Here's what its like to live in Naples, FL

Maybe you've always wanted to live in Florida, or maybe you've just taken a job in the Gulf Coast region. Whatever brings you to Naples, you're in luck, because the quality of life is second to none in this coastal paradise. You'll enjoy warm, sunny weather, high-end shopping, and top-notch dining. From its quaint historic downtown to its unrivaled ocean views, Naples will charm you from the moment you arrive. Load up the moving van and get ready for an exciting new chapter in Naples, Florida.

Naples has a population of about 20,600, but if you consider the surrounding Naples-Marco Island, Florida, Metropolitan area, the population far exceeds that number at roughly 322,000 residents.

The city is one of the wealthiest in the country, boasting more millionaires than almost any other U.S. community. You don't have to be a millionaire to move to Naples, however. Tourism and hospitality industries are booming in Naples and in neighboring Fort Meyers, so you can always find employment in one of the most beautiful Florida towns on the Gulf Coast.

The Naples community is diverse in terms of household types. Ten percent of residents have children under the age of 18 living with them, and roughly 53 percent are married couples. There are many singles, unmarried couples, and cohabitating roommates. Naples does have a large senior population, and over 20 percent of its residents are over 65 years old. Whether you're retired, single, or part of a young family, you can certainly find your tribe and make new friends in Naples.

Moving to Naples

A Town for All Seasons

Some people live in Naples full-time, while others are part-time residents. Like winter birds, many people fly south to Naples for the season. During the late fall, winter, and early spring, Naples is full of beachcombers, retirees, affluent travelers, and vacationing families seeking a reprieve from colder climates.

The clothing boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants of Naples' historic downtown are bustling at this time of year with an energy that is simply contagious. Naples residents like to live it up. And, why not, when you can enjoy first-class meals overlooking the ocean and raise a glass in a toast from a sailboat at sunset? These dreams can all be your daily reality in Naples.

It is said that Naples gets more than 2,900 hours of sunshine each year. You'll want to get some sunscreen and wear a hat! Most Floridians don't even own a winter coat, and you certainly won't need one in Naples. In December, the high temperatures in Naples are typically in the upper 70s, while lows may dip into the mid-50s, hardly frigid temperatures. Summers can be quite hot and humid, with average highs in the low 90s and a low in the mid-70s.

The Origins of Naples, Florida

Naples was founded in the 1880s by former Confederate General turned U.S. Senator John Stuart Williams, along with his partner Walter N. Haldeman, who was the Publisher of the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper. Together, the two promoted the new vacation destination far and wide, likening it to the sunny climate of Naples, Italy. Though the buzz surrounding the planned city was building throughout the 1920s, the city's development didn't take off until after the Great Depression.

By the 1940s, the U.S. Army Air Force had established a training base near Naples that would eventually become the Naples Municipal Airport. A rail link was also established between Naples and Miami.

In 1945, a hurricane caused significant damage to the area, after which a local dredging company transformed many of the local mangrove swamps into a lake and coves. Today, the area is known as the Aqualane Shores neighborhood, whose boundary extends from the Gulf of Mexico to the Bay of Naples, along 14th Avenue S, and on down to Jamaica Channel. The Gulf-facing waterfront homes and canals in this community have become deeply associated with Naples.

Naples has always specialized in real estate development, but the rise of ecotourism in recent years has attracted a new breed of tourists who would rather get active and explore than sit still on the beach. Naples has pivoted to develop new programs, tours, and experiences that take visitors deep into the Everglades and the Ten Thousand Islands.

Navigating Naples, Florida

You can get to Naples by flying into the Naples Municipal Airport, which is primarily serviced by Gulf Coast Airways and a few charter jet companies. Others fly into the Southwest Florida International Airport, where you can catch a flight to Naples on popular domestic airlines like Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Delta Airlines, and American Airlines, as well as WestJet, Sun Country, Frontier Airlines, Eurowings, and Air Canada.

You don't have to have a car in Naples, although it is advisable. As an alternative, you can bike or catch the bus, operated by the Collier Area Transit. Collier Area Transit offers bus service Mondays through Saturdays, with no service on holidays. You can pay by the ride, daily, or monthly. Trolley tours also operate from morning to afternoon, stopping at 20 distinct destinations within Naples each day with hop-on and hop-off service until 5 p.m.

