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Destinations by Judy Mraz:
Naples, FL

naples fl

Naples, FL

Naples is really nice.

I know, I know. That’s super general. But nice is the perfect word to describe Naples.

When I first got into the city I was very surprised at how neat everything was. The streets were clean and well maintained and something has to be said about the plants. I bet they spend tons of money to keep all the palm trees and grass and flowers looking as good as they do. The city itself is really a piece of art.

That’s how my experience with Naples started and it was a steady climb from there.

We arrived to our friend’s house in the late morning. This was after spending a couple weeks in Colorado, which honestly was having decent weather but can’t compare to Florida. Any way, the first thing we wanted to do was hit the beach so that’s exactly what we did.

naples beach

Naples Beach

Naples beaches are exactly what you would expect from Naples. Very neat, very beautiful. The sand is white and the water will either be clear or emerald depending on where you go and when.

We spent the next two days just laying around on the beach. Load up on sunblock and maybe a drink or two. The hubby broke up my relaxation a bit with his work but I managed to lounge by the pool at our favorite Napleans home while waiting on him so it wasn’t so bad.

During these three days I managed to get in some of my scheduled culinary exploration.

The first was Escargot 41. Escargot means snail in French so if you don’t like or can’t imagine eating snails stay far away. The menu is basically all snails and I thought why not. Everything was good. I can’t say it was extraordinary but it was good and worth the visit. Snails just aren’t my thing I suppose, I couldn’t eat them two days in a row. 3.5/5

Next we visited Chops City Grill, mostly because we were right next to it when I got hungry but I was actually very pleasantly surprised. Everything tasted fresh, the meat was succulent, and my shrimp cocktail tasted pretty close to perfect, then again it’s hard to mess up shrimp cocktail. I had steak, which I don’t usually order, my husband said it was great but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. 4/5

We also got to go to USS Nemo for lunch. I was really REALLY in the mood for seafood. I had some lobster soup which was exactly what I needed. We ordered poutine for the table to finish off and it was honestly one of the best lunches, or even meals, that I’ve had in a long time. The food, the atmosphere, and the company were all good and it seemed like everything just came together here. I’ll have a fond memory of this place for a long time. 4/5

After all of this relaxing me and hubby were ready for a little adventure. It was a decision between the Waterside Shops and the Everglades. Hubby gave me, what is turning into a classic, speech about what would I rather say I did 20 years from now. So we went to the Everglades.

airboating on the everglades

Airboating on the Everglades

We went on a pleasant and exciting airboat ride. The company we used was Corey Billie’s airboat rides. The trip was about an hour and we got to see all sorts of scenery, I took a million pictures, and we learned a lot. The highlight would be holding a baby alligator, scarier than you would think.

We got back, had a quick lunch and saw a movie at the lavish SilverSpot theater. Very nice theater that I thought was a good metaphor for Naples in general. It’s a regular theater that does everything a theater should, just better. Naples is a regular city, but a city done right. Nice.

That night we ate at Bistro 821. It was to die for! We had calamari as an appetizer which, in my opinion, is the perfect appetizer. It was served to perfection. The menu here is very thought out. The dishes have been experimented with, tested, and made unique. A very big plus in my mind as generic food is not what I pay $30 a dish for! I had the duck gnocchi. It was a little simpler than some of the other dishes but that is my preference. The duck had some garlic, which it paired with great, and also some other herbs which I forgot to ask about. I put the tomatoes it came with to the side. Overall I was very thrilled with this place. Oh! And I almost forgot to mention that we dined outdoors, which made the experience that much better! 4.5/5

The next morning hubby went to work on his birdie or whatever it is that golfers do. I decided to sleep in, the night before was a long one and I had been very “hydrated”. I woke up late and no one was home. I decided it was time to hit the shops. The Waterside Shops to be specific. The main attraction is the water running throughout the mall. They act as canals to break the mall up, very unique and very well executed I have to say. But malls are for shopping, and the shopping here is extraordinary. If you can’t find anything you like here then you might as well give up because you won’t be finding anything better. Keep in mind that while you will definitely be able to find something you like, you may not be able to afford it. The Waterside Shops are not exactly the cheapest. Someone has to pay to keep that water clean.

By the time I got home hubby was home and so were Emily and Erik, our Naples hosts. I was tired, hubby was tired, and Emily and Erik were willing to do anything. So we went back to the beach. I like to soak up as much beach as I can while I can. There’s a certain calm that comes from laying out all day. We grabbed a few drinks and had a fantastic and relaxing time. At dark we packed up, and went out for dinner.

m waterfront grille in naples fl

M Waterfront Grille tonight. The view was amazing! Astounding! Awesome! More A words! Just wow! What a great place just to be. I would live inside this restaurant if the rent wasn’t in the millions. Everything about this place was so Naples. Classy but playful. I really wanted to get a feel for the restaurant so I tried their main dish, sautéed veal and shrimp. Yes, yes, and yes. I have no complaints. The waiter was perfect. Food perfect. Atmosphere perfect. Company perfect. Naples. 5/5

We were buzzing from “M”, which Erik and Emily had never tried before and we decided the night wasn’t quite over. I heard about the Naples Pier while at the beach but figured it would be like every other pier. It was a little farther from the “M” than I would have liked but we made it. The pier was nice, any pier would be that late at night. It was an almost surreal experience, but I wouldn’t recommend it during the day, nothing special, especially if you are alone.

We started our last day in Naples off a little late. We booked a fishing charter. We booked with Ms. B Haven Fishing Charters, I didn’t understand the name at first but when I got it I laughed for a very, very long time. But don’t judge this book by it’s name, Ms. B Haven comes very highly recommended, apparently it’s the best fishing charter in Naples. Getting a spot wasn’t easy but we lucked out. The fish hubby caught were huge. I was not expecting them to be as big as they were, thanks Capt Mike! I lounged around on the boat, content to just soak in the last day.

Naples was gorgeous. I would love having a second home here. It really feels like you are part of the family when you’re here and there’s so much to do. My main goal was to relax and have fun. I wasn’t on my usual hunt to explore the city, but I feel like I got a very good feel for the city nonetheless, maybe an even better feel than if I had visited every monument and park and museum. 4/5

My favorite restaurant would have to be the M Waterfront Grille. Next time I’m here I’ll be exploring more of the cuisine but I will certainly plan a trip back to the “M”.

My favorite activity was just lounging on the beach. I love a good beach, and Naples has a very solid one. Besides that Corey Billie’s airboat ride was fantastic and absolutely memorable.

Special thanks to Erik and Emily.

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  1. Betty Hastle says:

    Yes. Naples is great.

  2. Mr and Mrs Purcell says:

    Naples is definitely a special place in our hearts. So many great memories! I very easy and relaxing environment for old souls such as ourselves.

  3. gina says:

    Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Naples was my home town my how I miss it!!

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