Memorial Day is about to hit Miami Beach, bringing a sea of tourists to our beaches, restaurants, and clubs. If you don't want to fight thousands of people for a drink at your local watering hole this weekend you have two options: stay at home with the curtains drawn and catch up on your Netflix binge or have your own getaway.
If you think last-minute plans for Memorial Day weekend will be expensive or impossible to book, you need only look across Alligator Alley to Naples. There, you'll find Miami's quieter cousin, filled with miles of white-sand beaches, frolicking dolphins, gorgeous sunsets, and good restaurants.
Though it doesn't have the all-night partying mentality of Miami, the Gulf Coast city increasingly caters a younger, savvy crowd with the introduction of fine cocktails, craft beer, and great eateries. That means you can still get a full day's worth of eating and drinking and still have time to watch the sun set.
Naples Beach Brewery (4120 Enterprise Ave., Suite 115) is just a short drive from the city's main Fifth Avenue shops and hotels. Southwest Florida's first microbrewery produces beers on a 15-barrel, three-vessel system. There's also a 132-gallon, three-vessel pilot system used for beer development. The taproom usually offers more than a dozen beach-themed varieties, including Latitude Adjustment IPA, Paddleboard pale ale, and Naples Classic golden ale. Fifteen bucks gets you a tasting cup and nine tasting tickets, good for a four-ounce pour each.
Sicilian-born Vincenzo Betulia opened Osteria Tulia (466 Fifth Ave. S.) a little more than three years ago, offering rustic Italian fare on Naples' chic Fifth Avenue. The restaurant's success led to the opening of Bar Tulia next door, where cocktails are hand-crafted. If you can't decide on a drink, the bartenders will make a suggestion or fashion a creation based on your tastes. A French 75 ($13) is an elegant choice. Bar Tulia's reputation for finely made libations has already made it across the state in the industry. Isaac Grillo of Miami Beach's Repour will take over the Naples bar Thursday, May 26. Beginning at 4 p.m., Grillo will create two signature Afrohead Rum cocktails and work the bar all evening.
If you're into wine, check out Naples Winery, located at the Tin City complex of shops and eateries (1200 Fifth Ave. S.) You'll find a selection of wines and sangrias made with local fruit such as oranges, grapefruit, and key limes. More exotic offerings include a dry wine made from local tomatoes and a Florida dry blueberry wine that won a silver medal at the Indiana State Fair. Wines start at $16.99 a bottle, and tastings are complimentary.
Avenue Five's executive chef, David Nelson, showcases both surf and turf dishes at the 7,000-square-foot restaurant, adjacent to the Inn on Fifth (699 Fifth Ave. S.). The Art Institute of Seattle graduate made a reputation at luxury establishments such as Four Seasons Downtown Seattle before moving to Naples. The chef has designed a menu at the restaurant with "fun, interesting food that matches the stylish ambiance and decor of this beautiful restaurant." Menu items include a Maine lobster cocktail brightened with grapefruit and tangerine blast microgreens ($20).
Chef Nelson's lamb chops are served with creamy horseradish goat cheese croquettes and topped with a tangy, bright chimichurri ($48).
Save room for the baked Alaska parfait on an Oreo cookie crust. Topped with toasted meringue, it's sweet and smoky flavors are reminiscent of campfire s'mores ($12).
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The Inn on Fifth still has rooms available for Memorial Day weekend. The Forbes Four-Star, AAA Four-Diamond hotel features 119 rooms and suites, a spa, pool deck, and terraces for lounging with a mimosa in the morning. A Memorial Day special includes two nights at the hotel for $239 per night for a standard room (tax not included).
Club-level-suite guests receive access to a private rooftop, continental breakfast with champagne, and a nightly five-hour open bar stocked with premium spirits such as Bulleit bourbon and Hendrick's gin. Summer rates are $349 per night midweek and $399 on weekends. These rates include a $150 resort credit that's good for either the spa or Avenue Five restaurant. Rates are good from June 1 through September 30 (not valid holiday weekends) and must be booked before May 31, 2016, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.