Travel

By Kelley Granger

Sunset in Naples

By now you’ve had your fill of the blistering cold, so while there’s a myriad of romantic adventures to be had in New York City, how about making like lovebirds and heading south for Valentine’s celebrations this year?

Make Naples, Fla. your destination and you won’t be disappointed – situated along the southwestern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the city takes on a different feel than other Florida hot spots and offers a relaxed (but often exclusive) getaway that offers stunning beaches and even more striking accommodations.

The Inn on Fifth is the only hotel on Naples’ iconic street

An easy 30 minute drive from the airport in Fort Myers, make the Inn on Fifth your first stop. The only hotel centrally located on Fifth Avenue South, the city’s premier street for fine shopping, dining and the occasional art fair, it offers an air of the Mediterranean in a historic property. Once an old bank, the hotel salvaged its solid Italian marble countertops and made them the bathroom vanities in each of the 87 guestrooms, and just next door in the hotel’s authentic Irish pub, McCabe’s, the vault remains in full swing as a unique private dining area with a gorgeous wine display.

As a guest, be sure to request a room with a great view – the Inn has a few dazzling options, one suite whose doors open to a private terrace overlooking Fifth Avenue and others whose balconies overlook the square next to the hotel, which makes for front row seats when open-air music and other performances are often scheduled. Even if you don’t stay at the property, be sure to book a treatment at the Spa on Fifth, the hotel’s beautiful feng-shui inspired escape. There, enjoy pampering in solitude or in the company of your companion in the couple’s room.

Lowdermilk Beach is one of the more quiet and picturesque on the Naples coast

When it’s time to hit the beach, head for Lowdermilk Beach Park, and go early – by noon, many of the metered parking spaces may be snatched up. You’ll be glad you did, because this beach offers a more secluded feel and doesn’t seem to get the same volume as others nearby. Here, you can meander almost 100 feet into the gulf and gentle waters will just graze your knees, making it a prime site to spy living sand dollars, fish and other creatures, and have a hugely successful hunt for flawless seashells. If you’re up for spending the whole day there, stake your spot for sunset, when you’ll appreciate your position on the west coast as the sun slips behind the sea.

When all that sun has made you hungry, there’s no lack of choice when it comes to dining. If you don’t want to wander far from the hotel, Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House is located just behind McCabe’s Pub and Grill. Here, you and your sweetie can savor fresh stone crabs which are shipped directly from the restaurant’s fishery just 18 miles away on the Isle of Capri, or an assortment of other international crabs and oysters. Here, you can toast your relationship (and your winter escape) with one of 100 wines by the glass.

Another romantic dining destination is a little more out of the way. If you can drive just a few minutes north, stop by I M Tapas at 965 Fourth Ave. N., located on a clandestine side street just off Tamiami Trail. Here, you’ll be bathed in muted light and sexy Spanish musical selections and enjoy delectable bites and a to-die-for tapenade. Be sure to ask for a dish of olives, a delicious variety served with marinated garlic cloves that are eaten whole. Relish a meal outside of the tourist bustle and in your own beautiful bubble of privacy.

Though you may come back sun-kissed, we’re sure you’ll be glowing for other reasons upon your return home!

Inn on Fifth
http://www.innonfifth.com

Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab
http://www.trulucks.com
Lowdermilk Beach Park
http://www.explorenaples.com/lowdermilk_beach_park.phtml

Originally published February 2009
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