By GEORGE BAILEY, Special to QMI Agency
Like any guided tour, it's important to have a guide that can bring your tour to life with in-depth knowledge of the area and enthusiast delivery. We found such a guide when we took Leslie Coburn's 31-mile, 8:30 a.m. Naples Trolley Tour. Although the tour allows you to get on and off at 21 stops along the way (it's a two hour loop tour) we opted to stay on the trolley without getting off to see what things were of interest to us and return later.
Bubbly Leslie was a fountain of information.
Naples has the highest number of homes listed at over $10 million dollars in the United States. The people that own these homes tend to be successful entrepreneurs between the ages of 45 and 54 years of age.
You'll see what I mean when you travel through the exclusive Pelican Bay area at the north end of the city. Some of the people who own homes or condos in Naples include: Judith Sheindlin, also known as Judge Judy (she likes to eat at Mel's Diner not far from her home), Billy Joel, Phil Donahue, Martha Stewart, Magic Johnson, Bob Seger, mystery writer Robin Cook and Steven Spielberg.
There are no private beaches in Naples. Parking is free, except near the beaches where there is metered parking.
Naples has more than 90 golf courses.
Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is nationally accredited and more than a walkthrough zoo. This non-profit, charitable attraction has fun and entertaining presentations. The next day we returned and enjoyed a Primate Expedition Cruise which was a guided journey past islands of monkeys, lemurs and apes.
If you're into the arts, you'll enjoy the Philharmonic Center for the Arts and Naples Museum of Arts. The centre features both the performing and visual arts. The museum has 15 galleries showcasing world-class paintings, sculptures and other art forms.
The Naples Trolley Tour costs $27 for an adult, Children between 4 and 12 $12.50, and under 4 free. The last pick-up of the day is at 3:30 p.m. If you go to their web-site you can print off coupons for a reduced rate.
EVERGLADES EXCURSION TOUR
OK, we lucked out again when we took this half-day 88-kilometre narrated AAA/CAA approved excursion through Big Cypress State Preserve (the only tour company allowed to do so) ending with an exciting authentic airboat ride on a Carolina skiff on the Barron River through the unique 10,000 islands everglades. Fifty year old, Kenny Hill was our knowledgeable guide. Kenny, who reminded me of Crocodile Dundee, has been doing this tour for 16 years really knew his stuff.
Here are a few things we learned:
Florida has a population of about 2 million alligators, that's about one for every 10 people in the state of Florida.
Alligators can hold their breath for three to four hours under water, so don't go near the edge of the water. They can travel up to 48 kilometres across land.
Florida has 3 million acres of everglades.
The mangrove trees that are found in the Everglades convert salt water to oxygen. It's the only tree that can live in the everglades.
The Everglades are where salt water and fresh water meet. No alligators live here because they don't like salt water.
When we took the one-hour airboat ride over the water through the Everglades on our Carolina skiff captain Jerry Dipasquale of Totch's Airboat Tours had our adrenalin flowing as he whisked us and four other passengers through the "Mangrove Jungle" at speeds reaching up to 50 km/h.
We were pleasantly surprised to see great blue herons and giant egrets along the shoreline. Brown pelicans even landed on our skiff when we slowed down. This is a ride like no other.
Before we returned to Naples, Kenny took us on a tour of the small village of Everglades City on the Barron River at the mouth of Chokoloskee Bay. It's the "Stone Crab Capital of the World." It consists of about 500 people many descended from the original," Glades People" that settle here in the 1870's.
This four hour half day tour costs $95 and children 4 to 12 $60. Under 4 are not encouraged due to the length of the tour.
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This story was posted on Fri, March 1, 2013
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