There’s more to Naples than pristine beaches, emerald green fairways, and relaxing resort spas – the area also has a longstanding appreciation for the arts and a deep-rooted history connected to the Everglades. Visitors to Naples, Marco Island and Everglades City can take a break from the sun in one of the many art galleries or museums on Florida’s Paradise Coast. Read on to check out the Arts and Culture attractions in the Naples area to add to your next visit.
A hub of art and culture in downtown Naples, the Naples Art Association is dedicated to enriching the community with visual arts and education. While the center does showcase a variety of exhibitions in its galleries, the non-profit organization also offers many classes and workshops and hosts some of the area’s top annual festivals and events. With no admission charge, be sure to add this stop to your downtown agenda.
The Marco Island Center for the Arts offers free galleries for browsing, an excellent gift shop with items made by island artists, a variety of classes and workshops, special musical performances and several popular outdoor art shows and festivals.
In the growing Naples Art District, you’ll find an alliance of independent painters, ceramicists, sculptors, jewelers, and photographers. Get to know individual artists and their work by visiting them in their working studio galleries, during periodic Art Alive! evening open house events, and by signing up for the many classes and workshops you’ll find in the district.
Looking for a more eclectic gallery scene? You’ll find it throughout downtown Naples. Numerous fine art galleries are located in the Third Street South shopping and dining district, featuring a variety of work from realist to abstract paintings. You’ll find more on Fifth Avenue South and at Crayton Cove near the Naples City Dock.
On Marco Island, stop by the Betty Newman Art Gallery and Local Color Art Gallery at the Shops of Old Marco. Newman’s bold contemporary designs, often infused with coastal-inspired colors and shapes, are favorites in island homes and businesses.
For information on the many art galleries and arts and culture centers in Naples, Marco Island, and the Everglades, stop by the United Arts Council headquarters.
Deep within Big Cypress National Preserve outside of Everglades City artist-photographer Clyde Butcher captures the essence of swamp life in his stunning black and white, fine art photography on display at his Big Cypress Gallery. Stop by the gallery for a look at the unique Southwest Florida landscape, and then experience nature for real with a guided swamp walk tour from Big Cypress Gallery.
On the way to or from the Big Cypress Gallery, be sure to stop at the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center to view a fascinating film on the western Everglades region, and enjoy artistic and informative special exhibits.
VISUAL & PERFORMING ARTS
Blending both the visual and performing arts, Artis—Naples is the premier center for the arts in Southwest Florida, incorporating The Baker Museum, which reopens December 1, 2019, after an extensive redesign, and the resident Naples Philharmonic orchestra, along with numerous Broadway shows and concerts with top musical artists. For more live theater, visit The Naples Players. With more than 220 performances a year at the Sugden Theatre on Fifth Avenue South, most of which sell out, and passionate local casts, you’ll enjoy a wide variety of shows including musicals and dramas.
Step back in time at Naples’ history museums. The Collier County Museum is a must-see for ancient Florida history with prehistoric visions of the coast and those who once inhabited it. Learn about the Calusa, the area’s early settlers, little-known wars in South Florida, and the Seminole Tribe. After a tour, head into the museum’s native gardens to explore restored cottages and Seminole village.
A quaint cottage at the corner of 12th Avenue South and Gulfshore Boulevard just one block from Naples Pier that is the oldest house in Naples serves home of the Naples Historical Society. Built in 1895, Historic Palm Cottage is a two-story home built by one of Naples’ founding residents, Walter N. Haldeman. Filled with artwork and antique furniture, this is an authentic nod to Southwest Florida’s early charm. Don’t miss the Naples Historical Society tours of the home, as well as walking tours of the surrounding Old Naples Historic District.
Learn about Marco Island’s fascinating history from the time of the ancient Calusa through the pioneer days in the early 20th century through modern times at the Marco Island Historical Museum. The hotly anticipated Key Marco Cat sculpture exhibit is on display now through April 2021. This priceless piece of early American Calusa art was discovered during a Smithsonian archeological expedition on the island in 1896 and has been in the Smithsonian’s possession since. The fascinating exhibit provides a glimpse into the life and culture of Marco Island’s earliest inhabitants.
Travel back in time to the early days of Florida’s cattlemen at the Immokalee Pioneer Museum at Robert’s Ranch. While in Immokalee, you might also want to enjoy an airboat ride on Lake Trafford or enjoy some dining, entertainment, or gaming at the Seminole Casino Hotel.
For a historic view of the Everglades, ancient artifacts and vintage photos are on display at the Museum of the Everglades in Everglades City. Here, permanent exhibits tell the story of adventurers in Florida’s Last Frontier. The adjacent Pauline Reeves Gallery also hosts monthly exhibits from local and regional artists.
Historic Smallwood Store on Chokoloskee Island tells a story of Florida’s pioneers. Surrounded by natural wildlife and swamp views, this store sits on stilts overlooking the water and is packed with Old Florida history, intrigue and charm.
Be sure to see all the Arts and Culture Naples, Marco Island, and the Everglades has to offer on your next visit to the Paradise Coast.