Perched on Florida's southwest coast between Sarasota and Fort Myers, Charlotte Harbor is a beautiful waterfront region that is home to recreational opportunities, culture, uncrowded beaches, fine-dining and nightlife. Known for its relaxing, stress-free lifestyle, Charlotte Harbor is made up of a diverse landscape of cities and towns, ranging from island escapes to waterfront towns and even a fishing and arts village. Hotel venues in Charlotte Harbor range from luxury resorts to cozy cottages; the region is also full of unique shops and restaurants specializing in local seafood.
The area is easily reached via I-75, but visitors to Charlotte Harbor can also utilize the Punta Gorda Airport (just three miles east of downtown Punta Gorda), which offers direct service to many Northeast, Midwest and Southeast U.S. destinations. Located 42 miles south of Charlotte harbor, Southwest Florida International Airport provides nonstop service to 46 destinations throughout North America, Canada and Germany, averaging 230 flights daily, while Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, located 40 minutes north of Charlotte Harbor, provides nonstop service to such major cities as Washington, DC, New York City, Boston, Chicago and Toronto.
The historic town of Punta Gorda is home to streets lined with royal palms and restored homes; it is bursting with old-Florida charm and waterfront restaurants, shops and attractions. Punta Gorda is also home to the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center, which sits on the shores of the Peace River, offering panoramic views of Charlotte Harbor. The center spans 44,000-square-feet of event space, perfect for meetings, events and expos. Meeting spaces include the 19,800-square-foot Hibiscus hall, as well as the 18,000-square-foot Great Lawn along the waterfront.
Charlotte Harbor event venues are as unique as the region itself, offering event-friendly space at a beach park, comedy club and baseball stadium, just to name a few. Tucked away along the mangrove-lined coast, the Port Charlotte Beach Park features a heated pool, athletic courts, beachfront and playground, as well as a recreation center with over 3,000 square feet of meeting space, deck and pavilions available for group rentals. Port Charlotte's Visani-Comedy Zone is a Charlotte Harbor nightspot, offering a variety of music and entertainment acts complete with banquet facilities. The Charlotte Sports Park, spring training home of the Tampa Bay Rays, offers luxury suites and meeting rooms perfect for private events.
Groups can also explore Charlotte Harbor's natural beauty at its finest through its intricate waterway, including engaging one of the many area kayaking companies for guided tours through mangrove tunnels, freshwater creeks or gentle salt-water tributaries – in addition to a sunrise tour, nature walk or sea life tour. In addition to a sunrise tour, nature walk or sea life tour. Groups can also embark on a guided buggy eco-tour, courtesy of Babcock Wilderness Adventures. The 90-minute eco-tour takes riders through the Babcock Ranch and Telegraph Cypress Swamp to view alligators, birds, deer, wild hogs, wild turkeys and sandhill cranes.
A stunningly beautiful region filled with charming historical towns, Charlotte Harbor sits on a natural harbor formed by river and sea. The region's confluence on the Peace and Myakka Rivers has formed a unique network of barrier islands and mangrove forests, as well as 28 miles of serene beaches, 193 miles of canoe and kayak trails and a variety of wildlife. Charlotte Harbor is home to Florida's second-largest estuary, to which millions of birds flock to rest and nest in the mangrove forests, measuring in at 270 square miles with 219 miles of natural shoreline. Outdoor recreation abounds in Charlotte Harbor, as the region's clear, warm waters have been named as among the best places to sail and sport fish in the country.
Ponce de Leon visited Charlotte Harbor when he established a colony in the region in 1513. Today, the region still evokes a sense of mystique and old-world charm, seen in its towering royal palms, uncrowded beaches and miles of waterways, just waiting to be explored. In fact, the region is home to more than 70 parks and preserves. One such park, the Don Pedro Island State Park, is an island escape that is accessible only by boat. The park is known for its white-sand beaches, perfect for shelling and fishing; and hiking trails that yield frequent sightings of such endangered species as West Indian manatees, gopher tortoises and bald eagles. For an even closer look at area wildlife, visitors can travel to the Peace River Wildlife Center, which cares for injured birds, reptiles and mammals and then releases them back into their natural habitats. At the center, visitors can view indigenous birds, such as sandhill cranes, pelicans and mottled ducks, in a park setting, as well as walk through the mangroves in the surrounding Ponce de Leon Park.
One of the region's most popular destinations, Fishermen's Village in Punta Gorda is a waterfront dining, shopping and resort area, complete with a full-service marina. Visitors may hop aboard fishing boats and speed boats at the marina, or take part in sightseeing cruises or kayak rentals. The Fishermen's Village center stage hosts live entertainment and music, while the themed boutiques offer plenty of shopping opportunities. When it's time to come indoors, Charlotte Harbor is home to a number of cultural venues, specializing in the visual arts, theater, dance and music, as well as a number of spas, fine restaurants and nightlife spots. The Visual Arts Center in Punta Gorda features three galleries, a gift shop and library, as well as a number of classes and workshops perfect for the beginning artist.
