Summer Fun

What the trendsetters are doing—plus hot deals for dining, shopping, spas and more

BY June 30, 2015


Kathleen van Bergen

President and CEO, Artis—Naples

“Although summer is often a good opportunity for me to travel—both for fun and for work—when I’m in Naples, I use the extra time I have to reconnect with nature. My seasons are filled with cultural beauty, but not as many glorious Gulf sunsets as I’d like. I definitely try to get to the beach more, for long walks and to witness the proof of the turtles having again built their nests! These still moments, without the crowds for which we are all thankful during season, allow me time to reflect and refresh for another busy winter and spring.”


Doug MacGregor

Cartoonist, author and artist; program coordinator, Lee Memorial Arts in Healthcare

"After 4 p.m., I turn my outdoor pool into the Lazy River. First, I do a good cannonball or two from the deck. This stir-cools the top hot layer of afternoon sunbaked pool water. Then I slide into my trusty floater, which keeps me buoyant with just my head sticking up above the water.  I then head to the lazy and shady side of the river.

As I watch thunderclouds forming overhead, I listen for the lightning alarm at the neighborhood school, which is always within earshot. I lie on my back in awe of the thunderheads soaring higher and higher and changing shape every second. Some clouds resemble birds, or animals, and others seem to form people’s faces. Floating in my own Lazy River, nature’s skyscapes keep my mind wondering, wandering and thinking up ideas for my next cartoon or children’s book story.

Inevitably, as I drift into a lazy pool snooze, the lightning siren wakes me up. I hightail it out and take refuge in the house. Then from my second-floor porch I can watch a healthy storm roll in. If the storm subsides and the sun comes back out, then it’s time to catch rainbows. On luckier days I can spot double rainbows right over the backyard golf course. Between the rainbows, the deep green colors of golf course grass and the orange glow of the sun lighting up the sky, Mother Nature frequently paints me a masterpiece.” 


John Vega

Attorney; wine connoisseur

“During the season, it’s busy. We are all busy, the roads are crowded, and the end of the week comes more as a relief than an opportunity. However, during the summer, a magical thing happens. Work slows down, the crowds thin and—thanks to the blissful combination of daylight savings time and the axis of the earth—the sun doesn’t set until well after 8 in the evenings. This provides the opportunity for Friday night dinners on the beach, or, as we like to call them, ‘Sunset Happy Hour.’

Grab a folding table, some chairs and a tent if you have one, and stake out a small piece of paradise for a few hours. Traditionally, we order family-style takeout from a local restaurant, although potlucks and even pizza deliveries have taken place. While the children play in the sand and the surf, we set up for dinner on the beach. Friends stop by to join us, either for dinner or just for a drink before heading downtown.

Planning is important, as no glass is allowed on the beach. So, decant some white wine into sports bottles or mix up a special punch for the occasion. Be sure to buy some hard plastic acrylic wine glasses. Widely available at stores like Target and ABC, they leave no aftertaste, unlike softer plastic cups.”


Kristen Coury

Founder and producing artistic director, Gulfshore Playhouse

“I do a lot of ballroom dancing, so I take the time to do more of that during the summer, at Absolute Ballroom Company.

I thoroughly enjoy taking walks on the beach late into the evening thanks to later sunsets. My favorite place to do that is at ‘Horizon Way’ behind Venetian Village because the beach is still nice and flat and pleasant to walk on, and it’s not overly crowded.

I also take the time to catch up on some movie-going, something I don’t do at all during season—first because I have no time, and second because they’re usually sold out! Although I live very close to the Regal, I have to admit to being partial to Silverspot.”


Jack Mulvena

President and CEO, Naples Zoo

“My wife and I are movie nuts, so living in Naples during the summer when so many hot, new movies are coming out and the crowds are down is awesome. No lines, empty seats, dark theaters, great movies, no worrying about kicking the seat in front of me and no one within earshot of me munching popcorn is heaven. There’s a method to our movie madness—we usually make it a date night and combine dinner with the movie: Paragon means Inca’s Kitchen; Silverspot means Masa or The Counter; Town Centre means Texas Tony’s.

