Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Port Charlotte, FL

  • Published 2022/10/21

Sprawled out over an 83.7-square-kilometer area with a population of about 60,000 residents, Port Charlotte is famous for its mellow, casual aura and charming Old Florida atmosphere.

Port Charlotte attracts a lot of people who are looking for a brand new start.

Imagine having the fantastic opportunity to witness the gorgeous sunsets over breathtaking gulf waters.

Or, you waking up to a warm morning breeze and an ocean view straight from your window.

That’s what Port Charlotte has to offer – a relaxed lifestyle where you can enjoy undisturbed nature and all of its wonders!

You’ll find Port Charlotte easily located on the coastline of Florida, about an hour and a half south of St. Petersburg.

If you’re looking to visit this idyllic part of Florida in the US, there are plenty of activities to keep you occupied during your stay in the area.

From fun things to do with kids, fabulous restaurants, romantic date nights, exciting adventure parks, exhilarating outdoor adventures to exciting nightlife, you’re sure to find something that interests you.

If you’re not sure where to start, check out this list of the best things to do in Port Charlotte:

Witness Sunset at Bayshore Live Oak Park

Aerial view of Bayshore Live Oak Park

Florida Aerial Pics /

One of Downtown Port Charlotte’s best assets is Bayshore Live Oak Park.

There are plenty of benches to rest on as you watch local kite-surfers enjoying their sport, along with walkers and runners that enjoy its peaceful views.

The park also offers picnic tables for those who want to have a relaxing lunch.

In addition to getting a lovely view of the bay from here, strolling along the peninsula trails by sunset is also one of the area’s best-kept secrets.

The combination of beautiful orange hues and sparkling water will not be easy to miss.

So anyone who does not stop for a moment in awe while looking out at the setting sun over a glassy-smoothened bay will have missed out on something spectacular indeed.

At night, there are some lights that make it an excellent place for a romantic stroll or serious discussion with someone special.

Explore Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park

A Bird in Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park

Piotr Kalinowski Photos /

Go beyond the surface in Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park.

The 72 miles of this place’s shoreline serve as the perfect place to stretch your legs and soak up some sun while you take in its natural beauty.

For the most scenic views with less hustle, do the Hidden Hammock Trail, Three Lakes Trail, or Eagle Point Trail, all relatively easy to hike!

Lake in Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park

Piotr Kalinowski Photos /

While exploring, be cautious as alligators roam these parts; stay clear of them and don’t even think about getting up close to them.

You can view all other kinds of wildlife here as well, including sharks, wading birds, porpoises, dolphins, and even manatees.

Bordered by water, the park is also perfect for boating, fishing, and kayaking.

Play Baseball at North Charlotte Regional Park

If you need to get out of the house and do something fun for the family, you should know that there’s a baseball venue in town called North Charlotte Regional Park.

The park has three fields, a baseball field, a softball field, and a soccer field that youth league teams and adults use when practicing.

Also known as Centennial Park, North Charlotte Regional Park has been the location for numerous baseball tournaments.

The Snowbird Classic was one such tournament played in this 103.3-acre sports venue.

It included some pretty great American teams, such as the University of Michigan, the Air Force Academy, and Ohio State University.

Other amenities include a recreation center, playgrounds, nature trail, picnic area, and even an 18-hole disc golf course.

Whether you’re into baseball or not, it’s cool to come out here to walk around because this park also hosts yearlong festivals.

So, if you’re looking for an open-air venue to catch the game with your peeps, check out North Charlotte Regional Park!

You can also take your furry friend with you here.

Go Canoeing at Port Charlotte Beach Park

A leisurely paddle along Charlotte County’s 219 miles of coastline is a fun way to spend an afternoon.

The park provides free canoe rentals perfect for beginners or families looking for a low-key activity that doesn’t require much experience.

And that’s not all!

Port Charlotte Beach Park is the perfect place to unwind if you’re looking for a take-it-easy kind of atmosphere.

Perfect for families, this 16.08-acre bayfront beach park offers everything from swimming pools to fishing piers, not to mention volleyball courts and bocce ball areas!

You can also bring dogs here, provided that they’re on leashes within the confines of the park.

