Looking for the best things to do in Port Charlotte FL?
Port Charlotte, Florida can be found just 30 miles straight up Interstate 75 from Fort Myers. With a population of over 60,000 people, you can bet there are plenty of opportunities for fun around town for both residents and visitors alike.
The closest major airport is in Fort Myers, although those lucky enough to have access to an airport serviced by Allegiant Airlines can choose to fly into the even closer Punta Gorda Airport.
Like the rest of Southwest Florida, Port Charlotte is blessed with over 260 days of sunshine each year, making it an ideal spot to visit when winter comes around! The following is a list of the 20 Best Things in and near port Charlotte fl.
20 Best Things to do in Port Charlotte FL
Beaches and Parks
1. Fun in the sun at Port Charlotte Beach Park
It wouldn’t be a trip to Florida without a day (or more!) at the beach! The Port Charlotte Beach Park is packed with amenities that make a day there into a great time for those of all ages. Besides the sand and surf, there are shelters, horseshoe pits, a fishing pier, a playground area, and a full recreation center.
There’s even a heated swimming pool for those who would rather take a dip in calmer waters. Port Charlotte is separated from the open Gulf of Mexico by an estuary known as the Gasparilla Sound – Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve.
The brackish water there is a mixture of fresh and saltwater, which means dolphins often come there to feed on the wide variety of fish that are drawn to the area. Be sure to take a camera to captures photos of the marine life as well as the amazing sunsets that the area is known for!
2. Ride bikes at Cape Haze Pioneer Trail Park
The Cape Haze Pioneer Trail Park can be found just across the Myakka River bridge from Port Charlotte. The park acts as the trailhead for an 8.5-mile section of railroad right of way that has been converted into a multi-use paved trail.
Hundreds of walkers, joggers, and bicyclists make use of the trail each day for exercise and safely commuting from one end of the peninsula to the other. In the early 20th century, the railroad line was an essential way to transport minerals and goods from the interior towns to ships waiting on the coast.
The park itself is small, but offers plenty of free parking, picnic tables, and portable toilets. The historical Placida Bunk House building has been preserved on the property and is a remnant of life in old Florida.
Over the years, the building has been a schoolhouse, church, residence, and post office. Future plans exist to renovate the building and use it as an interpretive and educational center.
One of the best things to do in Port Charlotte FL.
3. Relax and Rejuvinate at Warm Mineral Springs
Come find a day of relaxation and nostalgia. This stop will take you on a trip back in time. When you visit Warm Mineral Springs, you will feel like you have stepped through a time machine. This location is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and hasn’t changed much over the years.
Its laid-back atmosphere promotes healing and restoration in its mineral rich waters. Some visitors call it the fountain of youth. It’s about 4 ft. deep and allows for soaking and resting through the spring. Some people float around on the inside ring of the pound while others walk in a roped off area along the outside edge.
Water shoes would be helpful if you plan to walk around the edge. Feel free to bring a cooler, a good book to read, and a lawn chair. They do have some chairs available but plan to bring your own so you are sure to have a place to hang out when you are not in the water.
You could also bring a picnic blanket and spread out on the spacious lawn surrounding the spring. While the water is not hot like a hot spring. It is pleasant and rejuvenating any time of year. Currently, the buildings that housed the showers, bathrooms, and locker rooms are closed. There is a portable bathroom available. There is a plan to complete historic restoration to the buildings.
4. Stroll through the Garden of the Five Senses
The Garden of the Five Senses can be found in the nearby city of North Port. This unique park was built with the idea of inclusivity in mind. It was the dream of a park board member to create a space that would encourage all people to use and explore the outdoors more.
The park was built and opened in 2007, and it contains one of the first playgrounds for children with disabilities from Boundless Adventure Playgrounds. There are beautiful, environmentally friendly, paved walking trails with gardens designated by how one can experience nature.
