Stone crab season gets crackin' in SWFL

Stone crab season is back and runs until May 15. Naples will celebrate the season with a Stone Crab Festival on Oct. 26-28, 2012. The weekend festival features live entertainment, drink specials and of course, lots of stone crabs.

Photo by Kelly Merritt/Special to the Daily News

Stone crab season is back and runs until May 15. Naples will celebrate the season with a Stone Crab Festival on Oct. 26-28, 2012. The weekend festival features live entertainment, drink specials and of course, lots of stone crabs.

Stone crab season is officially under way.

It began Monday and will continue until May 15. Restaurants and stone crab festival organizers are gearing up for another season that some seafood lovers wait for all summer long. From festivals to restaurants to seafood retailers, it's finally time to crank up that boiling pot, melt some butter and pour a cold beer in honor of these succulent crustaceans.

NAPLES STONE CRAB FESTIVAL

In Naples, stone crab fever begins in earnest with celebration. The Naples Stone Crab Festival is part of the annual CityFest takes place Oct. 26-28, and is sponsored by the Old Naples Waterfront Association. The first day of the festival, Friday, Oct. 26, will feature a kickoff party at Pinchers Crab Shack from 4 to 10 p.m. The official cracking of the stone crab will take place at 6 p.m., and the evening will include live entertainment, drink specials and of course, lots of stone crabs. Then, on Saturday and Sunday throughout Naples' waterfront, a variety of restaurants and businesses will pitch in to help Neapolitans officially indulge in stone crab season.

Naples Stone Crab Festival

Cost: Free admission and water taxis between venues, $5 parking at Port O Call and former Grand Central Station

Information: www.stonecrabfestival.org

Friday, Oct. 26

Pinchers Crab Shack: Kickoff party with live music, block party, food and drink specials, $3 stone crabs, kids’ activities, 4 to 10 p.m., 1200 Fifth Ave. S., Naples. 239-434-6616

Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 27-28

Bayfront Naples and Bayfront Inn: Live music, dunk tank for charity, stone crab, frozen drink tents; Extreme Rentals: $35 Segway tours, discounted boat rentals, bonus hour on bike, kayak and paddleboard rentals 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., corner of Goodlette-Frank Road and Fifth Avenue South, Naples.

Jack’s River Bar: Food and drink specials, and live entertainment, 3 p.m. crab toss (Oct. 27), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Naples Harbour Yacht Club, 475 North Road, Naples.

Kelly’s Fish House: Drink specials, stone crabs, live music by Hot Topic, $15 sightseeing cruises, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 1302 Fifth Ave. S., Naples.

Naples Bay Resort: Live blues and jazz, stone crab, Black Eyed Pig BBQ, Haagen Dazs, Muscle Car Club, Audi, Mercedes, bounce house, trick-or-treating, face painting and vendor booths. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 27 and 10 to 5 p.m. Oct. 28, 1500 Fifth Ave. S., Naples. 239-530-1199

Tin City: Block party with live music, stone crab and drink specials, kids events, discounted Cruise Naples cruises. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 27 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 28, 1200 Fifth Ave. S., Naples.

DINING OUT FOR STONE CRABS

Diner demand for stone crabs is high in Naples and stays that way long after festivalgoers have gone home. Many eateries feature stone crab on their menus all season. Several feature water access for recreational boaters who prefer to arrive by water to enjoy a stone crab lunch, dinner or brunch. Here are a few places to choose from that offer stone crabs in season. If you don't see your favorite restaurant here, call to find out whether they will offer stone crab.

The Dock at Crayton Cove: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, 845 12th Ave. S., Naples. 239-263-9940 or www.dockcraytoncove.com

Kelly's Fish House Dining Room: 4:30 p.m. till closing daily, 1302 Fifth Ave. S., Naples. 239-774-0494 or www.kellysfishhousediningroom.com

Naples Harbour Yacht Club's Jack's River Bar: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, 475 North Road, Naples. 239-213-1441 or www.jacksriverbarnaples.com

Pinchers Crab Shack at Tin City: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, 1200 Fifth Ave. S., Naples. 239-434-6616 or www.pincherscrabshack.com

Roy's Restaurant: 5:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 475 Bayfront Place, Naples. 239-261-1416 or www.roysrestaurant.com

Shane's Cabana Bar: Noon to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; noon to 11 a.m. Friday-Saturday, 495 Bayfront Place, Naples. 239-732-6633 or www.shanescabanabar.com

Tavern on the Bay Sports Bar and Grill: 11 a.m. to midnight daily, 489 Bayfront Place, Naples. 239-530-2225 or www.tavernonthebay.net

Truluck's: 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5 to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 698 Fourth Ave. S., Naples. 239-530-3131 or www.trulucks.com

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