Best Off the Beaten Places in Naples, FL.

50 state stickers blog series, Art Scene

written by guest blogger Lauren Connelly

It’s crazy to think that my hometown is one of the world’s most visited places. There are palm trees everywhere and the beach is only minutes away. Now living 700 miles away in Greenville, South Carolina, I feel like I know Naples so much better. As a former local, I am giving you my favorite places to make sure I stop at when I’m home!

Kunjani Coffee

My heart beats a little faster for small businesses. I love that Kunjani is ran by a mom and daughter duo from South Africa. Not only are they making delicious coffee and serving the yummiest pastries, they are also changing the world. One side of their coffee shop holds jewelry and crafts made by artisans all over the world. Some are local to Naples and others are residents of South Africa. It’s definitely a hidden gem that won’t be hiding much longer.


Koreshan State Park

Koreshan State Park is located in Estero, Florida. (Estero is only 15 minutes north of Naples) If you’re looking for a perfect backdrop of photos, this is the best spot. There are small houses around the property. Although the houses are vacant, it was a small community build by the Koreshans. You’ll see some houses used to be sawmills, bakeries, boat works, and even a printing facility.


Naples Botanical Garden

If flowers are your love language, this place is for you. With over seven different gardens covering the 170-acres, you’ll find plants perfect for different climates. There is also a children’s garden where you can find a butterfly house. If you want a photo of you holding a butterfly, that’s the place to be.


Kayaking or Paddle Boarding at Estero River Outfitters

Like I said, Estero is only 15 minutes north of Naples. It’s not as developed as Naples but still tons to do. Estero River Outfitters is the best place to kayak and/or paddle board because the waters are easier to paddle through. (It’s also $14 for 2 hours of kayaking! Steal!) If you’ve never kayaked or paddle boarded before, I would definitely recommend this for all experience levels. Plus, the owners are so kind and extremely helpful.


Tacos and Tequila on Vanderbilt Beach Road and US 41

Tacos and Tequila opened a little over two years ago and is already the new craze. The atmosphere is casual with doors open and the chips are made to perfection. Right now there are three locations in Naples, but I think this one is the best. Their menu has so much variety that no one is going hungry. If it was up to me, i’d have the California Taco and the Signature Taco for dinner every single night. It’s that good.

Tacos and Tequila copy

Have you visited Naples before? What’s on you “must do” list?


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Hi there! My name is Lauren Connelly and you can find me over at I’m a content writer and product photographer living in Greenville, South Carolina. As a content writer, I work specifically with photographers helping them with their blog content and creating other materials to help their business succeed. One fun fact about me is that I moved to Greenville, SC after googling top places to live in South Carolina. Greenville came up as #1, I visited once, convinced my sister to move with me, and two months later we were living in a new city and didn’t know a single soul. It has been the best decision I’ve ever made. If I had to tell myself one thing, it would be don’t let fear hold you back. Everything works out. Keep up with me on Instagram at @Lauren_Connelly

This blog series will feature fine artists, makers and photographers from all 50 states as part of a #50statestickers project by Rachel Alvarez Art. You can see the inspiration for this series here:
Thank you so much for following along!



Why I do landscapes.

My Story.

I started thinking the other day about why I have always enjoyed painting landscapes. In school I had to try every subject: abstract, still-life, nude.

I have a vivid memory of writing my first artist statement and presenting it to my painting instructor. It said, “I like to paint pretty things.” My teacher firmly suggested that I change my statement to something more insightful or intriguing because this sort of declaration of self would never “fly” in the art world. It really bothered me, and still does, that in order to do anything “meaningful” in the arts you have to be bizarre or even repulsive.

As far back as memory serves me, I have always enjoyed being outdoors. I remember hiking thru the woods at the end of our street growing up- getting lost until I was a little nervous I’d never make it back. Even as a child I discovered color and texture and value while getting my hands dirty.

There have been times, in my travels, when I saw something with my eyes that didn’t even seem real. How could it be so perfectly beautiful? There I would stand in awe of the immaculate design of my surroundings and be reminded, once again, that there is a God-an amazing creator that is the most talented artist-and my primary inspiration.

I’d like to take you to some of these places.

When I was in my twenties, some of my very best friends and I decided to go to the Grand Canyon. We couldn’t just do it the conventional way. Instead, we decided to drive thru the night and get there just before sunrise. We ate leftover spaghetti at 5am with our feet dangling off of a 4,000 foot cliff.


Or, there was the time that I stood at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico and thought: “the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I know that not everyone feels the same. But one cannot deny that we have been given a true treasure to enjoy.


When I lived in Baltimore I resumed my solo hiking. Sometimes I’d stumble upon a special moment in nature that seemed like it was designed just for me to enjoy.


So, as always, I am perfectly happy painting pretty things. I think that by doing that, that maybe just maybe, I’ll inspire someone else to think about something bigger and more awesome than them self.