Hello Fellow Travelers:
Welcome to our world of cultural activities, birding, horticulture, local markets, good eating and fine wines. This newsletter provides you with “The Welge Report for Naples – Ft. Meyers – Sanibel Island, FL”.
Please share it with your friends, customers and associates. You can also access this information on our blog plus lots of other helpful travel tips at: thewelgereport.com/blog/index.php
Recognition: We extend special thanks to the people who manage and/or own the institutions, museums and restaurants featured in our guides. In some instances we have relied on their descriptions and photos.
Naples – Ft. Meyers – Sanibel Island, FL
Birding Opps: Info for our birding friends.
The J.N. Ding Darling Refuge – See Day Three
The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary – See Day Two
Rookery Bay – See Day Two
For more info visit the Caloosa Bird Club site (http://caloosabirdclub.org/local-birding-hot-spots/)
Grape Experience: Florida has 16 vineyards throughout the state that produce wines from a variety of muscadine grapes. For more information on Florida wines visit (tryfloridawine.com/florida-wineries-map.php).
Transportation: Getting around Naples, FL is a breeze, but to see some of our sites you need a car.
Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) – Your connection to more than 500 stations in 46 states. For online information and train schedules visit www.amtrak.com or call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245)
Shopping: Shopping in Naples, FL is world-class. Check out 5th Avenue, 3rd Avenue and Tin City.
Day One: Our Cousin Bill suggests a visit to the Artis-Naples – Box Office Hours: M-F: 10-5, Sa: 10-4, Su: 12-4, 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd, 239-597-1900
At Artis-Naples you can enjoy world-class performing artists including the Naples Philharmonic. Check online for their performance schedule or call.
It’s also home for the Baker Museum – Tu-Sa: 10-4, Su: 12-4, 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd, 239-597-1900
The Baker Museum is a visual arts resource for people of all ages and backgrounds with a special emphasis on the contributions of modern and contemporary artists.
It includes a three-story, 30,000 square foot museum with 15 galleries, glass dome conservatory and resource room.
Special features include the Museum’s entrance gates, designed by renowned metal artist Albert Paley, and a Persian Ceiling created by popular glass artist Dale Chihuly.
Alexander’s Restaurant – October-May, L: M-F, D: M-Sa, 4077 U.S. 41 N (Tamiami Trail North), Naples, 262-4999 is a little difficult to find but well worth the effort.
If you’re looking for a light lunch go for the Oriental Thai salad that’s composed of Asian vegetables, chili peppers and peanuts.
Other choices include Miso crusted butter fish with a zesty fruit salsa and jasmine rice or the lamb curry with sun dried apricots. Tiramisu is very special here.
Your wine is the Puligny Montrachet.
Let’s visit the Naples Botanical Garden – Daily, May-October: 8-3, November-April: 9-5, 4820 Bayshore Dr, 239-643-7275
The Naples Botanical Garden has big plans for the future. Now you can enjoy a guided tour that will give you a broad overview of the Brazilian, Water, Kapnick Caribbean, Lea Asian, Scott Florida and Smith Children’s Gardens.
You will learn about the designers, their vision, and plants native to each garden.
Fifth Avenue South offers entertaining shopping and people watching opportunities plus lots of dining choices.
One of our favorite places for dinner is Bistro 821 – D: Nightly, 821 5th Avenue South, 239-261-5821
The baked brie wrapped in puff pastry with figs and truffle oil or the shrimp and crab meat spring rolls are both good starters.
Go for a glass of the Pommery “Pop”.
For your main our favorite is the coconut, ginger and lemon grass encrusted snapper with a sweet and spicy Thai chili peanut sauce.
Our other favorite is the seafood risotto.
Dessert is not imaginative but very good, a crème brulee. We like the Stag’s Leap chardonnay with either.
Day Two: Breakfast is at The Newsstand Café – B & L: M-Sa, D: Th-Sa, 11121 Health Park Blvd, Unit 900, 239-598-4552
You’ll love the Hamendex-crispy bacon topped with 3 sunny side up eggs or one of their omlets, the French toast, the buttermilk pancakes and the chocolate chip pancakes.
Their espresso is Lavazza.
An amazing world exists within the 110,000 acres of pristine mangrove forest, uplands and protected waters of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve – M-Sa: 9-4, 300 Tower Road, Naples, 239-530-5940
Located at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands on the gulf coast of Florida, the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America.
Rivers and streams meet the sea creating a unique habitat with a myriad of wildlife, including 150 species of birds and many threatened and endangered animals which thrive here.
