February 26, 2009

Dolphin Watching & Fishing in The Everglades

One of the best ways to experience Naples and the surrounding Everglades is via water. This Sunday was a day I felt especially lucky to live in Naples, Florida. A short 45 minute drive away from the Hilton Naples led a group of my friends to the 10,000 Islands for a day of fishing & dolphin watching. The day started off a little chilly, definitely needed a sweatshirt, however, by 11am it was full sunshine & warm balmy breezes.
Within minutes of leaving the marina, a dolphin began to lead the way for our boat to head towards Panther Key, just south of Marco Island. This particular dolphin (shown in both pictures) entertained us for 15 minutes before he smoothly swam off as quickly as he appeared. We had quite a few playful dolphin come up to the boat throughout the day. Fishing had immediate gratification as we were reeling in many Spanish Mackeral and Blue Fish. We threw the Blue Fish back as they must be eaten immediately and we had caught enough already to make Sunday dinner back at the dock.

February 17, 2009

Naples Farmers Market on Third Street South

A great way to start your Saturday is to stop by the Naples Farmers Market. Vendors gather from 7:30am until 11:30am every Saturday morning from November to May. You will find everything you need from locally owned fruits & vegetables to fresh pastries and breads to handmade cold process soap, lotions & bath salts.
One of the most impressive vendors made fresh guacamole right in front of you...peeling the avocados and slicing tomatos while crowds of people stand around and watch. A little pricey but so worth it! I also purchased an apple bread pastry which was so sweet and fresh I haven't stopped thinking about it since. Another favorite are stone crab claws from Captain Kirk's Seafood. Stone crab claws are in season from October through May. Visit the Naples Farmers Market off Third Street South behind Tommy Bahamas in Old Naples, about 6 miles south of the Hilton Naples.

Everglades & Airboat Tour

When visiting Naples, you might want to consider visiting the Florida Everglades for a day of adventure. The Everglades offers a unique opportunity of outdoor adventures. One of my favorite day itineraries to share with my out of town guests is to drive south to the Big Cypress Gallery which houses stunning large format black and white photographs by local resident Clyde Butcher. This drive is about an hour from the Hilton Naples through The Everglades. If you can make it, Clyde & Niki Butcher offer a Swamp Wlak every Labor Day Weekend that offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can view the website & events at http://www.clydebutcher.com/.
Once you view the sites at the Big Cypress Gallery, head back north on US 41 just a bit to Wooten's Airboat Tours www.wootenairboats.com . They have one of the best tours around and have been in business since 1953 owned & operated by the Wooten family. If you have never taken an airboat tour, this is the place to experience one. Their airboat tour cruises through the mangroves and marshlands and lasts for a full half hour. This time around I was able to see Great Egret and the Great Blue

Heron and the Tri-colored Heron. And of course many alligators. I even was able to hold a 3 year old alligator in their Animal Sanctuary. Our guide was Captain Carl who keeps you laughing while spewing off an impressive description about the wildlife and foilage seen while taking the tour.
Afterwards, head up just a little further north and you can visit Everglades City for lunch. I'd recommend the Rod & Gun Club for the historical significance & ambiance or the Seafood Depot for the authentic, rustic, old-Florida style appeal. After your Everglades Adventure, head back north on 41 to relax in luxury at the beautiful Naples Hilton.

February 13, 2009

Things To Do In Naples

There are so many things to do in Naples, especially during the beautiful month of February. I've listed a few things below to help you experience Naples, FL. Whether your in town staying at the Hilton Naples, a long time resident or up north, dreaming about the warm balmy weather & palm trees, I'm sure you will find a few things of interest.

Every Saturday Night is Jazz Night from 9pm-1am - Noodles CafĂ©, which is located within 1 mile from the Hilton Naples, features Paul Rozmus and the Funkyside Dance Band –239-592-0050 www.noodlescafe.com

Feb 14 – North Naples United Methodist Women’s Annual Rummage Sale –from 8am – noon. For more info, call 239-593-7600

February 14 - There is a native plant sale at Naples Botanical Garden from 10am - 4pm

February 14 & 15 - John Lennon exhibit 11am to 6pm. $2 donation at door - 1290 Third Street South

Feb 14 & 15 the Collier Seminole State Park is having a blue grass festival.

