Tell us about yourself and what you do for a living?
Professionally, I am Vice President of a thriving Interior Design firm, Lisa Kahn Designs of which I have been a part of for 21 years. Our firm is known for our high-end luxury homes and our focus is to provide a beautiful and personalized living space for our clientele. Personally, I live in Naples with my husband and in 2014 we had the opportunity to purchase a home that is a mid-century modern gem. We put in a great deal of effort to restore it to its original 1959 glory. Our mutual love for the style of the era, as well as our research of it, led us to design and furnish our interiors authentic to the period. It also led us to create a seamless flow between our interior environment and the exterior architecture. Naples’ inherent tropical climate has led me to indulge my deep passion for tropical foliage, exotic palms in particular. Through that passion, and with time and effort, I have been able to create an ever evolving and flourishing palm garden, which brings me great joy!
How long have you been living in Naples?
I was raised in Upstate New York, (Endicott, to be exact, which is outside of Binghamton) and moved to Naples in 1990.
What influenced your decision to move here?
I visited Naples for the first time in 1980 and was immediately struck by its incredible beauty. The coconut palm lined streets just took my breath away; the Gulf and its sunsets were like nothing I’d ever experienced, and then there was that tropical climate and all the lush foliage that goes with it. Plus, I loved how beautifully maintained the city was, and still is. It took me 10 years to make my escape and land here, but I did, and never looked back.
What are your favorite places to go for a cocktail and/or dinner?
For cocktails, one of my favorite places is Bar Tulia. Their craft cocktails are the absolute best in Naples. You have to try The Last Dragon (passion fruit and gin), it’s incredible! They also have phenomenal food, so you might come in for a drink, but you will definitely want to stay for a meal. The Turtle Club is locally owned and is quintessentially Naples, plus it’s right on the beach. Bha! Bha! is a great Persian bistro. It’s right in the heart of old Naples, on 5th Avenue (and so is Bar Tulia), its food is consistently delicious and the interiors are also cool with an open air bar when weather permits. Another great place to go (a favorite of ours, actually) is 360 Market. While they don’t serve dinner, it’s a great place for other meals. The building has a decidedly old Florida feel updated to a new Naples vibe, plus it’s right on the water. Aside from great food it also has a fantastic wine selection.
What cultural attractions are a must see for visitors to Naples?
The Naples Pride Festival, which hopefully will be back in June 2022, is always a great attraction. We also love going to Artis-Naples, which is a stunning performing arts center. We particularly enjoy going for the modern dance and jazz performances they offer. Naples Art is another must-visit. They recently hosted an amazing Keith Haring exhibit. I’d also recommend that visitors check out Palm Cottage in Old Naples. It’s one of the oldest original cottages in town and has been meticulously restored thanks to the Naples Historical Society.
A friend is coming to Naples for the first time… Please describe the perfect weekend.
Friday night: go to the beach and see a gorgeous sunset at Naples pier. After the sun’s gone down, walk right over to Bar Tulia for a drink, or two, or three etc. Saturday: Wake up in the morning (if you can!) and treat yourself to the peace and beauty of Naples Botanical Garden. Wander and lose yourself in the lush and diverse landscape of its curated gardens, and if you have time, also take advantage of their nature walk trails. After that, head to 360 Market for a delicious lunch, and then, feeling replenished and refreshed, go to Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park. It’s a great place to experience nothing except beach, water, sky, and nature. That evening, take a walk down 5th Avenue and/or historic 3rd Street and pick one of the many, many restaurants you’ll see. You really can’t go wrong as there are so many great places in that area. Sunday: wake up and rent a kayak and paddle through Naples Bay; you’ll be astounded by the beautiful mangroves lining the myriad of inlets. Stop at Lake Park Diner for brunch before treating yourself to the rest of your day with some fantastic shopping.
What are the best places to truly enjoy the natural beauty of the area?
If you want to be in the midst of southwest Florida’s most beautiful and natural setting, I think the most wonderful place is Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. Another great choice is Collier-Seminole State Park. This is a wonderful place to go canoeing, and since you’re canoeing out into a bay that’s tidal, you have to be sure to time it right, so you don’t get stranded. When you’re there you’ll get to experience some of the greatest birdwatching around. Another great choice is Baker Park right in the heart of Naples. It connects with the Greenway Trails, and borders on the Naples Zoo, which is also a wonderful attraction of our city. And ANY of the beaches will be an amazing place to see a gorgeous sunset.
What is your favorite time of year in Naples and why?
I know this is counter-intuitive, but I appreciate summers here the most. I love our deeply tropical weather that results, most afternoons, in amazing thunderstorms that leave us with such beautiful, glowing skies. I find it exhilarating to watch the thunderheads build, and of course my palm gardens thrive in the drenching rains they bring. My gardens are lush and at their pinnacle of beauty in the summertime, which of course brings me great delight!
Also, since it’s not high tourist season, it’s also a little quieter all around town.
What’s one souvenir to bring back for friends or family?
I’d go to Naples Soap Company and pick up some of their fabulous sea salt soap. It’s locally made, all natural, and the soap is totally unique to our area. Also, just shopping in the store with all the colors and fragrances is truly a delightful experience!
Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave Naples without…
Experiencing a sunset, preferably on a blanket, with someone you love sharing a moment of profound beauty.