Nestled on the tranquil waters of Charlotte Harbor is the picturesque coastal haven, Punta Gorda. Recently celebrating it’s 125th anniversary, the city has a long history tracing back to the earlier Spanish settlers who named the community “Fat Point”, the Spanish translation of Punta Gorda. Situated on the south side of the Peace River and the top of Charlotte Harbor Estuary, visitors and residents alike are drawn to the laid back atmosphere and scenic surroundings of the city’s waterways.
Waterfront property is so plentiful here that 70% of the city’s 17,000 residents live on the water. The abundance of well priced waterfront real estate makes it especially attractive to homebuyers. Waterfront canal homes start in the mid 200’s, a fraction of the price you will pay only a few miles north or south.
The beautiful parks and state-of-the-art public buildings that are the hallmark of the city today are actually the result of Hurricane Charley. The massive storm ripped through the city in August 2004 destroying nearly everything in its path, devastating the sleepy fishing village. Since then, the city has undergone an impressive renaissance. Residents and officials banded together and embarked on a journey to rebuild their charming community. Today, their dreams of modern public facilities, waterfront shopping and parks are a reality. Punta Gorda has emerged as a proud, vibrant community for families and retirees as well as a popular travel destination. The Punta Gorda Airport reports record activity this year. John Wright, president of the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce, calls the city, “Key West on the mainland.”
Ranked the second safest city in the state of Florida, Punta Gorda is also one of the only walkable cities on the Gulf Coast. Recently, the city completed the Punta Gorda Pathways (PGP), a system of approximately 18 miles of bicycle, pedestrian and pet-friendly trails and paths connecting neighborhoods, parks and commercial areas. The pathways encircle the city including Harborwalk, Laishley Park and marina, the Punta Gorda Fishing Pier, Linear Park, and Fisherman’s Village. MURT, the US 41 Multi-Use Recreational Trail, provides access to areas south of the Punta Gorda’s historic core such as Punta Gorda Library, the Muscle Car City Museum and the History Park.
The city’s Spanish heritage is honored throughout the town with more than 20 wall murals painted on historic buildings that depict the area pre-and-post Hurricane Charley. In honor of Florida’s first Spanish explorer, Ponce De Leon, who it is believed discovered the area in 1513; a Ponce de Leon monument is located downtown in Gilchrist Park, an 11-acre park ideal for walking, jogging and biking that runs along Charlotte Harbor. One of the park’s main draws is a gazebo that over the years has become a popular wedding venue.
Visitors to this ecological gem won’t be daunted by an obscured skyline, for not a single building stands more than five stories high, a code strictly enforced after Hurricane Charley as part of the city’s new master plan.
This past year many new residences have been constructed as well. Mediterranean and old Florida style tin-roofed homes adorned with massive royal palms now line the streets. The Punta Gorda historic district and nearby neighborhoods are designated with red cobblestone pavers giving the area a special nostalgic charm.
With nearly 50 independently owned and operated restaurants, from barbecue to fine dining, Punta Gorda has become a culinary destination. For entertainment, the cultural calendar is filled with an abundance of festivals and special events, from the chamber’s annual Wine and Jazz Festival and the Dragon Boat Festival to various art festivals.
A popular spot for residents and travelers alike, Fisherman’s Village is beautifully sited on the waterfront on the Maud Street City Docks. A diverse group of restaurants and many locally owned shops make it a popular destination, drawing nearly 1 million visitors each year.
Punta Gorda is a unique coastal city with a special small town charm that appeals to visitors and residents from around the globe. No longer a sleepy fishing village, after 125 years, it has become one of the best cities in Florida to live offering residents the best of the old and the new: a safe, relaxing coastal lifestyle in a modern well-planned community.
Located on Charlotte Harbor, Fishermen’s Village has become a quintessential stay and play destination with waterfront restaurants, boutiques, resort, marina with excursion boating tours.
Peace River Wildlife Center
A sanctuary that rehabilitates injured and orphaned native Florida wildlife, such as eagles, hawks, owls, sand hill cranes and flamingos.
Punta Gorda Train Depot
Built in 1928, it is the sole survivor of the 6 depots built by the Atlantic Coast Line in Mediterranean Revival style.
Babcock Wilderness Ranch
Experienced guides lead 90 minute swamp buggy tours through a ranch and swamp where visitors can view bison, alligators, birds, cougars, cattle and horses.