There is a garden focused on pleasing the sense of smell and touch. A butterfly garden and shelter picnic areas are also available to enjoy while you are there. You can even bring a book and sit down next to the statue of a boy reading a book. You two have the right idea!
5. Hike the trails at RV Griffin Reserve
This amazing open space is functional and available for recreation. The Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority takes care of this “park” while also using it as a water supply facility. There are 21 miles of multi-use trails for biking, hiking, and horse-back riding.
You can also bring a picnic and use one of the picnic shelters available near the parking lot. You can enjoy a variety of habitats known to Florida while wondering about the 6,000-acre area. You might see prairies, pine Flatwoods, or freshwater marshes. There is even a model airplane flying area.
Although this is a bit of a drive from Port Charlotte, it is worth the trip to enjoy Florida outdoors at its best. Be sure to bring bug spray, sunscreen, and plenty of water.
6. Picnic at Bayshore Live Oak Park
Situated right on the water, Bayshore Live Oak Park is the perfect place for a picnic or an afternoon of fishing and watching the sunset.
There is free parking, public restrooms, a small playground, and a kayak launch that is ADA accessible. The walking path along the street is worth a stroll because of the beautiful canopy of the ancient trees. The incredible pavilion would be the perfect place for a private party or wedding.
The shade can be a welcome retreat from the Florida sunshine. It has the most amazing views of the water right in Port Charlotte. The park also has a fishing pier adjacent to it that takes you out over the waves so you can see even more of the shoreline. It’s a hidden gem in Florida that is worth a visit.
7. Take a class at the Mid County Regional Library
You might find it odd to have a library listed as a great place to stop while on vacation but the Mid County Regional Library is worth a visit. It is associated with the Charlotte County Library System and offers a number of resources for visitors and residents alike.
The programs that are available from this library are unique and varied. Have you been noticing all the people playing pickle ball? You can find pickleball classes here!
You can also find things like fly fishing classes and you can use the computers while you are there. While a library might not be your first thought, this amazing resource is worth a visit.
8. Play Pickleball at Centennial Park Recreation Center
This beautiful, practically brand new recreation center built in 2019 provides for tons of indoor sporting fun. There are multiple basketball, volleyball, and pickleball courts in addition a multi-purpose room and a fitness center.
The building is located on the grounds of an amazing park offering just as many outdoor activities, such as baseball diamonds, soccer fields, and a disc golf course. Each year, Centennial Park plays host to the Snowbird Baseball Classic NCAA tournament.
College teams from all over the country are invited to come and participate in this off-season tournament so they can sharpen their skills during the winter. Centennial Park Recreation Center is centrally located in the middle of town, near to the Port Charlotte Town Center mall.
Food, Drink and Shopping
9. Try Twisted Sprouts at The Twisted Fork
This unique venue and restaurant in Port Charlotte is one of a kind. It located next to the Harley Davidson shop and has a motorcycle feel to it. From the motorcycle chandelier, to the engine wine rack, to the license plate covered walls, the rustic décor and gearhead collection make it stand out.
They have a 38-foot bar where you can find custom cocktails, bottle and tap beers, and specialty sodas. The food menu consists of recognizable favorites with a “twist”. I highly recommend starting your meal with the twisted sprout appetizer.
In addition to being a great place for breakfast (weekends only), lunch or dinner, the space has a 24,000 square foot covered entertainment area with a stage where local and national bands come to entertain. They also host drive-in movies, bike nights, and car shows.
10. Catch a Show at the Bean Depot Café and Museum
Tucked away just off the highway leading to Port Charlotte is a little-known gem. The Bean Depot Café and Museum is both a restaurant and a building of historical import.
The building itself dates back to 1922, when it was the combination Post Office, general store, one room jail cell & train depot. The current owners purchased the property and repurposed it to the café and museum it is today. Since 2001 the café has been serving burgers, fried fish baskets, and a slice of history to those patrons who are lucky enough to stop in.
