SHOP THE LOOK
After several adventure-filled months of traveling for weddings and more, it’s nice to look at my calendar and see a few back-to-back weekends where I’ll actually be home (hallelujah!) so I can finally have time to fully share those travel experiences here on the blog. I originally had it on my editorial calendar to do my Reno-Tahoe travel guide this week, but after the devastation that Southwest Florida has been through due to Hurricane Irma, I decided to do a little switcheroo and talk about a more recent trip, first…my girl’s trip to beautiful Naples, Florida with my sister (but don’t worry, my Reno-Tahoe guide will come later this month!)
The good news is, Florida’s beautiful Paradise Coast is back open for tourism with the beaches looking as beautiful as ever (click here for the latest updates), but the devastation was severe and the rural parts of the area are still recovering. The best way you can help is by planning your visit (you will LOVE it!), but if you’d like to donate, here is a list of organizations in need.
But before you start planning, click on the read more button below to get my complete travel guide on your visit to beautiful Naples, Florida.
WHEN TO GO?
You may recall that earlier this year, Cole and I were treated to a romantic getaway for our first-ever experience in Palm Beach, Florida. What traveling to Palm beach and Naples have taught me is that I’ve been going to the wrong Florida beaches my whole life. These clean, white sand, turquoise water beaches are as pristine as they come and unlike many of the popular Florida beach destinations, you won’t be bombarded by tourist traps, tacky shops and chain restaurants as you walk up and down the coastal towns. Naples is home to some of the most stunning beaches in Florida, some of the most incredible cuisine and a lot of amazing wild life too. So in short, the time to go is ANYTIME. Plan your visit now to escape the cold and snow of the fall/winter season or wait until the tourism season ends in April and enjoy a quiet, relaxing beach vacation like a local.
WHERE TO STAY?
Me and Tiffany’s trip to Florida’s Paradise Coast got off to a bit of a rocky start no thanks to a flight delay in Dallas that caused us to miss our connection. But after spending 10+ hours in the Atlanta airport and arriving at our destination in Naples, we immediately knew it was well worth the wait. Much of that was thanks to the first hotel we stayed at…
While it was dark by the time we made it to our first hotel in Naples, we immediately rushed to our ocean view balcony and were in awe of the beauty and the view! What was even better?! We were just a little hungry, but since it was nearly midnight, we knew we wouldn’t have much luck with finding food. That’s when Tiffany opened the fridge to find the most delicious and beautiful display of food catered from the hotel restaurant, Coast. As if the amazing late night food and the view wasn’t enough, we woke up with a knock on our door to find our brunch in a basket and a beachside cabana in our name. It was truly a heavenly start to our Southwest Florida girl’s trip.
If you’re looking for a taste of luxury without the hustle and bustle of a giant hotel, the Edgewater Beach Hotel is your go-to in Southwest Florida. With 7 miles of white sand beaches, gorgeous beachfront suites, complete with full kitchens and living rooms, amazing dining options, and more, it’s the perfect spot for a romantic getaway or a girl’s trip. It’s also super conveniently located to downtown so if you’re wanting to experience shopping and/or the culinary side of Naples, this is a perfect location.
For our next two nights in Florida’s Paradise Coast, Tiffany and I were treated to a bed and breakfast style, family-owned resort – The Vanderbilt Beach Resort. With a super relaxed, laid-back vibe and an incredible beachfront dining option, The Turtle Club, this resort is perfect for anyone visiting the area, and is especially family-friendly (Tiffany and I saw lots of families enjoying the beach at the property!). Like the Edgewater Hotel, the rooms also feature kitchens and living areas so you can enjoy a leisurely lunch from your room or make your own picnic to take to the beach. I absolutely loved how close to the beach we wre….even with our windows closed, we could hear the waves roll in as we slept, which was so serene. Family-owned by the Moore family for 60 years (and the owners are SO kind!! e got to meet them several times throughout our stay!), this resort has a very welcoming, homey feel and is truly a hidden gem in Florida’s Paradise Coast.
WHAT TO DO?
There are so many things to do in the beautiful Paradise Coast area of Florida that we didn’t get to do everything on our list, but even in our short 3-day stay, we got to experience lots of fun activities.
