Gulf Dreams

Adventure and luxury both await visitors to Naples, Florida.

Naples Beach Palm Tree

Florida’s paradise coast strikes a balance for many visitors. Bordered on the east by the Everglades and on the west by the Gulf of Mexico (complete with white-sand beaches and oceanfront manses), Naples is situated in a pristine location to explore the best of Florida. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, Miami is only 90 minutes away.

To get the most of your stay in Naples, look for accommodations on the luxurious 5th Avenue. This stretch of the city is known for its designer shops, art galleries, and top-notch eateries. The prime spot to book a stay is at the Inn on Fifth, located mere blocks from the sand and right in the middle of the action.

The exclusive locale is a Forbes 4-star and AAA Four Diamond Inn. The original building is home to 119 guest rooms, a spa, fitness center, courtyard pool, and the inn’s restaurant, Avenue5. For the ultimate indulgence, book one of the Club Level Suites, housed across 5th Avenue in a private building.

The Club Level amenities include complimentary snacks and drinks all day, including breakfast, hors d’oeuvres, and happy-hour cocktails into the evening. All visitors booked in the Club Level also have access to the rooftop hot tub and deck. Each suite features a contemporary design with splashes of red and black, and a balcony—try to get one overlooking 5th Avenue South, where the palm trees are decorated with string lights after dark. The personal concierge is available to make your stay a breeze, from making reservations to driving you to destinations.

The inn’s restaurant, Avenue5, should not be missed. Armed with an extensive wine selection and a menu dotted with local catch, Avenue5 easily impresses. Executive Chef David Nelson was hired at Avenue5 in 2015, after decades in the industry, and nearly 10 years in Florida. The ceviche, with white fish and bay scallops, is a palate pleaser topped with avocado-serrano mousse. Fish here comes two ways, simply prepared or as a signature dish. Those who don’t enjoy seafood aren’t left out—there’s a selection of prime cuts available, including the Niman Ranch Wagyu Short Rib and the Aspen Ridge Prime Delmonico.

While in Naples, be sure to spend an evening at Osteria Tulia and neighboring Bar Tulia. Start with dinner and wine at Osteria Tulia. This rustic eatery features a large outdoor seating area and a cozy interior with exposed brick walls, banquette seating, and traditional wooden chairs that you may have around your own dinner table. The menu features dishes made with local ingredients, exuding the fresh flavors of traditional Italian cuisine, and, of course, Chef Vincenzo Betulia made sure to include house-made pastas.

Don’t skip the wood-charred octopus appetizer. Served with Umbrian ceci beans, celery, and a chile mayo, this dish can turn most octopus skeptics into firm believers. Specialties here include Heritage Pork Osso Buco served with herbed spätzle and caramelized sprouts and the house-made torelloni with roasted beef short rib, foie gras emulsion, and marsala. Look out for the specials made daily.

After dinner, head next door to Bar Tulia, the sister gastropub. This joint has a speakeasy feel and the sophisticated cocktails to match. The bar menu features flavors found on Osteria Tulia’s menu, but suited for the casual setting of the bar (and perfect for sharing). The cocktail menu is separated into three sections: craft, classics, and all spirit. But there is a fourth option: let the bartenders make you something not on the menu. Tell him or her the kind of alcohol you prefer, the style of drink, and enjoy. As for the drinks on the menu, The Stanchez and The Pinecone are favorites, featuring house-made syrups and tinctures.

Naples is ripe for those who enjoy the outdoors. Head 40 minutes east into the Everglades to Wooten’s Airboat Tours.

This quintessential way of traversing the Everglades gives you an up-close look at the environment, including creatures like herons and crocodiles. For a more relaxed afternoon, head five blocks west to Naples Pier and beach. Relax under clear-blue skies with plenty of the beach strand to yourself. The summer months may actually be the best time to visit this destination because it’s the offseason. Enjoy lower rates, fewer crowds, and plenty of time to take it all in.