Lowdermilk Park is a beachfront park in Naples, Florida, with all the amenities. This all-day beach has everything: extensive concessions, covered eating area, sand volleyball, two playgrounds, picnic tables, benches, modern washrooms and outdoor showers, and gazebos. Lowdermilk Park has a beautiful, white-sand beach with clear, turquoise water. This beach is perfect for leisure-seekers of all ages who want a great place to relax.
Lowdermilk Park is located right on the Gulf of Mexico in Naples, Florida, and is easy to get to. The address is 1301 Gulf Shore Boulevard North, Naples, Florida, 34102. Just take Tamiami Trail North to Banyan Boulevard, which runs straight into Lowdermilk at Gulf Show Boulevard North. Lowdermilk is a relatively small park, but there is a lot to see and do here, and is a great place to do nothing at all. The parking lot is open from 5 am until 11 at night, but the park closes at dusk.
The parking lot at Lowdermilk Park is the only drawback to this beach venue. City of Naples residents, and likewise Collier County residents, can get a Beach Parking Pass to park at the residents-only lots throughout the area. Lowdermilk is a pay-by-space location for out-of-town visitors. (Residents park for free.) The parking is expensive at $0.25 per five minutes ($3 per hour), and there is an Extend-by-Phone texting feature that makes adding time to a fun beach day fairly easy.
Parking is as important as
sunscreen. The City of Naples has web pages for parking for
out-of-towners: https://www.naplesgov.com/finance/page/beach-parking. This is one of the Pay Stations
at Lowdermilk. Remember the number of the parking space when
paying at this station. Input a cell phone number (for a
smartphone) to get a text for when parking time expires; visitors
can use Extend-by-Phone and a credit card to re-up parking time
remotely without creating an account.
The major amenities at Lowdermilk Park are at the concession stand, as shown here. (This Pay Station is the one closest to the the beach.) There is recycling plus trash disposal. The concession stand walk-up window is up the steps; off to the right are the washrooms and outdoor showers. There is covered and uncovered seating here and this is a good place to get out of the sun. Though Naples Pier is the most accessible, Lowdermilk is pretty good on that measure.
This is one of the boardwalks that leads to the beach at Lowdermilk Park. While Lowdermilk is largely flat, with smooth, wide walkways, the ramps to the beach have some curvature. The concession stand, which is completely accessible from the parking lot, has beach wheel chairs—with fat tires—available for rent. The pathway at the southern end of Lowdermilk appears to be the most accessible. This boardwalk is located near the concession stand.
This is the pathway from the concession stand to the beach. Some of the vegetation shown here include sea grapes and sea oats. Both of these plants help stabilize the dunes, so visitors are advised to avoid disturbing them. The larger, auburn colored leaves on the left are the sea grapes (coccoloba uvifera) and the sea oats (uniola paniculata) are to either side of the pathway in the background. Both sea grapes and sea oats are edible, but they are protected under Florida law.
Lowdermilk Park was dedicated in 1961 and is Naples’ only beachfront park. This park was named for Naples’ first city manager, Fred Lowdermilk, who served in that capacity from 1949 until 1961. (He was also the City Engineer. When the town had no resources to clean out its sewer drains, he used alligators to do the job.) The city’s second oldest park came about in 1950 when Coquina Sands neighborhood developer Henry Watkins donated ten acres in exchange for street variances.
Lowdermilk Park has great sand, and a bucket and pail will keep the little ones busy all afternoon. A variety of shells will come in with the waves, deposited right at the shoreline for beach-goers to take with them. Lowdermilk does not seem to have as large a variety of shell-treasures as Barefoot Beach or Sanibel Island, but there are still a few beauties here: the Atlantic coquina, Atlantic slipper shell, Cat’s paw, Cross-barred Venus, scallops, Texas Venus, just to name a few.
What a creative use of a Publix grocery bag . . . front and center in this image, keeping a beach umbrella anchored in the sand at Lowdermilk. The wind is brisk today, with winds picking up at 7 mph (4.34 kmh) at ten am and peaking at 18 mph (11.18 kmh) at three o’clock before tapering off by the late evening. All in all though, March 8, 2022 turned out to be a wonderful day with a high of 88 deg F (31 deg C) and a low of 72 deg F (22 deg C). There was barely a cloud in the sky.
Lowdermilk Park has two outdoor showers and foot baths at the pavilion in the center of Lowdermilk Park. There is good water pressure here to get all the sand and salt water rinsed off before getting something at the concession stand or heading back home or to the hotel. The washrooms are behind the camera. The park’s modern washrooms were fairly clean considering the constant, sandy foot traffic from sun-up to sun-down.
