Charlotte County Florida
My last day in Charlotte County, Port Charlotte, Florida was spent wandering to look at State Parks, Beaches, and Food. I like checking out areas when visiting. Charlotte County was much bigger and more developed than I expected. Invited by the Charlotte Harbor Visitor and Convention Bureau Tourism Manager, Jennifer Huber to come for a Spring Training Game with the Tampa Bay Rays at the new Charlotte Sports Park (another post for spring training game)
Originally I was going to go back downtown Punta Gorda but instead decided to head toward the Beach. There were three State Parks listed on the Map: Charlotte Harbor Preserve, Don Pedro, and Stump Pass Beach. As I drove there was a lot of open land along the two lane highway, wilderness.
When I came to the Preserve and stopped, I realized it was a hiking and walking park. Huge. Now being back home I can search the Internet to find it is a beach meant to be accessed by kayak or canoe http://www.floridastateparks.org/charlotteharbor/default.cfm
Back on the road to Don Pedro. Again, a very remote and hiking entrance with a small parking lot. This park is accessible by private boat or ferry http://www.floridastateparks.org/donpedroisland/default.cfm Who knew when I started this quest these parks did not have easy access to water. Live and learn.
Back on the road again. Very quickly right in the middle of traffic. There were McMansions and Fast Food eateries. Finally Stump Pass Beach which had a waiting line of cars to park. This had potential http://www.floridastateparks.org/stumppass/default.cfm Only $3 to park but I needed to find a bathroom immediately. I went back up the road to where I thought I had seen a McDonald’s. It disappeared. Turned around Almost hit a car dead stopped in front of me. Whew! That shook up my nerves.
Ok back along the Beach road looking for somewhere to eat or stop for relief. Oh Englewood Beach. This looks promising. Everyone is riding the parking lot looking for a place to park. This could take awhile.
Back on the road and it is full of McMansions and no eateries or beaches. Turn around again. Back toward Englewood Beach. I saw a restaurant across the Street. Parking lot is empty but for a few cars. This is very promising.
The Gulf View Grill with murals on the Parking area walls and an elevator to a second floor and a view of the Beach. Murals in Downtown Punta Gorda on many buildings. Some buildings were destroyed by hurricanes and the murals are being recreated again. Nice to see the arts celebrated by Charlotte County peoples. Lovely.
Lovely inside too. Huge Aquarium. Tables near the windows. Tables outside. Bar stools with a view through the huge windows. Right across the street from Englewood Beach (Charlotte County Beach) with an outside deck looking toward the Beach.
Missed having eggs for breakfast.
Great Omelet stuffed with crab meat and asparagus on top with Hollandaise sauce and fruit. Fried potatoes not french fries make this a great meal. This meal was so tasty and a good serving size. This place is a must stop when at Englewood Beach area. Great way to relax. Enjoy the beach from air conditioning.
My nerves finally were calm after the near accident. Mellowed.
The Bartender told me further down the road were more beaches for Free in the next two counties and those were where he went. After lunch I drove further, stopped at the third one. Interesting beaches with lots of people. Was surprised to see Thong bathing suit, OMG
The facilities back at Englewood Beach looked far superior which explained the fee and how they paid for those nicer facilities.
Of the four beach areas I saw, the Stump Pass Beach State Park was the best for $3 for the entire day. Englewood Beach would have been my second choice even though they charge by the hour. A couple hours is all you really want in the sun.
- Stump Pass Beach State Park http://www.floridastateparks.org/stumppass/default.cfm
- Don Pedro Island State Park http://www.floridastateparks.org/donpedroisland/default.cfm
- Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park http://www.floridastateparks.org/charlotteharbor/default.cfm
- Gulf View Grill http://thegulfviewgrill.com/
- Charlotte Harbor and Gulf Islands http://www.charlotteharbortravel.com/
- Englewood Chamber of Commerce http://www.englewoodchamber.com/
Eileen Ludwig, travel writer of Freelance Tourist brings to the world insights about places to travel, discounts, Staycations, Restaurant Reviews, movie reviews, and fascinating tibits. She is owner of three other sites: Photography, Web Design School, and Social Media School Each are in different stages of development and evolution.