Driving through The Everglades
Jeremie and I spent a weekend away during the pandemic. We were sick of being in the apartment, so went away for 4 days for the 4th of July weekend.
We drove from Miami, through the Everglades and stopped along the way to see some alligators. It was such a beautiful drive and I loved looking outside at the nature.
This is something I recommend doing if you're driving to the South West of Florida from Miami. You can pack a lunch and stop at one of the many stops along the way.
We stopped for Jeremie to go the bathroom and he came running to the car as he had seen some alligators. So we got out with the drone and cameras to get some footage! It was so much fun! It was kind of sad though as one of the alligators had rope around his neck. Obviously a failed attempt at catching the poor thing..
"Everglades National Park is a 1.5-million-acre wetlands preserve on the southern tip of the U.S. state of Florida. Often compared to a grassy, slow-moving river, the Everglades is made up of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes and pine flatwoods that are home to hundreds of animal species. Among the Everglades' abundant wildlife are the endangered leatherback turtle, Florida panther and West Indian manatee."
Best Western Naples Plaza Hotel
Once we arrived in Naples, we found a hotel. We actually stayed at a Best Western (Naples Plaza Hotel) for under $100. The hotel was fine.
It has a pool but it was closed due to Covid and was meant to include a buffet breakfast which was also closed due to Covid. So we had some food given to us in the morning, like a muffin, a cereal bar and a juice box. Nothing amazing, but it wasn't their fault.
I also need to mention that I slept SO BADLY! The AC was so noisy that I kept waking up in the night due to the sound. Plus one minute I was cold and the next I was boiling. It was cheap and cheerful, but I would never recommend somewhere that I didn't sleep well.
Let's see Naples
So once we settled into the hotel, had lunch and a nap, it was time to explore Naples. We drove to the town centre and found some free parking on 5th Avenue which seems to be the main street in Naples. See photo below for our free car parking spot!
We walked around a little bit, had a wander through a park and down to a lake which was cute. The whole place is so perfect. Perfect lawns, perfect houses, perfect street signs, perfect restaurants.. it's all a bit much for me.
"Naples is one of the wealthiest cities in the United States, with the sixth-highest per capita income in the country in 2012, and the second-highest proportion of millionaires per capita in the US."
We then walked down 5th Avenue and spent a couple of hours on the beautiful white sand beach and in the Gulf of Mexico water.
The beach was beautiful, the sand was fine white sand and the water was literally hot like bath water. It was lovely to relax on the beach for a couple of hours, but we soon wanted to walk around and explore some more.
"Seven-mile, white-sand beach along the turquoise gulf with a serene atmosphere & a fishing pier."
Naples Pier at sunset
After some time on the beach, we wanted to walk through Naples a bit more, so we went back from the beach a couple of blocks and walked from 5th Avenue down to 12th which is where the pier is. We were expecting to see some shops, restaurants, atmosphere.. but the city was dead.
The beach was busy at the pier for sunset and I've got to admit, it was beautiful. We sat by the pier and watched the sun set over the water, which is the opposite of what happens in Miami.
"Historic pier known for fishing, bird-watching, dolphin-spotting & scenic sunset views. The Naples Pier stretches out 1,000 feet into the Gulf of Mexico. The Naples Pier was originally built in 1888 as a freight and passenger dock. Located off of 12th Avenue South in Downtown Naples, has been a popular spot for fishing, relaxation and as a location to watch sunsets since it was first constructed."
Time for some food!
After watching the beautiful sunset, we decided to go into "town" for some food. There didn't seem to be much happening on 5th Avenue, so we found a spot close to where we were for dinner.
We went to a place called Old Naples Pub where we had some good comfort food. I had a fish sandwich and chips & Jeremie had Mahi-Mahi.
We also got dessert which was delicious! I would recommend Old Naples Pub for dinner if you ever come here. It was yummy, affordable and a nice location!
"Homey go-to featuring familiar American bar fare, outdoor seating & regular live music."
I don't think I would put Naples high on the places I would recommend people go to visit. There wasn't a whole lot to do and the main attraction was the pier at sunset. It was beautiful but not worth the visit just for that.
It seems like a bit of a toy city. Like when you visit lego land. Or like a film set. Or The Truman Show. It was all very perfect, very nice and very clean.
Now there's nothing wrong with that, and for some people that sounds like paradise. But I prefer to visit places with a bit of charm, a bit of history, charism or grit.
There were some beautiful houses and buildings that I'm going to post below incase your curious! But yeah, Naples was not my favourite place, but it was fine.