Often overshadowed by the beach vacation giants around it, Punta Gorda defines an entirely unique style of Florida vacation with its rich history and natural heritage.
Downtown Punta Gorda is a living museum that has undergone a striking renaissance since a severe hurricane blow in 2004. Today new housing and commercial developments and a riverfront park complement the town’s circa 1920 architecture.
In the African-American community of Trabue Woods, the Blanchard House Museum honors contributions its bygone residents made to the city. The old train depot freezes a time when restrooms were labeled “White” and “Coloreds.”
Another historic dwelling, the A.C. Freeman House is an example of the beautiful homes that once lined the riverfront during Punta Gorda’s heyday. Many still do along lovely Retta Esplanade.
South of the downtown area, classic car buffs won’t want to miss Rick Treworgy’s Muscle Car City.
For art-lovers, the Visual Arts Center hosts everything from classes to a calendar of special exhibits and other events.
With so much of its land preserved by parks, Punta Gorda makes a perfect eco tourism destination. Start out at Babcock Wilderness Adventures with a swamp buggy tour of a cypress swamp and working cattle ranch.
A number of environmental centers give visitors a place to hike, spot birds and other wildlife, and participate in family and other interpretive programs.
So many waterfronts, so little time: On a charter or boat rental from one of Punta Gorda’s marinas, you can be fishing or sightseeing the Peace River, Charlotte Harbor, or the Gulf of Mexico in minutes.
But if your idea of the great outdoors involves a club and tiny, hard ball, you’re in luck. The Punta Gorda area boasts a number of affordable golf courses challenging enough for any level of player.
Punta Gorda claims two very different shopping scenes, where you can happily shop ‘til you dine. Downtown Punta Gorda has a modern flair with art galleries, home décor boutiques, and gourmet shops.
Fishermen’s Village exudes the salty air of a fish packinghouse, which it once was. Today, boutiques selling resort wear, art, nautical gifts, and sea-themed jewelry fit the location.