In terms of guilty pleasures, I love and am absolutely awed by thunder and lightning storms. I find great pleasure just sitting and listening and watching and taking in the intensity. But, I feel guilty because they absolutely kill our afternoon zoo attendance. I would enjoy them so much better if they arrived every day well after 5 p.m.”


Shirlene Elkins


“I love lobster bakes on the beach—for two to eight friends, since pretty much everyone is gone! It’s legal on the beach as long as you are in front of a high-rise you are living in or one of your friends is living in. If you are doing it in front of a private home, then you need the owner’s permission.

I also love the old-fashioned drive-in movie and picnics with your dogs in the park. And once a summer, I love a suds party! A suds party is when you stir Dawn liquid soap into the heated hot tub, heat up your pool as hot as you can and stir the soap and then it overflows into the pool. It’s like a Doris Day movie! It’s silly and fun. Everyone wears boxer shorts and T-shirts, it’s a blast.”

Anne Frazier

President and CEO, Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida

“Nothing’s better than taking off on the paddleboards to help us channel that carefree feeling of summer—whether we are in the Gulf or on backwaters, there is always something new and exciting to see. We try to escape the heat of the day by going out at sunset or very early in the morning when the waters are calm. We love to go out under the light of a full moon; it’s just magical. There will be a group of us—gathering early to grab a bite to eat and get organized—a little barbecue, a little beer, or everyone brings items/coolers that they strap to their boards to pass around and share. People will get creative. Some will mount lights to their boards. Everybody has a glowstick or a glow-in-the-dark necklace so we can keep an eye out on one another and be seen by boaters. We become this organic creature of light moving across the water.”


K.C. Schulberg

Movie producer

“During the summer, I enjoy coaching young students at the Lorenzo Walker Technical Institute multimedia department. I also have a friend with a 10,000-acre ranch near Immokalee. It’s a wonder to go out there and see what Florida looked like in eras past. It’s always fun to drop down to my friend’s seafood depot in Goodland on Marco Island—Kirk Seafood—and sample the best fresh fish, stone crabs and blue crabs in the region. Otherwise, I simply enjoy the twilight, gazing out across the pool on my five acres and watching the horses graze while I sip a mint julep.”


Doug Baker

Fort Myers police chief

“I love to fish. Cayo Costa on the Gulf side is probably my favorite place. When the water gets really warmed up—it’s that good turquoise aqua color—it’s perfect.

In the summer months there just aren’t many people out. You have the place to yourself.

Cabbage Key is always a great place, too. And I like Buzzard Bay, Matalacha Pass and Pine Island Sound, the north end. If I can get up into the backcountry, I won’t see anybody. It’s great. I just wish my phone wouldn’t work there.”


Lydia Black

Executive director, Lee County Alliance for the Arts

“For about five months out of the year, our family takes a hiatus from Southwest Florida’s hot spots. We let tourists and seasonal residents battle the traffic, take the best restaurant spots and dock spaces, and indulge in all that Southwest Florida has to offer. During the summer months, we take paradise back. We boat to Lovers Key, Picnic Island and North Captiva—and sometimes when we’re really lucky even Useppa! We return to routine outings with family and friends on Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel. We hit the trails at Six Mile Cypress and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and play golf without worrying about holding up the constant stream of impatient golfers behind us.

We can finally make the occasional last-minute reservation at our favorite restaurants like La Tratorria Café d’Napoli and trade in the bar for a table. We take advantage of lots of summer specials for ‘staycations’ at resorts like South Seas and also venture back to our neighboring counties with day trips to places like Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and Ringling to the north, or Naples Botanical Garden and the Naples Zoo to the south.”


Dr. Allen Weiss

President and CEO, NCH Healthcare System

“My favorite is a pre-sunset run on the beach, particularly as young families are enjoying playing in the sand and surf. Depending on the time of month, the sun is setting and a full moon is rising simultaneously. All that is missing is Chariots of Fire music. The warm breeze, smell of the Gulf and visual of being where land meets endless water are not unique to Naples but still very special. This environment, combined with the endorphins released by running, aids in a restful night’s sleep and fuels the mind for a productive next day. I suggest we all try this with a light, healthy diet and skip the cocktail hour. If you can get a friend to join, so much the better.”


