Last Updated November 1, 2023
Nestled just a short drive from the Southwestern coast of Florida, North Port is a hidden gem that offers a perfect blend of nature, culture, and outdoor recreation. Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor, this growing city has something for everyone. Conveniently located between the vibrant cities of Sarasota and Fort Myers, North Port is an ideal base for exploring the stunning Gulf Coast of Florida. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through North Port and its neighboring cities, showcasing the best activities, attractions, and places to visit so that you’ll know exactly what to do in North Port Florida, no matter if you are visiting or thinking of moving to North Port.
What To Do In North Port FL
The city of North Port is actually one of the youngest cities in the state of Florida. It was incorporated under the name North Port Charlotte in 1959, since it sits so close to Port Charlotte. However, in 1974 the residents voted to change it to North Port so that they could proclaim the city as a separate identity.
Despite its young age, North Port is one of the fastest growing cities in Florida. Although the population is still under 100,000 people, it’s no surprise that there is a constant development of new and fun things to do in North Port Florida.
North Port boasts an extensive network of over 800 miles of local roadways, making it a haven for cyclists. Adventurous souls will also find ample opportunities for canoeing and kayaking in North Port’s estimated 80 miles of freshwater canals, as well as along Myakkahatchee Creek during the summer months. Notably, North Port is the only city in the state with an entire state forest within its limits – the Myakka State Forest. Within this forest, you’ll discover a network of horse trails, mountain bike trails, natural hiking paths, and fantastic birdwatching spots.
Furthermore, North Port is dedicated to providing green spaces and recreational facilities. The city features neighborhood parks, two indoor community centers, and more, to cater to the community’s diverse needs. Beyond its natural beauty and outdoor activities, North Port also fosters a thriving arts community. The North Port Performing Arts Center and the North Port Art Center stand as testaments to the city’s commitment to cultural enrichment and creative expression.
So…without further adieu, let’s dive into the specifics of the best things to do in North Port Florida. Below are our top ten things to do, each of them giving you a wealth of options.
1. Experience North Port’s Great Outdoors
Snuggled under a canopy of oak and pine, North Port is a little further inland than some of its coastal neighbors. While you may have a short drive to reach the beaches, there is an abundance of outdoor activities to enjoy right here.
Visit North Port’s Forest Parks
Myakka River State Park is a haven for nature lovers, offering hiking, biking, kayaking, and airboat tours. It’s the perfect place to experience the diverse Florida ecosystem and witness local wildlife. The park is home to an array of wildlife, including alligators, wading birds, and even the elusive Florida panther. Take a scenic drive through the park and climb the observation tower for panoramic views of the landscape.
If a trek into the Myakka River State Park feels a bit daunting for you, you can hike, bike, and horse ride through the much smaller Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park. Here, you’ll find 160 acres of oak hammocks, marshes and flatwoods along the creek’s inky waters with a good chance of spotting gators, deer, ibises and egrets.
Try Out The Water Sports
Exploring the waterways is undoubtedly one of the most fun things to do in North Port Florida. With close to 80 miles of freshwater canals, nine miles of Myakkahatchee Creek, and a segment of the lower Myakka River, North Port offers an ideal setting for those seeking adventure and exploration. To help you navigate, a network of ‘Blueways’ has been developed over the last decade, meaning you are never more than a few minutes form the nearest public park despite feeling completely immersed in nature. Take a tour from the McKibben Park with Glass Bottom Rentals to make the most of the local wildlife knowledge.
At Marina Park, you can easily launch motorized boats to access the lower Myakkahatchee Creek, connecting to the Myakka River. Here, fishing enthusiasts can find an abundance of freshwater and saltwater fish species waiting to be caught.
If you prefer to be seated, you can opt for some kayaking at Bob Johnson Landing, an area within Myakka River State Park, where you can launch your kayak or canoe and explore the pristine waters, surrounded by lush natural beauty.
Indulge in the Warm Mineral Springs
Warm Mineral Springs Park is one of the largest natural mineral springs globally, renowned for its healing properties. You can relax and swim in the therapeutic waters, surrounded by breathtaking natural landscapes. The springs have an average year round temperature of 85 degrees, and the high mineral content of the water is believed to have therapeutic benefits for various ailments, making it a unique and soothing experience. Additionally, the springs and the buildings are listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places as evidence of prehistoric man, saber-toothed tigers and giant sloths dating back more than 10,000 years have been discovered here!
