Return Visit to Naples with a Small Dog
Originally we were supposed to go to Puerto Rico for Mom’s birthday. A nice big dive trip was being planned. Dog friendly accommodations found, airlines looked into and a long frustrating search for pet/vet paper requirements was underway. So how did we end up with a return visit to Naples with a small dog? yes me! Who else?
Then the bipeds went and bought a new Loft/Condo. Don’t get me wrong, I do not begrudge them the purchase. I am certain that as soon as we have finished settling into the new place it will all become clear. This stuff the bipeds always refer to as “money” is apparently a finite resource; there was now a serious shift in plans.
In fact the shift was such that for a long while any thought of a vacation at all was simply not on the radar. Then Dad started feeling a little bad. He wanted Mom to have some kind of R&R for her birthday. After all that is when we travel: Once in November for Dad’s birthday and once in May for Mom’s birthday. These are fantastic times to vacation; usually just on the cusp of high season and weather is favourable as well. As a bonus – we tend to happily avoid huge heat waves.
Our trip in November to Naples Florida had been such a lovely experience that, my Dad swallowed his pride and asked my Great Aunt if we could rent her place in Naples for 10 days around Mom’s birthday. The answer was yes, and she even gave a major family discount as a birthday gift! So, Dad began organizing things: tickets, car rental, and my vaccine and international health certificate for me to fly US Airways and cross the US Canada border. He didn’t tell Mom until the very last minute, waiting as long as he could before she would have to tell her boss and put in for the time off. She was thrilled! You should have seen her packing her bag not to mention the amount of screaming, giggling, hugging and kissing – it really was a spectacle I assure you.
This time we flew from Ottawa airport, via Philadelphia and on to Fort Myers airport. On the return trip we went via Charlotte versus Philly. This was a much faster way to reach Naples than our previous trip when we had gone through Miami in order to do the everglade drive. Since this had already been experienced, and we would not be diving in Key Largos it made sense to go for the route that would simply get us there the quickest.
Nothing had really changed in the very short time since our last visit. We returned to many favorite haunts and once again were struck at how amazingly dog friendly the entire city of Naples is. I was welcome everywhere: In boutiques, on patios for coffee shops, restaurants and even fine dining at Lurcat … pretty much anywhere with the exception of the pharmacy, grocery store, inside a restaurant (versus patio) or the beach.
Yep – that remains the one point of contention. The beach is still off limits to canines. There is a fun dog beach near Bonita Springs – but it is further out and requires a half hour or so drive. But I did get to go and this time … this time I DID go in the water and swam all by myself of my own volition! I had a blast and was sporting my rash guard and my new doggles! I was one cool dude and attracted a crowd of admirers. What can I say? I made a lot of new friends that day including a bunch of Italian Grey hounds.
Note: The bipeds heard that Lovers beach was pet friendly (it is what the guide book says), but this is not true. The park around the beach is dog friendly – but not the beach itself.
We did discover some new places: A new gelato place on 5th street run by a lovely German couple. Everything there is organic, healthy and they do not use corn syrup or other refined sugars. The gelato is divine. We also found a new cigar place just off 5th (not far from the Starbucks) where Dad made some great discoveries (although his favorite is still the cigar found at the Bad Ass coffee shop).
We also discovered many new activities in the area; all of them canine friendly. We discovered Music in the Street – this is on 3rd street every single Thursday evening. In two or three of the lovely courtyards – always with some gorgeous fountain gurgling away – there are musicians putting on little outdoor concerts. I had such a good time and got to stay up late and the live music was top notch.
We also discovered the Sunday Farmers market – just West off 3rd street . Here we were thrilled to see orchids on display, fresh made key lime pies, local jumbo (I do mean huge) shrimp and the best part was a fantastic pet food maker. Not raw but human grade, high quality pet foods. He gave us a small sampler that we put in the fridge to thaw in time for dinner and can I just say … YUMM!! If you are ever in the area, you can call him up and place an order. He will deliver to your home or hotel (check with him what day he does his deliveries) or just pick up on the Sunday at the farmers Market. This food is beyond healthy, has been really studied in terms of perfect balance. Your pet will love you for it. In fact, we hope he will eventually ship! The man we met is a wealth of information on canine nutrition and the bipeds drilled him for information.
On the whole we loved returning to Naples . The weather was perfect, the dolphins active not 20 feet off the beach (I am told) and the people kind. We visited Pucci and Catana the pet boutique on 5th; we went back to the fancy shopping center with all the luxury stores (Gucci, Louis Vuitton etc.) called Seagate and we also discovered that the Macy’s and the mall attached to it is dog friendly! I cooled off in the mall with Dad near the Starbucks as Mom got her eyebrows “threaded” (She told me it was way better than waxing – I’ll just have to believe her on that one).
In review: Positively one of the most dog friendly places you could ever visit in the USA. In fact Naples could teach other cities how to do it right! Our return visit to Naples with a small dog turned out to be a great thing.