Tourist Season

Naples (Florida, not Italy) is ground-zero for the recession. I spent last week there, and driving past foreclosed homes, abandoned construction projects and half-empty strip malls. It’s clear this is one hard-hit city in a hard-hit state.

The other curious thing about Naples is that there’s something known as “season,” which is when the snow-birds come down from the Northern states in winter and Naples becomes overrun with old people. Entire traffic patterns change. Restaurants and beaches are more crowded. It’s apparently such a noticeable difference that several times people remarked, “Wow, this street is so empty when it’s not season” or “Man, it’s going to be busy here come season.”

So early September is apparently a  great time to hit up south Florida. My hotel at Cocoa Beach was mostly empty. The beaches on both coasts were also sparsely populated. It seems like just about everywhere has a down time, a period every year when only the locals are out and about and you don’t have to fight for a parking space. Now that’s my kind of trip.

Mostly-empty Cocoa Beach

Other than that, there’s really no reason to go Naples, Florida. Sure, the white sand beaches are nice, but there’s nothing at all unique there–just box stores and chain restaurants and subdivisions. For me, though, my best buddy showing me around was reason enough. Oh, and her stepdad cooks one helluva medium-rare steak.

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