Soak up the Nature Preserves
The Legacy Bike Trail is a fantastic experience for all. The entire trail is around 27km and connects Sarasota, Venice, and North Port. In 2022, locals welcomed the official opening of connector trails that lead into the Deer Prairie Creek Preserve, which is a great place for outdoor activities like biking, hiking, and wildlife viewing. It’s an expansive natural area offering serene trails through unspoiled Florida wilderness.
2. Relax at the Beaches Near North Port
It’s undeniable that going to the beach is one of the best things to do. In North Port, Florida, however, you’ll need to travel around 20-45 minutes for your fix of the sunshine coast. Here’s our list of top beaches near North Port.
North Port Beach
You may hear tell of North Port Beach, also known as Harbor Cove Beach, but the locals are actually referring to Charlotte Harbor. This small sandy area is not a Gulf of Mexico beach. It’s a section of land where the Myakka River meets the Port Charlotte Beach Park before it opens into the Gasparilla Sound – Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve. The area offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere for a day by the water but if you’re here for a short visit, this may not be the top “beach” to pick.
To the west and north near the towns of Venice and Sarasota there are a plethora of breathtaking beaches to choose from. In fact, you’ll find some of the state’s best beaches within just a short drive of North Port, and you can take your pick depending on whether you fancy a day of lounging in the sun, collecting shells, exploring rugged coastlines, or admiring the wildlife.
Venice Beach is known for its stunning pier and ideal seashell-hunting conditions. The clear waters and beautiful sands make it a must-visit beach while you’re in the area. You can stroll along the boardwalk, collect shells, and even witness stunning sunsets from the Venice Fishing Pier.
A little further south, Englewood Beach is another gem on the Gulf Coast. It boasts soft sands, clear waters, and fantastic opportunities for sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing. With picnic areas and shaded spots, it’s a family-friendly destination.
Caspersen Beach in Venice, FL
Caspersen Beach is another great option, and just a short drive away. Renowned for shark tooth hunting, you can explore its pristine shores, collect unique souvenirs, and bask in the beauty of nature. It’s also an excellent place for birdwatching, as it’s part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.
Finally, if you’re looking for somewhere quieter than some of the more popular beaches, Manasota Beach is an excellent choice for a peaceful day by the water. It’s perfect for nature lovers and those interested in shelling and shark tooth hunting.
3. Discover the Area’s History
The heritage sites in North Port offer a glimpse into the city’s rich and ancient archeological history. Naturally, the Warm Mineral Springs, dating back to the paleoindian times, is a forerunner but you may also want to check out the Little Salt Springs Archaeological State Park. Little Salt Spring is an ancient sinkhole that holds treasures dating back over 12,000 years. The site has revealed evidence of prehistoric human occupation and extinct animal remains. Visitors can explore the history of the region through exhibits and tours, making it a must-visit for history enthusiasts.
4. Do Some Shopping in North Port
If you’re wondering what to do in North Port, FL, then a day browsing the local stores could be just the thing. North has a range of boutique stores and if you’re thinking about making your visit more permanent then you’ll be glad to know they also have all the standard supermarkets, shopping centers, and more.
Warm Mineral Springs Gift Shop
Located near the famous Warm Mineral Springs, this gift shop is a hidden treasure filled with unique gifts, locally crafted items, and souvenirs. It’s the perfect place to commemorate your visit to North Port. From handcrafted jewelry to one-of-a-kind artworks, this shop showcases the best of North Port’s local talent, and all accessible while you relax and heal at the mineral spring. While the building complex is closed at the minute as repairs take place, you can keep up to date on the progress and re-opening here.
North Port Farmers Market
A vibrant Saturday morning experience awaits at the North Port Farmers Market. You can savor fresh, locally grown produce, artisanal goods, and enjoy a sense of community that comes with supporting local businesses. While here, be sure to check out the wide array of homemade preserves, fresh-baked pastries, and a variety of crafts and plants. It’s an excellent opportunity to connect with the local farming and artisan community.
This shopping destination in North Port features an array of stores, including large department stores, electronics shops, and more. If you’re looking for variety in your shopping experience, this plaza is a great choice. It’s the perfect place to find anything from clothing and electronics to home goods and outdoor equipment.
North Port Commons
For even more shopping options, North Port Commons is a thriving plaza with an assortment of retailers and restaurants. Explore various shops, including popular chains and local boutiques. Additionally, it’s home to numerous dining establishments, so you can refuel and continue your shopping adventure.
