By Kathy Barnett/Managing Editor
Time seems to stand still for me when I’m looking out over the beach in Naples. Feeling the wind gently blowing across my face, breathing in the fresh salty air, feeling the warmth of the sun beating down on the white sand. I can’t think of a place I’d rather be. When I am stressed or upset, I direct my thoughts to my happy place – Naples. My best girlfriend lived there for several years, so I had the pleasure of visiting often. I was even there during Hurricane Irma and while areas are still recouperating and rebuilding, most of the city is welcoming visitors back to their attractions. Below are some of my favorites:
Naples Botanical Garden
A 170-acre world-class garden paradise minutes from downtown Naples, bringing a world of tropical plants and cultures of the tropics and subtropics to more than 220,000 visitors per year. Themed gardens represent the culture and flora of the tropics with seven distinct natural habitats and ecosystems, featuring over 1000 species, with special emphasis on the ecosystems between the 26th parallel north and the 26th parallel south.
Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary invites visitors to experience the world-famous Corkscrew boardwalk in the evening light and participate in educational programs, interpretive exhibits, and enjoy live music in the Blair Visitor Center with several magical Corkscrew After Hours programs. Take time to rest a bit and enjoy the view during lunch at the Fogg Cafe. It is located in the visitor center right on the grounds. In addition to incorporating an exciting garden-to-table inspired menu, the cuisine represents Brazilian, Caribbean, Asian and Floridian themes from each garden. The menu changes seasonally, focusing on exceptional quality and moderate pricing in a fast casual service setting. Open for breakfast and lunch, Fogg Café also features a kids menu, snack options and refined selection of wine and beer. Plan a minimum of two hours to see all the gardens. Admision is only $14.95 each, ages 4-14 are $9.95. Open 9-5. >MORE
Conservancy of Southwest Florida
The newly renovated Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center, located just south of the Naples Zoo, is designed to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the water, land, and wildlife in the region.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida began in 1964 when community leaders came together to defeat a proposed “Road to Nowhere” and spearheaded the acquisition and protection of Rookery Bay. The Conservancy is a not-for-profit grassroots organization focused on the critical environmental issues of the Southwest Florida region with a mission to protect the region’s water, land and wildlife. This is accomplished through the combined efforts of environmental education, science, policy, and wildlife rehabilitation. The von Arx Wildlife Hospital treats in excess of 2,200 injured, sick and orphaned animals each year and releases about half of them back into their native habitats. 1450 Merrihue Dr., Naples, FL. Phone: 239-262-0304, Web:www.conservancy.org.
For more information, call 239-403-4219.
A visit to the Paradise Coast means spending quality time submerged, floating or looking at the ocean. Be sure to explore the Everglades by airboat. There are several tour groups available. Paddle in the Ten Thousand Islands, fish in the Gulf and spend the day catching your own dinner. The Ten Thousand Islands section of the Everglades is known as an angler’s paradise, with tarpon, snook, redfish, permit, pompano and other species in abundance. Now you don’t need a drone to see what the beach looks like from up above. Instead, be adventurous and try a once-in-a-lifetime parasailing adventure. Starting from a sitting position on the back of the boats, you will be gently lifted into the air. It’s a smooth ascension and afterward, a smooth descend back to the boat. Fly solo, double or triple. Whatever your choice, as Naples Beach Water Sports says, “It’s for the Time of Your Life!”
Indulge by reserving a Beachfront Suite stay at Edgewater Beach Hotel. Having access to a private section of the beach and the breathtaking view is worth every penny. There are no beach closing hours here. Watch the gentle waves of the Gulf roll onto the shore from your private balcony. Unwind after a full day of water sports or sightseeing in your spacious living room, and enjoy the convenience of the suite’s modern kitchen, featuring a full-size refrigerator, microwave, and a granite counter breakfast bar or a separate dining area. With additional premium amenities including iPod docking stations, in-room safes and wireless Internet access, Edgewater’s Beachfront suites offer the ultimate Naples getaway. The last evening there, the grand finale was watching the sunset from our dinner table at the Coast Restaurant. We made reservations to assure a table by the spacious windows. With a luxureous atmosphere, live piano entertainment, attention to every detail, impecible service, perfectly prepared internationally-inspired cuisine, I can’t really say which was best: the view or the meal. Together, it was truly a memorable dining experience we won’t soon forget.