February 16 will feature Third on Canvas - Artists painting Historic Old Naples on Third. Go to Third Street South from 10am to 6pm. For further information please call 239-649-6707.

February 17th - at Whole Foods - learn how to make pasta from scratch - 6pm - you have to register – 239-552-1500

February 18, 2009 – at Tony’s Off 3rd – Experience the Wines of Australia's Peter Lehmann - Special Guest: Doug Lehmann, Proprietor. From 5:00 to 6:30 PM Cost: $5 per person - Each attendee will receive a $5 coupon towards the purchase of a Peter Lehmann wine. Call 262-7999 to make reservations or email Sukie at sukieh@tonysoffthird.com

Feb 18, March 4, March 18, April 1 & April 15 – The Bayfront Chef’s Market is open from 3pm-7pm – features over 20 local vendors featuring food, live music, produce, all in the beautiful surroundings of the Bayfront Plaza. The Bayfront Plaza is located where Goodlette-Frank Road meets 41 in Downtown Naples.

February 21, 2009 11:30-2:00 - Cheese Making Class at Naples Tomato Restaurant - Impress your friends by making them fresh cheese! In this class, you will learn how to make homemade mozzarella and burrata cheeses! $35 per person +18% gratuity. Limited seating. Reservations required.

On Feb 21 & 22 the 30th Annual Naples National Art Festival will be held from 10am at 8th Street South & Cambier Park – This was voted the 5th Best art festival in the country
Suggested $4 donation.

On Feb 21 – get out and enjoy beautiful Naples. Participate in the Multiple Sclerosis Walk – http://www.mswalksouthflorida.org/
February 25, 2009 5:30-7:00 - Cheesy Happy Hour! At Naples Tomato. This may be the coolest Happy Hour ever invented! Stop in after work, step into our pasta kitchen, order a drink and learn how to make cheese! Sip your favorite libation, taste the world’s freshest mozzarella and burrata and smile! Limit the first 10 people. $20 per person includes class and cheese. Drinks and other appetizers extra. 18% gratuity added

February 27th from 12pm to 2pm the Naples Princess will host a traditional English Tea supplied by local restaurant Brambles Tea Room. Enjoy a traditional English Tea while cruising on the bay. Reservations 239-649-2275 or http://www.naplesprincesscruises.com/

February 12, 2009

Welcome to Paradise

We had the opportunity to host Six Hilton Sales Partners at the Hilton Naples over the weekend. It was a lot of fun showing our new friends around Naples. There is so much to see and do it is hard to decide what to do first. Food usually comes top on that list so dinner was at The Dock at Crayton Cove which is a restaurant locally owned and operated. The Dock is right on Naples Bay and offers stunning views of the water. We all tried something different and enjoyed their fresh selection of fish, shellfish, steaks & ribs. Everyone agreed dinner was delicious. The Dock also hosts a very popular local event called the Great Canoe Races which will be held Saturday, May 10th...check out www.greatdockcanoerace.com to see why Neapolitans come out in droves to witness these races each year.
On Sunday morning, the group rode bikes (which are available to all the guests on a complimentary basis at the Hilton Naples) to the beach which is just a little over a half mile away. After was a trip to see the Naples Pier - a landmark here in town. It was a gorgeous day with just enough breeze and plenty of sunshine. Food again was a priority and this time the group was treated the Shula's Steak House located off the lobby of the Hilton Naples. We ordered pretty much everything on the menu and it was fabulous. We had the opportunity to sit in the Wine Room which boasts an impressive collection of wine. Overall we had a fantastic weekend and made new friends. We can't wait for them to come back and visit us!

February 2, 2009

Weekend Fun

Tampa is about a two and a half hour drive north from Naples, but the cheering from the Superbowl was heard here too. Or maybe they were the cheers from all the local Steeler fans.

This past Saturday one of our local parks hosted "Empty Bowls". This charity event benefiting the Harry Chapin Food Bank has a loyal local following. For $10 one buys and chooses a fresh made artisan ceramic bowl and then strolls through the park visiting one of "26 soup lines".
All soup is provided by different local restaurants.

One of 4 tables with different bowls to choose from.

The Soup lines
It was a cold day for us warm blooded southern Floridians, so warm soup really hit the spot.
It did not in the least dampen the happy vibe of the event.
See a local band consisting of 7th and 8th graders providing entertainment, and artists working their pottery wheel.


There is always a lot going on in our wonderful town.