There is a stage on the property where local bands often play during the weekends to entertain customers while they drink and dine. Also on the property is a historic 24 room hotel which the owners hope to someday rebuild to its former glory.
11. Buy an Outfit at Port Charlotte Town Center Mall
Needing to get out of the Florida sunshine and take a break? Or have you found yourself in Florida on one of the few rainy days? Or maybe you just love to shop? You can find something for everyone at the Port Charlotte Town Center Mall. The facility houses over 100 stores and a movie theater.
You’ll find stores like Bealls, JC Penny, and Dillard’s. You are sure to have some fun here. This is the only full enclosed shopping center in the region serving Englewood, Punta Gorda, North Port and Port Charlotte.
Try an Auntie Anne’s pretzel while you browse through stores like Bath and Body Works and American Eagle to find that extra treasure you have been looking for to make your trip to Florida complete or that cute new outfit. The area surrounding the mall houses several restaurants for that post-shopping meal.
12. Eat Organic at Pioneers Pizza Port
There is no shortage of people from New England who are now residents of Southwest Florida. Those transplants who are yearning for a taste of home can appreciate the New York style pizzas served at Pioneers Pizza Port. This wildly popular eatery in central Port Charlotte serves items that are scratch made from all-natural and certified organic ingredients.
The pizzas are baked in a stone oven with a wide variety of toppings from the standards like pepperoni and sausage to more adventurous ones like pineapple and cucumbers. In addition to pizzas, Pioneers also serves burgers, sub sandwiches, paninis, pasta, and salads. Gluten-Free and vegan alternatives such as cauliflower crust and non-dairy cheeses are available for those who want them.
The restaurant has a large outdoor dining area to take advantage of the fabulous Florida weather. Several nights a week there is live music outside on the patio, and the restaurant also hosts karaoke and other game nights to keep the fun going all week long.
13. Design Your own Wine at Gilded Grape Winery and Wine Bar
Have you ever wanted to create and ferment your own wine? The Gilded Grape Winery is the place for you! For over 20 years, this winery and wine bar has been the go-to place for Port Charlotte’s oenophiles (wine connoisseurs).
Creating your own wine is a six to eight week process, so make sure you plan ahead if that’s on your wish list. Otherwise, the Gilded Grape has over 75 varieties of their own wines available for purchase at the bar or to take with you.
All their wine blends are made on-site and include dry whites & reds as well as a wide selection of fruit wines. The winery is available for special events such as birthdays, anniversaries, and more. They will provide the wine, and you provide the guests, fun and food!
14. Eat BBQ at Smokin’ Jerry’s Tiki Hut
If BBQ is your thing, this is the place you need to be. Smokin’ Jerry’s Tiki Hut is famous for their smoked meats. You can even see the giant smoker as you pull into the parking lot.
If you catch it right, you can watch the pitmaster at work. There is ample indoor seating but the patio is where it is at. You can catch a glimpse of boaters heading out or returning from a day on the water in the marina. Seating on the patio is under their tiki hut which makes it feel like a little slice of paradise.
The dockside location makes it a popular place for boaters to tie up their vessel and stop in for some refreshments. Where else can you have a cocktail and a rack of ribs waterside?
Sports and Activities
15. Have a Blast at The Charlotte County Fairgrounds
The Charlotte County Fairground hosts many events throughout the year in addition to the county fair, from the Nautical Flea Market to Halloween Notte.
There have been regular events taking place there since the 90’s.The Fairground’s sole purpose is to improve Port Charlotte and to bring educational and fun activities to the area.
There are concerts, exhibitions, conferences, fairs, and seminars that come to the grounds. From boat shows to the county fair, you can almost always find something going on.
The Fairgrounds are lit up in a holiday theme called the Wonderland of Lights for the entire month of December. Its location right on Highway 41, right near the Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training site, makes this 20-acre venue the perfect spot for family fun.
