Happy Wednesday y’all!
Today I am going to be sharing with you part one of my Naples travel guide. No, sadly, we did not get to travel to Italy, but we did get the next best thing with beautiful weather, white sand beaches, delicious dining, fabulous resorts, and an array of fun activities. This was my husband’s and my first time to travel to Naples and we loved it! It is not typically a place most young couples think to go, but that should change! We found that it had so much to offer! Plus, I am pretty sure we are both 50 year olds trapped in 25 year old bodies, so nightlife, dance clubs, and staying out late isn’t really our scene anyway. In this post I’m going to talk about where to stay and eat in Naples, Florida.
Where we stayed:
We were hosted by the Bellasera Resort during our 5 night stay in Naples, and I could not have been more pleased with our accommodations. It is very centrally located, about a mile and a half from the beach, within walking distance to many restaurants, and right around the corner from historic downtown Naples. They also have a complimentary shuttle that will take you anywhere within a three mile radius, and free bike rentals that you are allowed to take out for three or four hours. We took advantage of both of these amenities and it was so great not to have to drive everywhere.
Each room at the Bellasera has a fully stocked kitchen, either one, two, or three bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, and a small screened in patio with a table and chairs. While I do LOVE eating out and trying new restaurants while on vacation, it was so nice having a kitchen! We ate breakfast at our hotel several morning and a few days we made sandwiches for lunch to bring with us to the beach. We are definitely beach people so we only used the pool/jacuzzi area once, however the pool was spacious and had plenty of seating.
The Bellasera really was the perfect place for us and we are already excited for the day when we can go back! I highly recommend it for anyone traveling to this part of Florida.
Where we ate:
Now on to my favorite part of vacationing…food! Before I go to a new location, I always spend hours researching the best restaurants in the area! Anyone else love reading Trip Advisor reviews, or Chowhound forums? I am not sure why, but I find this so enjoyable! Of course, before our trip to Naples I scoured the web to find the best places to eat. Naples has a big variety of restaurants, from very fine (expensive) to very casual (not as expensive) dining. We were wanting our trip to be a little more laid back, plus we are on a just-out-of-college-budget, so we stayed in the medium to lower price ranges and we never ate a bad thing!
While I could go on and on about food, I am sure that may bore you, so I am going to talk mostly about our two favorite restaurants, which were very opposite, but each equally delectable in their own way.
I’ll start with Sakura, which is a Hawaiian grill, because I want to tell you that you HAVE to visit here. It isn’t in the heart of old Naples, but don’t let that deter you! From our resort it was about a 20 minute drive. It is located in a nice, but unassuming strip mall, so you may not expect much from it, but we were SO pleasantly surprised! The owner and his wife (who is originally from Hawaii) were some of the sweetest and most endearing people we have ever met. We instantly felt like family! They opened this restaurant about two years ago and only use the best and freshest ingredients. Plus, they do all the cooking themselves, so you know that it is made with love. Having never had Hawaiian cuisine before, we let the owner, Paul, lead us in what we should order. We ended up with a feast of the best kind!
We started with a sampler appetizer platter of the Hawaiian Poke, gyoza (which is similar to dumplings), lettuce wraps filled with marinated short ribs, spring rolls, crab poppers, and manapoa (which is a steamed bun filled with pork). Phew! Even typing all that out makes me feel full. The crazy thing is I am pretty sure we devoured the entire platter in a matter of minutes, possibly seconds! Hah! We loved every bite, there wasn’t one thing that wasn’t tasty, but we agreed that the lettuce wraps were our fav. I am not a beef girl, Anthony thinks I am crazy but I will pretty much always choose chicken over beef. However, I will make an exception for this dish, the beef was so tender and it came with the best sauce! I may just be a beef-liever after this. Okay I’ll stop now…
Next up was the main course, and because I could eat a whole jalapeño without batting an eye, I went with the spicy shrimp, heavy on the spice, despite warnings that it was very hot. They were not wrong in saying this, so if you are not a fan of spicy food, stay away, but to me it was absolutely perfect! Anthony got their signature dish, the Huli Huli chicken, which was so yummy!
