Reasons why luxury travelers continue to flock to southwest Florida

From the natural wonders to the creative feats, southwest Florida has something for every luxury traveler.

While a lot of people think of Miami and the Keys as the destinations for a great Florida vacation, the Paradise Coast area of the Sunshine State has become one of the most popular places to visit for luxury travelers. With sandy white beaches, great restaurants and shopping, plenty of museums and parks and, of course, lots of great golf courses, there’s something for everyone who’s looking to relax in refinement. In fact, so many people fall in love with it that they end up deciding to buy a home there, like in the luxurious Naples Square community, which is located in the downtown area of the small-yet-bustling city. With help from The Ronto Group, one of Southern Florida’s top real estate developers, here are all the top reasons to visit – and stay – in Naples and the surrounding areas.

The beaches

The Paradise Coast is home to many great beaches with fine white sand, beautiful sunsets and plenty of spots for fishing and dolphin spotting. The Naples Pier on 12th Avenue South is perfect for a stroll after you’ve done some shopping and eating downtown, and you’re allowed to fish there 24 hours a day. Sanibel Island is one of the top tourist destinations, particularly if you want to go beachcombing for some seashells, offering great fishing pier for catching tarpon. The Naples Princess and Marco Island Princess are the perfect vessels for taking in a sunset cruise on the Gulf, offering dinner and cocktails as part of a romantic evening.

The resorts

You wouldn’t be blamed for never wanting to leave some of the many great hotels in the area. They all come with the kind of perks you’d expect, like great pools and dining, while some are geared specifically for beachside vacations, like the Pink Shell, LaPlaya and Grande Beach. For golf, the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort features the Tiburón Club, with two courses designed by Greg Norman. If you’re looking for something more out of the way, Captiva Island’s South Seas Island Resort is part of a 330-acre protected wildlife sanctuary and offers Waverunner rentals, fishing charters and a sailing course. Of course, if you find yourself really never wanting to leave, you can check out Eleven Eleven Central and inquire about buying a home in a resort-like community.

The golfing

Naples bills itself as “The Golf Capital of the World,” and for good reason. There are over 80 courses in the area, with the Tiburón Club and TwinEagles, featuring a course designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus. Like the beaches, you can’t go wrong when you decide to pick up your clubs or watch one of many professional tournaments at the many courses that are within a short drive of the city center.

The dining

There’s no shortage of top-notch dining and top chefs in the area – in fact, its often rated as one of the best foodie destinations in the country. Naples’ Sea Salt is a must for seafood lovers, as it uses fresh ingredients from local farms and fisheries, as well as some flown in from the Mediterranean and Hawaii. If you’re specifically looking for crab, try Everglades City’s City Seafood for the fresh stone crabs and maybe some frog legs. HobNob has more traditional American fare with modern twists while The Local goes for farm-to-table dishes that are especially good options for vegetarians and vegans. For French cuisine, you can’t beat Brasserie Rustique or Marco Island’s Bistro Soleil, and for Italian, try the old-world style Osteria Tulia for handmade pasta paired with one of many fine wines. And make sure to get some breakfast at EJ’s Bayfront Café and Bar and dine outside at the pet-friendly tables.

The museums, entertainment, shopping and more

A few blocks from the Naples pier, you’ll find the gorgeous, tree-lined Third Street South, which is lined with boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. There’s also a farmer’s market with local produce, goods and, often, live music. Nearby, you can find another great selection of stores and eateries on Fifth Avenue South, which hosts plenty of events in Cambier Park and has several excellent ice cream shops like Adelheidi’s and Regina’s. For some local history, try one of the five Collier County Museums, including the Museum of the Everglades and the train-filled Naples Depot.

In Fort Myers, be sure to visit the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, the former residences of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, which is now a 21-acre museum and botanical garden. To relax even more, there are several spas to choose from, like the intimate Salt Cave with its Himalayan crystal salt treatments or the 24,000-sqft Spa by JW, which offers a number of personalized services and massages. For more adult-oriented fun, take a ride out to the Seminole Casino Hotel in Immokalee and play the slots, blackjack, poker and more, eat at one of its four restaurants, and take in some live music. If you’re looking for more outdoor adventures, you can take a ride to the Everglades, Lovers Key State Park and Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, just to name a few.

If you find yourself falling in love with Naples and want to make a more permanent commitment, consider Naples Square or Eleven Eleven Central communities, which are located in the middle of downtown and offer easy access to shopping, dining and everything each of these gorgeous communities has to offer.

By Dan Reilly, for The Ronto Group

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