www.NaplesTouristCenter.com is both an on-line outreach and a bricks and mortar site to promote Southwest Florida Tourism and the great lifestyle we have here. We also operate www.MarcoTouristCenter.com, www.BonitaTouristCenter.com, and www.EsteroTouristCenter.com The Naples Tourist Center is physically located in the heavily trafficked, bustling area of Olde Naples: Downtown - 537 5th Avenue S. Our Tourist Center provide tourists and locals with all kinds of information to enhance both lifestyles and vacations in the Naples, Bonita Springs, Marco Island and Estero Florida areas. The center is patronized year-round with the focus on Attractions, Accommodations, Real Estate, Restaurants, Shopping, Services, and More! We strive to bring the very best experience to those who seek guidance for their needs and desires. If you know of any business or service you would like to see available on this site, we welcome you to contact us. Please enjoy beautiful Southwest Florida and its beaches. We look forward to seeing you during your visit. Come by any of our Olde Naples location: 537-5th Avenue South (Downtown) Feel free to call ahead for directions: (239) 821-9046 PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS HERE! Be part of the Naples Tourist Center experience. To promote your business or service to thousands of Southwest Florida Visitors and Locals alike, please contact us directly at (239) 821-9046. Our email address is info@NaplesTouristCenter.com
THE HISTORY OF NAPLES Naples is located on the Southwest coast of Florida directy on the Gulf of Mexico. It has seven stretched-out miles of white, sandy talcum powder beaches, great golf courses (perhaps more than any place in America per capita), a laid-back friendly lifestyle, sidewalk cafes and more. It is believed at least 2,000 years before Christ, the ancestors of the tribe of Calusa Indians inhabited this remote area through the 1700’s. These fierce warriors met their demise by the Spanish conquistadors and explorers, such as Ponce de Leon and his crew, who brought with them disease starting in the 16th century. Ultimately and ironically, though, Ponce de Leon would die an untimely death when in a battle with Calusa Indians; he was wounded by a poisoned arrow on Pine Island (just off the coast of Ft. Myers), or so many accounts say, and eventually died from that encounter. The first Frontier settlers, Roger Gordon and Joe Wiggins, arrived in Naples in the late 1860's, but it remained virtually uninhabited until after the Civil War. Early pioneers hunted and fished for a living. They trapped otters and alligators for their pelts and hides. They harvested crops of cabbage, sugar cane, tomatoes and pineapple. Trading posts became important gathering places for the settlers and Indians. Throughout the 1870's and '80's, magazine and newspaper stories telling of the area's mild climate and abundant fish and game likened it to the sunny Italian peninsula. The name Naples caught on when promoters described the bay as "surpassing the bay in Naples, Italy." A group of wealthy Kentuckians purchased virtually the entire town of Naples in 1887. One of the first improvements made was to build a pier 600 feet into the Gulf of Mexico. The unusual "T" shape allowed large ships to dock easily for trade and commerce. The early 1900’s gave way to cattle ranching as a major industry for the area. Naples, with its tropical paradise climate, quickly gained a reputation as a winter resort. Barron G. Collier visited nearby Useppa Island in 1911. He was so smitten with the area that he bought more than a million acres of untouched swampland - including most of what now includes Naples, but minus the section bought by the Kentuckians. Collier believed Florida's west coast could enjoy the same boom the east coast was experiencing in the 1920's; but first it was necessary to bring in road and railroads. Based on Collier's promise to help build the Tamiami Trail, Collier County was created by the state legislature in 1923. Collier spent more than $1 million of his own money to construct the Tamiami Trail, which opened in 1926 as the only paved highway linking the state's two largest cities - Tampa and Miami. World War II brought hundreds of servicemen to Naples when the Army Airfield was built in 1943 to train pilots for combat missions. Many veterans returned after the war to start new businesses. Naples sustained a direct hit by Hurricane Donna in 1960 which stimulated growth with an infusion of insurance money and loans. The first Collier County Government was located in Everglades City. It was moved to Naples in 1962. The foresight and vision of early settlers, the railroad system and completion of the Tamiami Trail stimulated growth in agriculture, tourism and real estate, setting Naples on the path to becoming one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.
