Last Updated November 14, 2023
Situated in Charlotte County, Port Charlotte is a waterfront city with an enviable location along the stunning Peace River and Charlotte Harbor, providing a gateway to endless opportunities for outdoor adventure.
Established in the 1950s as a planned community, Port Charlotte has become a tight-knit community that oozes unique experiences that combine its rich past with modern attractions. With a proud history of exploration and a commitment to preserving its pristine surroundings, Port Charlotte beckons with a world of possibilities for those seeking a piece of paradise.
The city itself retains that Florida small-town charm but is conveniently nestled between major destinations like Sarasota and Fort Myers. It’s the perfect place for a weekend away, a fabulous day trip, or even as a relaxing base while you explore the wider area. To help you get the most out of your time here, we’re sharing some of what we think are the best things to do in Port Charlotte, Florida.
Read More: If you’re considering making Port Charlotte your home, check out our complete relocation guide here.
Discover Port Charlotte Beach Park
Port Charlotte Beach Park is the perfect place to kick off your visit. With its sandy beach along Charlotte Harbor, picnic areas, play parks, boat ramp and a fishing pier, it offers a relaxed atmosphere for families and sun-seekers. The shoreline is perfect for paddleboarding and kayaking, looking out onto picturesque views of the Gasparilla Sound – Charlotte Harbor, and you can enjoy some dinner on the BBQ grills in the Pavillions afterward. There’s also a public swimming pool here as well that overlooks the water. Lastly, Port Charlotte Beach park is a popular spot for local events and activities, including movie nights, pool parties and community fundraisers.
The city sits a bit further inland and does not sit along the Gulf of Mexico, but there are a number of amazing Gulf Beaches only a short drive away, including many nearby beaches that are bucket-list trips. Some of the nicest beaches that are closest to Port Charlotte include Englewood Beach, Stump Pass Beach Park, Venice Beach and Manasota Key Beach.
Explore Tippecanoe Environmental Park
For nature enthusiasts, this is an excellent place to explore the local ecology and take in the beauty of the surroundings. Tippecanoe Environmental Park offers hiking trails, a butterfly garden, and abundant wildlife, including wading birds, reptiles, amphibians, osprey, bald eagles, and the endangered Florida scrub jay.
The 354-acre park consists of coastal scrub, pine flatwoods, and salt marsh at the mouth of Tippecanoe Creek. It features an ADA-accessible trail and restrooms, as well as opportunities for birding, canoeing, kayaking, and paddling. Given the primarily undisturbed habitat in the park, a trip here is one of the more unique things to do in Port Charlotte, Florida.
Bird Spotting at Ollie’s Pond Park
One of the best things about Port Charlotte is the sheer variety of parks to stroll around. Ollie’s Pond Park is a delightful place to relax, take an enjoyable stroll, and observe the local wildlife in their natural habitat. The park is dog-friendly and also offers several perfect spots for fishing. It’s a beautiful place for birdwatchers, though if that’s not your idea of a charming day out, you may be better off choosing another of our options for things to do in Port Charlotte.
Catch a Game at Port Charlotte Sports Park
Catching a baseball game at the Port Charlotte Sports Park is a great family-friendly activity. This 82-acre arena is the spring training ground for the Tampa Bay Rays. It houses training grounds, batting cages, and even a kid’s play area.
Baseball Spring Training is a big deal in Southwest Florida and many fans make the trek down to Florida to catch games at many of the parks, including CoolToday Park in nearby North Port which is home to the Atlanta Braves Spring Training facility.
This area around the stadium is buzzing with excitement during a game, but also all year long with special events and activities. Adjacent to the stadium are multiple restaurants including The Twisted Fork, which is popular for their live music shows as well as a Harley Davidson which often holds events too. Plus, it’s attached to the Tippecanoe Environmental Park, so after the game, you could quickly head over for a stroll through the Park to unwind from a tense game!
