? restaurant - looking to the beach, it's on the right side of 5th ave off of US41.
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Old Aug 11th, 2004, 01:40 PM
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Just another vote for Corkscrew Swamp. It's fabulous and will give you a nice taste of Florida wildlife in a short visit.
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Old Aug 17th, 2004, 12:16 PM
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Marco is a waist. There isn't much there other than a few plaza's and Tigertail beach ( which is well know for sting rays, i was stung one time ). Dowtown old Naples is nice. The venetian village shops are nice with a couple restaurants,shope,bars etc and great view of the bay and large homes. Tin City in downtown naples is great. Jungle Larrys tropical gardens in naples is better than an airboat ridte. Port Royal is the place to drive around for big homes ( near old naples ). Sanibel is nice but probably not much left after the hurricane. Ft. Myers beach is ok with tourist shops etc. Miami is great but 2 hour drive. Can't go wrong with Orlando but probably better off staying there ( not recommended for just a day trip ).
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Old Aug 17th, 2004, 12:47 PM
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Pete is right about Sanibel. Even by November, I suspect it will not be a great place to visit, but that can be determined when you are here. If traffic and re-construction from the hurricane have eased by then, it would be the best place to spend a beach day shelling.
I'm curious about the Brazilian restaurant last month. The only one I knew used to be in the back of the Inn on Fifth next to the Sudgen Theatre, but it closed last spring.
I'd agree with most of all the above comments which seem to be pretty consistent. There is much of what you are seeking right in or near Naples.
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