Brian Hamman

Chairman, Lee County Board of Commissioners

“The beach is my favorite place to unplug from the daily grind. My job is to build sandcastles for my 4-year-old daughter, and her job is to stomp on them. We like to find a spot near the grocery store so I can walk over and get sandwiches for lunch. A couple of years ago, we made a resolution to visit a local beach at least once a month, and, for the most part, we’ve stuck to it.

Another summertime favorite of ours is watching a Fort Myers Miracle baseball game. You have to watch my little girl, though; she’ll finish an entire box of popcorn and won’t leave any for mom and dad. As the chairman of Lee County’s Tourist Development Council, I love the visitors during season, but we also appreciate the extra elbow room during summer.”      


Kevin Rambosk

Collier County Sheriff

“Summer has always been my favorite season during my more than 35 years in Collier County, and especially so during the past six years. Sure, the lighter traffic is nice and the ability to enjoy our many great restaurants without a long wait is great, but the main reason I love Collier County in the summer is that we get to spend a lot of quality time with the terrific kids in our community.

Our Summerfest youth activities programs begin as soon as school is out and continue through August when the school bell rings again. I get to join in on the fun with our CCSO deputies as we make more than 40,000 positive contacts with our young residents and their friends in a variety of ways: Hot Summer Nights, basketball, water park activities, day camp with fun trips to the Naples Zoo, and lots of other activities that keep our kids engaged and safe and allow them to have a carefree summer to remember.”


Kathryn Kelly

Founder, president and CEO, The Heights Foundation

“For me, summer is an awesome time for boating, scuba diving and spearfishing. Leaving early in the morning means I’m the first one to my favorite dive spots. Warmer water means very active fish, with mangrove snapper out in force and plentiful hogfish. Sharks are active no matter what the season, so perhaps it’s my imagination that they swim faster and are hungrier in summer. Goliath grouper are definitely more active and do not hesitate to take your fish right off your spear! Hopefully you have time to take a shower before everyone comes over for dinner. Summertime means fried fish, grilled fish, blackened fish, whole baked fish, fish tacos and fish stew. And in August, when lobster season opens, you can do all of the above with lobster!”


Jim Griffith

Executive director, Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center

“I take advantage of the slower summer to spend time with my family. We have a beautiful second home on North Captiva Island that we use to spend time and do some good family beach time. Both my daughters are advanced equestrian riders, and we usually go to several summer equestrian jumping camps. They ride at Dresden Manor Farm in Naples. The Naples Philharmonic is off during the summer so it is good to put my viola down for a while and let my fingers rest a bit!”


Charles Mereday

Chef and owner, Alto Live Jazz Kitchen, Mereday’s Fine Dining and Mereday’s Brasserie

“I’m looking forward to continuing my new health regime, eating a raw vegan and juice diet at home (not in the restaurants, of course), and having vegan meals with my wife and two young daughters at our favorite place, Food & Thought. I’ve also started walking 5 miles a day in the Moorings near my home and on the beach and plan to continue that during the cooler mornings and evenings, after the afternoon rains. Summer is time to get out among the locals—I see a lot of people at Whole Foods and the Third Street South farmers market—and plan for high season.”


Leoma Lovegrove

Artist and owner, Lovegrove Gallery and Gardens

“This is the time of year that I look forward to spending time with local residents and friends that stop by the gallery. I’m also visiting the piers and bridges in Southwest Florida to take photographs and do fieldwork for a series I’m working on soon. I enjoy seeing the variety of fish people are bringing in and soaking up the local wildlife for inspiration.”


Kat Epple

Flutist and composer

“Summertime in Southwest Florida is when I become a ‘cave dweller.’ That is when I take time to compose music in my cool, dark, quiet recording studio, which I call my ‘cave.’ When things slow down over the summer, I turn the ringers off on my telephones, close the email, Twitter and Facebook for a few hours, and sit at the music keyboard and studio computer to create. Although music composition is my profession, it seems that I spend more time as a music agent, archivist, marketer and secretary than I spend actually creating new music. It is good to be a hermit in my cave, working on what I love to do, for at least part of the day, until the thunderstorms roll in and nearby lightening encourages me to turn off my studio’s digital instruments, computer and keyboards. So that is when I take a few moments to enjoy the storm, some downtime, and to be thankful for being dry and out of the rain. I contemplate that perhaps the original cave dwellers might have watched thunderstorms roll in as they were thankful for being dry, and for having some downtime to enjoy a daydream, or to make up a new song.”