Cocoplum Village Shops
A relatively new build, the Cocoplum Village Shops have been a big hit with locals and tourists alike, eliminating the need to travel outside the district for a wide and pleasing range of stores. It’s always beautifully decorated around holiday times, which makes it all the more appealing. The center hosts an array of stores, eateries, craft areas, and interesting art installments. Plus, on the first Sunday of every month it holds a Cars and Coffee event which is essentially a free car show attracting all sorts of car enthusiasts to enjoy live music and complimentary coffee.
5. Sample Local & International Cuisine
Florida’s wide array of dining options are renowned for tantalizing your taste buds and winning your heart. In North Port there is a vast selection of dining options and sampling the local cuisine and restaurants really gives you a feel for the area and culture. It’s definitely on our list of fun things to do in North Port, Florida.
Most restaurants are located along the main commercial streets of town, nearby and within many of the shopping centers. While locals can find many popular chain restaurants, such as Chipotle, Five Guys, Dunkin, etc, North Port is also home to a surprising number of smaller, high-quality local restaurants. Some of our favorites are listed below.
Italian-food lovers are sure to enjoy the menu at Alvaros, a mom-and pop restaurant that also serves a breakfast buffet. Their lasagna is highly praised, and many reviewers mention the generous portions and friendly service.
Blue Tequila Mexican Restaurant & Cantina is a vibrant Mexican eatery with an extensive menu, and an authentic taste of Mexico. From sizzling fajitas to refreshing margaritas, this is the place to indulge in south-of-the-border flavors. The ‘Molcajete Azteca’ and the ‘Fresh Guacamole’ are local favorites.
If you’re a fan of authentic Mexican pastries and baked goods, don’t miss Panaderia Tri-Color. You can indulge in a wide variety of sweet treats, from conchas and cuernos to tamales and empanadas. This bakery is a delightful spot to experience Mexican flavors.
One of the most popular restaurants in North Port, Que Rico Columbian Flavors offers a range of Columbian and South American dishes, with generous portions that are made to order. Empanadas, arepas, and fried bananas are just some of the must-have items on the menu.
Shark’s Fish House consistently receives great reviews for the great food and excellent service. This family-owned restaurant is a great choice for those who want to enjoy some of the best seafood dishes in town.
Immerse in the tropical vibes of the Tarpon Point Grill & Marina set on the Myakka river and enjoy manatee sightings and live entertainment as you dine on freshly caught seafood. There’s both indoor and outdoor (tikki hut style) dining options, regular events, and a real community feel at this place, as it’s been part of the local community since the 1950s.
6. Indulge in Some Happy Hour Fun & Live Music
The restaurants in North Port are delectable but for those who enjoy a good ol’ bar lunch, games night, or simply an evening of fine wine and cocktails then it’s the bars you’ll want to check out.
Austin’s Olde World offers a welcoming atmosphere with a variety of drinks and live entertainment. It’s a great place to spend an evening, where you can enjoy a drink, engage in conversation, and appreciate local talent. The lounge often hosts local musicians, making it a vibrant spot for music enthusiasts.
Sports fans will love Buffalo Wings & Rings, where they can catch the game on numerous big-screen TVs while indulging in a range of craft beers and mouthwatering wings. It’s a fantastic spot for game day fun. Try the ‘Buffalo Chicken Nachos’ and the ‘Ultimate Sports Fan Combo’ while cheering for your favorite teams.
For a taste of Ireland, visit The Celtic Ray Public House in nearby Punta Gorda. This authentic Irish pub offers a selection of beers, including a variety of imports and crafts. It’s known for its lively atmosphere and live music, creating a genuine Irish pub experience.
7. Hit the Links at Renowned Golf Courses
Southwest Florida is renowned for its golfing culture and inspiring courses. There’s an impressive 50 golf courses in and around the North Port city boundaries for you to play your way through.
If you love to get your golfing in at home then it should definitely be on your list of things to do in North Port, FL. The city is home to the Heron Creek Golf Course, one of the highest-rated golf courses in Florida. Those new to golf can benefit from a top-notch training facility, but the golf course offers challenges for golfers of all skill levels.
8. Discover Local Art and Culture
North Port Art Center
The North Port Art Center is a hub for local artists and art enthusiasts. It offers exhibitions, classes, and an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local arts scene, promoting creativity and cultural awareness in the community. The center frequently hosts art exhibits, workshops, and even art shows for aspiring artists to display their creations.
Visual Arts Center
Located in Punta Gorda, the Visual Arts Center is a dynamic art hub with galleries, studios, and a wide range of art classes for all ages. Whether you’re a professional artist or just starting to explore your creative side, this center offers opportunities for artistic growth and appreciation.
