The county seat of Charlotte County is Punta Gorda, a charming waterfront community with State Historic District status. With a population of only about 13,000 in its 14.1 square miles of land, Punta Gorda has the charm of small-town living, with the amenities of Port Charlotte, Fort Myers, and Sarasota only a short drive away.
The name “Punta Gorda” means “fat point” in Spanish, named thusly by the early Spanish explorers who noted the wide point of land that juts out into Charlotte Harbor.
The historic district of downtown Punta Gorda, a vital and growing area, offers a quaint “Old Florida” feel, with its cobblestone streets and towering shade trees. The canals of Punta Gorda Isles and Burnt Store Isles bring waterfront living to almost every resident of the neighborhood, with access to Charlotte Harbor and on out to the Gulf of Mexico. Other communities offer a wide selection of homes and lifestyles, including Deep Creek Park, Prairie Creek Park, and Seminole Lakes. Most of the subdivisions are situated either on networks of canals that provide easy access to the Harbor, or on or near golf courses.
In Punta Gorda, historic preservation is a priority. Punta Gorda obtained State Historic District status to ensure that the old-time charm of the city is kept intact. Restored old wooden homes and Spanish-style homes with broad front verandahs are found throughout the tree-lined streets of the historic district.
Golfing and tennis opportunities include nearly two dozen golf courses in the county and numerous tennis courts. Local fishing is some of the best in the county, with fishermen targeting the abundant snook, grouper, snapper, trout, bluefish, and many others. Perhaps the best-known game fish in local waters is the mighty tarpon, which can be seen roiling the water at the mouth of the Boca Grande Pass.
The Charlotte Harbor area is perfect for boaters of all types, including kayaking and canoeing, flats fishing, sailing, wind-surfing, and just plain pleasure boating. A day trip to Cayo Costa State Park on Cayo Costa Island, accessible only by boat, offers some of the best shelling anywhere, and the restaurant on Cabbage Key is a perfect setting for an afternoon cocktail on the shaded terrace overlooking Pine Island Sound.
The Fishermen’s Village complex on the Charlotte Harbor waterfront offers a marina, boutique-style shopping, and waterfront dining, and just across the Peace River is the thriving community of Port Charlotte, with its large enclosed Port Charlotte Town Center shopping mall, movie theaters and more. The Charlotte County Airport outside Punta Gorda is the home of the South Florida International Air Show every spring.
In the more rural areas of Charlotte County outside Punta Gorda are many citrus farms and cattle ranches, along with nature preserves where wildlife spotting and swamp buggy tours are favorites of nature lovers. Hunters enjoy going after game such as deer, wild boar, quail, dove and duck.
The quality of life in Punta Gorda is widely recognized:
- For four years, Money magazine has recognized Punta Gorda as one of the top five places to live in America
- Florida Trend magazine cited Punta Gorda as one of Florida’s “Small Town Gems,” saying, “a closer look reveals an active business community, a can-do attitude at City Hall and taxpayers willing to open their pocketbooks to support the city’s rejuvenation.”
- For three years in a row (2001-2003), Punta Gorda, Florida, was voted “Best Small Place for Business and Career” by the Forbes/Milken Institute
- Punta Gorda was rated among the top five “America’s Best Places to Live 2003” by MSN. MSN reported: “Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Punta Gorda has the best economy score in the nation. Current and future job growths are both excellent, the unemployment rate is very low, and the cost of living is affordable…. Punta Gorda’s 14,000 residents also enjoy the peace of mind that comes with a very low property crime rate, an extremely low personal crime rate, and low health care costs.”
For more information about Punta Gorda:
City of Punta Gorda
326 West Marion Avenue
Punta Gorda, FL 33950