Susan Block

CEO, Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida

“When I moved from Buffalo, New York, to Southwest Florida I had no idea what to expect from summertime, which was reported to be awful! Much to my delight, I love the summer! I have found that going to the beach is like being away on vacation. Without the major traffic of the winter season, it only takes me 10 to 15 minutes to get there. Some might say it is too hot to be outside, but when I sit under my umbrella with a cool drink and a good book there is nothing more relaxing.

Another thing I love about the summer are the fantastic thunderstorms. Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved watching a good storm, and, being here in Southwest Florida where lightning is such a regular feature, I appreciate what Mother Nature has to offer.”


Vin DePasquale

Owner, The Dock at Crayton Cove and Riverwalk at Tin City

“Summertime in Southwest Florida means the doors and windows of the Naples community open, and the local residents settle into a tropical, laid-back and uncongested lifestyle. I love how everything seems to slow down and the stress of a hectic season melts away. The beaches become familiar again and I make sure to visit the gazebo at The Landings on Naples Bay for a glorious sunrise or a spectacular backlit sunset. Dining out becomes an easy activity, as there are so many great choices. Familiar faces once again fill our places of interest and great ‘catch-up’ conversations are to be had.”


Captain Harry Julian

Owner, Pure Florida Group

“All of our locals know that there is a big difference on the roads when the snowbirds head back north. But as they return home for the hot summer months and our roads clear up, so do our waterways. Every year I look forward to getting back on the water and enjoying our favorite Southwest Florida pastimes: boating, Jet Skis, even making trips to the beaches. My family enjoys being on the water, and we have a history of doing so; the Julian family comprises five generations of maritime connections.

Some of my favorite memories include meeting my wife while filming on water, my daughter catching her first fish and watching my father teach my son the seaman skill of using the fid (a splicing rope). These days, many of our memories include exploring the waterways, ecology and wildlife with guests to our water. It’s exciting to see other families bond and spend time together by way of these water-related activities, witnessing grandparents connect with their grandchildren while shelling on Keewaydin Island, and parents ‘become cool again’ in the eyes of their teenagers taking the family out on Jet Skis.”


Thomas Uhler, Financial Planner,

2014-15 President, Southwest Florida Symphony; 2013-2014 Board Chair, United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties

“With many of my clients traveling or returning to their summer homes during our off-season, I have time to relax, explore my wine cellar and peruse my corkscrew collection. This year I will take a few specimens to Bucharest for the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Corkscrew Collectors Club, which includes the official opening of the Ion Chirescu’s Corkscrew Museum. Chirescu and many of the conference participants are members of the exclusive International Correspondence of Corkscrew Addicts, so we will be meeting many interesting people. The three-day event also includes an auction, presentations, a gala dinner, a tour of Bucharest, a visit to the Parliament Palace and the chance for helixophiles to buy and sell corkscrews. 

My wife, Linda, and I will take this opportunity to explore Romania, a place we have not yet visited. Upon our return to Sanibel, we may do something that no sane person would consider during season—take a drive around the island and visit one of our favorite restaurants—without a reservation.”


Stephanie Davis

Columnist, Gulfshore Life and Florida Weekly

“My first reaction, although it might not seem fun, is to schedule your yearly visits to the doctor, dermatologist, dentist, and other medical professionals in the summer—when you can breeze in and out without a long wait, even getting your teeth cleaned can be a pleasure. 

I like to take a three-day weekend on Sanibel or Captiva to enjoy the discounted summer rates at the resorts and the less crowded restaurants. It's always fun to rent bikes and tour the island without a lot of traffic or tourists. Summer is a time to reclaim Southwest Florida as our own and rediscover its magic after a long, busy season.”


Mark Loren

Jewelry designer and owner, Mark Loren Designs

“My youngest daughter and I like to go kayaking and fossil hunting on the Peace River up in Arcadia.”


Amanda Jaron

CEO and creative director, A JARON Fine Jewelry

"Every summer I launch a $99 sterling silver ring. My fifth annual  A JARON Cares ring collection will debut this July. I create new design at a wholesale price directly to the public, donating 15 percent of sales to a specific local nonprofit."


