Charlotte Harbour on the Cape Haze Peninsular

Charlotte County is home to two freshwater rivers, the Myakka River and Peace River both of which flow into Charlotte Harbour and Lemon Bay and on into the ocean.
Charlotte Harbour’s bay is located at the bottom of the Cape Haze peninsular and is second in size to Tampa Bay. It is an important ecological bay that is off the beaten track of the well known Florida and hides an area that is often referred to as “Old World Florida”. A good way to experience this waterway is by kayaking, for the less brave, larger boats are available to hire, or take one of the guided cruises, the sunset cruise is wonderful.
One of the oldest communities on Charlotte Harbour bay is Punta Gorda which started life in the 1800’s. It was here the wealthy built summer homes to escape the sultry heat of the north. These mansions line the waterfront by Gilchrist Park which now is a gathering point for the locals and also host to musical evenings.

Lying south of the Charlotte Harbour Bridge is downtown Punta Gorda, which after the devastation of hurricane Charlie has been renovated and now has an interesting mix of shops, galleries and cafes. Towards the end of Gilchrist Park is Fisherman’s Village where the harbour cruises and fishing charters leave from. The afternoon cruise is an opportunity to see the bay and its surrounding communities, coupled with a commentary by the Captain on the history of the area. Afterwards take time to stroll through the restored buildings, home to an eclectic mix of shops; stop for lunch and watch the sun glistening on the water, or stay for dinner and watch the sunset over the harbour. The Captain's table is my recommendation for dinner, whilst Harpoon Harry's has an enviable location with views to die for, maybe a beer and light appetizersare are all I can recommend here.

Across the bay is Port Charlotte which is a modern city and is the business center of Charlotte County. It is a family orientated community with a beach park, bordering the harbour; it is quite a small beach but does have recreation facilities, a fishing pier and swimming pools. Port Charlotte is also home to one of the largest malls in south west Florida, found on the corner of US41 and State Rd 776. It has a thriving business district and is the busiest of the small towns bordering this bay.

Heading further north from Port Charlotte, you traverse small communities and an abundance of golf courses, until you reach Englewood, another delightful old world Floridian town, nestling beside Lemon Bay.

Dearborn Street is in the heart of the Historical district of Englewood and is lined with art galleries, gift shops, coffee parlours and restaurants. Check the local papers for dates and times of events held here on a regular basis. The summer months are quieter as once the Snowbirds, as they are affectionately known, have returned home to the colder north, Englewood once again returns to the slower pace of life of old world Florida.

I do not think you will be disappointed by time spent on the Cape Haze peninsular, it has something for everyone. The area is rich in nature and has a laid back approach to life, a chance to stop and rest from life’s all too hectic pace.

 

 

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