Travel

Philly Foodie Travel Destination: Punta Gorda & Charlotte Harbor, FL

Travel to Punta Gorda and Charlotte Harbor Florida from Philadelphia

Are you looking to get away for an extended weekend to somewhere warmer? Are you a traveling foodie? We’ve got the perfect destination for you — