There’s no need to pay for an expensive mud treatment at the spa when there’s the great outdoors! One of the best therapy treatments is riding through the mud at Sandlot Off-Road Adventure Park, the 1,000-acre outdoor adventure park in east Charlotte County. Sandlot offers motocross tracks and tracks for ATVs, side-by-sides, and dirt bikes. There’s also a Jeep and truck off-road area and a fresh-water beach. 39450 Bermont Rd, Punta Gorda; 877.743.3767.
Find more weekend mudding fun at 74MX and Offroad with tracks, trails and mud ideal for motocross and ATVs/UTVs. There’s a sand track, clay flat track and national-style track. Bring your rod for freshwater fishing at their catch-and-release pond. 44800 Bermont Rd Punta Gorda FL 33982; 941.875.8944.
Experience Where Old Florida Meets Tomorrow
Experience real Florida with the Babcock Ranch Eco Tours 90-minute buggy tour through a working cattle ranch and Telegraph Swamp. Wildlife sightings vary and can include white-tailed deer, Osceola turkeys, wild boar, and of course, alligators. There’s also a good chance you’ll meet some of the resident cracker cattle. 39450 Bermont Rd, Punta Gorda; 844.743.3388.
Down the road is America’s first solar-powered town, Babcock Ranch. If you take the buggy tour at Babcock Ranch Eco Tours, you will pass a field with the town’s 343,000 solar panels. Babcock Ranch has 5 miles of hiking and biking, kayak rentals, and fresh water fishing in Lake Babcock. Dine at Table & Tap for fresh farm-to-table fare and enjoy a scoop (or two) of ice cream from Square Scoops for dessert. Begin your visit at the Discovery Center at Woodlea Hall in Founder’s Square. 42850 Crescent Loop, Babcock Ranch; 941.257.4936.
Learn About the Past
The Military Heritage Museum has a mission to “promote an understanding and respect for the rich military heritage of the United States and the sacrifices made by our country’s veterans, living and dead, emphasizing that freedom is not free.” Thousands of military artifacts dating back to the Spanish-American War and continuing up to current conflicts are on display, along with thousands of infographics and audiovisuals, but that's not all. There are also flight and ship simulators and virtual reality experiences and live performances. The museum is made possible by the more than 75 volunteers—many of whom are veterans—who give their time. 900 W. Marion Ave., Bldg. B, Punta Gorda; 941.575.9002.
See the Tender Care of Native Florida Wildlife
The Peace River Wildlife Center in Ponce de Leon Park provides tender care to native Florida wildlife that have either been orphaned or injured. Residents on display cannot be returned to the wild and have a comfortable home at the center educating the public about native wildlife. Residents include gopher tortoise, marsh rabbit, and a variety of birds like bald eagles, black vultures, ibis, and more, plus ambassadors Luna, a rare leucisitc eastern screech owl, and Bella, a great horned owl. Visit at 2:30 pm to see the pelicans being fed, it’s quite the sight! 3400 Ponce de Leon Pkwy., Punta Gorda; 941.637.3830.
Cruise the Harbor
Enjoy a scenic cruise of Charlotte Harbor. King Fisher Fleet out of Fishermen's Village offers a wide variety of cruises including nature and sunset. It's possible to spot a variety of birds and sometimes dolphins swim alongside the boat! 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Unit 16 A, Punta Gorda; 941.639.0969;
Experience Where Art Meets Mother Nature
A 50 million-year-old stone fossil of a palm frond taken from a mountain top in Wyoming serves as the inspiration for the logo and signature sculpture of Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens. More than a dozen large-scale sculptures adorn the landscape of the 27-acre property along with flowering trees that bloom throughout the year and countless amazing botanicals. Don't miss the butterfly pavilion and be sure to feed the Koi. 5827 Riverside Dr., Punta Gorda; 941.621.8299.
