CHARLOTTE HARBOR AND THE GULF ISLANDS, FLA (March. 29, 2013) -- Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands are absolutely spectacular in spring. The weather is balmy, the gulf waters refreshing and the atmosphere is laid-back and friendly. Besides the beach, estuaries, historic and artistic haunts, it also has a lively calendar of wide-ranging activities to enjoy and break up the days of endless beachside lounging and shelling. Here’s just a sampling. For complete details please visit www.CharlotteHarborTravel.com

APRIL

Nina & Pinta Replica Ships
Friday, Mar. 29 – Wednesday, Apr. 3, 2013
Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda, 941-639-8721

Nina and Pinta Replica Ships will be docked at Fishermen’s Village (1200 W. Retta Esplanade), until their departure early morning Thursday April 4th. Both ships tour together as a new and enhanced ‘sailing museum’ for the purpose of educating the public and school children on the ‘caravel’, a Portuguese ship used by Columbus and many early explorers to discover the world. The ‘Nina’ was built completely by hand and without the use of power tools. Archaeology magazine called the ship “the most historically correct Columbus replica ever built.” The “Pinta” was recently built in Brazil to accompany the Nina on all of her travels. She is a larger version of the archetypal caravel. Historians consider the caravel the Space Shuttle of the fifteenth century. The general public is invited to visit the ships for a walk-aboard, self-guided tour. No reservations necessary. Teachers or organizations wishing to schedule a 30 minute guided tour with a crew member should call -787-672-2152 or email columfnd@surfbvi.com. Minimum of 15. $5.00 per person. No Maximum. Visit www.thenina.com


Hook Kids on Fishing
Saturday, Apr. 6, 2013
Fishermen's Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda, Contact King Fisher Fleet, to pre-register 941-639-2628

This is a Hook Kids on Fishing program for youth 6 to 16 who are welcome along with their parents. The first 80 registered kids get a free rod and reel. Bring your smiles, positive attitudes and patience along with you! Registration is mandatory; clinic starts at 10:00 am sharp. Pre-registration required. Contact King Fisher fleet, 941-639-2628. There will be clinics on casting, conservation, fishing safety, knot tying, catch and release tactics along with fishing with professional guides and knowledgeable anglers. Volunteers are needed and sponsorships are available by calling Anglers for Conservation at 321-750-3374.

Pedal and Play in Paradise
Saturday, Apr. 6, 2013
100 Nesbit Street, Laishley Marina Pavilions , Punta Gorda, 941-637-TEAM (8326)

Choose from five exciting bicycle rides! Metric Century 62-mile Tour; 30-Mile Tour; 15-Mile Tour; 10-Mile Mystery Tour; City Manager’s/History Tour, 1 pm For your safety, the 62, 30, and 15-mile rides will not be mass start events. Event includes: Welcome breakfast and full lunch; rest stops for 62, 30 & 15 mile rides; Free T-shirt to all pre-registrations received on or before March 24, 2013. Morning riders may also go on the City Manager's Tour in the afternoon. All rides benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and TEAM Punta Gorda’s bicycle-friendly community initiatives. Event will take place rain or shine. Helmets required.

3rd Annual Dragon Boat Racing Event
Saturday, Apr. 13, 2013
150 Laishley Ct., Laishley Park, Punta Gorda, 941- 639-3720

Welcome to Punta Gorda's 3rd Annual Dragon Boat Racing Event sponsored by the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce and Charlotte Harbor Paddlers. Dragon boating is a co-ed team sport. Twenty people paddle the 40-foot-long dragon boat 400 meters (just less than a quarter mile) in about two and a half minutes, plus one person is the steerer and another person is a drummer for a total of 22 people in a boat. About 650 Dragon Boat paddlers from across Florida are expected to participate.

Punta Gorda Block Party
Saturday, Apr. 20, 2013
Vacant lot on West Marion Avenue and Harborside Drive at the north end of Taylor Street
Punta Gorda, FL

Annual day-long street and music festival headlined by '70's rock icon - Edgar Winter.
This year's party also will showcase several regional bands, including Democracy, Cover Art, American Made, and the BoogieMen. Hours: 2 pm - 10 pm http://www.puntagordablockparty.info/

MAY

Charlotte HarborFest
Saturday, May 4 – Sunday, May 5, 2013
150 Laishley Ct., Laishley Park, Punta Gorda

A celebration of the heritage, and all things wonderful about Charlotte Harbor. The two days of family fun include an Old Florida seafood fest, the JR Flatsmaster's Kids Fishing Tournament, a Cardboard Boat Race, a Kayak Fishing Tournament, a Fishing & Boat Show with Seminars, plus Live Music, vendors & more.

