Naples is a mecca for foodies, and we certainly worked up an appetite to sample several restaurants as we hopped from one activity to another. From casual to fine dining, you won’t be left hungry. At Pinchers, diners can expect the freshest of produce with local fisherman and crabbers leaving the shores in the morning and guiding their boats out into the Gulf of Mexico in search of seafood and returning at night with the precious catch.
Meanwhile, dinner at Edgewater Beach Hotel is a fine dining experience where you can expect to be greeted with special dishes that are crafted as a feast for the eyes as much as for the belly.
Leaving Naples behind, we headed to Sarasota. Six barrier islands hug Sarasota County’s 40 miles of coastline. The barrier islands, many of which are called “keys”, each have their own personality, and the beaches along the coasts of these areas range from calm and tapered to lively and expansive. Longboat Key is the northernmost and longest island along Sarasota’s coast, and boasts twelve miles of shoreline.
The Resort at Longboat Key Club was our abode for a few days. It is heralded as one of the top tennis resorts in all of Florida, and has five restaurants and two challenging and recently renovated golf courses.
Our first stop was the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Originally the home of William and Marie Selby, it is an urban, bayfront oasis showcasing a living collection of rare and beautiful tropical plants. This venue is also a respected world leader in the study and conservation of plants, particularly epiphytes – those which adapt to live in the tree canopy, such as orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns. It’s easy to spend an entire day here exploring and feeling in tune with nature. A far cry from the day-to-day desk job most of us lead.
Not far from here is the Ringling Museum of Art, home to one of the preeminent art and cultural collections in the United States. You can easily spend a day or two exploring the 66-acre estate of John and Mable Ringling which also includes the Circus Museum, Ca’ d’Zan, the Historic Asolo Theater, Bayfront Gardens and more. For those wanting even more history and culture, a trip to the Historic Spanish Point is a must.
More than five thousand years ago, people living here fished and hunted, made tools from shell, bone and wood and buried the dead. Here you will see a burial mound and two middens which have helped provide archaeologists with a useful resource to study the diet and habits of past societies.