Interstate 75 skirts the eastern edge of Naples, and Route 81 cuts west toward the city. Route 41 is also one of the main routes here, which is also known as Tamiami Trail N. The route offers a scenic drive right through town, but also through the Everglades. You'll likely spot alligators sunning themselves right next to the road.

Life on the Beach in Naples

Naples' beaches have been lauded as some of the best in the world. Indulge in the magical elixir of pure, soft, white sand, emerald green Gulf waters, blue skies, and sunshine, and you're bound to feel years younger. Here is a list of the world-class Naples beaches you can visit any time you please, once you move in:

  • Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, Clam Pass Beach Park.
  • Naples Municipal Beach and Fishing Pier, better known as Naples Pier.
  • Vanderbilt Beach.
  • North Gulf Shore Boulevard Beach.
  • Seagate Beach.
  • or Lowdermilk Beach Park.

Many Naples residents love to enjoy the water from a different vantage point: aboard a boat. A day on the water in Naples starts at the Naples City Dock. The floating dock offers 84 slips to accommodate vessels up to 60 feet long. If you need to fuel up, there are high-speed diesel and ethanol-free gasoline pumps at the ready.

You can even use the restroom, do some laundry, or simply hang out nearby and greet fellow boaters and friends. If you need to dock and stay a while, you can hook up to electrical service for a small fee. This dock is so popular that you may have to join a waitlist for a slip. Contact the city directly for information.

Naples Neighborhoods and Suburbs

Naples is composed of several tightly knit neighborhoods, often each possessing their own neighborhood association. Here is a look at some of the well-known neighborhoods in Naples:

  • Aqualane Shores is a waterfront community located between Port Royal and Olde Naples, close to the Third Street and Fifth Avenue shopping districts. Deep canals and waterfront views make this one of the most desirable developments in Naples.
  • Bear's Paw is one of Naples' rare and exclusive gated golf communities, consisting of only 15 single-family homes, plus condos and villas.
  • Coquina Sands is notable for its tree-lined streets and verdant parks, and it is located near the Naples business district.
  • Cutlass Cove Beach Club dates to the 1950s. The beachfront property stretches 100 feet long, with private access exclusively for property owners on Gordon Drive and Cutlass Lane.
  • Eagle Oak Ridge lies close to Naples High School, U.S. Route 41, and Goodlette-Frank Road. This unique community offers a mix of housing options, from single-family homes to apartments, condos, and trailers.
  • Moorings is a quiet condo community of waterfront homes situated along Route 41.
  • Old Naples is the oldest section of town and is where most of the town's original homes are located. This neighborhood stretches from Third Street South to the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club, then west to Route 41 toward the beach.
  • Park Shore is a luxury community that stretches along the Gulf of Mexico, intersected by waterway inlets.
  • Port Royal is an elite enclave in Naples on Gordon Drive that is far removed from the public beaches, offering plenty of privacy in a prestigious beachfront setting.
  • River Park is a lively and diverse neighborhood that is full of churches, businesses, apartments, and homes. Each year, the city celebrates its rich culture with the City of Naples Cultural Heritage Celebration.
  • Royal Harbor is a large community of about 400 homes and condos perched on the eastern shores and channels of Naples Bay.
  • Seagate lies to the north of the city, adjacent to the Pelican Bay neighborhood in Collier County. This quiet waterfront neighborhood is ideal for those looking for peace, quiet, and private beach access.

Health, Wellness, and Sports in Naples, Florida

The NCH Healthcare System operates two hospitals and six clinics, ensuring that you'll never have to wait too long for medical care should you need it. In Collier County, you can also turn to Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida for family care, internal medicine, pediatrics, dental, behavioral, and specialty care.

If you take advantage of Naples' parks and recreation and hit the golf course, you can stay healthy and limit those doctor visits. Naples is blessed to have more than 80 championship courses within driving distance, each featuring its own memorable attributes. The sheer variety and challenges offered by these courses truly set Naples apart as a golfer's paradise.

Golf geeks and pros alike come to Naples to play golf courses designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Arthur Hills, and Robert Trent Jones.