There’s ample seating at the pavilion, whether covered or uncovered. The boards are foot-friendly and an accessibility ramp is located on the right-hand side of the photo. The Beach Cafe, which is Lowdermilk’s concession stand, is open everyday from 9 am until 8 pm, and the grille closes at 7:30. The Beach Cafe is operated by Rita’s Italian Ice, which is an ice & custard stand outfit based in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. There’s no custard here, but there is something for every taste.
Even in the morning, there’s always a line at the Beach Cafe; breakfast sandwiches are served from 9 am until 11 am. The line moves quickly, however, because the staff here is very efficient. Big orders or small, the staff members handle them smoothly. This image was taken at 2 pm; the wait time from the back of the line to the window was just over ten minutes and there was a twenty minute wait for the food, which was freshly made. There's also a QR code to order by smartphone.
Looking at this menu board, there
is something for everyone at the Beach Cafe. The prices shown here
do not include sales tax, which is 6 percent in Florida, and 1
percent in Collier County, for a total of 7 percent. There are the
usual hot dog combos, but also salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers,
empanadas, plus sides and extras. There are soft drinks and
milkshakes, plus adult treats. Rentals of beach gear like tables,
chairs, and umbrellas are available from 9 am until 5 pm.
This is the all-beef hot dog at Lowdermilk’s Beach Cafe, with French fries (and box-carton water, not shown). This is the hot dog combo meal, upgraded to large. Combo meals include a choice of fries, chips, apple or banana and a small fountain drink. This hot dog is at least as good as a Sugardale beef hot dog. There are a wide variety of condiments at the walk-up window to dress that dog up, plus extras like cheese, sauerkraut, and grilled peppers & onions.
These delicious filled crusts are called empanadas. The concession stand offers three types of these turnovers: beef, chicken, or pork filling. Each empanada is $3.50. The fried empanadas at the Beach Cafe are served hot with a tasty crust and they are hearty. The word “empanada” means “enbreaded” and this dish is a Spanish-type food item. The empanadas shown here come from a local Argentine-style restaurant called the Martin Fierro Argentinean Steakhouse.
The Beach Cafe has a wide variety of beverages, in addition to the usual soda and bottled water. This is a large chocolate milkshake shown on the left ($8), plus a mango daiquiri on the right ($9). The total for both of these beverages with tax was $18.19 and the wait was ten minutes. The milkshake had a nice chocolate flavor, and the rum in the frozen daiquiri was quite evident. This concession stand also has ice cream and sorbet, beer and wine, and wine pops.
This is the “park” part of Lowdermilk Park. There are a lot of children’s play areas at Lowdermilk, which are designed for kids ages two to twelve. Note the child’s life vest near the jungle gym. Collier County states that it has fifteen life-jacket loaner program stations at its parks, including Naples Pier and Lowdermilk. According to the Collier County website, a Coast Guard auxiliary unit checks the condition of the life jackets on a monthly basis.
The two sand volleyball courts are located past the north end of the main parking lot, just to the west of the adjacent auxiliary parking lot. There are flat, easy walkways between all major structures at Lowdermilk. The sign at the concessions stand says that volleyballs are available for purchase for $15 plus tax. There are also sand toys, plus sunscreen, hats, goggles, etc. To the north on Tamiami Trail, there’s a Walgreens near Naples High School, but the Beach Cafe is fairly well-stocked.
One of the few shady spots at Lowdermilk outside the concession stand is found at the southern end of the parking lot under this banyan tree. These trees grow only in south Florida, outside of their native India (Ficus benghalensis). This tree has a high drought tolerance and needs full sun, but provides a lot of shade to the folks at the outdoor shower. This tree also provides a lovely photographic backdrop with its curving branches and patchy bark.
This children’s play structure is also at the southern end of Lowdermilk, just past the entrance at the corner of Gulf Shore Boulevard North and Banyan Boulevard. The buildings behind this jungle gym are part of the Laurentians apartment complex. Although the beach at Lowdermilk Park has a million-dollar view, the park itself has its charms. It’s clean and spacious, and easy to move around in. There are lots of places for adults to sit while the kids play.
The banyan tree provides a great shady spot for the bicycles in the rack at Lowdermilk Park. A bike is a terrific option for getting to this beach, as parking fills up before nine o’clock in the morning. (Some hotels offer van shuttle service.) This rack is at the southern end of the main lot, which also happens to offer the most accessible pathway to the beach. This pathway is shown right here, winding its way past a gazebo and the recycling bins onto the sand and out toward the ocean.
It’s well past four o’clock at Lowdermilk Park and the sun is heading down for the day. All of the rented chairs, umbrellas, and kayaks will have to start coming back in. What’s next after the sun goes down? For some beach-goers, there are restaurants such as Mel’s Diner, Old Naples Pub, and Martin Fierro’s. Publix is a nice grocery store with a great deli and ten-dollar t-shirts. Whatever the choice, the views from this Gulf of Mexico beach will last a lifetime.