When people think of Florida, they mainly think of the big theme parks, the well-known beaches, and the big cities. It’s true that Tampa, Orlando, Miami, and so forth have a lot to offer, but so do the other cities in Florida. Specifically, Punta Gorda.
This beautiful city is a tropical oasis full of boats, streets lined with Palm Trees, beaches, and more. It is also a paradise for boaters, shoppers, and fishermen.
Although we were there for only 24 hours, my husband and I were able to do plenty of marvelous activities.
If you find yourself headed to Punta Gorda, here is a mini-guide of where to stay, eat, and things to do.
Where to Stay
Punta Gorda has plenty of seaside hotels and Airbnbs to choose from, but we opted to stay in the Holiday Inn Express and Suites Punta Gorda.
I usually do not stay in Holiday Inn, but I must say this hotel was perfect for our needs.
Holiday Inn Express and Suites Punta Gorda
In some places, this is listed as a 3-star hotel and some other websites list it as a 2-star hotel. Don’t be fooled though, this is a 3-star.
Upon walking in, I noticed how clean this hotel is. Aside from that, it looked very modern and not at all like a 2-star hotel. Checking in was quite simple and to my surprise, we didn’t have to wait long to get our room key.
- They have free breakfast that lasts until 9:30 am
- There’s also WiFi
- There’s a safe in each room
- There’s also a business center
- A pool
- There’s coffee in the lobby
- A fitness center
- On-site Guest Self-Laundry Facilities
The room was very clean and the bathroom was in excellent condition. We went with a king bed standard room, which was quite nice. It was spacious and we had a great view from the 4th floor.
Address: 9075 Mac Dr, Punta Gorda, FL 33950
Of course, there are plenty of other places for every budget.
We also looked into these hotels, which look just as good as the one we stayed in.
The Wyvern Hotel Punta Gorda
- 101 E Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda
SpringHill Suites by Marriott Punta Gorda Harborside
- 101 Harborside Ave, Punta Gorda
Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside
- 33 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda
The Suites at Fishermen’s Village
- 1200 W Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda
Where to Eat
Since we had a hotel with free breakfast, the only meals we focused on were lunch and dinner. There are plenty of different spots, but of course, we decided to stay within Fishermen’s Village, which has many different restaurants and also shops.
Fishermen’s Village Restaurants
Aside from shops, Fishermen’s Village has some great restaurants to check out.
This is a good spot to get happy hour drinks, but if you’re looking for a different kind of menu, then this is the place. You’ll find gator bites, peanut butter jalapeño burgers, Bacon Mac n’ Cheese burgers, charcuterie board, and more.
The Captain’s Table Restaurant
If you’re looking for a seafood restaurant with a great seaside view, this is it! Most of the restaurants have a seaside view, but the Captain’s table just seems to have the best view.
Aside from seafood, they also have some salads, chicken, and steak dishes.
The Pier FV
This place has both indoor and outdoor seating. The menu has quite a mix with starters such as potstickers and fried gator to entrees such as Lobster mac and cheese and braised short ribs.
The Good Ole Days Coffee & Ice Cream
Okay, so this isn’t much of a restaurant. Their focus is more on ice cream and coffee, but they do have sandwiches and hot dogs, so if you’re looking for something simple, this is it.
Also, this place has a 50s/60s vibe and has a selection of ice cream.
Address: 1200 W Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda, FL
Things to See and Do
Punta Gorda has quite a variety of activities. I wasn’t expecting there to be so much to do, but now that I know, I’ll need to make another trip to Punta Gorda soon.
Whether you’re into art museums, kayaking, or bike riding, there are all types of activities for all ages.
Museums and Galleries
I could spend hours in museums and galleries, which is why I love that there are so many to choose from in Punta Gorda.
Military Heritage Museum
I’ve been to plenty of Military Museums, but never quite as fascinating as the Military Heritage Museum in Punta Gorda. Upon arrival, we noticed a helicopter as well as a military vehicle. As soon as you enter through the doors, you can already see some of the memorabilia.
It’s not quite as big, but the museum does have two floors packed with donated memorabilia including firearms and uniforms. There are also volunteers around that are very knowledgeable and have also served in the military.
On the first floor, you’ll find three unique galleries as well as the gift shop. As fascinating as the first floor was, the second floor was the absolute best.
On the second floor, they have aircraft, tanks, and naval simulators that allow you to become part of history. They also have a library.
Address: 900 W. Marion Ave, Punta Gorda, FL
Sea Grape Gallery
If you’re in the downtown area, take a trip to Sea Grape Gallery. I love art galleries, so this was a must-visit for me.