Most operate throughout the year, which should come as no surprise given Naples' perennially sunny climate. Locals love to golf from May to October when the snowbirds fly home again. During this time of year, many of the private courses also open to the public. Here are a few of the top-ranked courses in the Naples area:

  • Arrowhead Golf Courses was designed by Gordon G. Lewis.
  • The Bellasera Hotel course is a favorite among locals, offering an experience as luxurious as the adjoining Four Diamond resort.
  • Eagle Lakes Golf Course, designed by Bruce Devlin and Gordon Lewis, offers 18 holes.
  • Forest Glen Golf and Country Club is a championship 18-hole course, designed by Arthur Hills, that plays 7,081 yards.
  • Gasparilla Inn Golf Course is located in nearby Boca Grande, Florida. It was designed by Pete Dye, and the property also includes the newly remodeled Gasparilla Inn.
  • Hammock Bay Golf Course plays 18 holes under 7,000 yards. It was designed by Robert von Hagge, and later redesigned by Peter Jacobson.
  • Heritage Bay Golf Course in Naples, designed by Gordon G. Lewis, offers a whopping 27-hole layout.
  • Hibiscus Golf Club plays 6,540 yards from the tips. If you're hungry after the game, visit Erin's Isle Restaurant on the property.
  • LaPlaya Beach and Golf Resort is located right on the beach, which makes for a scenic game of golf. The Robert Cupp designed course is a favorite among locals for its high-end amenities and exquisite landscaping. Stick around after the game for a trip to the spa and dinner at BALEEN, known to be one of the best fine dining experiences in the area.
  • Lely Resort dazzles golfers with 54 holes of championship golf, an unmatched offering in South Florida. The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., a legend among golf architects. The distinctive course's holes are as challenging as they are beautiful. Some holes are isolated on an island full of palms and sand traps.
  • Marco Island Marriott Golf Club and Spa will be your favorite golf escape, thanks to its island-like theme. The Rookery Golf Club is considered by many to be one of the best golf clubs near Naples.
  • Naples Beach and Golf Club is an 18-hole course that was designed by Ron Garl. It opened in 1930, making this is one of the oldest courses in the area, and a Naples classic.
  • Raptor Bay Golf Club in Bonita Springs is a modern 18-hole course designed in 2001 by Raymond Floyd.
  • Visit the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, and you will be just steps from the 36-hole Tiburon golf course. Both championship courses were designed by Greg Norman. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort's Mediterranean vibe will make you want to check in and enjoy a staycation for a few days, even if you already live in town. Play a few rounds, then check out one (or all) of the resort's 5 restaurants, 12 meeting rooms, the pool area, and the Tiburon Golf Club.
  • Golf Digest has given Valencia Golf and Country Club a Four-Star rating numerous times in the past few years. The course earns high marks for its layout, which can accommodate players of all skill levels simultaneously at five sets of tees.
  • Don't let the name fool you. The Hole in the Wall Golf Club in Naples offers a great game of golf, and you'll enjoy camaraderie with fellow golfers on this local course along the way.

Golf Events in Naples, Florida

As one of the country's (and the world's) great golf destinations, the city's championship golf courses frequently host golf tournaments. Here are just a few annual golf events that take place in Naples:

  • Tiburon hosts the QBE Shootout (formerly known as the Shark Shootout), which is an off-season PGA Tour pro event. Tiburon also hosts the CME Group Tour Championship, which rounds out the LPGA tour each year. The course is favored for tournaments.
  • TPC Treviso Bay, designed by Arthur Hills and Hal Sutton, hosts the Chubbs Classic PGA tournament each year. The course faces the beautiful Rookery Bay National Estuarine Reserve.

Education in Naples, Florida

From beaches to playgrounds, excellent schools, and educational experiences, it won't be long before your kids get excited about their new home.

The District School Board of Collier County runs the public schools in Naples, including three elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. There are no colleges within Naples city limits, although Ave Maria School of Law is located in North Naples. Florida Gulf Coast University, located near Estero, offers continuing education courses at its Naples Center campus. Within a 35-mile radius, you'll find Ave Maria University (35 miles northeast), Florida SouthWestern State College (7 miles east), and Hodges University (10 miles northeast).

