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 a guided cruise.
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 & also hosts musical evenings.
Downtown Punta Gorda has been renovated & now has an interesting mix of shops, galleries and cafes. Towards the end of the Gilchrist Park is Fisherman’s Village where 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 now 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.
Across the bay is Port Charlotte which is a modern city and is the newest. It is a family orientated community with a beach park, bordering the harbour.
Here the visitor will find a small beach, 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, the visitor traverses small communities & an abundance of golf courses until they 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 local papers for dates and times of events held here on a regular basis.
I do not think the visitor 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.