Punta Gorda – Things to Do in West Coast Florida
Hey travel friends! I am excited to share a new travel guide on a new location that you may not have thought about or heard about before. If you are looking for a new beach city to explore, have you ever thought of West Coast Florida? Many people know about Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Key West for fun vacation spots in sunny Florida. But Florida definitely has some nice gems and some of which are in West Coast Florida such as Punta Gorda. West Coast Florida has the reputation of being an area for retirees and the 50 and over crowd. Though it is true that many retirees live there, it does not mean that it is not a fun place to visit for the 30 and under crowd. I visited West Coast Florida for a 3 day weekend and absolutely enjoyed my time here. I visited Punta Gorda, Venice, Sarasota and Siesta Key, Florida. You can find my travel guide on the other areas here soon. This post is to discuss Punta Gorda Florida and why it is a cool city you should visit.
HOW TO GET TO PUNTA GORDA
Punta Gorda is located in the southwest side of Florida. There are a couple of different ways to arrive to here. Punta Gorda’s airport code is PGD but depending on your city, there may not be direct flights to this smaller airport. From Dallas, you can fly nonstop into Fort Myers airport which is a preferred way with about a 40-50 minute drive. Or you could fly into Tampa International which is how I flew which I would not recommend. That is an 1 hour and half drive. I flew into Tampa because thiswas a last minute trip idea and Spirit had the best airfare at the time.
There was traffic leaving and going back between Tampa and Punta Gorda. I found the airport is quite huge and you have to take a tram to get to the rental car area. So definitely factor in about 20 minutes to get from rental car center to your terminal. The car rental situation at Tampa airport with Executive Car Rental was a bad a experience. I do not recommend them at all. I should have read the Trip Advisor reviews before booking with Executive. The complaints on there, I experienced. Over an hour wait, poor customer service and they never returned my $250 deposit until I kept emailing them.
As I mentioned one thing that West Florida is known for is it being an ideal place for retirees and the over 50/60 crowd. When I arrived in Punta Gorda, there were many people of that age range that I saw – an older crowd. But there were some that were in the 30s we saw. But that should not discourage you from visiting Punta Gorda. The people I can across in Punta Gorda were the nicest and classiest people that I have ever met.
So often would they come up to me and compliment me on my clothes or ask my why I was taking photos by both men and women. The men that approached me were not being flirtatious or anything like that. They were sincerely giving a nice compliment or curious what I was doing.
The other thing are the bars and restaurants. They placed some old school music but alot of the regular pop music that we hear on the radio I even heard some of my favorite hip hop jams from one of the sunset tour boats. So don’t think that this place would not be for you if you are under 40.
WHERE TO STAY
As far as where to stay, I recommend staying near Fishermen’s Village. The area near there was more happenin with bars, restaurants and some shopping. This area had more of a nightlife if that is what you are looking for. There were places where you can hear them playing dance music. I personally stayed with a friend whose parents had a condo in Punta Gorda.
One hotel that is near Fishermen’s Village that I saw was Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside. I remember seeing that hotel online and it was located in a great spot. Based off reviews, a couple of other hotels that I recommend is SpringHill Suites by Marriott and Wyvern Hotel which all 3 are located on or near the popular street Retta Esplanade. Book now and Pay Later on hotels by clicking here!
One place that you must visit while visiting Punta Gorda is Fishermen’s Village! This is located on Charlotte Harbor. This colorful cute spot is filled with places to shop, eat and of course boats. There was one area that was so colorful that is kind of reminded me of this one part of the Bahamas where all the buildings were a pretty pastel color. There is free parking at Fishermen’s Village so that is always a plus.
When I visited it, it was at sunset and the sunset was quite amazing. The pretty fiery orange and red was so pretty. There are plenty of waterfront restaurants to admire the sunset with a cocktail and live music. Since you are on the Harbor, fresh seafood is readily available. The Captain’s Table restaurant has a beautiful view of the harbor and sunset and it is on the top floor of Harpoon Harry’s which is a morning rustic bar for casual dinner.
The Village Brewhouse is another waterfront restaurant where you can order craft beers. We ended up enjoying cocktails at The Village Fish Market & Restaurant. I highly recommend the Key Lime Pie cocktail. It is so good! We also have clam chowder and mussels that were pretty good as well!
DAY TRIPS FROM PUNTA GORDA
While visiting Punta Gorda, there are some side trips that you can do if you you are planning on being there a bit longer. Punta Gorda is near some beautiful offshore islands such as Boca Grande. This island is about a 48 minute drive from Punta Gorda. If you like a more remote style island, this is one that you would want to visit. Boca Grande has about a total of 25 beaches – 14 Gulf of Mexico beach locations and 11 bay side locations. Not all beach locations in Boca Grande have swimming access, but the views are stunning.
Sanibel Island is another popular island south of Boca Grande and southwest of Cape Coral and Fort Myers. This is one of the most popular islands in Southwest Florida with good reason. There are plenty of long sandy white beaches and light houses to admire. But what makes Sanibel Island unique are all the seashells. Going “shelling” ( what the locals call it) is a must when you visit Sanibel. You can barely walk without running into beautiful exotic seashells because they are everywhere . The beach areas near Blind Pass that connects Sanibel & Capitva Islands are good spots to go shelling.
So I hope you found this guide helpful and you plan your visit to Punta Gorda soon! I definitely enjoyed and plan on visiting again and taking more time to visit other islands. Stay tuned for my travel guide on the places I visited in Sarasota County!