Where to find unique gifts in Naples, Bonita Springs, Marco Island


You can help support local arts organizations and museums by purchasing your holiday treasures from their gift shops.

But even better, you can wow those you are buying for.

Unique art clothing, jewelry and pottery; locally produced art and sculpture; and ingenious little extras for hostess gifts make local cultural attractions a vacation’s best friend.

We spotted several gift shops this year and found a good number of items that we were ready to pack and take home. Even those not on this list are worth a visit: Neapolitan art (the former Naples Art Association) at 585 Park Street, Naples, offers Florida-made bath products and handmade baby items, scarves and bags; The Conservancy has everything from coloring books to clothes.

The takeaways – literally – from the stores we visited, include some inspirations from the following places. And if you haven’t quite finished your list by visiting them all, a list of local art walks and sales in December follows this one.

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Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Bio Buddies building blocks that can create alligators and other favorite local creatures, Bio Buddies at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary are just one of its many store charms. But they’re big, with their main element a plant-based plastic that won’t add pollution to the world’s waters.

“We are going green,” said Roswitha Marold, director of retail and sales. “We are an organization of nature, so we should be supporting things that are good for nature.”

Their ranger dolls, elegantly dressed in park service uniforms, have eco-friendly padding. They switch to a paper-based water bottle with 82% renewable content. And it doesn’t have to be a one-off drink.

“You can use the bottle again,” said Marold.

What may be the most notable step for the buyer is that the store no longer carries plastic bags. This gift shop follows the custom of many European stores, offering a $ 2 reusable shopping bag for those who don’t bring their own.

There are overtly green products, such as the collapsible metal straw with its own stem cleaner and carrying box, for $ 15.95.

At around $ 13.50 a pound, one of the favorite gifts for guests at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary gift shop, Audubon Coffee, is shade grown to allow birds to nest, rather than clearcut.

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Bonita Springs Arts Center

the Bonita Springs Arts Center puts one of his most original ideas on the storefront of his visual arts center: you can buy a certificate for overnight events at the center, says Knoel Blakely, his media representative. Create a charm necklace for yourself or for others with “Charmed, I’m sure” ($ 50, with dates February 4 and April 7); created wire-bound glass and stone pendants in “Get Wired” ($ 50, January 7 or March 3).

Overnight events are a wonderful gift option at the Center for Visual Arts Bonita Springs.

There’s an introduction to designing clay using a rainbow of glazes, stamps, or other methods in “Great Bowls of Fire” ($ 60) on January 13th, 10th. February, March 16, April 13 or May 11. There are eight different. nightly events, and all include refreshments and equipment.

Even better idea than buying one for your favorite gift recipient – buy two so you can take the course together.

“It’s a great gift – the gift of an experience,” said Blakely.

Here is a fish rarely seen in the water, but its artistic allure brings it to many walls.  This is by artist Estero Anne DeLaCroix.  $ 110 at the Center for the Visual Arts Bonita Springs store.

Bonita Springs Visual Arts Center children’s art gifts are among the best. From insect viewers to books on how to make your own papier mache sculpture, this is a treasure for the grandparent who wants something really different.

Guys aren’t out of this loop either. Wall hangings of large fish that appear to have swam from Margaritaville are in the mix. For women, there’s handmade jewelry by local artists and baskets from local artisan Rinny Ryan, including a nifty handle wine rack ($ 30).

Baskets by Neapolitan artist Rinny Ryan hold bottles of wine, bath products or just create a look.  They range from $ 25 to $ 35 at the Bonita Springs Visual Arts Center.

Marco Island Arts Center and Marco Island Historical Museum

Give staff at Marco Island Arts Center a chance to talk about gifts, and they’ll quickly go to smooth, semi-gloss wood carvings by Doug Johnson with a miniature chess bishop’s flair. But these stainless steel toppers on the wooden figurines have a serious function: they are bottle openers.

They are just one of the many locally made pieces available on the island, where the arts spill over into a myriad of unique treasures between the two stores. (Of course, it’s a bonus to have the Key Marco cat in the Smithsonian Institution museum, and the art center regularly has interesting exhibits.)

It's a work of art, plus a nifty bottle opener ($ 45), created by local woodworking artist Doug Johnson, on sale at the gift shop at the Marco Island Center for the Arts.

At the Marco Island Art Center, handmade products extend to baby clothes, including a set of baby must-have knit Mickey Mouse ears. Due to its self-contained clay center, there are pottery offerings. J. Mckay’s exotic wood bowls for the coffee table have his type of burnt wood on the bottom and a penny from the year the piece was made is affixed to it.

Looking for a hostess gift for your Marco friends? Limited-edition art tea towels ($ 24), suitable for framing or polishing porcelain, are at the store, as is a good stock of books that explore the history of the Florida islands, from “The Gladesmen” to the beguiling title “The Phony Hermit.”

The Marco Island Historical Museum also features 5-by-5-inch paintings ($ 35) and tiles ($ 22) by Jo-Ann Sanborn from Naples. Nancy Judd, store manager, recalled a woman who had bought two for her house.

“And then she came back and bought three more. She filled a little wall with them,” Judd said.

That little personal touch can be found in the dainty seashell necklaces – natural gift for teenage girl – at Marco Island Historical Museum store. Judd is an artist herself and these necklaces, which add a pearl inside the seashell, are her work.

These sterling extensions from the Marco Island Historical Museum store cost, from the left, $ 129, $ 49, and $ 159.  (Chains are sold separately and range from $ 29 to $ 39).  Local artist Nancy Judd created all three.

For their moms, or any sweetheart, there are sterling bead extensions at the Marco Island Historical Museum store that transform any necklace (from $ 49 to $ 159). (Chains are sold separately and range from $ 29 to $ 39).

The jewelry choices for women make the two Marco stores a perfect stop for men. The only thing left to do, guys, is the wrap.

Harriet Howard Heithaus covers the arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News / naplesnews.com. Contact her at 239-213-6091.

5-by-5-inch paintings ($ 35) and tiles ($ 22) by Jo-Ann Sanborn of Naples can be found at the Marco Island Historical Museum.

Holiday art walks / shows

Art Alive – Tours of Art District studios and galleries: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, December 4. Over 50 professional artists present their recent works of art and demonstrate their mediums. Meet the artist, party, and take home unique gifts and treasures. Gallery participants are marked with the magenta and white art flags. www.NaplesArtDistrict.com

Everglades City Holiday Art-in-the-Glades Sale: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, December 7. McLeod Park on the Circle, Everglades City. Local crafts will be offered and restaurants have reopened for stone crab season. For more information, call Marya at (239) 695-2905.

Art After Dark – “The Magic of Christmas”: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, December 8. Phil Fisher Gallery & Guess-Fisher Gallery, 810 12th Ave. S., Naples, Crayton Cove by the Bay, Naples. Meet the artists and enjoy live music from Jeff Fessenden on a festive evening. www.GaleriesOfCraytonCove.com

December Art in the park: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, December 7. Cambier Park, 580 Eighth St. S., Naples. Local crafts and artists. naplesart.org

Naples Craftsmen Fair: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, December 14. Cambier Park, 580 Eighth St. S., Naples. One of the oldest arts organizations in the city offers works of art and crafts from local artists in its juryed organization. naplesartcrafters.com


Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Address:375, West Sanctuary Road

Call: 239-348-9151

Bonita Springs Visual Arts Center

Address:26100 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs 34135

Call: 239-495-8989

Marco Island Arts Center

Address:1010 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island 34120

Call: 239-394-4221

Marco Island Historical Museum

Address:180 S. Heathwood Drive, Marco Island 34145

Call: 239-252-1440


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