Take in a Show at Charlotte Players Theater
Charlotte Players Theater is the central hub for events in Port Charlotte. It hosts a wide range of local theater productions as well as larger community events, individual performances, and national talent. Since opening in 1961, it has hosted over 3000 performances, as well as acting classes for adults and kids.
Additionally, the theater gives back to the community by partnering with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, sending over 125,000 books to registered preschool children in Charlotte County since 2012. It’s a beautiful building, a friendly place to catch events in Port Charlotte, and a fantastic community hub to support.
Indulge Your Inner Child at Kidstar Park
Kidstar Park is southwest Florida’s premiere family entertainment center, providing the ultimate arcade and amusement park experience. It offers a fantastic playground and picnic area for children to enjoy, go-karts, mini-golf, i-Combat, and a huge soft play area to explore. Adults will have plenty of fun, too, with welcoming bistros and a vintage arcade to take you back to your childhood fun! If it’s a fun, exhilarating, family day out you’re looking for, this option should be on your list of things to do in Port Charlotte, Florida.
Tour the Gasparilla-Sound Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve
The only deep-water harbor between Tampa and Key-West, this aquatic preserve is blessed with abundant aquatic flora and fauna. This protected area is essential for preserving the delicate balance of aquatic ecosystems. It’s a vital sanctuary for a diverse range of marine life, including seagrasses, wading birds, and various fish species, and is part of the larger Charlotte Harbor Estuary, which is one of Florida’s largest and most pristine estuarine systems.
Visitors can enjoy the preserve through activities like boating, kayaking, and birdwatching, all while appreciating the untouched natural beauty of the region.
Brewing at the Gilded Grape Winery & Wine Bar
Savor a glass of locally-produced wine and enjoy live music at the Gilded Grape Winery & Wine Bar. This tasteful venue makes all of the wine on-site, and their friendly staff can guide you through the fermentation process or even help you make your own wine here over 6-8 weeks. Gilded Grape also hosts weekly and monthly entertainment events, which you can enjoy while sampling your favorite wines.
Scuba Dive with Fantasea
If you are looking for some adventure in the glorious Gulf waters, then why not try your hand at a pot of scuba-diving with Fantasea Scuba. This top-of-the-range instruction school provides training for all ages and abilities, as well as equipment hire, in both the lakes and oceans of the area. Classes offered range from an absolute beginner learning basic techniques to becoming a certified diver. With such amazing sights to behold in the Gulf Waters, these scuba diving adventures are at the top of our list of fun things to do in Port Charlotte, Florida.
Delight in Angling Adventures
The diverse and bountiful waters around Port Charlotte and the Charlotte Harbor are a goldmine for adventurous anglers. Whether you prefer a relaxing day with your reel on the water or a mighty challenge testing your fishing abilities, you’ll find it here.
An enjoyable day out for anglers is to hire fishing charters in Port Charlotte. Florida’s southwest coastline has a vast selection of reputable Captains ready to show you the waters. Additionally, the saltwater canal fishing in Port Charlotte, FL, is continuously praised by locals and visitors alike, with rewards such as snook, black drum, and redfish aplenty.
Go Wild at Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park
With over 45,000 acres and over 70 miles of shoreline, the Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park is the third-largest Florida State Park. It has many trails to explore and is the perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors near Port Charlotte.
You can explore the vast, rugged wilderness area via hiking trails and paddle trail systems through the mangrove forests, marshes, scrub habitats, and pine flatwoods. It’s the perfect opportunity to spot wading birds, manatees, dolphins, alligators, and other wildlife.
For the best trails, head onto the Eagle Point Trail, the Hidden Hammock Trail, or the Three Lakes Trail – all nice and easy! Alternatively, you can also stop in at the Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center (CHEC) located in the park near Punta Gorda. This nonprofit group offers a visitor center, environmental education programs, and interpretive guided hikes.
Dinner with Some Humor
If you enjoy a laugh and like to keep things light-hearted, then Visani Restaurant & Comedy Theater is a stop you will want to take advantage of. Treat your taste buds to delicious cuisine while you soak up live comedy performances. It’s a delightful combination of dining and entertainment that will put a smile on your face and your tummy!
