Naples: Sarasota’s Opulent Neighbor

Naples, Florida is a coastal city of wealth as well as a city of philanthropy, and it’s about 100 miles south of Sarasota.
By: Susan Ladika
Similar Topics:

Mention Naples, Fla., and one word typically springs to mind: Money. This is a coastal city of wealth, as well as a city of philanthropy, and it’s about 100 miles south of Sarasota. Its roots date back to the late 1800s, when articles touting the area’s mild climate and rich wildlife began to draw Northerners to the area. In the 1880s, the area grabbed the attention of Kentucky Sen. John S. Williams and Louisville Courier-Journal publisher Walter Haldeman, who built private homes and a pier in the area along with a 16-room hotel. Eventually Haldeman bought out Williams, making the Kentucky newspaperman owner of the entire town. Later, millionaire Barron Gift Collier came to the area and built paved roads, telegraphs and electric plants. The county in which Naples is located is named for Barron Collier. 

Yankees, young people and art

As Naples grew, so did the influx of wealthy Northerners. For many years it has been a haven for retiring company executives, as well as a place for them to buy second homes. But Naples has changed with time, as young professionals began moving to the area, as well as Germans drawn to the lifestyle of southwestern Florida.

Over the years, the arts scene in Naples has also evolved, much of it fueled by the Philharmonic Center for the Arts (known to locals as the Phil), where you can listen to the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, take in a Broadway show like Mamma Mia!, or gaze at paintings, sculpture and other art works on display at the Patty & Jay Baker Naples Museum of Art.

And what’s a city without shopping? Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South in Naples are full of art galleries, shopping and fine dining. The nightlife in Naples has heated up, with bars and clubs springing up along Fifth Avenue South.

Along with spending money on private luxuries, Naples residents like to give it away; philanthropy is a major pastime in the city. A key event is the Naples Winter Wine Festival, a three-day affair that brings together top vintners, chefs and patrons for the benefit of the Naples Children & Education Foundation. Since the event’s founding in 2001, it has raised $69 million for local charities that aid underprivileged and at-risk children. 

The great outdoors

Collier County is also a haven for those who love the outdoors. There are miles of beaches to wander, myriad golf courses and plenty of boating and fishing in area waterways.

Naples is a gateway to the Everglades, one of the most famous national parks in the country. Collier County also has Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, a preserve that’s home to black bear, bobcat, white-tailed deer and alligators. There’s an abundance of birds of nearly every description, and if you look closely you might spy an orchid blooming in the wild. 

Next Up

Local Life and Lore in Sarasota

Fit in with the locals by getting to know Sarasota secrets.

Sarasota: Like No Place Else

These staples of Sarasota make the city stand out from the rest.

What It's Like to Live in Park City, Utah

Take a look at what it's really like living in a ski resort town.

Santa Fe: Like No Place Else

This New Mexico city is packed with art and culture. Here, just a few of the attractions that make it so unique.

What It's Like to Live in a Beach Town

Locals share the perks and drawbacks of living in five beach-side cities.

What It's Like to Live in a Tourist Town

Locals share the ups and downs of living in five world-famous vacation destinations.

What Makes Sonoma Like No Place Else

Sonoma’s beauty and history make it a town like none other.

Sarasota Essentials

Learn about the places Sarasota locals can’t live without.

Profile: Sarasota, Florida

Brush up on the history of this beachfront Florida city.

Philadelphia: A City Rich With History

Philadelphians know their stuff when it comes to their place in history.