Whether wintering in Florida for a week or the entire winter season, there’s always something interesting and fun to do in Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands that are unique to the destination. Following are just a few activities to enjoy this winter. And with a plethora of long-term vacation rentals available along the county’s Gulf Coast, it’s the ideal location to escape from the wintertime blues while enjoying all the comforts of a well-appointed home.

  • Pedal Away to keep fit and enjoy up close views of nature’s abundance. For those who like to go at their own pace, enjoy a free leisurely pedal along the Peace River in historic downtown Punta Gorda courtesy of the first Florida free bike loan program. The city was recognized in 2010 as a “Florida Bike-Friendly Community” by the Florida Bicycle Association. A volunteer organization called TEAM Punta Gorda ( offers a complimentary Yellow Bike Loaner Program. All that is required to enjoy a bicycle for an hour or a day is a credit card, driver’s license and signature of waiver. Bicycles are offered on a space-available basis at various downtown locations. As a way to get to know other winter visitors, Acme Bicycle offers two-hour guided tours through the Babcock/Webb Wildlife Management Area and the tour includes the mountain bicycle and helmet. Those who have their own mountain bikes can join Phoenix Rising Kayak Tours on one of two guided tours through Charlotte Harbor’s wilderness. (


  • Cruise the Muscle Cars: Rick Treworgy's Muscle Car City Museum (Punta Gorda) displays an unparalleled collection of authentic classic cars, trucks and automotive memorabilia and accessories, including vintage gas pumps and signs. More than 200 automobiles date back to the 1920s and include an impressive lineup of 57 Chevys and Corvettes, Pontiac GTOs, Corvettes, Oldsmobile Cutlass 442s, Chevelles, Camaros and high-horsepower Impalas. The diner serves up the treats we used to order from the car-hop at a drive-in. Check for their schedule of special winter season weekly car shows


  • Cruising and Fishing. Charlotte Harbor is widely recognized as the Tarpon Capital of the World, but there lots more for anglers, sailors and cruisers to enjoy too. Prefer to troll with an experienced fishing guide? There are plenty to of outfitters to choose from such as Captain Ralph Allen,, Captain Dave Jackson,, and Captain Van Hubbard/Let's Go Fishin' Inc. Kingfisher fleet also offers sunset and other day cruises as does Smoke &, a 47 ft. luxury catamaran offering half, full and multi-day cruises.


  • Hit a Birdie:Named among the “best places in America to live and play golf” by Golf Digest, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands offers year-round play on more than 20 courses. Spectacular landscapes provide the backdrop on courses that include two ranked 4½ stars by Golf Digest. The Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau regularly posts special golf vacation packages at


  • Our Feathered Friends are not the only ones flocking to Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands – the people who love to observe them are discovering the expansive outdoor offerings and the amazing array of avian residents of this section of Southwest Florida. Located along the Florida Gulf Coast portion of the North American Migratory Flyway with seven sites listed on the Great Florida Birding Trail (, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands offers abundant migratory and year-round birding. Traipse along deserted beaches, traverse walking and driving trails, paddle or cruise along mangrove-shaded rivers, or join in organized outings led by the local chapter of the Audubon Society. Charlotte County’s wetlands, flatwoods, fresh and saltwater marshes, and estuary system are home to nearly 120 species of birds. Birders can download their own list at (


  • Honor at the Military Heritage Museum abounds where more than 30,000 military artifacts dating from the Spanish-American War to the current conflict in Iraq are on display, and which serves as a noble testament to the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have defended our freedoms through military service. Admission is free. Located within Fishermen’s Village at 1200 West Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda. Mon-Sat 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun noon-5 p.m.


  • Punta Gorda New Year’s Weekend Arts and Craft Festival, Jan 4 5 featuring jewelry, glass, pottery, baskets, painting, wood working, sculptures and more. Tickets $3 at the door. Charlotte County Event and Conference Center 75 Taylor Street, Punta Gorda.


  • 5th Annual Punta Gorda Banjo Bash Feb 14 15 featuring performances of Dixieland, Jazz and Bluegrass. $12 general admission; $15 reserved seating. Charlotte County Event and Conference Center 75 Taylor Street, Punta Gorda.


  • 9th Annual Wine & Jazz Festival on the banks of the scenic Peace River at Laishley Park, Punta Gorda. Featuring Mindi Abair, Richard Elliott, Norman Brown and Gerald Albright. The festival will kick off on Thursday February 20, 2014 during a city Gallery Walk, followed by a VIP reception on Friday to meet the artists, with the main event on Saturday. The SundayJazz brunch will take place at the Isles Yacht Club on February 23rd. CALL 941-639-3720. Tickets: $90-$100 to order visit:


Whether you’re a retired couple, group of friends, family with small children or a multi-generational group, you’ll find the lodging options in Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands offer something for every taste and budget. Besides a selection of well-recognized brand hotels such as the Sheraton Four Points and the Days Inn, there are many inns, motels, vacation rental properties and campgrounds to choose from, and all can be found in the destination’s “Where to Stay” website section

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

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

CONTACT: Jennifer Huber
Tourism Public Relations Manager
Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau
(941) 743-1900

Mary Jane Kolassa / Cindy Dobyns
Above Water Public Relations & Marketing
(407) 463-0040 / (239) 596-9149

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