Many dining venues in Charlotte Harbor specialize in fresh seafood, even pulled right from the harbor. Punta Gorda's casual, fun Laishley Crab House serves blue crab from the harbor and fresh fish from the Peace River Seafood Market, specializing in seafood, steaks and sushi served in a waterfront setting. Also located in Punta Gorda, The Gulf View Grill in Englewood Beach is a longtime local favorite, serving up American fare in a casual beachfront atmosphere, while The Captain's Table, located in Fishermen's Village offers an on-the-water feel, thanks to its huge windows and outdoor deck overlooking the Punta Gorda waterfront. The Perfect Caper serves European and Asian fusion cuisine, while Port Charlotte's Portofino Waterfront Dining serves Mediterranean cuisine in a waterfront location known for its sunsets.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Charlotte Harbor experiences a sub-tropic climate, with a mild, short winter from January through March. The region's annual average temperature is a high of 84°F and low of 63°F. July is the region's warmest month, with an average high of 92°F and average low of 74°F, while January is the coldest month, with an average high of 75°F and average low of 52°F. Charlotte Harbor experiences an average of 50 inches of rain per year, with June as the rainiest month, bringing about 9 inches of rain.
Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center
Perched upon the shores of the Peace River in the heart of Punta Gorda, the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center features 44,000 square feet of event space. Opened in January 2009, the spacious center is known for its panoramic water views, hospitality, serene decor and on-site meeting amenities, including fantastic catering service. Meeting spaces range from a 136-square-foot conference room to the 19,800-square-foot Hibiscus Hall, divisible into three spaces. Groups of up to 2,000 people can also gather on the 18,000-square-foot waterfront Great Lawn. The center's interior has a 1,000-person dining capacity and 1,800 general session capacity. Meeting participants can utilize the center's 240 free on-site parking spaces.
Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside
The 106-room Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside has a waterfront and marina views overlooking the Peace River, an on-site restaurant (Dockside Grill) with room service and is next door to the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center. It is a short walk to dozens of restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues.
The Wyvern Hotel Punta Gorda
The 63-room Wyvern Hotel has a rooftop tiki bar/pool/lounge with views of historic downtown Punta Gorda and the Peace River – ideal for receptions of up to 100 people; and an on-site restaurant (Lulu) with room service. It is one block from the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center and a short walk to dozens of restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues.
Palm Island Resort
Palm Island Resort, which is located on a tropical barrier island only accessible by car ferry or water taxi, offers one, two, and three bedroom units overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. While the island’s secluded nature provides an ideal atmosphere for functions such as corporate retreats and board meetings, it is only a short distance to the mainland and within close proximity to golf courses, shopping, and other attractions. In addition, the island features Rum Bay Restaurant, 5 swimming pools, 11 tennis courts, a general store, meeting space, and a variety of recreational activities.
Punta Gorda Airport (PGD)
Approximate taxi fare: 10 USD
Providing nonstop service to several Northeast, Midwest and Southeast U.S. destinations, Punta Gorda Airport provides direct service to such cities as Chicago, Knoxville and St. Louis. The airport, located three miles east of Punta Gorda, offers short- and long-term parking, as well as free Wi-Fi service.
Airline carriers serving Punta Gorda Airport
Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW)
Approximate taxi fare: 60 USD
Located in Fort Myers, 42 miles south of Charlotte Harbor, the Southwest Florida International Airport serves more than 7.5 million passengers a year. Southwest Florida International offers nonstop service to 46 destinations throughout North America, as well as Canada and Germany, with more than 230 flights daily and 7.5 million passengers a year. Airport amenities include more than 30 food, beverage and retail establishments, short- and long-term parking and free Wi-Fi service.
Airline carriers serving Southwest Florida International Airport
Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ)
Approximate taxi fare: 75 USD
Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, located 40 minutes north of Charlotte Harbor, serves more than one million passengers a year. Nonstop destinations from Sarasota-Bradenton International include Washington DC, New York City, Boston, Chicago and Toronto. Airport amenities include short- and long-term parking, dining and retail establishments and a 20-person conference room available for rentals.
Airline carriers serving Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport
The Charlotte Harbor area Amtrak curbside bus stop (and Greyhound stop) is located at 909 Kings Highway in Port Charlotte.
The Charlotte Harbor area Greyhound stop (and Amtrak bus stop) is located at 909 Kings Highway in Port Charlotte. Greyhound stop hours are 4:30 to 5:30 AM and 10 AM to 8 PM daily.
Area shared and private airport shuttle services include SuperShuttle, Winston Transportation, and Trans-Executive Worldwide Chauffeured Service
Travelers at the Punta Gorda Airport can access rental car counters for Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Hertz outside of the baggage claim area, while Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport travelers can access counters for Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty within the airport's baggage claim wing. Southwest Florida International Airport travelers can access counters for Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty on the ground level of the parking garage, as well as a counter for Advantage at the east end of the garage, reached via airport shuttle.
While visiting the Charlotte Harbor area, visitors can take taxi service from the Punta Gorda Airport to downtown Punta Gorda for about $10, from the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport to downtown Punta Gorda for about $60 and from the Southwest Florida International Airport to downtown Punta Gorda for about $75.
Credit : Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands Visitor's Bureau
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