As you plan your Florida travels, here are seven towns that I’ve found make great bases for exploring. Each puts you in the center of outstanding places to hike, bike, kayak and explore history. Each is surrounded by natural beauty.
Punta Gorda is blessed with a beautiful riverfront location, but it doesn’t have a beach. And there lies the reason it has an off-the-beaten-track quality. It’s a great place for kayaking, biking, hiking, birding and discovering funky crab shacks and other authentic Florida experiences.
Peace River Botanical Gardens in Punta Gorda exceeded my expectations with its whimsical monument sculptures and lovely gardens in a scenic riverfront site.
The Gulf coast along Charlotte Harbor has miles of wild shoreline, making it a wonderland of wildlife and natural beauty and ideal for sea kayaking.
You’ll discover a natural world without traffic and crowds when you’re kayaking Deer Prairie Creek in North Port. This tributary of the Myakka River is quiet, off-the-beaten track and not widely known outside its neighboring area.
Florida winters were meant for this: Discovering wild and scenic places by kayak. To help you plan fun Florida kayak trips, I’ve selected three of my favorite kayak destinations in Southwest Florida. These aren’t well-known but deserve to be.
This Punta Gorda creek should be better known. Its tree canopy and unspoiled Old Florida feel offer kayakers natural beauty and wildlife, all in an easy, accessible day paddle.
The annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim on July 4 has been cancelled because of the pandemic. Look for the event — a non-competititve swim across the 1.5-mile wide Peace River — to return in 2021.
Discover a less well-known string of islands — Gasparilla Island, Don Pedro Island and Manasota Key. Each holds a spectacular state park with top beaches.
Peace River Seafood in Punta Gorda is a true Florida crab shack; they don’t come more authentic than this. From its 1927 Cracker cabin to the buckets of fresh blue crabs, it’s a little piece of old Florida.