A short drive to Sarasota will lead you to The Ringling, a cultural treasure trove featuring art collections, stunning gardens, and the historic Ca’d’Zan mansion. It’s the legacy of circus magnate John Ringling, and it’s a place where art, history, and architecture converge. Without a doubt, this is one of the most interesting things to do in North Port, Florida.
Boca Grande History Center
In nearby Boca Grande, this museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of the area, from its Calusa Indian heritage to the Gasparilla Island’s role in the tarpon fishing industry. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the heritage of the Gulf Coast..
Venice Theatre is a community treasure that hosts a variety of performances, from Broadway-style shows to local productions. Be sure to check their schedule for upcoming shows, and enjoy a night of entertainment and culture.
9. Dive into All the Fun Things To Do In North Port for Kids and Families
North Port Aquatic Center
The North Port Aquatic Center is the city’s water park and offers various aquatic activities and fun for families. It’s a great place for kids to enjoy water slides, splash areas, and swimming, providing a refreshing and entertaining experience during hot Florida days – even during winter! There’s a heated competition pool, the exhilarating Barracuda Blast drop slide, and the bliss of the Relaxahatchee Lazy River. Smaller kids will have a great time at the Pelican Splashground.
Escape Port Charlotte
This escape room adventure is a fun and challenging experience for families. It encourages problem-solving, teamwork, and adventure in a safe and immersive environment. It’s a fantastic opportunity for families to work together to solve puzzles and unlock clues within a time limit. You can choose from a range of different adventures and it gets thrilling reviews!
Butler Park / Playground
Butler Park is a wonderful spot in the heart of North Port with a fantastic playground, making it an ideal place for families to enjoy some outdoor fun. Kids can run, play, and explore the playground equipment, basketball courts, or athletic fields while parents relax in the park’s 42 acres of peaceful surroundings. You’ll also find the Aquatic Center located within this park.
Catching a spring training baseball game with the Atlanta Braves at CoolToday Park in nearby Venice is a thrilling outing for families. Enjoy America’s pastime in a modern stadium with excellent facilities. Don’t forget to get a hot dog and popcorn as you cheer on the team.
Sarasota Jungle Gardens
A short drive away in Sarasota, the Sarasota Jungle Gardens are a family-friendly attraction that features exotic animals, interactive exhibits, and beautifully landscaped gardens. It’s an educational and entertaining destination for all ages. Kids will delight in up-close encounters with flamingos, alligators, and playful primates.
10. Explore Things to Do Near North Port in Neighboring Places
The Fisherman’s Village is a waterfront shopping and dining destination just a short drive away in Punta Gorda, offering boutiques, galleries, and delicious dining options. Stroll along the harbor, enjoy live music, and take in the scenic views.
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is a marine research and education center in Sarasota. Explore marine life exhibits and interactive displays, providing a fascinating and educational experience for visitors of all ages.
Siesta Key Beach, located near Sarasota, is renowned for its powdery white sand and crystal-clear waters. It consistently ranks among the top beaches in the United States and is a fantastic place for swimming, sunbathing, and beach volleyball.
The Venice Historic Train Depot is a charming piece of history. Take a self-guided tour through the restored train station, which now serves as a museum showcasing the city’s past.
Jelks Preserve is a nature lover’s paradise. Located in Venice, not far from North Port, the preserve features a variety of hiking trails, a freshwater lake, and a diverse range of Florida wildlife. It’s an excellent place for birdwatching and taking in the natural beauty of the area.
Time to get making your own list of things to do in North Port, Florida!
North Port, Florida, offers a wealth of experiences for locals and visitors alike. From shopping for unique souvenirs to dining on delicious Italian and Mexican cuisine, and from exploring the great outdoors to enjoying family-friendly attractions and cultural venues, North Port has something for everyone.
And, with nearby cities like Sarasota, Venice, Punta Gorda, and Cape Coral offering easy access to additional opportunities for exploration and entertainment, North Port serves as a central hub for a memorable Gulf Coast adventure.
Whether you’re here for a short visit or a dream relocation, there’s a wealth of things to do in North Port, Florida. So, check out the links, mark your favorites, and get started on making your own list of must-do things in North Port!
Thinking of Moving to North Port, Florida?
We hope that this post has given you some insight into all of the fun things this community has to offer. We love it, and we’re sure you will too!
To learn more about living in North Port you can check out our full relocation guide here, which gives you all the details on life in this affordable yet mesmerizing Gulf Coast paradise.
Plus, if you’re thinking about moving to North Port, we’ve compiled a selection of stunning homes for sale in the area which you can find here.
Feel free to reach out to our team of agents with any questions or to help you find the perfect place!