Roam the Gasparilla Island State Park
Tucked away off Charlotte Harbor, Gasparilla Island State Park is just a 30-minute drive from downtown Port Charlotte. It’s easily accessible via the Boca Grande Causeway from Placida, making it a perfect spot for a half-day visit.
Once there, make sure to explore the rich history of the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum, which has stood proudly since the 1800s. The museum is set against a pristine, incredibly beautiful beach. It’s one of the best things to do in Port Charlotte if you’re looking to escape from the town itself.
Get Active at North Charlotte Regional Park
North Charlotte Regional Park caters to various sports enthusiasts, featuring baseball fields, football fields, and even a disc golf course for those looking to refine their throwing skills. If you’re up for a swimming challenge, you’ll be pleased to know that they’ve recently unveiled a sparkling new Olympic-length pool.
After your workout, stroll to the nearby Charlotte County Fair, one of the most fun events in Port Charlotte, which traditionally unfolds at the end of January, promising a delightful dose of entertainment and fun. Beyond the fair this area is host to events year-round. This understated park is worth a visit for the more active among us!
Browse Unique Art Galleries
Hatch Galleries is a tantalizing sensory experience for the art lover. Packed full of one-of-a-kind driftwood sculptures, 3D artwork, and rustic creations with a contemporary twist, this intimate little gallery will delight your every sense. Brighten your day with the bold colors and a cheery conversation as you browse local and national art exhibits. There’s such an eclectic mix of pieces that this is easily one of the most interesting things to do in Port Charlotte.
Shopping at Sun Flea Market
Serving Port Charlotte for over 40 years, the Sun Flea Market is a central community hotspot for unique finds, fresh produce, and local food vendors. The market hosted an influx of new vendors in 2018 and has enjoyed an uptick in use ever since. It’s an ideal spot for shopping, sampling local flavors, or even relaxing at the cafe.
Visit Punta Gorda
Port Charlotte is undeniably a nature lover’s paradise. With a wide range of landscapes and habitats, you can find something for every taste. This small town has a perfect blend of culture, arts, eateries, and activities, making it the ideal getaway place.
But the fun doesn’t end there!
Port Charlotte’s convenient location makes it the ideal spot to use as a base for further exploration.
Aside from the growing neighboring town of North Port, one of our favorite and most underrated neighboring towns is Punta Gorda. Practically a stone’s throw away from Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda is a lovely and charming town with so much to do! In fact, one of our favorite farmers markets in the area takes place every weekend in downtown Punta Gorda!
Experience Wildlife Up Close
Experience the local wildlife at the Peace River Wildlife Center, which specializes in rehabilitating orphaned and injured animals. Residents here cannot return to the wild, so it’s an excellent opportunity to make them comfortable and provide valuable education to the public about the native wildlife. You’ll find gopher tortoises, marsh rabbits, bald eagles, black vultures, and more. Visit at 2.30 pm to see the Pelican feedings.
Peruse the Fishermen’s Village
Indulge in shopping, dining, and scenic harbor views at Fishermen’s Village, a charming waterfront destination in Punta Gorda. It hosts a range of boutique stores, an entertainment complex, and a wide choice of restaurants with scenic waterfront views. It’s a perfect spot to slow down after your outdoor explorations.
Check Out Muscle Car City
Get your automotive fix at Muscle Car City, a museum dedicated to classic cars and memorabilia. Car enthusiasts of all ages can immerse themselves in vehicular nostalgia as they explore a captivating journey through the world of American muscle cars.
Attend Festivals and Events at Laishley Park
Laishley Park is the perfect place for outdoor activities, with a playground, fishing pier, and boat launch facilities. It’s an ideal spot for a family picnic while enjoying the waterfront ambiance. The park offers panoramic views of the water, where you can enjoy the sunsets just a short walk from downtown Punta Gorda.
You’ll also find Punta Gorda events hosted here, too. Annual festivals such as the Taste of Punta Gorda and Peace River Annual Art Festival are held in Laishley Park and always attract a great turnout. For more information on Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda events you can visit the events calendar here.
Explore the World’s Biggest Reptile Sanctuary
Embark on a remarkable reptilian adventure at IguanaLand in Punta Gorda, home to an astounding 230 reptile species! From iguanas and chameleons to tortoises, turtles, and monitor lizards, every corner of the sanctuary teems with captivating creatures.
You can wander at your leisure, opt for the Animal Encounters for an up-close interaction, where you can handle and feed them, or go all-in with the VIP package for an extraordinary behind-the-scenes tour. It’s a reptile lover’s paradise waiting to be explored and is undoubtedly one of the most fun things to do in Port Charlotte and nearby areas.
Soar to New Heights!
If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush and breathtaking panoramas, consider taking the plunge, quite literally, with Skydive Southwest Florida. Safety is paramount, with all jumps being tandem, guided by seasoned skydiving experts. For those looking to share in the thrill, there’s also a designated viewing area for family and friends to witness the daring escapade. If you’re up for the challenge, this is one of the most thrilling things to do in Port Charlotte.
Discover America’s Military Legacy
At the Military Heritage Museum, the mission is clear: to foster a deep appreciation and reverence for the illustrious military history of the United States, as well as the immeasurable sacrifices made by the nation’s veterans, both past and present. The museum’s exhibits are a treasure trove of over a thousand military artifacts, from the Spanish-American War to contemporary conflicts, accompanied by a vast collection of informative infographics and displays.
However, the experience goes beyond the artifacts, with flight and ship simulators, immersive virtual reality encounters, and live performances. It’s worth noting that the museum owes its existence to the dedication of more than 75 volunteers, many of whom are veterans themselves, generously devoting their time to bring this institution to life.
Experience the Freedom of Green Riding in Historic Downtown Punta Gorda
Punta Gorda has been recognized as a “Florida Bike-Friendly Community” by the Florida Bicycle Association. The volunteer efforts of TEAM Punta Gorda have established a fantastic Bike Loaner Program. To get on two wheels for an hour or an entire day, you only need a credit card, a driver’s license, and a signed waiver.
Bicycles are available at select downtown locations, including Four Points by Sheraton, SpringHill Suites, Fishermen’s Village, and Becky’s Garden Shoppe, subject to availability. Once you have your trusty steed, explore the Punta Gorda Pathways, an 18-mile loop trail interconnecting pedestrian and bike paths throughout the city. You’ll find well-marked bicycle routes ranging from 17 to 31 miles, ensuring a splendid and eco-friendly adventure.
Embrace Authentic Old Florida
Step into the heart of genuine Florida by embarking on Babcock Ranch Eco-Tours‘ 90-minute buggy expedition, winding through a functioning cattle ranch and the wild terrain of Telegraph Swamp. These diverse wildlife encounters could have you spotting white-tailed deer, Osceola turkeys, wild boars, and the ever-fascinating alligators. Be prepared to cross paths with the resident cracker cattle, adding to the richness of your natural encounter.
Celebrate the Fusion of Art and the Natural World
Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens logo and signature sculpture was inspired by a 50 million-year-old stone fossil of a palm frond. Scattered across the 27-acre grounds, over a dozen grand sculptures complement the ever-blooming flowering trees and many botanical wonders. A visit to the butterfly pavilion is a must, and remember to feed the koi.
What Are Your Favorite Things To Do In Port Charlotte, Florida?
With this diverse range of attractions and activities, you’ll have an unforgettable time exploring the wonders of Port Charlotte. Whether you’re interested in nature, culture, sports, or simply unwinding by the beach, Port Charlotte has it all. So, pack your bags and prepare for adventure in this hidden Florida treasure!
Remember to leave a comment to tell us which of these were your favorite things to do in Port Charlotte, Florida.