NAPLES TODAY You know how you hear about a tropical paradise, a place with pristine beaches and great golf and beautiful surroundings, and you are in love? And then you get to that location and though you do like some of it, the community is just not as pretty as the one that blossomed in your imagination during those grand weeks of anticipation? Well that’s not the case in Naples, Florida. It’s one of the few towns in Florida that not only meets such expectations, but might well surpass them. Now don’t get me wrong, as a travel writer and transplanted Floridian (in addition to being a Realtor), I love all of Florida. I’ve been swimming with manatees in northern Florida; toured the beautiful history of St. Augustine; many times circled St. Armand’s in Sarasota; and quite frankly enjoy the diversity of Miami. We love all of America. In fact as a family we traveled all 50 states (3) times, each time on the road for a year. You may have seen us on Oprah, Today, The View, CNN, Donny & Marie, or a multitude of other media outlets that were impressed with our time on the road. But when it came time to settle down and pick a location to give relocation a go – a place that had collected together so many of those elements we deem desirable – Naples got the nod. These elements define Naples: a quaint, tidy definable downtown; beaches that are truly clean; great access to all those beaches even if you aren’t a multimillionaire living on the sand perimeter; a near absence of high rises (only a few in the northern reach of the beaches); low crime; good zoning; a nice balance between business and the environment; lack of an “old money” society; friendly folk; limited land in Collier County for development; a great Philharmonic, art museum and community theatre; beautiful bays; an impressive pier; a constant upgrading of “looks” and a lack of billboards. As a friend of mine said to me not long ago: “A lot of places in Florida have nice areas, but Naples just has such a BIG stretch of nice.” Yep, that would be one way to describe it. The other fascinating aspect to Naples is its' struggle with definition: Is it a retirement mecca, or is it a place where upwardly mobile young families are deciding they want to raise their children? Or maybe this one of the prime destinations for the onward marching Baby Boomers. Or how about the new in-place for those sun-loving Brits and Europeans? Clearly these days it is all four. And speaking of the Baby Boomers and the Europeans, I dare say you could throw a ping-pong ball ten times down stylish Fifth Avenue South and rarely miss tapping someone who would fit into either categories. And though Naples isn’t South Beach, it attracts the people of South Beach, Palm Beach, Westport, CT, Greenwich, and Manhattan; as well as Midwesterners from Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan and more. Even Californians are starting to come over for a look at our shopping, art galleries and fine dining restaurants. And yes, Naples does have homes approaching $50,000,000, as some of America’s wealthiest – including a number of celebrities – stake their claim, but you can still find dwellings playing with the $100,000 mark, up and down. Throw in two newly founded universities, Florida Gulf Coast located in neighboring Estero (Lee County), and Ave Maria (Collier County), the first Catholic University founded in American in 40 years; two Ritz Carltons; a multitude of golf courses; the constantly evolving truce between the environment and commerce; our tree-themed neighborhoods west of 41 (Port Royal, Aqualane Shores, Old Naples, and the Moorings); clean public parks, not to mention countless other beach access points; free parking downtown; and FREE parking at the beaches and at any meters for property owners (with your FREE Beach Parking sticker). Oh and some of the lowest property taxes in Florida! Something else that makes Naples Florida so special is that it really didn’t start developing until after 1960. Oh there were a few people at the turn of the previous century, but it wasn’t until after Hurricane Donna in 1960 that Naples attained any fame at all. And, so, since it developed late, Naples was able to benefit from the hard-learned lessons of peer cities. For example, Naples’ beachfront is residentially oriented. From Old Naples southward toward the incredibly beautiful and yes, incredibly pricey Port Royal, you are looking at single family homes. Head north and you will find a mixture of single family homes, condos and hotels, all low-rise until you reach the northern extremity neighborhoods of Park Shore, Pelican Bay, and Vanderbilt Beach. There our skyline ratchets up a bit, but not tackily so. And, yet, though our beachfront is residential, you will find inviting access to our fine white sandy shores. Every AVENUE of Old Naples ends at the beach. (Avenues lazily stroll east to west). AVENUES in Aqualane Shores and Port Royal also acess the beach; and all along Moorings, Park Shore, and Vanderbilt, you will find a variety of mini-beach parks. Want more sandy choices? Naples throws in Lowdermilk Park, Clam Pass, and Delnor-Wiggins for good measure. And we can’t forget Keewaydin Island State Preserve, accessible by boat. On these beaches you can easily find your own piece of solitude! And if you’re in the mood to socialize, or do a little wakeboarding or waterskiing, then just boat up to the bay side! Our historic areas of Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South have a three-story height limitation enabling us to use words like “charming” and “quaint” when describing our downtown area. And if you like sidewalk cafes and dining alfresco, you will find a multitude of choices. Naples neighborhoods are often described as west of 41 or east of 41. (That’s highway 41, also known as the Tamiami Trail, which gets its name from the fact that it goes from Tampa to Miami – clever huh!). West of 41 or the Gulf side of 41, which includes the neighborhoods previously described, tends to be more pricey than neighborhoods east of 41, though that is not always the case. Generally speaking east of 41 is where the gated communities can be found, both pricey and not, as well as some of the older, more economical neighborhoods. Into golf? You’ll find dozens of courses in the region: Public, private and semi-private. And dozens more golfing communities, both “equity” and “pay as you play” such as Lely, Grey Oaks, Mediterra, Tiburon, Pelican Bay, Pelican Marsh, and Collier’s Preserve; as well as “bundled” neighborhoods (golf included with the purchase.). Some well known names in that category include Cedar Hammock, Forest Glen, Naples Lakes, Heritage Bay, Vanderbilt Country Club and more. Many of the latter are amazingly affordable. Need to shoot around the state quickly? There’s I-75. And in case you are wondering, we are only about three hours from DisneyWorld; just over an hour to Miami and Ft. Lauderdale; and about six hours to Key West. Okay. Here’s one for you. Like a city with PRIDE? It might well be that the term was invented here. Or at least imported early on! For more information on Naples, Florida, please click on the link below or enter it into your address browser: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naples,_Florida Don’t miss our other tourist sites: www.BonitaTouristCenter.com, www.MarcoTouristCenter.com, www.EsteroTouristCenter.com ---“The History of Naples” was compiled by Christy Sanford. “Naples Today” was authored by Marlene Graham--- http://www.naplestouristcenter.com