1 – Watch A Beach Sunset
Tiffany and I noticed that many locals talked about how beautiful the sunsets were in Naples, Florida and told us it was an absolute must-see when visiting the area. I knew it would be as beautiful as any beach sunset, but it wasn’t until a local explained that Florida’s Paradise Coast was one of the only beaches on the East Coast where you could experience a sunset over the water, and I had an aha! moment (duhhh, Lauren!) Since Florida’s Paradise Coast rests along the Southwest part of Florida’s peninsula, you get to see some pretty spectacular sunsets along their gorgeous beaches, and the locals were right: it is an absolute MUST-see!
2 – Shop and Explore Downtown
The downtown area of Naples is absolutely darling, and there are so many amazing spots for shopping as well as dining. While Tiffany and I didn’t have time to actually shop, we did do lots of window shopping and we fell in love with the colorful little boutiques and buildings. One boutique in particular, Marissa Collections, especially caught our eye, not only because of the amazing pink paint job, but also becaus e of the offerings in the local boutiques windows. It’s definitely a must-visit if you’re shopping in Naples.
3 – Visit The Naples Zoo
This actually wasn’t even on our agenda at first, but after I did a little Google searching and saw that you could feed giraffes at the Naples Zoo, my heart melted and I immediately made plans for us to visit. As an animal lover, I don’t often visit zoos because it’s difficult to see animals in confinement, but Naples Zoo is truly the best zoo I’ve ever visited…every animal’s habitat was so well taken care of and you can tell how passionate the workers are about their animals. From the beautiful blind Florida panther that the zoo rescued (he was wounded by a gun blast) and the adorable clouded leopards that I seriously wanted to snuggle and take home with me (I’m aware that the feeling is not mutual) to getting up close ad personal with one of the zoo’s five giraffes to feed him (it was a magic moment!), I loved every minute of our visit and only wish we’d had more time to explore!
4 – Enjoy Crystal Clear Beaches
The beaches of Florida’s paradise coast are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. With clean, white sand, an abundance of beautiful shells and turquoise water that you can see right to the bottom in, they’re truly some of the best beaches in America. You’ll definitely want to plan at least 1 or 2 days just to enjoy the beach during your visit. You can also do beach activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, and more.
WHERE TO EAT?
Disclaimer: no, I do not recommend eating at McDonalds, but if you happen have a craving for any of your fave fast foods in the midst of indulging in all of the amazing local faire Naples has to offer up, you’ll find one not far from you. 😉 As I mentioned, me and Tiffany’s short stay win Florida’s Paradise Coast was even shorter due to our airport shenanigans, but we still found ample amount of time to indulge in the best of Naples’ culinary offerings.
Since Tiffany and I missed our first day of plans in Naples, we missed our actual dinner reservations at Coast, but we did get to enjoy their food from the convenience of our hotel room ad it was amazing. This spot, located inside the Edgewater Hotel, offers up coastal-inspired dining with gorgeous views of the resort’s beachside pool. Enjoy light and casual faire like fresh fish tacos and wraps at lunch time or stop by at dinner for prime steaks and ocean views.
2 – The Turtle Club
Recognized as the best beachfront restaurant in all of Naples, this spot was actually our favorite meal (although it’s hard to choose given how delicious every meal was!!) The Turtle Club was located just below our room at the Vanderbilt Beach Resort and sits right on the sands of the beach, with incredible views of the sunset at dinner time. We started off our meal with some Oysters Turtlefeller and (they were absolutely divine, y’all) finished it off with some of the best filets we’ve had. Side note – I also have to mention how incredibly friendly the staff was at this restaurant – it was the cherry on top of an incredible dining experience!
Timeless is another must on my list of places to eat in Naples. Created by Naples veteran chef, David Nelson, (who we got to meet and chat with – he’s amazing!!), the contemporary restaurant gives classic comfort foods a unique spin, using locally sourced ingredients, in the most stunning of settings (I wanted to move in!) From lobster-shrimp corn dogs (I’m serious!!) to coal fired bbq short rib pizza, every bite we tried was more delicious than the next. If you don’t go for the incredible food, you must at least stop by this brand new space, designed by MHK Architecture, just to take in the beauty of the building and enjoy a drink.
4 – The French
If you love authentic French cuisine, then The French, located in beautiful downtown Naples, is a must-stop during your visit to Florida’s Paradise Coast. Trained in traditional French cuisine, Chef Vincenzo uses simple ingredients and French techniques for a restaurant that’s a true dining experience (we even tried snails for the first time, y’all!!)
Now that we have a break from our travel plans, I’ll be doing lots of updates here on the blog from our adventures, so stay tuned!! Click here to see all of my travel tips and guides.