Naples is for everyone. From spicy cocktails at Hampton Social to homemade pies from Dolly’s, a residence-turned-restaurant, to luxury consignment shopping at Audrey’s Closet.
You’ll hear anything about Naples from folks with a closed mind: It’s only for retirees, there's nothing to do there, you need lots of money in order to enjoy yourself.
None of that is true. In fact, I’m happy I didn’t do Naples with all of those opinions lingering in my thoughts because they’d limit me from talking to strangers, who it turns out, helped guide my trip.
Let’s begin at the totally Instagrammable Airbnb I booked called Cabana. When I walked through the double french doors, there was music playing and the lights were dim. Of course, my first thoughts were, what?! Who the heck is here
Oh but no. The host of the Airbnb decided to welcome me by setting classic Michael Buble on autoplay and turning on a few corner lights. What a vibe. I was in for an incredible time, full of wearing whatever I wanted to wear (whether it be sweats or sundresses), sipping cocktails -- well… mocktails for me -- and eating good. Not to mention, an opportunity to relax.
For all my beauty enthusiasts reading this and before I get to the must-sees, I need to shout out the ginormous ring light that bordered the bathroom mirror. The bathroom mirror! Perfect for all those selfies you’ll be taking before heading out to hit the town.Get to the good stuff, what’s there to eat in Naples?
After waking up to a beautiful garden view outside of those double doors and checking emails, I was ready to see Naples.
I started at Cafe Nutrients for lunch because, honestly, that’s about the time I woke up. The cafe is one a kind in Naples and run by three super sweet twenty-somethings including Alexis, 24, who considers herself the mother of the trio.
When you go, get the plant-based pasta or vegan Caprese sandwich with cashew mozzarella made in-house, tomato, basil and a grape glaze. Wash it down with a smoothie. I had the “Fire,” which is made with beets, mango, cayenne, turmeric, lemon and ginger, but you might prefer Air, Earth or Water. Also, this place... so Instagrammable.
Dinner was at Low Brow, a yummy mom and pop pizza joint off of Highway 41. They pride themselves on their pizza concoctions so much that ordering plain cheese or pepperoni is almost offensive to the pizza squad.What’s there to do?
Once you’re fueled up, it's time to explore. I recommend searching Naples up and down for whatever you're interested in and explore that way -- instead of figuring out what the city is most known for and tapping into that. For example, love nature? Naples native and wedding photographer Jontele put me on to one of the most beautiful Botanical Gardens I’ve been to. It’s 170 acres and you can opt-in for a tour or check the calendar for upcoming events.
I’ve been on a vintage fashion kick lately so I wanted to know more about Naples fashion -- if that was even a thing. Vintage shops, thrift stores and even garage sales. I’ve conquered them all, and more than once. I was most impressed with Audrey’s Closet, a beautifully curated luxury consignment shop with exceptional thoughtfulness and customer service, and while many pieces are high end and elegant, the shop has lots of spunk. The best $400 I’ve spent in a while.
Finally, you can’t go to Naples without going to the beach. I know the perfect spot. It’s right across the street from a local bar called Beach Box Cafe on Vanderbilt Beach. Locals call the cafe “the beach bar.” Whether you hit the cafe up before or after riding waves, try their shrimp tacos. They’re not too heavy yet not too light and will get you right for your next stop. New friends raved about the blueberry lemonade vodka.
And don’t forget to talk to strangers. “Naples natives are rare,” Jontel told me. So when you find one, pick their brain.Other things to do as suggested by a local, praised by a reviewer:
Explore Naples Beach Club: “Wonderful location and nostalgic atmosphere. Live music, sunset is best here!” Rebecca M.
Hit the Farmer’s Market: “Great place to just see and be seen. Music, Sunshine, great prepared food, fresh veggies, pastry, coffee, crafts, cut flowers, plants for your garden and a wonderful place to see week after week. Bring your kids, your dog, or just yourself.” Gayle D.
Bonita Beach Dog Beach: “Perfect place to let the pooches run free for once. We come over all the way from Fort Lauderdale where there is no dog friendly beach far and wide, ( apart from a dismally short stretch of beach for a few hours on weekends only that is packed and you have to pay for). So Bonita Dog Beach offers us all the freedom and fun that we are looking for. Great place!” Sybille G.
Check out the Ritz Carlton rooftop bar: “The best place to enjoy Naples! From the amenities, food, drinks, service and entertainment! And the best ambiance you could ask for!” Miles A.
Eat at Dolly’s, a historic home-turned-restaurant for comfort food: “Dolly's is the one place everyone should visit for breakfast or lunch. It is a truly at home place to eat with great food for both breakfast or lunch. A visit isn't complete without a desert of Dolly's home made pies that are a meal in itself. A truly enjoyable and delicious place to visit.” Michael T.
Brunch at the, also Instagrammable, Hampton Social: “Wow. The Gatsby G&T was ... a revelation too. For me, a confirmed tequila man, that seductive mix of gin, lime, hibiscus aperitivo and lemon tonic, dressed with a sprig of rosemary... Man oh man. NICE.” Rob A.
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