Guest Post: Five Places to Chill Out In and Around Charlotte County, Fla.
Five Places to Chill Out In and Around Charlotte County, Fla.
Ah, the dog days of a Southwest Florida summer. It’s a time when we willingly give into Mother Nature and accept our summer hair will be frizzy. Thankfully, we have options when it comes to beating the heat. Although there are many more, here are five of my favorite spots to chill out in Charlotte County, whether it’s August or January.
Cupcakes with Attitude
Find the oddly-beautiful combination of beer, wine and cupcakes at Punta Gorda’s In Your Face Cupcakes. These edible works of art come in flavors full of attitude such as Bada Bing, Caramel Sutra and Rapid Rabbit. There’s even a gluten-free/vegan cupcake making it OK to indulge in the middle of the afternoon. Chill inside or savor your cupcakes and glass of wine, beer or bubblegum flavored Jones soda outside on the patio. (117 W. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda; Tel: 941-505-2253; www.inyourfacecupcakes.com)
Swirl, Sniff, Sip and Chill
Yes people, wine is made in Charlotte County and it’s pretty dang good. Best of all, it’s not that citrus, fruity wine that forces the noses of wine snobs to wrinkle – not that there’s anything wrong with citrus wine, if that’s your thing. Catania’s Winery crafts Sauvignon Blancs and Cabernet Sauvignons made with California grapes. Thursday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. visitors 21-years-old and older are invited to swirl, sniff and sip their smooth, delicious and award-winning wines in the comfort of air conditioning. Owners John and Margherita are incredibly nice and eager to share their wines. Bring your cash because plastic isn’t accepted you’ll want to bring home a bottle or two. (524 Paul Morris Drive, Suite B, Englewood; Tel: 941-475-7553; www.cataniaswinery.com)
Connect with Mother Nature One Paddle at a Time
Take a look around Charlotte County and it is pretty obvious water recreational activities dominate the outdoor scene. One of the coolest ways to chill out on the water is by paddling a kayak through a mangrove tunnel and see hundreds of black mangrove crabs scurry along the tree branches around and above. Out on the open water, I’ve seen sea turtles, dolphins and manatees. The area has a host of kayak operators and I can’t tell you which one is the best because they all bring their own unique twist to guided tours. For a list of kayak outfitters, visit www.CharlotteHarborTravel.com.
Hide from the Heat in the Village
Without a doubt, Fishermen’s Village is the area’s number one tourist attraction. Boutique shops offer one-of-a-kind garments, gifts and goodies. There are plenty of independently-owned eateries to either grab a quick bite or enjoy a relaxed waterfront meal. Located at the mouth of where the Peace River pours into Charlotte Harbor, outdoor outfitters operate from the Village offering boat tours, fishing charters and kayak rentals. Visitors can also pick up a free bicycle rental through TEAM Punta Gorda’s Yellow Bicycle Loaner Program.
One of the Village’s gems is the Military Heritage Museum which is Southwest Florida’s only military museum. It has more than 30,000 artifacts dating back to the Spanish-American War through the current war in Iraq in its collection. Exhibits are changed out frequently so every visit is a new experience. Volunteers staff the museum and most are veterans with intriguing stories of their time in the military. (1200 W Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda; www.fishville.com)
Soak in Serious Bragging Rights
There’s a true treasure in the area and many people don’t realize the significance of this geological wonder. It’s called Warm Mineral Springs located in North Port (the next town north of Port Charlotte) and history dates back to more than 9,000 years ago. Some believe this is the Fountain of Youth Spanish Conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon was seeking.
The Springs pumps out 9 million gallons of warm mineral water daily, is a perfect 87 degrees Fahrenheit and with 51minerals, it has the highest healing mineral content in the United States. Many visitors believe the water has healing powers for skin, aching joints and other ailments. I just go for the soaks but there’s also an organic café and day spa with a menu of services ranging from pedicures to full-body massages. (12200 San Servando Ave., North Port, FL 34287, Tel: 941-426-1692, www.warmmineralsprings.com)
Cupcakes to kayaks, soaking to shopping, and wining to dining, Charlotte County offers a little bit of everything to beat the heat and keep cool.
This is a guest by travel blogger Jennifer Huber who writes about the unexpected joys of solo traveling on her blog “Solo Travel Girl.” Jennifer may be traveling alone, but she is not lonely.