If you want something more social, then head over to Charlotte Sports Park, where outdoor and indoor sporting facilities are for your enjoyment.

Tee Time at Maple Leaf Golf and Country Club

Maple Leaf Golf and Country Club is a beautiful gem of a course.

For golfers, few places can offer as much as Maple Leaf Golf and Country Club.

Nestled in 2100 Kings Hwy, Port Charlotte, this laid-back, down-home venue features excellent greens and offers spectacular panoramic views of picturesque ponds.

Best of all, the course is open every day, starting at 5 am and closing an hour before midnight to accommodate daytime golfers.

With its expansive property—more than 200 acres—home to 18 holes of golfing excellence, it’s one of Southwest Florida’s top-rated courses.

While the golf staff is helpful, another huge reason why Maple Leaf is rated number 15 in the nation is because of its layout.

Discover the Depths of Port Charlotte With Fantasea Scuba

If you’re interested in marine life and want to experience what it feels like to swim along with creatures of extraordinary beauty, try taking a scuba diving lesson.

This outfit is incredibly friendly and offers high-quality lessons for all skill levels.

Their instructors are available for private tours to ensure you have an unforgettable time, whether it’s your first time diving or if you’re an old pro.

They offer snorkeling too!

They have all of the latest gear, so whether you’re going on a family vacation, a honeymoon, a diving trip, or just snorkeling around, they’ve got everything to make it a fun and exciting experience.

Whether you’re a lifelong diver or if you’ve always dreamed of jumping in the water and experiencing the underwater world, Fantasea is the place for fun.

Just make sure you schedule your lesson ahead of time.

Come Play Ball at The Charlotte Sports Park

Baseball palyer in The Charlotte Sports Park

Bonnie J. Anderson /

You would think that a baseball stadium somehow doesn’t belong in the middle of a horse farm.

The Charlotte Sports Park is one of the most amazing places in Florida, though, which is perfect for both families and significant sporting events.

No matter who you are or where your interests lie, you will always have a great time when visiting this fantastic state-of-the-art facility situated on 82 acres of land.

The park has tons to keep you busy after work, with facilities available for corporate functions, community events, 5K run/walks, sports tournaments, and more!

Baseball player in The Charlotte Sports Park

Bonnie J. Anderson /

No longer do fans have to stand behind a chain-link fence to catch foul balls or sit out in the rain waiting for their chance at an autograph.

The Charlotte Sports Park has stadium seating with chairback seats, wider concourses designed for an uninterrupted view of the action, and luxury suites available for private events.

Kids love it!

And even adults will find it hard not to get up and run around while having fun here.

Concessions include your basic ballpark treats—hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, among others—but also some really exotic fare.

There’s not much better than watching a baseball game while enjoying a tuna melt wrap!

Discover Secret Natural Trails at Audubon-Pennington Nature Park

Don’t let the small size of Audubon-Pennington Nature Park in Port Charlotte fool you.

It might be easy to get turned around in this park.

Almost 7.9 acres of land make up Audubon-Pennington Nature Park in Port Charlotte.

The trails are uneven dirt trails, pockmarked by muddy patches and animal holes.

You’ll see a lot of birds in Audubon-Pennington Nature Park, which may make for good photo ops.

But if birds aren’t your thing, you’ll start to notice them pretty quickly.

There’s always something new to see at Audubon-Pennington Nature Park, from wildflowers to birds and snakes to wild boar!

Also, bring mud-proof shoes if you plan to make your way along with one of the lower paths or stick to the main route made up of hard-packed dirt.

See Florida Scrub-Jay in Tippecanoe Environmental Park

Tippecanoe Environmental Park is a 380-acre green oasis for nature enthusiasts.

With three different terrains, you can enjoy pine Flatwoods, salt marsh, and coastal scrub, all within close range; no trekking is required.

At Tippecanoe Environmental Park in Port Charlotte, about 45 minutes south of St Petersburg, you can see one of only three populations of wild scrub jays in Florida.

The endangered species nests in pine trees and is much smaller than its better-known cousin – blue jay.

The prime destination is perfect for bird watchers and paddling enthusiasts since the park encompasses extensive waterways ideal for boating and canoeing.

