The Gulf Coast's answer to Palm Beach isn't nearly as snobby as the latter. Sedate, fashionable and moneyed, though, its mansions and chic shops reek of gentility. In keeping with that ethos, it might not shock you to learn that it's self-titled 'The Golfing Capital of the World'; over 50 courses have been laid out. It also has a nice setting on the Caloosahatchee River. Before setting off for the beaches, wander down 5th Ave to get a feel for Old Naples. After lunching somewhere and taking a detour to a fabulous Audubon sanctuary, you will have done it all.
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What To See
LowdermilkPark, north of Old Naples, has restrooms, vending machines, picnicking places and volleyball courts showcasing some of the best players around. If you’re a world-class player visiting from, say, Hawaii, you might be able to join them. Otherwise, just watch the buff bods. And again, bring quarters for the meters.
Naples Museum of Art
Next to the Philharmonic, this engaging, sophisticated art museum focuses on 20th-century modernism, particularly American abstract expressionism and Mexican art. One exhibit cleverly designs gallery rooms to match the times of the paintings they display, while the 'Mouse House' recreates Olga Hirshhorn's home, crammed with drawings and ephemera from 20th-century masters. Rotating exhibits emphasize contemporary artists and cutting-edge works. The museum also has some notable Chihuly glass.
Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens
Caribbean Gardens is an Old Florida attraction that's been updated into a modest zoo. Though it lacks some big-ticket species (like elephants and manatees), it has some interesting wrinkles, such as narrated boat rides in a lake to visit free-roaming, island-bound monkeys and bigger-than-usual outdoor-theater animal shows (11am and 3pm daily). All presentations are included.