Naples – Part 1

Every time I drive to the west coast of Florida, I always pass by Naples but never stop to check it out. So I decided this weekend I would spend it there and really get to know Naples. I took a bit of an unconventional way there, as I first went to the disc golf course on the Indian reservation just below Clewiston. After a couple quick rounds there, I next made my over to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, one of my favorite hiking trails in all of Florida. I’ve been there many times, but got treated for the first time by the appearance of an owl. I also had a ‘close’ encounter with an alligator (see video below). After a couple fun hours of walking along the winding boardwalk, I made my way into the city and to my next stop.

I’ve stopped by Delnor-Wiggins State Park before once or twice, but never really stayed that long to really check it out. This time, I got the whole experience, as I hiked all the trails and took a nice walk along the beach. I was surprised at how many people were at this park, and was glad that I parked outside of the park, as the line to get in was quite long.

My next destination was the Naples Zoo, but a wedding reception shut the zoo down earlier than normal, and it wasn’t open when I got there. As I drove there, I passed by a park with a boardwalk, so I went back there, and came upon Freedom Park. As I walked along the paved lake trail, I started noticing little trinkets at the different kiosks, including fake gold coins and rubber duckies. They all seemed to have a pirate theme, and sure enough, there was a pirate festival going on at the park, with a pirate scavenger hunt for the kids.

I then drove over to downtown Naples, where I took a walk in and around the downtown section. I also made my way over to the city dock for some nice views of Naples Bay before heading over to the beach and pier to watch a beautiful sunset, complete with a dolphin show right off the pier’s end. After getting a little dinner, I went to the local campground to camp out for the night.

I had a full day planned on Sunday, including the zoo after Saturday’s unsuccessful attempt, but when I woke up to cloudy skies, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to pull it off. I checked out Sugden Park and walked along the lake trail, but by the time I got around it, rain started falling. And as it got heavier and more intense, I realized the rest of the day in Naples was dashed. I drove back across Alligator Alley to home, waiting for the rain to stop and the clouds to lift, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I also knew I’d be back to Naples soon to finish this fun weekend.

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