You can also try your hand at kayaking or experience what it’s like to give an eight-person raft a go!

That is, of course, if your friends want to join you on this terrific outdoor excursion trip!

The park also offers fishing for largemouth bass or taking a kayak tour through nearby surrounding mangrove trails.

Just be aware that alligators are common, so don’t go wading after dark.

Enjoy Birdwatching at Ollie’s Pond Park

Port Charlotte is home to several parks, but Ollie’s Pond Park has a lot going for it.

The park offers a hiking trail and a fishing pier, which is excellent for families with kids who want to learn how to fish or have some family-friendly fun.

In addition, the park has many kinds of birds, so if you’re not sure what you’re looking at, there are maps and signs available to help you identify their species.

The park also has a long-standing tradition of hosting a yearly event to attract people from around the Collier county area for birdwatching.

Fully-fledged bird watchers will spot birds wading in their natural habitats, such as herons, kingfishers, night herons, ducks, and cormorants.

Bring your binoculars to try and spot some of the 400+ recorded species in Collier County.

It’s a great way to experience nature while on vacation!

Have Fun, Relax and Snack at Riverwood Golf Club

The gem of Riverwood Golf Club is its multi-award-winning golf course.

The Riverwood Golf Club provides the finest Charlotte County offers, whether you want to socialize with friends and family in their cozy clubhouse, play professional golf, or indulge in culinary pleasures.

Their front nine has imposing trees and lakes that are carefully positioned, whereas the back nine meanders through salt marshes and wetland preserves, using old-natural Florida’s splendor.

They provide golf in a natural setting at its very finest.

The casual yet upscale dining room at Riverwood Golf Club is to offer members and visitors an unrivaled taste of country club cuisine.

Enjoy The Riverwood Clubhouse’s cuisine, beverages, and fun atmosphere.

Go on a Shopping Spree at Port Charlotte Town Center

Exterior of Port Charlotte Town Center

PCHS-NJROTC, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Do you enjoy going shopping with friends and family on a Sunday afternoon?

Visit Port Charlotte Town Center, a popular spot for families to shop, eat, and have fun in Charlotte and the surrounding areas.

More than 60 merchants are represented, including Victoria’s Secret, Dillard’s, and JCPenney.

The center is housed in one of Southwest Florida’s biggest indoor mall food outlets, a state-of-the-art Regal 16 Cinemas boasting stadium seats, and a Dolby digital sound system.

At Port Charlotte Town Center, there is much to appreciate, whether you spend an hour shopping or a whole day.

Treat Yourself to a Pamper Day at V Attractive Nails & Spa

A popular comprehensive beauty salon, V Attractive Nails & Spa is committed to helping its Port Charlotte customers experience and appear their best from top to bottom.

Select from various services if you want to commit to a routine beauty regimen or special events.

In today’s fast-paced environment, proper care of your skin and nails is crucial for excellent health and overall well-being.

Choose the nail services you desire for some additional pampering or just those that satisfy your daily basic needs, ranging from a simple manicure to luxury foot treatments.

Take advantage of the licensed estheticians’ and nail techs’ excellent beauty advice.

Treat yourself to high-end cosmetics in a salon with all the great amenities and a complete menu of treatments.

Engage in Outdoor Sports at Harold Avenue Regional Park Recreation Center

Two versatile gymnasiums are available in the Harold Avenue Regional Park activity complex.

Six basketball goals and two sizable activity rooms are featured in each gymnasium.

There are playgrounds for kids, basketball and tennis courts with lights, young softball fields, and baseball fields among the outdoor amenities.

The park is the location of Port Charlotte’s biggest leisure youth basketball league for players aged 4 to 17.

The Harold Avenue Regional Park Recreation Center is the ideal location for gatherings, dances, sporting events, workout programs, contests, and meetings.

Taste the Famous BBQ at Wallys Southern Style BBQ

Southern-style smoked steaks, roasted fish, sandwiches, and traditional sides are available at Wallys Southern Style BBQ, a laid-back barbecue business.

Freshly cooked pork, beef, and chicken are used in their BBQ, which is slow-cooked to greatness in their smoker.

