CHARLOTTE HARBOR AND THE GULF ISLANDS, FLA (Nov. 6, 2013) -- Charlotte Harbor and its Gulf Islands are a sought after haven in large part for their laid-back and friendly atmosphere. It’s where visitors from up north and those in nearby drive markets head to in order to unplug and recharge their batteries. For those who are familiar with this area, there are new attractions and a lively calendar of wide-ranging activities to enjoy and break up the days of endless beachside lounging. Here’s just a sampling. For complete details visit www.CharlotteHarborTravel.com

NEW AND MOST NOTABLE

The Blanchard House Museum of African American History and Culture’s newest exhibit focuses on one of the most overlooked chapters of the Civil War: the story of African American espionage supplied by runaways serving a crucial role in the Union’s victory. Free admission. blanchardhousemuseum.blogspot.com. Ph: 941-575-7518. 406 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Punta Gorda.

One of the more exciting additions at Peace River Wildlife Center is their white screech owl. This little guy is not an albino, but is leucistic and named Luna. (An albino has a lack of melanin, the pigment that appears as black/brown color. Leucistic individuals lack the cells that make all pigment throughout their bodies, because they are all derived from a single source in embryonic development, and hence have no color at all.) Luna is the Center’s new education ambassador, a permanent resident who cannot released back into the wild because he does not have camouflaging capabilities to survive in a natural habitat, but can be educational and entertaining. Open 11a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week. www.peaceriverwildlifecenter.com.
Ph: 941-637-3830. 3400 Ponce de Leon Pkwy, Punta Gorda.

Mid-February Allegiant Air will be introducing new nonstop flights to Punta Gorda from Cincinnati, OH, Plattsburgh, NY, Rockford, IL and Toledo, OH with some flights stating as low as $89.99. www.AllegiantAir.com. All other Allegiant air feeder markets resume seasonal service in November. These include: Allentown, PA, Cedar Rapids, IA, Des Moines, IA, Long Island, NY, Niagara Falls/Buffalo, NY, Moline/Quad Cities, IL, Peoria, IL, South Bend, IN, Springfield, IL, Springfield, MO and Youngstown, OH.

Just opening in December 2013, Fat Point microbrewery, at 611 Charlotte St. in Punta Gorda is initially offering two craft beers in cans and on tap with plans by partners Bill Frazer and Duncan Scarry to expand their offerings.

The very popular Harpoon Harry’s in Fishermen’s Village completed an expansive renovation of its waterfront dining establishment in October and will offer lots of old favorites and new amenities too including a custom built DJ booth, 100” video projection wall, new stage next to the dance floor, plush sectional furniture, real-time video gaming for sports fans, plus ten additional HD flat-screen TVs situated around the three bars. All the fun is at 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda. Ph: 941-637-1177, www.harpoonharrys.com


JANUARY 2014

1/16-19 – Check out the latest watercraft at the Charlotte County Boat Show across from the Charlotte Sports Park, SR 776, Charlotte County Fairgrounds. Ph: 941-629-4252 for tickets. fortmyersboatshow.com

1/11-12 – The 17th Annual Sullivan Street Craft Fair, downtown Punta Gorda has arts, crafts, food and fun for all.


1/25 – The 6th Annual Hands Across the Harbor, Bayshore Live Oak Park, 8:00 a.m. 8K competitive run, 5K fun walk, 10 or 20 mile bike ride, and new in 2014—8K longboard race. Registration and more info at www.handsacrosstheharbor.com.

FEBRUARY 2014


2/3-6 – 2014 Charlotte Harbor Regatta featuring one-design fleet races during this fun, affordable regatta. Ph: 941-206-1133. www.charlotteharborregatta.com

2/4 – Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras Fun at Fishermen’s Village with live Dixieland Jazz 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and Mardi Gras drink and food specials by the Village restaurants. 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda. Ph: 941-639-8721. www.fishville.com

2/14-16 – The 5th Annual Punta Gorda Banjo Bash at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center, 75 Taylor Street, Punta Gorda. For show times, headliners and tickets Ph: 941-833-5444. www.gulfcoastbanjosociety.com/

2/22 – The 9th Annual Punta Gorda Wine & Jazz Festival in Laishley Park, Punta Gorda is a celebration of food, drink and entertainment in one of the most picturesque waterfront settings in Southwest Florida. Enjoy the sounds of jazz and tastes of Punta Gorda while sitting on the bank of the Peace River. Scheduled to perform are Mindi Abair, Richard Elliot, Norman Brown and Gerald Albright. . Ph: 941-639-3720. www.puntagordachamber.com

2/14-3/31 – The Snowbird Baseball Classic 2014 Tournament in Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda locations features Div. I and III college teams from across the country. Root for your Alma Mater. Schedules Ph: 941-743-1900. www.snowbirdbaseball.info

2/22-3/30 – Take me out to the ballpark and enjoy Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training at the Charlotte County Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte. For full schedule and tickets Ph: 888-Fan-Rays. raysbaseball.com/springtraining

MARCH 2014

3/15-16 – Peace River National Arts Festival is the county’s premier outdoor juried fine arts show in Laishley Park, Punta Gorda from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Donation of $3 Ph: 941-639-8810.

3/16 and beyond- Palm Island Resort Concert Series: begins Sunday Mar. 16 with Trop-Rock performer Jim Morris 2:00-5:00 p.m. Followed by Deb and the Dynamics 3/30, a Jazz Band 4/6 and Country Band 4/27. Palm Island is accessible only by water taxi, car ferry or your own boat.www.palmisland.com

3/29-30 – The 34th Florida International Air Show is returning to the Punta Gorda Airport, 28000 Airport Blvd., Punta Gorda. Enjoy aerial stunts, high performance jets and acrobatic pilots performed in the blue Florida sky. For ticket prices: www.floridaairshow.com


On-going Events:

Every Saturday there’s the Punta Gorda Downtown Farmers Market on Taylor Road. Ph: 941-391-4856. www.puntagordafarmersmarket.com

Every Sunday there’s the Punta Gorda History Park Farmer’s Market at 501 Shreve Street, Punta Gorda. Ph: 941-380-6814. www.puntagordahistory.com

Most Fridays from November to May, either a land and sea combo, featuring an hour trolley tour of Punta Gorda, with no disembarkation, followed by a one hour and a half hour cruise on Charlotte Harbor or a simple one hour trolley tour (no boat). Ph: 941-639-3720. http://puntagordachamber.com/index.php?subcat=4

The third Thursday participate in the Downtown Punta Gorda Gallery Walk through the historic district of Punta Gorda. Ph: 941-639-3720.

The third Saturday of every month check out the Muscle Car City Monthly Car Show of antique and classic cars, memorabilia and more. 3811 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda. Ph: 941-575-5959. www.musclecarcity.net

Come experience the estuary — wade with dip nets to find fish, shrimp, crabs and more with an educator from the Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center (CHEC). Ponce de Leon Park, 3400 West Marion Avenue, Punta Gorda. To register, call (941) 575-5435.
www.checflorida.org


Special seasonal lodging packages and offers make it easy to stay over and enjoy multiple festivities. For complete details visit www.CharlotteHarborTravel.com.

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 other 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