In the U.S. the “official” National Wildlife Day is in early September. Around here, in our outdoor wonderland in southwest Florida, it’s every day/

This list honors our untamed and unplugged side, and is by no means a comprehensive listing of all our wild attractions. After all, Our Best Side is Outside (#BestSideOutside), so a visit to any of these places feels like a celebration, not only of nature and wildlife, but of life in general. Read on to start planning your next wild adventure in Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach.

Into the Wild

Babcock/Webb Wildlife Management Area is among the last undeveloped expanses of wet pine flatwood in southwest Florida. This wild oasis is only 5 miles from Punta Gorda and offers all things outdoors: hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and amazing wildlife viewing.Prairie grasses waving in the wind at Babcock/Webb Wildlife Management Area State Preserve

Both Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center (CHEC) locations are open—and programming takes place—year-round. Activities include kayak excursions, guided walks, movie programs, focused lectures, and kids’ programs. The Caniff Welcome Center at CHEC at Alligator Creek in Punta Gorda is open from October through April and features live animals and a gift shop. The Cedar Point location in Englewood offers three hiking trails, a native butterfly garden, a visitor's center and much more.

For amazing bird watching and nature trails, head to Prairie Creek Preserve. Keep your eyes peeled for rare Florida scrub-jays as well as gopher tortoises and the eastern indigo snakes.

Sea Life

Find your bliss on. One of the best ways to truly experience Florida wildlife is from a paddleboard, kayak or canoe, or a snorkeling or scuba trip, and there are many great outfits that can take you to some of the most beautiful, tranquil spots in the area to do just that. Most offer lessons from certified instructors and private or public trips and tours.

Wherever you go, you will see birds, and if you're lucky, dolphins, manatees, and more!

Please keep in mind that it's against the law to touch animals in the wild. 

Sea Turtle Hatchling on the Beach in Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach

Sea Turtle Season is May 1 to October 1. Plan a beach visit (or two) during that time, and keep an eye out while keeping some important guidelines in mind:

  • Don’t “help” a turtle or a hatchling get to where you think they’re going: always observe from at least 30 feet away.

  • Don’t shine lights on the beach at night; lights can frighten away nesting females and confuse hatchlings trying to get to the water.

  • Don’t walk or cycle in nesting areas, and never disturb markers or protective screening over nests,

  • Fill in any holes you make—and any you see—and never leave anything on the beach.

Find more information about sea turtles here.

It's always the season to explore and celebrate the Florida wildlife in Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach, enjoy!