Set serenely at the edge of pale powdery sands on the Sunshine State's southwest coast, the small city of Naples is this stretch of coast's sophisticated seaside settlement, and situated just northwest of Everglades National Park serves as a gateway town of sorts to assorted park pleasures. Endowed with grand estates, high-end shops, upscale restaurants and miles of balmy beachfront it's not hard to see why this is a place often held up as the counterpart to Palm Beach on the opposite coast. However, it's not so much the town itself that draws in travelers but rather its proximity to natural offerings which include 10 miles of shoreline kissed by colorful shells, the old Naples Pier that sits like a lonely artifact of gentler times, the wilds of Piscayune Strand State Park two miles east, a sunset over Marcos Island and the aforementioned Everglades.
Before beating a hasty retreat to the nearest beach, spend a few hours wandering along through Old Naples (look for a selection of Art-Deco architecture) or enjoying an area introduction on a short trolley tour; the Naples Museum of Art (part of the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts) is modest in size (and closed July-September) but makes for a pleasant cultural stop, as does the Collier County Museum (Naples Museum), which has a historical focus that ranges across the past million years.
Arguably though, the most interesting sights in Naples and Marco Island involve the area's ecosystesm and respective inhabitants. In the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, amidst an 11,000-acre cypress forest, all sorts of endangered animals live and prosper under protective care. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is a mangrove swamp that counts amongst its population, alligators, snakes, and the American bald eagle (on the premises is the National Science Museum and nature trails). Children and their adult minders should both find the Caribbean Gardens Zoo fascinating, though for prowling beasts in their natural habitat the nearby state forest is the preferable option, where if nothing else it's likely you'll spot a horse and rider trotting along a designated equestrian path (there are also hiking and biking trails here).
Naples has been the site of several PGA tournaments and is considered to be one of the best green spots in the country; take it as a given that there is a very long list of local courses to choose from when settling on a tee time. Aside from golf and beachcombing, fishing, boating and shelling are favored. There are numerous marinas, tackle shops and charter fishing operators on hand happy to arrange a day or three of angling at nearby hot spots. For a change of pace, find a paddle and steer for local water trails including Briggs Nature Center, Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and Everglades National Park.
Naples is south of Sanibel Island on SR-901.