It might be hard for notherners to fathom, but Floridians really relish inter-Florida excursions in the summer. It won’t replace two weeks in Sweden, or Northern California, but despite the steamy temperatures, it’s very nice to get away for the weekend within driving distance. Naples via Miami is one of the best, most relaxing weekends a stressed out city person could wish for. The best way to totally disconnect is to ditch the car completely and check into Naples’ Inn on 5th, situated right on 5th Avenue, a chic, luxurious main street. The hotel finished a $20 million expansion project that included building 32 fabulous suites across the street, renovating the original building and the opening of Avenue5, a beautiful American cuisine restaurant featuring 3 distinctly different eating spaces centered around a gleaming onyx bar.
Avenue5 isn’t the only restaurant at the Inn, there is also a Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House, which is a well-known steak seafood house from Texas that even has a branch in Miami. You could enjoy most your meals at the hotel— the food is that good, but we’re pretty sure you’ll want to take to the avenue and see what it has to offer.
The avenue is reminiscent of Worth Avenue or Las Olas, minus the pretense and the crowds. Of course, in-season there are significantly more people around, but the laid-back, luxury vibe mixed is consistent. What is most interesting is that there are very few retail or restaurant chains, making exploration much more rewarding. While there are plenty of tschotske shops, they all have a unique character and feature hand-made or art pieces you might actually want. Art galleries and antique stores, like Royal Collection Antiques and Fine Art (where we found a marvelous, unique Limoges chandelier for $15,000,) have impressive collections of grand and historic pieces for your palace. Interior design shops like English Traditions demonstrate a high taste level of decor perfect for Floridians channeling a touch of colonial.
Gastronomically, it would be easy to eat your way up and down the avenue over the course of a week and not get bored. One of the highlights is a Naples staple called bha! bha! Persian Bistro, which serves up traditional kabobs, succulent lamb stews and saffron-pistachio ice cream. Another is a popular steak house called Chops!, which features a cute sign informing you that they don’t charge $10 for a baked potato. Worth the trip alone are specialty stores like The Popcorn Cellar, The Florida Olive Oil Company, which offers artisanal olive oil tastings and hard-to-find sea salts and Adelheidi’s Organic Sweets, which has handmade gelato in flavors like Lavender, Bee Sting, Dirt and Strawberry Rose.
Inevitably, you’ll want to go to the beach, which is a short walk (or complimentary valet ride) from the hotel. Once there, you’ll find crystal clear water beckoning you and miles of soft, mostly unpopulated, sand. The only drawback is beach service is not the same on the west coast so, you’ll need to bring your own umbrella, or head over to the Naples hotel. But that is a small inconvenience for such a pristine Did we mention there absolutely no litter that we could see in the entire city? There is no stress either. No traffic, no lines, and nothing that you absolutely have to do or see except eating and snacking at the fabulous restaurants. So Naples is the perfect place to unwind, wear your flip flops and your sundress and just relax.