Dear Southwest Florida Friends,
This post is for you!
Ringing in a new year is an opportunity to evaluate life’s goals and priorities and either readjust existing ones or set new ones. To help you along, I’ve come up with a dozen easy-to-keep New Year’s resolutions you can make while having fun exploring Charlotte County. Located on Florida’s Southwest Gulf coast between Sarasota and Fort Myers, this destination holds onto its old Florida charm and has plenty of treasures to discover.
January – Get Your Thrill on at Florida Tracks & Trails
Florida Tracks & Trails is a new, 1,000-acre outdoor adventure park in Punta Gorda offering trails for ATVs, tracks for ATVs, tracks for motocross, paintball fields, beach area with a tiki bar to chill and enjoy lunch, and more. There’s definitely nothing else like it in Southwest Florida, or Florida for that matter, and I’m told it’s pretty much unique for the United States.
February – Eat Like the Locals with Southwest Florida Food Tours
Join LaVerne with Southwest Florida Food Tours for a culinary walking tour of downtown Punta Gorda. Meet some of the local restaurateurs and hear their stories while tasting delicious entrees. Book in advance and bring your appetite!
March – Feel the Vibe March 4 & 5, 2016, with Funk Fest 7 in Punta Gorda
Now celebrating its seventh year is Funk Fest, Punta Gorda’s hippest music festival. This year, the event is expanding to two days featuring top musical artists including the fan favorite, Here Come the Mummies.
April – Wade into a Local Nursery
The Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center offers a variety of programs including free wading trips into Charlotte Harbor’s or Lemon Bay’s nurseries. It’s a great way to learn about the sea life living in area waters. Participants are armed with a dip net and a bucket then wade in water anywhere from knee- to waist-deep and can scoop up creatures that call the area home, such as lightning whelk, fish, shrimp, sponges and occasionally, seahorses and pipefish.
May – Use Pedal Power
Living in Florida means biking year-round and my favorite trail is the Cape-Haze Pioneer Trail in Rotonda. Along the 15 miles or so, I’ve seen snapping turtles, gopher tortoises, alligators, bob cats and bald eagles, along with fellow bikers. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, rent them from a local bike shop or ride Punta Gorda’s trails one of TEAM Punta Gorda’s free loaner bicycles.
June – Raise a Glass (Or Two) and Say Cheers at Fat Point Brewing
Charlotte County’s only craft brewery, Fat Point Brewing in Punta Gorda, is pumping out a variety of delicious beer and the taproom is gaining a reputation for tasty pizza, too. Stop in the taproom to see what’s being drawn and sample a flight (or two). Signature beer such as Big Boca Ale and Ryeght Angle IPA are almost always on tap along with an ample variety of seasonal brews.
July – Celebrate Independence During the Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim
By far, this is one of my favorite Charlotte County event because it’s a non-event. There’s no registration and it’s not a race. It’s a gloriously unorganized blobblefest where participants may swim with neon inflatable rafts, pastel foam noodles, or red, white and blue attire. Others go it in some kind of boat, such as a motorized cabin, kayak or standup paddleboard. It’s not uncommon to see foam coolers carrying cold “adult beverages” being dragged behind participants, too. This past year I swam with a foam noodle and flippers and didn’t get my hair or Independence Day hair attire wet!
August – Feel the Beat at the Englewood Beach Drum Circle
About an hour before sunset on Sunday nights, a group gathers at Englewood Beach to celebrate the end of the day. Some bring drums other bring tambourines and hula-hoop’s. The crowd gathers in a circle and as the sun slips into the Gulf of Mexico, the drums beat in a crescendo leading to a celebrating at sunset. You can’t say you’ve visited Charlotte County until you’ve experienced the Englewood Drum Circle.
September – Let’s Eat! Englewood
Did someone say “let’s eat?” Returning for a second year is Let’s Eat! Englewood, a culinary adventure that won’t break the bank. Participating restaurants will be offering two-course lunches and three-course (and more) dinners at set prices. Visit LetsEatEnglewood.com for the specific dates and participating restaurants. Regular readers know I’m a fan of restaurant weeks because it introduces you to new flavors and eateries.
October- Glide and Glow on a Standup Paddle Board
For something almost out of this world, join Hooked on SUP in Placida for a glow in the dark standup paddle board excursion on a Saturday night. SUP boards are equipped with lights which illuminate the seafloor below. You’ll be wowed seeing a spotlight focused on sea stars, sea grasses, crabs and lightning whelk.
November – Walk Through Serenity at the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens
Set to open in Fall 2017 is the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens in Punta Gorda featuring lush botanicals and world-class sculptures set along the serene Peace River. This gorgeous 27-acre gift is from Roger and Linda Tetrault and will include an art gallery. A 50-million-year-old palm frond fossil was the inspiration for the garden’s logo and signature sculpture, STEEL PALM.
December – Christmas Light Canal Cruises
Here in Florida we don’t have sleighs to dash through the snow but we have boats to coast the waterways. King Fisher Fleet out of Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda has been leading Christmas Light Canal Cruises for decades and it’s a true, festive treat. Hop aboard one of the hour-long tours offered from early December through Dec. 31. Or, for something very special, gather up five of your friends or family and hop aboard Smoke & Roses catamaran for a luxurious canal cruise.
Keeping a dozen New Year’s resolutions may seem daunting but breaking it down month-by-month makes it easier to keep, right? And, this is a fun way to keep those resolutions! Of course, many of these activities can be done throughout the year. Learn about additional things to do in the area by visiting CharlotteHarborTravel.com.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links in order to support my traveling habit and this blog.