Shopping is always a primary concern of mine when traveling. And generally what I’m looking for are items handmade in the local area, usually specialty items from the area. Naples, FL is a lovely place to visit with wonderful white sand beaches, warm weather, and lots of conveniences nearby, but it doesn’t ring my bell when it comes to handmade treasures.
Your best best for beautiful handmade items in Naples is to look for an art show. There seems to be
one almost every weekend (check the Naples Daily News Friday edition for details on upcoming events). I’ve been able to find one every time I’ve been there. They are often in parks – Cambier or Wiggins Pass. I’ve also been to one in the parking lot of a mall. Keep your eyes open for these. They are wonderful events with lots of artists from around the country, but there are often local artists there also. I bought this lovely palm tree painting (which is textured – hard to see that in a photo) in a show in Cambier Park last year from a local artist.
The most popular area in Naples is Fifth Avenue South. This main shopping area of the city is a few blocks long and has many restaurants as well as a theater. You’ll also find some lovely shops tucked in among there. There are clothing shops (I like Fresh Produce for clothes that feel like Florida – and they sell plus sizes). Blue Mussel carries beautiful shells (not cheap!) if you’d like a memento of the sea. Royalty and Hollywood Jewelry sells reproductions of famous pieces of jewelry. They’re less than the real stuff, but again, not inexpensive. Stop into the Wind in the Willows for an overwhelming experience of a crowded store filled with clothing and a woodland fairy theme. It’s worth an hour or so of your time to walk up and down the strip.
Most people talk about 3rd Street South in the same breath when they mention 5th Avenue, but I don’t go here anymore. There aren’t many stores and those that are there aren’t interesting or exciting.
Naples has lots of malls. The Coastland Center is your typical suburban mall. Nothing of note there, but if you need some basics, it’s the place to head. Inside downtown Naples you will find Venetian Village. It’s a beautiful setting – a mall set right on a bay. There are numerous restaurants and the malls has an underground passageway under the street that kids love. It’s worth a stroll, but I find the shops overpriced and frankly quite small. It’s especially pretty at night.
Another popular spot is The Waterside Shops. I recommend it only because it’s a lovely setting. The stores are arranged around pools of water with fountains. There’s lots of greenery and it has a very peaceful feeling. Unfortunately, the shops don’t excite me at all.
Instead, I recommend heading north to North Naples and Estero. North Naples has The Mercato. This is designed to look like a small city. Stores on the first floor and condos are on the higher floors. There is a Whole Foods, a movie theater and many restaurants (try The Counter for burgers ordered to your specifications). The shopping again, is not local, but they do have a Sur La Table, a Coldwater Creek, and a fun little spot called Charming Charlie’s which is filled with reasonably priced accessories grouped by color. Z Gallerie is a fun home decor shop with a table of quirky books we spent a lot of time browsing. Grace and Shelly’s sells cupcakes you’ll want to sample while there.
Heading a little further north, I recommend The Best of Everything in Bonita Springs. There
is another outlet in downtown Naples, but I like this one better. This store is nuts. It’s a discount jewelry store with tables upon tables of jewelry. It’s always completely packed with people. When you come in, you’re given a velvet lined tray to put your finds in. I never leave without finding something. This year it was a sterling silver necklace with tiny gold beads for $11. You will be overwhelmed but you will find some great buys.
And a bit further north is Coconut Point, a mall so big you can’t see from one side to the other. It has nearly every shop you can think of. I like to go for World Market, which reminds me of what Pier One used to be like 30 years ago – imported items from around the world, with a really interesting selection (including types of sodas you can’t find anywhere else). I always find something to bring home.
If you’re desperate for some local flavor, as I always am, I’ve got just the spot for you. Head
over to the Naples Ship Store, located next to the Naples City Dock on Naples Bay in Crayton Cove. This is an authentic ship’s store, where people docking at the city dock come to buy parts and supplies, but it also has a fun selection of gifts. There are tons of t-shirts and hats (including ship captain’s hats), but there is also jewelry, dried alligator heads, shell art, local paintings, maps, and lots of knickknacks. We go every year. When our kids were little they always used to find something they wanted. I bought a lovely tropical print there last year. Stroll past the pizzeria next door to the two little art galleries in the same plaza. One is quite pricey, but the other has some affordable pieces. I bought a small print there a few years ago for just a couple of dollars. If you’re hungry, I recommend The Dock, right across the street for great seafood and a lovely view.
If you want to be a tourist, go to Tin City. This complex appears very quaint but it has that Disneyfied feel to it. This complex on the Gordon River was originally used for fish processing and shipping, but now it’s main goal is to take your cash. This is where to go if you desperately need some t-shirts from your visit, but there’s nothing handmade or nice to be had here. It’s all tourist junk, which your kids may love but it’s unlikely you will find anything. Frankly, we avoid this place at all costs.
Every year I come back to Naples and hope for more shops with locally made items!
Shopping is always a primary concern of mine when traveling. And generally what I’m looking for are items handmade in the local area, usually specialty items from the area. Naples, FL is a lovely place to visit with wonderful white sand beaches, warm weather, and lots of conveniences nearby, but it doesn’t ring my bell … Read more