From the Caloosa Indians to the first settlers, Roger Gordon and Joe Wiggins, Naples was appreciated for its mild climate and pristine beaches. Naples quickly became a magnet for people from all walks of life seeking a laid back and relaxing life style.
The name Naples was chosen when a group of promoters compared the area to a "sunny Italian peninsula surpassing the bay in Naples, Italy." The first wealthy landowner, Walter N. Haldeman, built the Naples Pier, a classic landmark unique due to its "T" shape. Barron G. Collier stimulated the Southwest Florida market by constructing Tamiami Trail, the only paved highway linking the state's two largest cities at the time, Tampa and Miami. In 1923, Collier County was created with Naples as the county seat.
Modern Naples is the cultural center of southwest Florida. Numerous art galleries, museums and performing arts centers grace the area. The Naples Downtown Art Festival and the Naples National Art Festival are two increasingly popular annual events. Wildlife conservation and preservation is also of utmost importance in the Naples area. Nearby Pelican Bay has more than 570 acres of natural preserves and 40 acres of parks and nature trails. Everglades National Park and Cypress Swamp state preserve are also located nearby. Other popular outdoor attractions include Jungle Larry's Caribbean Gardens, a 50 acre zoo, and Corkscrew Swamp Wildlife Preserve. A common Southwest Florida activity, golf also sports an impressive 35 courses.