Naples + The Gulf Coast

Naples + The Gulf Coast Travel Guide

Thanks to its gentle currents, the beach is a popular and lively spot, especially on weekends. For seclusion, head to the gorgeous white-yellow sands of Long Boat Key.

Intact remains of Florida’s mysterious pre-European inhabitants are surprisingly rare—that’s why the 425 or so graves are so special, not to mention the two ceremonial stones marked with engravings of sun gods that show how symbolic this riverside spot was for its first human settlers.

Once you’ve watched the Weeki Wachee Springs’ mermaid show, hit the spring-fed waters yourself in a canoe. This tour operator offers three-and-a-half-hour self-guided paddling trips that span about seven miles.

A miniature circus re-creates the Ringling operation in staggering detail—2,300 pieces.

Years as agent: 15. Other specialty: Small-ship cruises. Consulting fee: Varies.

More than 60 years old, the mermaid show is the main lure at this theme park, where a troupe (currently 17 strong) of aquatic acrobats in mermaid-like fins performs Esther Williams-esque routines in the pool.

One of the top yacht-rental companies, expert sailors can skipper themselves with a bareboat charter (from $410 a day), while novices can hire a crew for an extra $160.

For dessert, head to this Amish owned and operated shop for homemade pies, like peanut butter cream or Southern pecan.

For breakfast, choose from 15 flavors of muffins.

All the beaches on the Naples coast are not only public but clean and free. After sunning, mosey over to the City Pier, where, in a Florida rarity, you can park alongside anglers without springing for a license.