Destination: Tin City will make you feel at home when you're far away

Tin City has been something of a landmark in downtown Naples since 1976, impossible to miss from U.S. 41 crossing the Gordon River. Built in the 1920s as an oyster house, today the covered waterfront mall sports an ambience somewhere between that of Key West and Coney Island, and is home to dozens of restaurants and shops.

Have cocktails or dine with a view of passing boats on their way down the river into Naples Bay. Pincher's Crab Shack and the Riverwalk both specialize in maritime comfort food, including the biggest, freshest crab claws and legs, shrimp and fish you'll find. Any time of day or night, there is a party atmosphere, and the fun is contagious.

Need souvenirs? It's common to see patrons walking from store to store with list in hand, checking off names as they find the coolest and kitschiest gee-gaws to be found in Naples. Jungle Fever, Creative Crafts, Scentchips, the Ropo Trading Company and Shell's, etc. are just a few of the shops there to serve you.

Not in the mood for trinkets? Clothing always makes a good gift. Everything from T-shirts to formalwear is available at The Osprey, Tropical Cargo, Caribongo and others. Most of these boutiques are not chains or franchises, they're owned and operated by local people who know the area and are part of it.

All that shopping making you feel a little peckish? That's nothing a visit to Tin City Sweets won't fix. Choose from the myriad homemade baked goods on display or go straight for the huge mounds of indulgent fudge. Get your doo done at Hair on the Bay, pick up a bottle of vino at Naples Winery or rinse off the beach sand with something from the Naples Soap Company.

One special spot is Kip Barry's Magic shop. Not only will you see a wide selection of hard-to-find paraphernalia and instruction for the practice of prestidigitation, but Tony Chaudhuri or Ryan Brown will demonstrate the tricks while you wait.

Finally, you're going to want to sit down, so why not do it aboard the Double Sunshine, a 55-foot, two-tiered catamaran that departs several times a day for a cruise down the bay and into the Gulf of Mexico. The sunsets can be spectacular. For many tourists, the trip is one of their fondest memories of their stay in Naples.

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