Paul also brought us out a trio of mango, strawberry, and pomelo sake to help wash down the spice from the shrimp and at first I was hesitant. One time in college, my friends convinced me to try a sake bomb at a local Japanese restaurant. Mind you, I went to college in small town Arkansas which is not known for having the best Japanese food or sake bombs. Plus, at that point in my life the only alcohol I even liked was Stella Rosa, so I was not a fan. Since I am a grown up with sophisticated taste now (just kidding I still love a Taco Bell fourth meal every now and then) I gave it another try. It was very good and my favorite was definitely the mango! I am not a beer drinker, but my husband had the Big Wave Kona beer and said it was great!
At this point I was starting to feel a bit like Violet Beauregard blowing up into a round blueberry, but we somehow managed to finish off our Hawaiian feast with a slice of macadamia nut pie. It was so good we were forced to eat the whole thing.
We had the best time getting into the Aloha spirit with Paul and Michelle, and I am convinced we need to make Hawaii our next destination. You have got to try this restaurant if you are ever near Naples!
Oh, Jane’s Cafe! This place has an amazing atmosphere. It is right in the downtown area of Naples and has a lovely patio complete with bright red umbrellas. There is a gorgeous fountain in the center and the place is dripping with lush greenery and beautiful flowers. It is completely dreamy and perfect for people watching, sipping mimosas, and enjoying the beautiful Florida sunshine. We came here on our last full day in Naples and stayed for two hours. It was so peaceful we didn’t want to leave even after we had to move under cover due to a sudden rainstorm.
Upon arrival we were greeted by Emma, who is the owner, Jane’s, daughter. She was so warm and friendly, and made us feel right at home! We started off with a strawberry mimosa and fresh mojito, and it was the best way to begin a brunch! Both were delicious. After this, we decided to split the Pina Colada Stuffed French Toast. I am not lying to you when I say I’ve dreamed about it since we have been home. (Yes, yes I do have food dreams on a regular basis – don’t judge.) It was so delicious, I really wanted to lick the plate clean, but don’t worry – I refrained.
It was so hard to choose from their extensive menu because everything looked and sounded amazing! I ended up going with the ultimate breakfast sandwich, because it had Brie cheese on it and I am a Brie cheese lover. It did not disappoint! Anthony got the seafood crepes, because when visiting Florida, his motto is that some sort of seafood is basically a must at every meal. I didn’t get to try his because they disappeared before I could grab a taste. I took that as a good sign that he loved them!
We capped off our amazing brunch with a berry blintz. I won’t even attempt to describe it, just look at the photo below to try to understand the lusciousness. This is another must try place when you visit the Naples area!
And in case you’re starting to figure this out, yes, we do eat a lot.
Some of our other places we tried were…
Brooks Gourmet Burgers and Dogs. This was right across from our hotel and they had huge, yummy burgers and hot dogs!! We ate here our first night and loved it! They also have speciality milkshakes that we had twice during our trip.
Tommy Bahama, located right on 3rd ave, about a block away from Jane’s Cafe. This whole area is filled with live music, and is just fun! We sat on the patio here and got drinks and appetizers. Do yourself a favor and get the coconut shrimp and a pina colada.
We also got take out pizza one rainy night from Red’s and as pizza fanatics, we can be somewhat of harsh critics. We had no complaints here though, it was New York style pizza and pretty good for a quick take out meal!
The Turtle Club on Vanderbilt Beach was a place we really wanted to try, but we ended up not having time. We did hear from multiple people that it is amazing! Plus you can sit on tables right on the sand which sounds pretty great to me!
Come back to the blog Sunday for part two of my Naples guide – fun things to do in Naples!
Have a wonderful day,