Some are cooked gradually for 24 hours.

It is lightly smoked with hickory wood and dry rub to enhance the flavor without overpowering it.

They only provide a barbecue with that amazing smoke flavor; you can add your sauce to avoid being limited to just that one type of barbecue.

Choose from your favorite dishes while enjoying a fantastic dinner!

Other Things to Do Nearby

See the Perched Lighthouse at Gasparilla Island State Park

Boca Grande Light at Gasparilla Island State Park

William Silver /

Gasparilla Island is a half-hour drive from the heart of Port Charlotte, just off Charlotte Harbor.

Once you’re on the island, proceed to Gasparilla Island State Park to see its nature preserve and take in some of its incredible views.

Sunset in Gasparilla Island State Park

Jim Schwabel /

This location also has an on-site boat ramp so that you can go boating and fishing.

If you find yourself on this island, it would be a shame not to visit the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum on its southern shore.

Boardwalk in Gasparilla Island State Park

Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s an easy way to explore the island for a few hours at most.

Treat yourself to an experience out of this world by visiting South Beach Bar & Grille for some fish tacos; they are absolutely the best!

Far view of the Port Boca lighthouse at Gasparilla Island State Park

Stephen B. Goodwin /

Savor Punta Gorda’s Stuffed Lobsters

Dotted along the scenic shores of Charlotte Harbor, Florida, sits coastal towns such as Punta Gorda, an attractive place for anglers, sunbathers, boaters, and shoppers alike.

It’s just a boat ride away from Port Charlotte, and as you drive cross-country on Live Oak Point Road, you’ll catch a glimpse of the establishments just across the river at Laishley Park.

In this neighborhood, you can check out a variety of spots that have delicious food and amenities to relax and unwind.

One restaurant everyone can’t seem to resist trying out is Laishley Crab House.

They have the freshest seafood in town, so order up some stuffed lobsters, and don’t forget to order their famous clam chowder for a hot buttered bread roll.

Learn About Florida Wildlife at the Peace River Wildlife Center

Tucked away next to Charlotte Harbor is an educational center that offers various ways to interact with, and better understand all animals that live right here in Florida.

Peace River Wildlife Center originally started out of Dr. Jerry Gingerich’s home in 1982 after years of working with local wildlife to help get them better.

Most of the time, injured animals get expert care at the center, so they get better quicker, which helps reduce the amount of time an animal spends under human care.

The Peace River Wildlife Center is where you can see all of the wildlife currently being cared for.

You can get an up-close look at some amazing creatures that you often don’t see in the neighborhoods out in the wild.

The wildlife center has grown over the years, but Dr. Jerry still remains at its helm treating everything from owls to bison.

Buy Art at Sea Grape Artists Gallery!

While many are familiar with artsy enclaves, such as The Venice Beach Boardwalk in Los Angeles or 14th Street in New York City, it’s not always easy to find them in smaller cities.

But while it may be difficult to see any current shows while visiting Port Charlotte, The Sea Grape Artists Gallery is always worth a stop for locals and tourists alike.

It’s just minutes away outside the Census-designated Charlotte County town.

You may have never considered art to be your cup of tea, but even if that’s true, you’ll still enjoy a trip to this brilliant art studio nearby Punta Gorda.

The gallery features up-and-coming talent from all over South Florida, including painters and photographers.

There are many different mediums on display here, from fine art paintings and sculptures to handmade glassworks and metal pieces.

Another thing to look forward to at Sea Grape is the art demonstrations held throughout each year; attending one of these sessions will give you an up-close look at how artists create new pieces.

While you’re here, pick up some unique gifts for friends back home.

Keep in mind that it’s only open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Saturday!

But whether you go during business hours or before/after hours, you’ll have a blast here.

Final Thoughts

When you visit Port Charlotte, there’s no way you’ll be able to leave after only a couple of days!

There are just so many things to do from the beaches to coastal waters, restaurants, parks, and sports centers!

Why not keep that in mind when planning your next vacation here?

Refer back to this article for information on some of the best locations throughout the island, which you can use as point-of-interest markers on your travel itinerary.

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