There’s no question that Naples is a great place to live. The weather is wonderful, the beaches are spectacular, and the downtown area is full of fun places to shop and enjoy fine dining. But there's another thing that makes Naples a great place to call home. There are intriguing places to visit outside the Naples city limits. Here's a quick look at some of the best towns to visit near Naples, Florida.
Just 14 miles to the north you’ll find the neighboring town of Bonita Springs. That’s where you’ll find the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs, that hosts local, regional and national traveling art exhibitions. They also sponsor a yearlong Performance Series featuring jazz, classical and rock music, dance, and theater. They even offer art classes in all disciplines. The organization's Bonita Springs National Art Festivals ranked high in the US are held January, February, and March in downtown Historic Bonita Springs. Here’s some additional information about Bonita Springs.
The town of Sanibel is only 48 miles north of Naples and incorporates the entirety of
Sanibel Island. There is easy bridge access to the town/island via the causeway, making Sanibel a popular destination for those who enjoy shell beaches and wildlife refuges. More than half of the island is made up of wildlife refuges—including the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The Island also hosts the Sanibel Historical Village and a variety of other museums and theaters.
A short 18-mile drive to the south brings you to Marco Island. This is the largest barrier island within Southwest Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands area. Parts of the island have scenic, high elevations (well, they’re high by Florida standards!). Marco Island traces it’s history back to 500 A.D. At that time the Calusa people inhabited the island. Anthropologist Frank Hamilton Cushing discovered a number of artifacts from the Calusa population on Marco Island in 1896—the most notable being the carved wooden “Key Marco Cat” which is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution.
If you're up for a longer trip, continue south (270 miles south of Naples) to Key West. The drive through the Keys is absolutely unique. And even though Key West is well known as a tourist destination, it’s one of those places you really need to experience at least once. It’s easy to understand why Ernest Hemmingway loved the place. And there are always “Pappa Hemmingway” look-alikes in the area—especially at the annual Hemingway® Look-Alike Contest at Sloppy Joes!
Everglades City is at the mouth of the Barron River, on Chokoloskee Bay and was occupied for thousands of years by Native Americans of the Glades culture, who were absorbed by the Calusa shortly before the arrival of Europeans in the New World. The town is a great “jumping off” point for exploring the Everglades. You may want to start at the Museum of the Everglades first to get an overview of the wilderness itself.
“Go West, Young Man, Go West!”
“Go west, young man . . . ” is one of the great catchphrases of Manifest Destiny (generally attributed to New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley) that captures the uniquely American desire to explore new frontiers. And while you actually can head west from Naples, we don't recommend driving! A fishing excursion, however, is something you might want to try. Southwest Florida is hard to beat for fishing excitement. The creeks, oyster beds and grass flats around Naples make for top-notch game fishing if you’re after Pompano, Jack Crevalle, or Ladyfish. Click here for a list of the top fishing charters in Naples.