Karen Pickrum

Director of marketing, Preferred Travel of Naples Inc.
“We have some clients that like to stay a little more local. South Seas Island Resort is a great place for couples or families. It sits on pristine beaches that are known for shelling, and a nature preserve. One of the most interesting offerings is the Sanibel Sea School at the resort that offers experiential sea based education programs and exploration of the Captiva Island ecosystems."



Southwest Florida may slow down a bit in summer, but there are plenty of NICE DISCOUNTS FOR residents who stick around. Here is a sampling.


• Alto Live Jazz Kitchen, Mereday’s Brasserie and Mereday’s Fine Dining offer 50 percent off menus, wine, beer and cocktails during daily happy hour.

• Bleu Provence has an early dining special at $32.99 and 50 percent off its wine list. 261-8239,

• Shula’s Steak House continues a yearlong 15th anniversary celebration with $15 food and drink specials. 430-4999,


• On June 20 at Coconut Point, Simon Kidgits Club members can learn about safety and fitness for free during Kidgits Club Safe Fit Summer event.
• “You First on 5th” runs June through August at Fifth Avenue South. Present your Florida license or Avenue Club membership card for discounts at participating stores and restaurants. 692-8436,

• Miromar Outlets offers free kids’ crafts each weekday in the summer. Teachers Appreciation Day, June 13, and Moms Appreciation Day, June 17, include savings for those who apply. A summer giveaway series commences on June 26. 948-3766,

Spa and Beauty Services

• Dr. Stephen Prendiville, Facial Plastic Surgery offers $500 off rhinoplasties through summer. 437-3900,

• New membership sign-up at Assuage Luxury Spa will include one free month. 333-1450,


Hotels and Resorts
• Anchor Inn and Cottages. Save $15 per night on already lowered summer rates July 1- Aug. 31. 395-9688,
• Captiva Island Inn. Stay three nights between Sundays and Thursdays and get a fourth night free. A 20 percent-off discount is available by booking directly from the Inn. 395-0882,

• DiamondHead Beach Resort & Spa gives a 15 percent discount to Florida residents year-round. From now through Dec. 22, stay four nights and get the fifth free; some blackout dates may apply. 765-7654,

• Rates for select rooms at Gulf Breeze Cottages start at $175. Running until Aug. 23. 472-1626,

• Hilton Naples commemorates its 15th anniversary with 15 percent off rooms for local residents in the summer. 430-4900,

• Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina will establish discounted rates for Florida residents through summer. 463-6181

• Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa. Florida resident rates are available year-round, depending on room availability. The resort is honoring a 15 to 20 percent discount on rooms booked by May 3 and used by June 30. 466-4000,

• Sanibel Inn and Sunset Beach Inn on Sanibel. Purchase three nights at either hotel and get the fourth night free. Sunset Beach also includes membership to Dunes Golf and Tennis Club. (866) 717-2323,

• A South Seas Island Resort special running until Sept. 30 includes a three-night stay with a fourth night free. 472-5111,

• ’Tween Waters also offers the same special as South Seas, plus one dining credit. 472-5161,


Outdoor Recreation

• Offshore Sailing School offers Summer Sailing Value Packages at South Seas Island Resort and Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina. ’Tweens and Teens Learn Free is available with two paid adult tuitions on select courses. 454-1700,

• Miracle Baseball Season at the Hammond Stadium

Books & Bats Nights. Children who have completed summer reading programs by June 15 will receive one free game admission.

Junior Miracle Kids Club. The complimentary registration includes admission to all Friday and Sunday homes games and 15 percent off merchandise at the newly built Miracle store.

Weekday drink specials. Tuesday through Saturday, guests 21 and up can enjoy drink specials, including 2-for-1 Tuesday and Fill’er Up Fridays. Ten-cent beer night starts in June.

Complimentary tickets for Sunday home games are offered during Dairy Queen Sundays.

An Added Year-Round

Resident Benefit

• The Resident Club Card (RCC) is a discount card for Southwest Florida. For $35, locals can sign up to receive specials from more than 450 businesses offered to cardholders. “Most of the businesses offer a greater discount in the summer for locals,” says RCC program founder Amy Saad.

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