Wednesday

Florida Family Vacations: Adventuring in Naples, Florida - Flyby Update August 2016 Trip Part 2

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Naples Florida Family Travel Guide Bellasera Hotel
The boys in the beautiful courtyard at Bellasera Hotel by our suite! Such a cute little tropical oasis.

Flyby Update Part 2 - Naples, Fl

In an ideal world, I would have had the opportunity and energy to post another update while we were gone, but the last two segments of our trip were so incredibly busy (sleep is for quitters, right?), it's only now that we're home that I'm able to sit still long enough to jot down a quick recount of the second part of our trip!

Bear with me, I'm trying! ;)



Last I left you, we'd just left Captiva (so sad!) and landed in Naples (exciting!) to settle into our second resort--Bellasera Hotel. Bellasera was absolutely beautiful and easily one of the more comfortable resorts we stayed at over summer. We'll get into all the little details in our (upcoming) full-length review, but I can tell you it was spacious, relaxing and conveniently located! Oh, and we had a full-size kitchen as well as laundry (you getting excited, parents?), but that's all I'm giving away for now!

On that note, if you're traveling with kids and you've never had the pleasure of staying in a suite with multiple bedrooms do yourself a favor and give it a try on your next trip. We've stayed in everything from single-room double-queens to 3-bedroom suites. I'd be lying if I didn't admit we really prefer multi-bedroom suites. The kids sleep better, we sleep better and with 2 active boys it's just easier for everyone to have some extra space. Is it necessary? No, we can make due with a single room. Does it greatly improve the quality of our sleep and trip? Yes. If you can't do it, that's okay, but if you can, try it!

Just look at these happy faces!

Naples Florida Family Travel Guide Bellasera Hotel
Night-night, boys!

Keep in mind before reading any further into our brief recount of this leg of our trip, that we were in Florida on the coast right as Hermine was approaching and later descended down on Florida. Thankfully, we were safe, but we definitely experienced some stormy days and serious rain! The majority of our trip was spent pouring over constantly-changed weather forecasts and rolling the dice on weather or not we should venture out and hope for the best. We didn't let the rain stop us and were able to enjoy every moment possible outside (sometimes even in the rain). This, my friends, can be the downside of traveling in the off-season. While it is still our preferred time to travel to quite a few places, it does mean that you run the risk of dealing with less-desirable weather and spending some extra energy figuring out how to maneuver around it. We still think it's worth it, especially with kids, but it's something to consider if you plan to do the same!

Anyway, after settling into Bellasera, we spent our time in Naples in and around the water as much as possible. When the weather was too questionable for us to drive out to the beach and run the risk of getting caught in a serious storm, we headed to the pool!

Captiva Florida Family Travel Guide Tween Waters Inn Resort & Spa
Liam worked super hard on floating the entire time were in Florida and really started to get the hang of it by the end! This has been a serious challenge for him for years, so we were pretty proud. :)

As we mentioned, we experienced some pretty stormy weather, but made the most of it and had a movie night and ate some goodies from nearby Wynn Market's bakery one night (this bakery was raved about online and while it didn't compare to our personal favorites, it was convenient and centrally located).

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Speaking of Wynn Market and their bakery, of all the things they had, their puppy cakes definitely caught our eyes the most! Maybe it was exhaustion or the fact we missed our golden, but I couldn't get enough of these cute little guys. Just look at them and tell me you're not totally in love with them, too! No? Okay, glad I didn't share the 20 other pics and videos I took of them...

Naples Family Travel Guide Wynn Market Bakery
Cheaper than a real puppy! :D

Getting back on track, our plans were definitely influenced by the stormy weather, but we managed to make it out to Barefoot Beach in neighboring Bonita Springs on our first full day in Naples. This beach was fairly narrow, covered in crushed shells (we didn't find it painful, but we'd read some people found them uncomfortable to walk on) and sadly there were so many ants that it made it hard to settle down onto the sand without getting bit. That being said, we stayed there all morning and had a good time! I'd definitely recommend going at low-tide if you visit as high-tide (especially in a storm) hits as high as the slightly elevated grass bordering the beach. Not our favorite beach in southwest Florida, but perhaps it was just the time of year.

Bonita Springs Family Travel Guide Barefoot Beach
Those clouds pretty much followed us around Florida during our trip, but we managed to get out every day regardless!

Bonita Springs Family Travel Guide Barefoot Beach
Seamus decided it was imperative that he build a sand wall to protect all of our things from the crazy high-tide!


