Southwest Florida Seduction

    By Mischa Vieira-Kirby

    Need a romantic getaway? Try southwest Florida for great dining, outdoor activities, and inviting hotels.

    "Lucky you!" our friends and family had told us.

    It was soon after our wedding and my new husband, Chet, and I were off to explore some of the most romantic places in Florida. We were taking this romantic honeymoon trip for work. Our assignment? To discover romantic, adventurous and luxurious retreats in the Sunshine State. And write about our experiences.

    After months of hectic wedding planning, both of us were ready for some serious rest and relaxation on our vacation. We hit Amelia Island and the Treasure Coast first, and after spending an enjoyable week on Florida's east coast, the time came for the last leg of our trip: Southwest Florida. We put the top down on the red Mustang convertible we had rented especially for this journey and took off heading west to Naples for luxury, South Florida-style. We had saved the best for last.

    Day One

    Chet and I arrived at The Inn on Fifth, a newly renovated, luxury hotel with a full-service spa fit for royalty. The inn is at the center of the revitalized downtown, and walking through the French doors to our patio, we could see the Sugden Community Theater's plaza and watch people dining at McCabe's Irish Pub, one of the hotel's two restaurants. We opted to dine waterfront, instead, with a dinner aboard the sleek Naples Princess.

    When we returned, the liveliness of downtown was intoxicating. People of all ages popped in and out of restaurants that turned into clubs of one kind or another after dinner. I was surprised by how cosmopolitan the city is, having always thought of Naples as a quiet place for retirees. But this is no longer my grandparents' Naples. In just a matter of hours, Chet and I heard a jazz quartet, an Irish folk singer, a blues band and danced to disco, all within two blocks of our hotel.

    Day Two

    After our night on the town, we slept in (just the way I like it), emerging in the afternoon for a sightseeing cruise out of Marco Island

    Back in downtown Naples, we opted for a relaxing evening at Bistro 821 on Fifth Avenue. Afterward, Chet and I waddled up to the hotel's rooftop pool in our plush terrycloth robes and swam in the cool water; Irish folk music drifted up from the club below.

    Day Three

    A life of luxury in the swamp may seem like a contradiction, but you can't visit southwest Florida without exploring the natural wonders of the Everglades. The next day in Everglades City, we discovered the River of Grass and natural details such as the blooming orchids at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Parkand, later, baby alligators on an airboat ride.