Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands, Fla. (Sept. 26, 2013) – Now that classes have resumed and post-Labor Day vacation prices have dropped, it’s time for empty-nesters to hit the road. However, for those whose household includes four-legged family members, it’s important to find vacation venues that are pet-friendly.

In the laid back southwest Florida destination of Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands, they welcome visitors and their furry friends. Among the most popular tourist venues in the community of Punta Gorda is the pet friendly Fishermen’s Village, a waterfront mall, resort and marina.

Salty Paws, a Village retail shop, is one of the original gift stores for dog and cat lovers and the purr-fect souvenir store for those who consider their beloved furry friends an important part of their family. Here they host a “Muttini Mingle” the first Thursday of each month in the center court. It is a social hour for people and their pets. Salty Paws also hosts Barktoberfest in October each year, which is an adorable pet (and people) costume contest and an Easter Bone Hunt right before Easter to conduct, you guessed it, a hunt for Easter Bones in the center court. Fishermen’s Village coordinates Oktoberfest each year; a wiener dog derby race is a huge part of this event, which typically draws 40 or more entries.

Also at Fishermen’s Village, Harpoon Harry’s has a section on the side of their restaurant with a wonderful view of Charlotte Harbor specifically for doggy dining! While The Village Fish Market and The Village Oyster Bar both allow pets on leashes with their owners in their outside seating area. People and pets can dine overlooking Charlotte Harbor while enjoying their drinks/dinner and listen to great live entertainment offered every Friday/Saturday evening on Center Stage at the Village.

Beyond Fishermen's Village, canines are welcome at many restaurants throughout the county that have outside seating. Also located in Punta Gorda is Laishley Crab House that welcomes pets to accompany their owners dining on their outside deck.

And when the day is done and you’re dog tired, know that Port Charlotte’s Days Inn welcomes pets on leashes as does Englewood’s wannaB Inn. In certain Villas, pets under 20 pounds are welcome at Palm Island Resort, as well as in many of the vacation rental homes there, with prior approval from the homeowner. Expect a non-refundable pet-cleaning fee. Dogs on leashes will enjoy discovering the resort property’s meandering trails.

Below is a list of dog parks and public spaces that welcome Fido. Generally speaking, there is a lot of open space in Charlotte County. Good news, because it makes walking the dog a pleasure.

The Hounds of Henry Street (Punta Gorda) dog park is located at Henry and Shreve Streets in Punta Gorda, next to the City of Punta Gorda's Public Works building. The park offers a fenced area for large dogs, and a small dog and puppy fenced park area. Water is available.

Edgewater Dog Park is located at 22410 Bayshore Road in Port Charlotte. This park has more than an acre of fenced-in land where your dog can roam unleashed. They have a picnic area with picnic tables, a playground, restrooms, trash cans, and bag stations. Dog owners must be in the fenced area with their pet at all times and must have their leash handy.

Pets on a leash are more than welcome to take their owners for a walk at the following parks and nature preserves: Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center/Punta Gorda, Gasparilla Island State Park/Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park/Punta Gorda and Laishley Park/Punta Gorda.

More details and photos are available, but for now, as Salty Paws likes to say “Happy Wags to you.”

About Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands
Located halfway between Tampa and Naples on the Southwest Florida Gulf coast, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands is a charming collection of nine coastal communities surrounding the state’s second largest harbor. Florida’s premier year-round eco-tourism destination, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands offers a pristine unspoiled beauty that has served as the backdrop for seven major feature films as well as countless memorable vacations. A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands has been named to SAIL magazine’s “10 Greatest Places to Sail in the United States,” ranked by Golf Digest as “Third Best Place to Live and Play Golf in America,” and rated by MONEY magazine as one of the “Best Places to Live in the South.” The city of Punta Gorda was named in one of “Top Ten Places to Retire Healthy” by U.S. News & World Report. Englewood was named as #2 of the Top Ten emerging travel destinations in the U.S. by TripAdvisor.com.

For information about area events, activities and attractions, contact the Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau, 18500 Murdock Circle, Suite B104, Port Charlotte, FL 33948; 941-743-1900, or call toll free at 1-800-652-6090 for a free Visitor’s Guide; or visit the Web site at www.CharlotteHarborTravel.com.

CONTACTS:

Jennifer Huber
Tourism Public Relations Manager
Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau
(941) 743-1900
Jennifer.Huber@CharlotteFL.com

Mary Jane Kolassa / Cindy Dobyns
Above Water Public Relations & Marketing
(407) 463-0040 / (239) 596-9149
MJKolassa@AboveWater.com / CDobyns@AboveWater.com

Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau
18500 Murdock Circle, Suite B104, Port Charlotte, FL 33948
941-743-1900, FAX: 941-764-4932
www.CharlotteHarborTravel.com