We drove out to Blind Pass on Sanibel during a storm on our second full day in Naples and did some intense shelling for an entire evening. We watched the weather reports carefully and knew this might be our last chance to get in some shelling before we left Naples. The boys played in the sand with the driftwood washing up on shore and collected a few shells here and there. Patrick and I found so many shells that we realized when we got back to Bellasera that night that we'd have to dedicate an entire carry-on to them by the end of the trip--and that's exactly what we did, by the way! More on that later.

The wind and waves were so strong and loud we could barely hear one another unless we were directly next to each other. Thankfully, there was no thunder or lightning (we wouldn't have stayed out through that), so we were able to spend quite a few hours there! It was a really exciting and unique experience and due to the stormy weather, we had the beach almost completely to ourselves the entire time. Doesn't get better than that!

Captiva Island Family Travel Guide Blind Pass Beach
Hermine couldn't stop these two! The salt and ocean spray was so thick in the air it made everything look hazy, but we had a great time!

Oh! We also ate at one of our favorite spots in the area--11:Eleven Cafe in Fort Myers--on our way to Blind Pass. Yummmmm! They even have gluten-free options. :)

Fort Myers Family Travel Guide 11:Eleven Cafe
Patrick's beloved pretzel sandwich!

Fort Myers Family Travel Guide 11:Eleven Cafe
Delicious spinach salad with their amazing honey-lime dressing <3

Fort Myers Family Travel Guide 11:Eleven Cafe
Liam's favorite grilled cheese!

Fort Myers Family Travel Guide 11:Eleven Cafe
The most delicious gluten-free baked potato smothered in cheese and mushrooms

We made a stop at Rita's Italian Ice next to Publix near Bellasera Hotel on our last full day in Naples, for research purposes of course! Let's just say it was a win with our guys. ;)

Naples Family Travel Guide Rita' Italian Ice
The boys definitely enjoyed their Italian ices!

Naples Family Travel Guide Rita' Italian Ice
We gave a gelati a try--a mix of Italian ice and frozen custard!

Overall, we had some really memorable moments while staying in Naples! We'd been in the area before, but never stayed directly in Naples, so that was a cool new experience for us. From Naples, as those of you that follow us on Instagram know, we surprised the kids with a trip to Disney World for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween! They had no idea we were going yet again this year and we can't wait to share about that and our last few days in Florida in our next update. 

I have so many hours of video and thousands of pictures to sort through for our full-length reviews and we're heading off this weekend on another (shorter) trip, but hopefully our little flyby updates will tide you over until then.

We'll see you at our final flyby update (part 3) from this trip--coming soon!

A few thoughts about Naples from our trip:
  • There was plenty of shopping
  • Lots of restaurants
  • Florida is full of Publix
  • Pretty easy to drive around the area
  • Close enough to several beaches to make it easy to get to one even if you don't stay at a waterfront resort/hotel
  • 1-1.5 hours from Sanibel/Captiva depending on the traffic (not a difficult drive though)
  • Several pharmacies
  • Both a Trader Joe's and Wholefoods in the area
  • A different pace and vibe than areas like Orlando, but not quite as slow-paced as areas like Sanibel or Captiva
  • Tons of high-end car dealerships (the boys were totally in love with spotting Maseratis and Bentleys as we drove around)
  • Barefoot Beach was an okay beach, but the extreme volume of ants made it a less comfortable visit than it could have been (it may have just been the time of year)
  • Naples would make a great stop for families traveling with grandparents 

Note: Our stay was hosted. All opinions above are our own based on our personal experience.

12 comments:

  1. OMG those puppy cakes!!!!

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  2. This trip looks amazing!!!

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    1. Thank you! It was a blast :)

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  3. I have to say that I think it is pretty cool that you all were there as the hurricane was approaching. I am kind of fascinated with weather like that. :) But I am glad you all stayed safe! And can I say it has been way too long since I have had a Rita's?? I used to love to get the key lime ice with vanilla custard- yum!

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    1. You know, as long as we're safe, Patrick and I are actually really fascinated by different weather as well! I think we're far more cautious now with kids than when we were younger, but still, it was a really cool way to experience shelling post-hurricane (a goal for us) and not deal with some of the super dangerous bits. ;)

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  4. That cake is awesome!

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    Replies
    1. Isn't it so flipping cute? :D

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  5. This place looks wonderful! The pretzel sandwich and gelati look/sound amazing!

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    1. It really was! Hahaha yes, those were definitely enjoyed by the people eating them ;)

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  6. What a lovely beach stay! That pretzel sandwich has me drooling!

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    1. Aren't beach days the best? That's my husband's FAVORITE!

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