There I met with one of the artists that gave me a tour of the gallery. Over 20 award-winning artists participate in Sea Grape Gallery, and when you make a trip to the gallery, you’ll be greeted by one of the knowledgeable members.
Sea Grape Gallery’s mission is to provide an environment for area artists to market and sell their artwork, which is what you will see when you walk through this wonderful gallery.
Known as the premier venue in Punta Gorda for high-quality fine art, Sea Grape Gallery has a bit of everything! From paintings in oil, acrylic, watercolor, and mixed media to pottery, this is a great spot to look at the hard work and passion the local artists put into their work.
Address: 113 W Marion Ave, Punta Gorda, FL
If you’re looking for a place with animals, then check out the Peace River Wildlife Center.
Peace River Wildlife Center
This local wildlife refuge & rehabilitation center offers educational tours to the public. This isn’t a big center, but they do have a variety of animals to see. You’ll mostly see birds such as Owls, Bald Eagles, and Vultures.
Although this is free to go to, they do appreciate a $5 donation. They also have a gift shop if you’d prefer to show your support by purchasing something.
Address: 3400 Ponce de Leon Pkwy, Punta Gorda, FL
We weren’t thinking of going to a park, but we couldn’t resist going to the Ponce de Leon park since it was right where Peace River Wildlife Center is located.
Ponce de Leon Park
This park is quite unique due to the fact that it talks about Ponce de Leon! Around the park, you’ll find historical facts about Ponce de Leon and the first white man to die in America.
The Ponce de Leon park also has a boat ramp, fishing piers, a mangrove boardwalk, a small playground, an open-air chapel area, and a picnic pavilion. You’ll also see locals enjoying the man-made beach as well.
We couldn’t miss out on going to the gardens, so we decided to head over to the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens.
Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens
This beautiful garden is quite huge! It took us at least two hours to get through the whole thing. The Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens is a 30-acre waterfront oasis that has flowering trees and plants blooming throughout the year.
There are also more than 15,000 sq. ft. of boardwalks and docks that provide viewing of the Garden’s massive sculptures.
Aside from all the flowers and sculptures, there’s also a butterfly house, a sensory garden, a plant sale, and a gift shop.
Address: 5827 Riverside Dr., Punta Gorda, FL
Bookstore and Coffee
There’s plenty to do in the downtown area, and though I didn’t get to see it all, I did make a stop at a bookstore and coffee before heading to the art gallery.
Unfiltered Punta Gorda
When I first saw this, I just had to stop and get some coffee. This coffee shop has pink accents on the outside with colorful seats, a mural, and some Alice in Wonderland-looking figurines.
The inside is just as colorful as the outside, even more with the murals in different rooms, the colorful furniture, and the vintage items that decorate the rooms.
Each room is perfect for photos. From the bathtub with pink balls that look like bubbles to the Mona Lisa painting hanging on the outside patio. Aside from the beautiful rooms, they also serve some delicious bagels and of course coffee.
Address: 321 Taylor Street, Punta Gorda, FL
This was a happy surprise. I wasn’t expecting to go to a bookstore, but I had seen this on my way to Unfiltered and decided to look inside.
I absolutely love bookstores and upon seeing everything this bookstore has to offer, I couldn’t resist and bought a book.
Copperfish books sell new books, but they also have used options, which are of course cheaper than the new books. There’s also a vintage book section, which was quite fascinating to check out.
Address: 212 West Virginia Ave #112, Punta Gorda, FL
There’s a free bicycle loaner program by TEAM Punta Gorda, that allows you to borrow a bicycle at four different locations for free.
• Laishley Marina – 120 Laishley Ct
• Four Points Sheraton – 33 Tamiami Trail
• Bayfront Wellness Center – 733 E. Olympia
• Springhill Suites 101 Harborside
Since we were only in Punta Gorda for 24 hours, we didn’t have time to go on any tours, but we decided we’d come back in the future and do the below tours.
Babcock Ranch Eco Tours
At the Babcock Ranch Eco Tours, you’ll get a narrated 90-minute eco-tour through the ranch. Here you’ll see wildlife in nature – alligators, birds, perhaps deer, wild hogs, wild turkeys, Sandhill cranes, and more.
They have different types of tours to choose from, and they also have a gift shop and restaurant.
Address: 8502 FL-31, Punta Gorda, FL
Punta Gorda has a bunch of other activities I haven’t mentioned. From kayaking to opera performances, this beautiful city has plenty to offer visitors.
Disclaimer: I was provided visitor passes with complimentary admission to many of the places listed above by the Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor & Convention Bureau, but as always all opinions are my own.