Professional Tarpon Tournament Series
Beginning May 18, for five weeks featuring five, 3-hour Sunday tournaments
Tarpon Anglers Club, 1189 Tamiami Trail Port Charlotte, 347-674-PTTS

Held in Boca Grande Pass during May and June, the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series/ PTTS (five 3-hour Sunday Tournaments) and the Women’s Professional Tarpon Tournament Series/WPTTS (held Saturday May 18 only) are filmed and broadcasted worldwide as a 13-week television series. This catch and release style tournament series is conducted in a sporting manner with an emphasis on promoting conservation and the sport of Tarpon fishing in Boca Grande. This is the largest and richest live-release tarpon tournament in the world with over $500,000 in cash and prizes awarded. To reserve a charter for your team of 3 anglers with captain, visit: http://www.pttstv.com/Tarpon_Charters_s/93.htm

9th Annual Hibiscus Festival
Friday, May 17 – Sunday, May 19, 2013
Punta Gorda, Gilchrist Park, 941-639-3335

The Punta Gorda Hibiscus Festival benefiting the Charlotte Historical Society will feature a plethora of hibiscus plants, landscaping, yard art, and vendors. Local musicians will be entertaining. The Secret Garden Tours via the Green Hibiscus Trolley includes five homes in the historic district of Punta Gorda who open their grounds to the Festival for self guided tours. There will be food, music and Little Miss Hibiscus will receive her crown.

World's Richest Tarpon Tournament and Festival
Tournament, Friday/Saturday May 23-24; Festival May 24/25
Boca Grande, 941-964-0568

Anglers will enter the two-day tournament on May 23rd & 24th with up to 4 anglers per team and will compete for thousands in cash and prizes. Competitors will follow catch and release procedures designed for quick releases and the post-release welfare of all tarpon. Winners will be determined by the highest total number of tarpon successfully released, each of which are officially recorded when the Captain or mate touches the leader and immediately releases the tarpon. While tournament action heats up in Boca Grande Pass and the Gulf of Mexico, there will be plenty of family-friendly fun and excitement back on shore at the festival host location in beautiful Downtown Boca Grande May 24th & 25th. Event sponsors will be on hand to exhibit their products and conduct demonstrations and promotions, along with a wide variety of spectacular art vendors, live music performances, unique attractions like the Mote Mobile Aquarium, entertaining and educational marine-centric lectures by some of today's leading fishery experts and scientists, and of course, lots of delicious food and cold beverages. www.worldsrichesttarpon.com


JUNE

Don’t Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell
Wednesday, Jun. 12 – Sunday, Jun. 30, 2013
96 West Dearborn St., Lemon Bay Playhouse, Englewood, 941-475-6756

DON’T CRY FOR ME, MARGARET MITCHELL by Duke Ernsberger & Virginia Cate. Legendary Hollywood producer David O. Selznick is sequestered in his office for a solid week with a screenwriter and a director, as the three do a rewrite of the script for “Gone with the Wind.”


ON GOING EVENTS

Peace River Audubon Society Walk-Abouts
Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 – Tuesday, May. 7, 2013
1st Tuesday of the Month
Port Charlotte, 941-613-6753

Call for Locations or visit www.peaceriveraudubon.org/field_tripsWalk-abouts are on the first Tuesday of the month (October-May), are designed to be more local, and are typically a low impact morning walk. Walk-Abouts begin at 8:00 a.m. at the designated park entrance, unless otherwise noted.

Cedar Point wading trip
Tuesday, Jan. 1 – Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013
Englewood, 941-475-0769
2300 Placida Rd, Englewood, Cedar Point Environmental Park

Guided Hike - Alligator Creek Preserve
Tuesday, Jan. 1 – Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013
Punta Gorda, (941) 575-5435
10941 Burnt Store Road, Punta Gorda, CHEC's Alligator Creek Preserve

Gilchrist Park Waterfront Music Jam Session
Thursdays
Punta Gorda, 941-661-5622
400 W. Retta Esplanade, Gilchrist Park

Catania’s Winery - Free Wine Tasting
Thursdays– Saturdays
Englewood, 941-475-7553
#524 Paul Morris Drive, Englewood

Cruizin on Dearborn St
Saturday, Jan. 5 – Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013
Englewood, 941-474-5511
West Dearborn Street

History Park Farmers Market
Sunday, Jan. 6 – Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013 (Every Sunday)
501 Shreve Street, between Virginia Ave. and Henry St., Punta Gorda, 941-380-6814


Open every Sunday from 8am to 1pm. The History Park Farmer's Market is operated by the Punta Gorda Historical Society and helps to maintain this beautiful Park and the Historic Buildings located there. Visitors can sample and purchase a wide variety of items from our vendors, while taking a step back in time and discovering some of our local History

Downtown Punta Gorda Gallery Walk
Thursday, Jan. 17 – Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013
Third Thursday
Punta Gorda, 941-639-3720
Punta Gorda Historic District

Demonstrations-Shopping & Food! What better way to spend an evening out with old friends while you take the time to make new ones.

Muscle Car City's Monthly Car Show
Saturday, Jan. 19 – Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013
3rd Saturday of the month
Punta Gorda, 941-575-5959
3811 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda

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