Boat tours and kayak tours are conducted by the reserve staff are available.
The Naples Depot Museum – M-F: 9-5, Sa: 9-4, 1051 5th Avenue South, 239-262-6525 is worth a visit.
Set in Naples’ restored Seaboard Air Line Railway passenger station, the Naples Depot Museum welcomes visitors back to the railroading boom days of the Roaring Twenties and explains how generations of Southwest Floridians used technology and transportation to conquer a vast frontier.
Seminole dugout canoes, a mule wagon and antique swamp buggy, restored rail cars and exciting interactive exhibits tell the story of how trade and travel transformed Naples from a sleepy village of 300 souls into today’s glittering Gulf Coast resort.
Sea Salt – L & D: Daily, 1186 3rd St S, 239-434-7258 is your lunch choice today.
They have a great oyster raw bar and a tuna tartare with avocado and a sweet chili sauce.
If you’re in the mood for a sandwich, and try to decide between the grouper with lettuce, tomato, pickled celery and jalapeno corn tartar or the lobster reuben with swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing.
Your wine choice was much easier – the ’12 Erath Pinot Gris is delicious.
Our cousin demanded that we visit Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary & Blair Audubon Center – Daily: 7:30-5, 375 Sanctuary Road West, Naples, 239-348-9151
The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a pristine wilderness that dates back more than 500 years.
A 2.25 mile boardwalk meanders through pine flatwoods, wet prairie, around a marsh and finally into the largest old growth Bald Cypress forest in North America.
These impressive trees, relatives of the redwood, tower 130 feet into the sky and have a girth of 25 feet. Their massive branches are draped with mosses, lichens, bromeliads and ferns.
The forest is also home to hundreds of alligators, otters, white-tailed deer and red-bellied turtles. A wide variety of wading birds, songbirds, and raptors can be seen throughout the year.
Dinner is at Hobnob Kitchen – D: Nightly, 720 5th Ave. South Unit 101, 239-687-0070
For openers start with a couple of small plates such as the meze platter with humus,eggplant tapenade and flat bread and the tuna nachos with wonton chips and avocado.
Then go for the sea bass with coconut pesto, butternut squash and jasmine rice or the beef short ribs with lemon risotto, escarole and pine nut gremolota.
The ’11 Powers Syrah is a good wine choice.
Ft. Meyers – Sanibel Island, FL
Day Three: It’s Bennett’s Fresh Roast – B & L: Daily, 2011 Bayville Parkway, Ft. Meyers, 239-332-0077, for breakfast.
Bennett’s roasts their coffee beans daily, and they are very proud of this fact. The donuts are “from scratch” and the oatmeal is slow cooked.
The fruit cup is wonderful, and their famous “strata” is available on weekends.
Today we drive to see the Edison and Ford Winter Estates – Daily: 9-5:30, 2350 McGregor Blvd, Fort Myers, 239-334-7419
The Edison & Ford Winter Estates boast over 20 acres of botanical gardens, nine historic buildings including Edison’s Botanic Research Laboratory and the Edison Ford Museum which contains an impressive collection of inventions, artifacts and special exhibit galleries.
On display in the Main Gallery are exhibits of Edison’s work as an inventor including the telegraph, telephone, x-ray machine and Thomas Edison’s original custom made Model T that was a gift from Henry Ford.
We haven’t forgotten beach time, and we’re headed for Sanibel Island that is world renowned for its shelling beaches and the “Sanibel Stoop”.
For information on the best shelling and where the beaches are, check out this site (sanibelisland.com/shelling.html)
Should you still have energy and a desire to see more wildlife we suggest a visit to The J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge – January-April: 9-5 and May-December: 9-4, The Center is located two miles west of Tarpon Bay Rd. on Sanibel Captiva Rd, several “Wildlife Drives” are open to the public daily except Friday.
Visit (fws.gov/dingdarling/visitorinformation.html) for more info.
You’re going to the Mad Hatter – D: Tu-Su, 6467 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel, 239—472-0033
Let’s start with the crispy goat cheese pillows wrapped in phyllo with roasted green onion and spinach or the tempura style smoked salmon roll with scallion, cream cheese and sushi rice.
Enjoy a glass of the NV Aubry Brut with either.
For our entrée the pan-seared panko and black truffle encrusted diver sea scallops is a good selection or the pan-seared rack of lamb with a walnut and cherry pesto sauce.
The ’11 Healdsburg Ranches Zinfandel is a good match. Dessert is the chocolate truffle terrine with whipped cream and berries.
Until next time, best wishes and happy travels,
Dick & Dee Welge
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