Now – 01/06/2024 Immokalee Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch
Expressing and highlighting and heritage and identity through food. The Ancestor’s Table exhibit will present and analyze identity in diaspora. Free Admission
Now – 04/07/2024 Artis—Naples
Brooklyn-based Latinx artist Tamara Kostianovsky utilizes repurposed clothing and other textiles to create dynamic works of sculpture that reference humankind’s connections to nature by echoing the forms of birds, tree stumps, plants and cow carcasses. This exhibition, the artist’s first in the southeastern United States, will include new work inspired by the bird and plant life of Southwest Florida. Ticket Information
Now – 04/15/2024 Immokalee Lipman Family Farms
The public art installation The Face of Immokalee by Michelle Tricca aims to champion the Immokalee community through a series of boldly displayed black and white photographic portraits. This first-of-its-kind art exhibition in Collier County is presented on two 50-foot walls and two 53-foot semi-trailer-trucks owned by Immokalee-based Lipman Family Farms. Free Admission.
Now – 04/27/2024 Third Street South
There is no better way to experience the heart of a culture than through its food. As part of the larger city-wide celebration, the Third Street South Winter Farmers Market will feature a focus on the culinary delights of many Hispanic and Latin cuisines, with many of our favorite vendors returning and exciting new vendors joining the lineup. The Third Street South Farmers Market was first established in 1994 and today reflects the participation of nearly 60 vendors, the majority of whom are local agriculturally based businesses. Free Admission
Now – 04/28/2024 Artis—Naples
The Face of Immokalee is a public art project created through a multi-year collaboration between the residents of Immokalee, Florida, and Naples-based photographer Michelle Tricca. Consisting of large-format black-and-white portrait photographs of Immokalee residents of varying ages and backgrounds, the project celebrates the individuality of the members of this community best known for its agricultural contributions. Ticket Information
Now – 06/30/2024 Artis—Naples
This annual exhibit presents a selection of notable visual artists practicing in Florida. Highlighting the breadth of artistic approaches to personal, local, and global themes, Florida Contemporary invites visitors to celebrate the state’s vibrant scene. Miami-based Yanira Collado is a conceptual and installation artist. Using found objects she makes three-dimensional collages that examine the layering process of memory and history. Pepe Mar, born in Mexico and now in Miami, combines assemblage, collage, and painting. His exuberant work explores a broad range of issues, including fashion, history, LGBTQ history, and science fiction. The exhibition also includes Tampa artist and professor emerita Mernet Larsen. She had created narrative paintings depicting hard-edged, enigmatic characters that inhabit uncanny worlds filled with tension and wry humor. Ticket Information
01/08/2024 – 02/27/2024 Marco Island Center for the Arts
This exhibition explores the history of this unique art form as well as the reasons why people choose to use their bodies as a canvas for art. Two of the featured artists are Cuban-born Pollyanna Fernandez and Jose Luis Bermudez. Having trained as fine artists both Fernandez and Bermudez continue to paint and show their work. They have also become renowned tattoo artists in Miami where their art can be seen on living canvasses. Free Admission
01/18/2024 Marco Island Center for the Arts
Originally from Matanzas Cuba, Yenier Alvarion (L-Yen) performs urban music that maintains a Latin melody that includes genres such as Reggaeton and Merengue. Enjoy this concert that has a sound, rhythm, and message that will have the room dancing. Ticket Information
01/27/2024 – 01/28/2024 Mercato
Experience the sophisticated, fun, and vibrant Mercato Art Celebration Art Show hosted by Naples Picasso Events. This two-day extravaganza offers Naples residents and visitors the perfect blend of shopping under the sunshine and memorable evenings filled with dining, drinks, entertainment, and captivating fine art from renowned national and international artists. Free Admission