May 10th, 2012 | By James E Becker | Category: Senior Travel

Clues for This Location

You have to guess. This town is on the edge of the Everglades ever since the late 19th Century, when you could reach it only by boat and there was just one place to stay. Back then the visitors were chiefly sportsmen drawn to the abundant fish and game of SW Florida’s cypress swamp. Know where we are yet?  Maybe just a couple more hints. Once the Orange Blossom Express train reached here in 1927, followed a year later by the opening of the cross-peninsula highway system, the Tamiami Trail. Maybe this will help if you have read a recent edition of the Smithsonian Magazine.  This town was selected as one of the Best Small Towns in America and ranked #9 on a list of 20 with a population right at 20,000 happy residents.

Yes, its Naples, the Crown Jewel of Southwest Florida — nestled on the sun drenched beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. The name Naples caught on when promoters described the bay as “surpassing the bay in Naples, Italy Naples is known for world class shopping, dining and abundant, challenging golf courses. It is also, only steps away from island seclusion or the untamed tropical wilderness of The Everglades. Here seniors will discover Florida’s Paradise Coast. Boasting one of the nation’s best sandboxes and calmest seas, Naples makes a splash with water lovers and seniors who just like to have fun.

The “Official Naples Site” and TripAdvisor’s Help

The Official URL is loaded with information of all kinds on the town…note that I did not say “city” as only “towns” qualified for the awards from the Smithsonian Magazine. TripAdvisor features 118 things to do for seniors plus an invitation to 8 B&Bs and 555 restaurants. I read once that there were 12,000 restaurants in Paris and how many years it would take to eat out every evening.  You figure that one out as I forgot the answer. 555 will keep gourmands and gourmets occupied for quite some time too.

Don’t even think of thumbing your nose at the long-bearded man dressed in ratty shorts and a Hawaiian T-shirt until you make sure he doesn’t hop into a Bentley or zillion-dollar yacht. Therein lies the beauty of Naples. People are wealthy here, but have no need to flaunt it — what they do flaunt are St. Tropez tans and a general joie de vivre. Naples was born in 1886, when a group of 12 Kentuckians and Ohioans bought 8,700 acres fronted by a gorgeous beach, laid out a town, and started selling lots. They built a pier and the 16-room Naples Hotel, whose first guest was President Grover Cleveland’s sister Rose. She and other notables soon built a line of beach homes known as “Millionaires’ Row.” Today the area is known as Olde Naples and is carefully protected by its modern residents. Despite a building boom that expanded the city, the original settlement still retains the air of that time a century ago.

Fodors says look what we have to say about Naples as it is all good. Lonely Planet heartily agrees. Do compare their listing of 19 things to do with other sites and Wikipedia’s great site on Naples. Naples is hard to beat for just sheer pleasure and joy all along the Gulf of Mexico.  It’s a great place to just unwind and enjoy life.  See for yourself.  jeb

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