Naples offers plenty of educational experiences that children will enjoy. Head to the Naples Depot Museum to learn about the history of Southwest Florida, from the early days of the railroad to other popular local modes of transportation, including swamp buggies and Seminole canoes. Kids will love looking out for the miniature train that runs around the property's perimeter. Naples also has its own Holocaust Museum and Education Center, a much-visited site that educates about 155,000 students per year.

Naples Arts and Culture

The affluent residents of Naples love to support the area's theatre, symphony, and fine arts. For a town of its size, Naples offers a range of excellent arts and cultural entertainment. You can catch a live performance by The Naples Players, Opera Naples, The Naples Philharmonic, or Equity Theatre Company and Gulfshore Playhouse.

Outdoor Activities in Naples, Florida

Since its earliest days, Naples' biggest draw has been the region's natural beauty. You could spend hours getting lost in the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, the Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and Picayune Strand State Forest. These stunning natural preserves offer an oasis where residents and visitors can watch waterfowl in their natural habitat, marvel at the lush foliage and diverse ecosystems, and even get a little exercise along the way.

Children will love visiting the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens. Adults will love the serenity of Naples Botanical Garden, located on Bayshore Drive.

Shopping in Naples, Florida

You'll want to take your time exploring Downtown Naples. On 5th Avenue South and 3rd Street South, antique shops and Gallery Row offer treasures you won't find anywhere else.

Head to Village on Venetian Bay for an upscale shopping experience overlooking the Gulf, or explore the Waterside Shops just off Tamiami Trail. Tin City, located near Naples Bay and The Gordon River, offers yet more antiques, curiosities, and handicrafts that will look great in your new Naples home. If you like to wander stalls looking for deals, you'll want to check out Big Cypress Market Place.

Dining in Naples, Florida

Whether your refined palate prefers fine dining, or you go for cheap eats and casual bistros, the Naples dining scene does not disappoint.

  • On the upscale end, Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro is ranked as one of the top restaurants in Naples. From the exceptional presentation to the fine wine list and cocktail menu, diners can look forward to an unforgettable dining experience.
  • Fuse BBQ tantalizes the palate with a unique high-low fusion inspired by traditional southern barbecue. Black-eyed peas, wings, brisket, and chili get a chef's treatment here that is second to none.
  • If you like high-end Italian food, visit Caffe dell'Amore. The elegant atmosphere makes this romantic spot ideal for a special date.
  • The Grill at the Ritz Carlton offers something for everyone along with the upscale ambiance associated with the Ritz Carlton brand.
  • Visit family-owned restaurant Aqua for outstanding seafood and even better cocktails.
  • Mediterrano serves up excellent food and a breathtaking outdoor seating area.
  • Try something different at Lima Restaurant and Pisco Bar, where you can try Peruvian fare like ceviche and lomo saltado and sample the indigenous drink of Peru, best enjoyed in a pisco sour cocktail.
  • Rumba Cuban Cafe serves up Latin fare, including paella, tostones, and the best Cuban sandwich around.
  • For burgers, fries, seafood, fish tacos, and margaritas in a casual open-air environment, visit Tommy Bahama Restaurant and store. This restaurant is family friendly, and it also offers a full bar.
  • Enjoy fresh seafood in a casual environment at Citrus Seafood.
  • Or, try the oysters and grouper sandwiches at Captain Krewes Naples.
  • Find yet more seafood at Island Gypsy Cafe and Marina Bar, dockside.
  • Enjoy delicious coffee and fresh baked French goodies at La Colmar Bakery and Bistro.
  • Maria D'Anna Cafe also serves up a quaint lunch that's worth the trip, this time with a twist. The unassuming cafe, located in a strip mall on Route 41, is the only restaurant in the area that specializes in authentic Polish food.
  • You'll find schnitzel, sauerkraut, and other favorite German dishes at Black Forest Restaurant in Naples.
  • For classic American diner fare, head to Goldie's. Come hungry, because this restaurant is known for its large portions and hearty breakfasts.
  • Cove Inn Coffee Shoppe is a favorite no-frills local breakfast haunt.
  • For authentic Mexican food, including tacos and tortas, head to Taqueria San Julian 2.