16. Play a Round at King’s Gate Golf Club
King’s Gate Golf Club is open to the public and is an executive par 60, 18-hole course that welcomes golfers from all around the world. The course was designed by Bill Murray and built in 1989.
This tight course requires some focus on your short game. You should take a few warm-up swings on the putting green before heading out. Need some help with your swing? They offer private golf lessons from the club pros. Don’t want to pack your clubs? Don’t worry – they rent clubs, too!
After a great day on the links, grab some food and a cold beverage at the Lion’s Den. The community around King’s Gate is a 55+ retirement village, and many of the residents are members of the course giving it a friendly, club style atmosphere.
17. Catch a Game at Charlotte Sports Park
The Tampa Bay Rays call Port Charlotte their home for spring training. 7,500 fans pack the stadium during home games and enjoy the ballpark festivities.
This beautiful ballpark has won awards for being the best spring training facility. It has a kids play area, an outfield bar, and an awesome boardwalk that rings the field. There is even a covered area to take a break from the Florida sunshine.
When the Rays aren’t using the facility, it hosts 5k runs, corporate functions, and other sporting events. It is also connected to a beautiful environmental park with walking trails, a small craft boat launch, and a boardwalk.
Be aware that parking is in the main lot and across the street. It is cash-free and costs $10 per car. Be prepared by downloading the MLB Ballpark app. Small bags are permitted inside the gates but being prepared here can save you time and ensure you have the best experience possible. Just so you know, no outside food or drink are allowed inside.
18. Fish for Trophies with Scales and Tales Native Guided Tours
Charlotte Harbor is known around the globe for its world-class fishing. Anglers from all over the world converge here during tarpon season to try their hand at bringing in one of these fantastic sport fish. Scales and Tales Native Guided Tours can be your ticket to catching the big one.
This charter fishing boat knows the ins and outs of the off-shore areas around Port Charlotte and will do its best to make sure you and your group have a great day out on the water.
Captain Billy can fit groups of up to 4 people on his vessel at a time, and trips range from 4 to 8 hours depending on how long you’re willing to be out. Scales and Tales will provide all the licenses, tackle and bait, as well as some non-alcoholic drinks. Anglers are welcome to bring along their own snack foods and small coolers are welcome.
19. Take a Dive with Skydive SW Florida
The adventure of a lifetime is waiting for you just 7 miles outside of Port Charlotte. Skydive SW Florida specializes in taking first-timers out on tandem skydive trips.
No prior experience or certifications are required, and it only takes 2 hours of your day to have an experience you’ll never forget. Just imagine seeing the Gulf of Mexico off in the distance as you freefall from 13,000 feet! Don’t worry – you’ll be strapped in front of an experienced instructor with over 5000 jumps under their belt.
The experience of free-fall This family-owned operation has been diving in Southwest Florida since 2003 and are proud to be known as the strictest skydiving center in the area. The crew even captures video and photo footage of your dive and makes it available for purchase afterwards so you’ll always have a memento of your experience.
20. Get on the Water with Kayak Eco Tours
You should get on the water while you are here and the Southwest Florida is the perfect place to do it. Renting a kayak is a great way to get up close and personal with birds and sea life.
You are bound to see dolphins and even manatees if you plan your trip at the right time of the year. Kayak Eco Tours can take you out even if you are a novice.
Don’t worry – the experts will make sure you are ready for your adventure and it’s easier than it looks. Kayak Eco Tours rents the latest equipment, gear, and boats including dry bags to keep your stuff safe. They will help you load and launch your kayak and send a guide along. Advanced reservations are required and plan ahead. This is an adventure you don’t want to miss so make your reservations early.
With all these activities and more, there’s no shortage of ways to have fun in Port Charlotte! It is easy to see why so many travelers choose to return there year after year for their vacation destination. Plan a trip there yourself – you won’t be sorry!
See more FL fun: