Celebrate Florida’s History in Punta Gorda

Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda.
(Photo courtesy of charlotteharbortravel.com)

It has been 500 years since Juan Ponce de Leon and his explorers discovered Florida, and Viva Florida 500 is celebrating with a series of events throughout the state.

Viva Florida 500, led by the Florida Department of State, is promoting Florida’s 500-year history with over 200 events, from festivals to exhibits. One of the signature events is the Ponce de Leon Festival on March 23 and 24 in Punta Gorda on Charlotte Harbor, between Fort Myers and Tampa, in Southwest Florida.

The free event at Laishely Park will include a waterfront reenactment landing by the Royal Order of the Ponce de Leon Conquistadors; a city-wide parade; performances by Spanish-American artist Claudio B., The Boogiemen, Gary & Keri; and games for children.

For more information, visit poncedeleonfestival.com. For more on Viva Florida 500, visit vivaflorida.org.

In addition to the Viva Florida festivities, Punta Gorda offers quiet beaches, such as Englewood Beach in Charlotte Harbor, where visitors and locals can rent kayaks and canoes. Charlotte Harbor is also a destination for paddlers, offering 200 miles of Charlotte Harbor Blueway Trails, including 53 trails perfect for canoeing or kayaking.

Meanwhile, waterfront Fishermen’s Village features tons of dining and shopping options for travelers. Restaurants include the Captain’s Table, overlooking Charlotte Harbor; Harpoon Harry’s lounge and bar, which offers live music; and Village Oyster Bar, which serves seafood.

Travelers heading to the area have the 106-room Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside, located on Charlotte Harbor, near the museums and Fishermen’s Village. Guestrooms and suites offer views of the marina or harbor; private balconies; flat-screen TVs; and a Four Points by Sheraton Four comfort bed. In addition, the hotel features complimentary WiFi; complimentary self parking; an outdoor heated pool; and Dockside Grill restaurant, serving American cuisine.

For more information, call (941) 637-6770 or visit starwoodhotels.com.

For more information, visit puntagordachamber.com.