School is out for the summer. These days it costs a lot of money to travel whether it is by airplane or car. Air fares are going up and gas prices are so high it is not feasible for many families to take a long trip.
If you live in Charlotte County, FL here are some things to do by vacationing near home or what is called a staycation. You can relax and enjoy some of the experiences of doing new things right in your own neighborhood.
Did you know that many of the local parks have summer and year round recreation centers, special events, and activities? For a complete list and to see the activity calendar go to the Charlotte County web site at: http://www.charlottecountyfl.com/CommunityServices/calendars.asp. Some of the upcoming events are fishing tournaments, swim for scholarships, Dance with Daddy, summer camp and community beach clean-up. The Port Charlotte Beach Complex has swimming, water aerobics, pizza pool party, and other aquatic programs. The Tringali Recreation Center has skating, basketball, indoor pickleball, parent and tot play time, and mini sports such as tee ball, soccer and tennis.
Who doesn’t love a day at the beach? Charlotte County has a couple of Gulf beaches to choose from. Englewood Beach is located at 2100 N. Beach Rd. in Englewood. They have a pavilion, boardwalk, sandy beach, shelling, shark tooth hunting, grills, picnic shelters, playground, volleyball and basketball courts, fishing, horseshoes and restrooms. Stump Pass Beach State Park is located at the South end of Manasota Key, off of I-75, Exit 191 in Englewood. The beach offers sunbathing in the sand, shelling, fishing, outdoor showers, restrooms and a shelter.
When was the last time you got out to see the beautiful nature that this county has to offer? The Peace River Wildlife Center at 3400 Ponce de Leon Parkway in Punta Gorda is an active wildlife rehabilitation center in a park setting. They treat and rehabilitate injured and orphaned native Florida wildlife. You can take a tour from 11am to 4pm daily. It is free but they accept donations since they are a non-profit organization. For more information visit their web site at: http://www.peaceriverwildlifecenter.com/.
At Bobcat Ranch and Wilderness Adventure on 8000 State Road 31 in Punta Gorda you can immerse yourself in nature. You can take an eco-tour which is a 90-minute buggy ride through the ranch and swamp where you will see birds, plants, animals, horses, cattle, alligators and more. If you prefer to walk, you can hike the eco-trail which wanders through the pine flatwoods and scrub ecosystems. The ranch also has a country store for shopping, the Gator Shack for dining, as well as museums and exhibits. For pricing and detailed information, visit their web site at: http://www.babcockwilderness.com/visitor-center.php.
Another park that nature enthusiasts may enjoy is Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center on 10941 Burnt Store Rd., Punta Gorda. It is a free nature park with a visitor center, education tours, programs and recreation. The park has 3,000 acres of public preserve land with four miles of hiking trails. There is also a screened pavilion for picnics, wildlife and bird observation area, an animal clubhouse and other displays for viewing. They are also a non-profit environmental organization. To see photos and read more about activities offered visit their web site at: http://www.checflorida.org/.
If you have younger children, take them out to play in one of the many local playgrounds. Most of the parks have a playground. Here is a link to a list of playgrounds in Charlotte County: http://www.charlottecountyfl.com/CommunityServices/playgrounds.asp. Bring some refreshments or pack a lunch and plan to spend the day. Don’t forget the sunscreen and a camera.
Kids of all ages enjoy fishing in the waters of Charlotte County. Charlotte Harbor is known as fishermen’s paradise. Not everyone loves the sport, but if you do, there are numerous public fishing piers available. For a complete list of places to fish go to: http://www.charlottecountyfl.com/CommunityServices/fishing.asp. Don’t forget to check the fishing license regulations at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: http://myfwc.com/.
A popular place for kids and families is Fish Cove Adventure Golf at 4949 Tamaimi Trail, Port Charlotte. It is located along the Peace River and Charlotte Harbor. You can play up to 36 holes of miniature golf. They also have a snack area for snacks, drinks and ice cream. If you get a hole in one on select holes you can win a free game. Visit their web site for hours, prices and be sure to print the coupon for $1.00 off up to 6 people: http://coralcaygolf.com/default.cfm.
If you run across a rainy day and need an indoor activity, why not go bowling? Port Charlotte offers two bowling centers one is Bowland, 3192 Harbor Blvd, Port Charlotte and the other is Treasure Lanes at 1059 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte. Bowland has a Sizzling Summer Special and offers other bowling functions. Go to their web site at: http://www.bowlandcenters.com/. Treasure Lanes has youth bowling, leagues, and specials. Check out their packages and hours of operation by going to: http://treasurelanes.com/.
A fun place for kids is Kidstar Park, on Paulson Dr. in Port Charlotte. They offer go karts, laser tag, liquid fireworks, 3-D movie motion ride, Star Mountain, and indoor games. For ticket prices and hours of operation visit their web site at: http://kidstarpark.com/home.htm.
These are just a few options for venturing out with your kids this summer. A great resource for additional activities, events, what to do and information about the area go to the Charlotte Harbor Visitor and Convention Bureau web site at: http://www.charlotteharbortravel.com/.
Tammy Hayes, Realtor, Green Lion Realty, Port Charlotte, FL