If you're seeking a bar scene, you won't have to go far in Naples. Just a few of the favorite bars in town include Island Gypsy Cafe and Marina Bar, Truluck's, Ocean Prime, Rusty's Raw Bar and Grill, Hobnob Kitchen and Bar, and Noodles Italian Cafe and Sushi Bar.

Annual Events in Naples, Florida

Naples residents and visitors will tell you there's simply nowhere else like Naples. The city's natural beauty, upscale amenities, and fun seaside experiences keep people returning again and again, especially when there's an event or festival to attend. Locals come together during holidays and special occasions to mingle, network, and relax, making festivals and annual events the perfect time to bond as a family and to make new friends in your new community. Here are a few of the outstanding events you can look forward to attending once you've settled in Naples, Florida:

  • The Naples Shakespeare Festival and the Marco Island Shakespeare Festival come to town in May, bringing the bard to the beach – for free! From comedies like "The Taming of the Shrew" to beloved tragedies like "Romeo and Juliet," you won't want to miss these classic tales, presented right near the waterfront.
  • Locals also look forward to The Oliver Group Champions Cup of the Outback Champions Tennis Series.
  • There's never a dull moment at one of Naples' more unique sporting events, the Swamp Buggy Races, held three times each year at the Florida Sports Park.
  • The Naples Half Marathon also draws a big crowd each year.
  • For over 20 years, the Naples New Year's Art Fair has taken place in early January, taking over Downtown Naples along 5th Avenue South. Professional artists from across the country come to display their work, and visitors flock to meet and greet with creatives and friends while hunting for inspiring new artwork to add to their collections.
  • When you live in Naples, you'll have a front row seat for some of Naples most anticipated annual events. The Southwest Florida Nature Festival takes place in mid-January, offering the unique opportunity to learn from experts on more than 40 guided tours of South Florida's unique ecosystems. You can also attend lectures at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, or join a birding expedition on foot, by buggy, or by boat.
  • The Naples Winter Wine Festival, which takes place in late January, is one of the nation's most anticipated events, at least among the affluent. When you live in Naples, you'll save a lot on accommodations, but you'll still need to buy tickets before they sell out. You can drink with a good conscience, too, knowing that proceeds go to the Naples Children and Education Foundation.
  • The Naples National Arts Festival takes place in mid-February and is one of Naples' most anticipated events. Stroll down 8th Street Downtown along Cambier Park, and you can enjoy world-class art and South Florida's best weather of the year. Not only can you enjoy the art, but you can buy it too. Take home a new piece of jewelry, ceramics, sculpture, photography, woodwork, or painting to brighten up your new South Florida home.
  • The Naples Craft Beer Festival takes place in early March. Craft brewers come from around the country to present their microbrews, while local restaurants present pairings to complement the beers. Enjoy both while listening to live music.
  • Next up, in mid-March, get ready for the raucous Naples St. Patrick's Day Parade at Sugden Plaza. It's the largest festival of its kind in Florida, so it's not one you'll want to miss.
  • If you love seafood, be sure to attend the Marine Music and Food Festival in early April. This weekend is all about the simple pleasures: eating fresh seafood and enjoying live music with neighbors and friends.
  • The City of Naples Fourth of July Parade and fireworks display takes place each Independence Day and runs from morning to night. The best view of the fireworks is from the beach near the Naples Pier, and you will want to arrive early to claim a spot.
  • The Naples Stone Crab Festival should be on your bucket list if you are a seafood lover. Set on the waterfront, this event is a delight for all the senses, and will even entertain the kids, too, with plenty of family-friendly events.
  • In November, bring the family to the Old Florida Festival, one of Florida's largest living history events. There, you can learn about 10,000 years of history through engaging reenactments. Area history is brought alive, from the lives of Native Americans to frontier times, the pirate era, and much more.
  • The year winds down with a New Year's Eve fireworks display. See it from Naples Beach or consider a different vantage point, by boat. Either way, the view is spectacular.

Whether you've always dreamed of owning a second home on the coast, golfing all day, enjoying the beauty of nature in retirement, or relocating to live and work in Naples, get ready to live your dream in one of Florida's most beautiful Gulf coast communities.