According to our friend Google, a tour is, among other things, “a journey for pleasure in which several different places are visited,” and a tourist is “a person who is traveling or visiting a place for pleasure.”
Pleasure being the common word, if yours is exploring, you've come to the right place!
Trail Mix: Bicycle, Walking, Equine, Birding, and Blueway
Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach boasts a custom trail mix of a different variety. Instead of nuts and chocolate and seeds, you’ll be nourished by nature and wildlife, peace and quiet, and fresh air and sunshine. (You can still totally bring your chocolate, etc., just please leave nothing but foot-, bike tire-, or hoof-prints, and take nothing but pictures.)
There are so many bike trails and places to ride that we dedicated an entire brochure to cycling in the area. Punta Gorda even offers free bicycle loaners! Visit our Biking page for a good overview.
If you prefer a nice walk, jog, or hike, multi-use trails can be found on the Cape Haze Pioneer Trail in Englewood, at Punta Gorda Pathways (Harborwalk, Linear Park, Shreve Street Path, US 41 Path, MLK Path), and in the town of Babcock Ranch, as well as at our three state and many local parks.
The three state parks in Charlotte County are the Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park, Don Pedro Island State Park, and the Stump Pass Beach State Park. We also have access to two more: Cayo Costa State Park, which is reachable only by boat, and Gasparilla Island State Park, on the southern-most point of Boca Grande. Type "state" in the search bar on our Nature and Parks page for more on these natural wonders.
You can even enjoy a nature trail from a totally different perspective—atop a beautiful equine—at Branded Heart Stables in Englewood. Giddyup!
There are also seven sections of the Great Florida Birding Trail—a network of more than 500 premier wildlife viewing sites throughout the State of Florida—in our area. You may see bald eagles and migrating waterfowl at The Cedar Point Environmental Park during the winter months, and at the Tippecanoe Environmental Park in Port Charlotte, you'll see a vast array of native wildlife. If you're lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the Florida Scrub-Jay, an endangered species that is the only bird unique to Florida. Check out our Where to Go Birding page for an overview of all the recommended birding locations in our area.
We love our trails, and especially the fact that they’re not limited to land! Our waterways are also considered trails, of the Blueway persuasion. Visit our Paddling page to find a guided water experience and view and download the Blueway Trails Guide (PDF) to get started experiencing this beautiful area by watercraft.
If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for hiking, biking, scenic driving, birding and wildlife viewing, camping, fishing, hunting, and horseback riding (BYOH), the Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area may be your dream destination.
Off the Beaten
If you’re the blaze-your-own type when it comes to trails, you’ll also find plenty to explore.
If you have your endorsement, you can rent a motorcycle at one of the nation’s top Harley-Davidson dealerships, Bert’s Black Widow in Port Charlotte. If you don’t, and you’ll be here a few days, you can actually learn to ride and get licensed at Bert’s, and then take off on your own tour.
As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, our Boating and Watersports page has plenty of information to help you get out on the water. If you’re piloting your own boat to our area, visit our Marinas page to find a great place to dock. Our Boat Ramps page is a good resource if you’re hauling your boat by land. If you don't have enough life jackets for everyone on board, you can find loaners throughout our area.
Once you're on a boat, you may as well explore the island life, right? Find inspiration for island-hopping in this great article by Terry Tomalin.
It’s easy to enjoy our gorgeous land and sea, but if you’re looking for even more adventure, look up…then take off! Yes, we mean skydiving: SW Florida Skydive Club in Punta Gorda offers one of the most scenic drop zones in southwest Florida. Or, combine water and air vibes at Englewood Parasailing.
Self-Care and Spas
All that touring and tourist-ing leads perfectly into some self-care and pampering. We highly recommend yoga on the beach (Englewood Beach, daily at 8:30 am) and in any of our wonderful studios. Once you’re centered and good and truly relaxed, let the experts take care of you: find your next refreshing and luxurious experience on our Spas page.
The Charlotte Harbor Gulf Island coast is comprised of many different communities, all offering their own unique flavors and experiences, from the nation’s first solar-powered town, Babcock Ranch, to the pristine beaches of Manasota Key, and everything in between. Visit our Communities page to explore more.
Outdoor activities like the ones outlined above can be fun, exciting, enriching, and are inherently socially-distanced, so we hope you are inspired to plan for some safe adventure when you're ready to visit us again.