Live the Dream
Bert’s Black Widow Harley-Davidson® is one of the top HD dealerships in the country. In addition to sales of new and used Harley-Davidson motorcycles, apparel, parts, and accessories, they have rentals (must have a valid Florida motorcycle endorsement). Free beer is served daily and almost every weekend there’s something happening whether it’s a concert or festival. 2224 El Jobean Rd., Port Charlotte; 941.883.8000.
Once you've worked up an appetite at Bert's, take a few steps across the parking lot to The Twisted Fork. Enjoy the truly original decor, great food, and often, live music on Bert's Back Porch! (2208 El Jobean Rd., Port Charlotte; 941.235.3675.
Ride Green, Ride Free, Ride Like the Wind!
Punta Gorda features the first Florida free bike loan program. The city has been recognized as a “Florida Bike-Friendly Community” by the Florida Bicycle Association as a result of their volunteer organization called TEAM Punta Gorda offering a complimentary Bike Loaner Program. All that is required to enjoy a bicycle for an hour or a day is a credit card, driver’s license (copies made for collateral) and signature of waiver. Bicycles are offered on a space-available basis at various downtown locations: Laishley Park Municipal Marina, Bayfront Health’s Wellness Center, Fishermen’s Village Marina and Four Points by Sheraton.
Since Punta Gorda is a bicycle-friendly community, the Punta Gorda Pathways, which is an 18-mile loop trail connecting pedestrian and bike paths around the city, was established to allow the city’s bicyclists a more convenient way to get around. Bicycle routes are marked and range in length from 17 to 31 miles.
Take it Inside, Then Break Out
Are you good at solving puzzles? If so, an escape room experience should be in your future. This family-friendly activity is a creative indoor adventure where a group of people work together to solve a mystery in less than an hour. Charlotte County has two escape rooms, Escape Rooms Unlocked in Punta Gorda, at 401 E Olympia Ave, Punta Gorda; 941.295.6880; and Escape Port Charlotte, at 3191 Harbor Blvd., Unit C, Port Charlotte; 941.883.6296.
Don’t worry if you don’t know how or have not done it in years, bowling is a ball! There are a couple of options in Port Charlotte: Bowland Port Charlotte at 3192 N.E. Harbor Blvd., Port Charlotte; 941.625.4794 and Treasure Lanes at 1059 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte; 941.625.3930.
Whether you're buying a souvenir or treat for yourself or a gift for someone special, the unique gift shops, boutiques, and sweet shops at Fishermen's Village will provide plenty of inspiration. After all that work, enjoy lunch at one of their five (all waterfront) restaurants, and don't forget to save room for something sweet at one of the ice cream or sweet shops. 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda; 941.639.8721.
Browse Galleries and Chat with Artists
Charlotte County is home to hundreds of talented artists and any day is a great day to get into some of the galleries to browse creative artwork and speak with the artists. Some galleries include:
- Englewood Art Center: 350 S. McCall Rd., Englewood; 941.474.5548
- The Hatch Gallery: 14375 Pamber Ave., Port Charlotte; 941.764.8838
- The Visual Arts Center of Punta Gorda: 210 Maud St, Punta Gorda; 941.639.8810
- Sea Grape Gallery in Punta Gorda: 113 W. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda; 941.575.1718
- Artisan Atelier in downtown Punta Gorda: 117 Herald Court Centre, Punta Gorda, 941.637.8484
- The Charlotte Arts Gallery in the Port Charlotte Town Center Mall: 1441 Tamiami Tr., Port Charlotte; 941.624.4447. The closest mall entrance to the Charlotte Arts Gallery is on the U.S. 41 side of the mall between J.C. Penney and Dillards.
Express Your Shelly Self
Sheryl’s Shell Shop in Englewood is a place to go and find all things "shell," including sea-themed décor. Also, if you picked up a special seashell or shark tooth from the beach, you can create a piece of resin art with it! 1185 S McCall Rd, Englewood; 941.830.0901.
This is a short list of things to do away from the beach in Charlotte County. Before heading out to any of these businesses, check with them regarding hours of operation. Explore the rest of our site for events and lots more to do! For resources to determine beach and weather conditions, visit oursafetravel.com.