This year we decided to try something besides the normal Mother’s Day brunch. My Mom’s bestie, Gail, has a family home in Naples, Florida. Not one of those crazy McMansions but a wonderfully comfortable home base for relaxation and tons of beach time. The three of us were in need of some strict R&R. The timing was perfect!
Off we went on Cinco de Mayo from Ohio to Florida. My first visit to Naples was under way. We landed early in the afternoon, collected our bags, picked up the rental car, and headed for the house. I should point out at this juncture that my direction sense does not come from my mother. 😉 Listening to the two of them when it comes to directions is often akin to a comedy routine.
After opening up the house and settling in, we headed out for dinner. Gail found what turned out to be an awesome Mexican restaurant of the Tex-Mex variety, Tacos & Tequila. The best part was the free margarita refill with the purchase of their Tervis tumbler. I may have a had a few…no, I was not driving. The restaurant was hopping yet the wait wasn’t as long as we’d anticipated, and the service was still excellent. You will of course have to exhibit more self control than we did to avoid filling up on their warm, crispy tortilla chips and salsa. We also ordered their guacamole and if you’re a fan of guac, you need to order theirs. For dinner I opted to try their cheeseburger taco and their buffalo chicken taco. Regretfully, I did not save room for dessert.
Gail has a rule to watch the sunset from the beach every night. It’s a good call. We were there six nights and didn’t see the same sunset twice!
We thought we were heading back to the house to unwind and head to bed but there was one more “adventure” waiting for us. If you don’t know, Florida is the land of the anoles. They worm their way into the weirdest places, and a couple of them wanted to make our house their home. I’ll spare you the details, but we did our best to enact a catch and release program. It did not go as planned. RIP little buddies.
This is where things get a little boring. We woke up leisurely each morning, had breakfast, packed up and headed for the beach. Our daily spot was at Lowdermilk Park, which is less than 10 minutes from the house. There is a fantastic concession stand, restrooms, outdoor showers for rinsing off, and beach amenity rentals available (i.e. chairs, umbrellas, paddle boards, etc). Tips go a long way. 😉 Around mid-day we meandered up to the concession stand for a bite to eat then went back to our chairs and towels to continue relaxing. Late in the evening, we went back to the house to get ready for dinner. Our last day we did spend part of the day exploring Naples’ Fifth Avenue. A mixture of cute shops, great bistros, boutiques, and lots of real estate offices.
We did take a break from the relaxation to enjoy mint juleps and watch the Kentucky Derby. My horse won! You wouldn’t know this place was there if a local didn’t point you in it’s direction. Awesome little place that also happens to be a Buckeye bar. 🙂 I couldn’t tell you the name of the place, even if I wanted to. As soon as the Derby was over, we went back to the house to meet up with our family who lives on the other side of Florida. They came to visit for the evening and we spent the next day together at the beach building sand castles.
Along with Tacos & Tequila, we tried Watermark Grille and Tommy Bahama. I can easily recommend both. I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious Tommy Bahama was given it is a chain and a known brand. Sometimes similar establishments start to skimp and skate by on brand recognition. The service was excellent too! We tried Pinchers Crab Shack in Tin City. It was ok but the menu was not what I was expecting and our server had a serious attitude problem. I would have preferred a Joe’s Crabshack that evening. We also went on a dinner cruise, and didn’t learn until we were already aboard that we could’ve purchased a lesser ticket to enjoy the ride, but had dinner elsewhere either before or after. The dinner was pretty good, but I’d suggest just enjoying the scenery (and the bar) but finding your meal on dry land.
Now for my favorite part: we saw lots of dolphins!!! A few days while at the beach, they swam along the shore. While I was in the water, one of them unexpectedly popped up less than 10 feet from me! There also were a few swimming along with our dinner cruise. We just missed the manatees. Supposedly they regularly migrate along the coast near Lowdermilk Park during mating season. We also saw pelicans, the usual seagulls, other shore birds, and several fish came surprisingly close to us.
We had a fantastic week relaxing on the beach and enjoying delicious food. There is talk of making this a new Mother’s Day tradition. 🙂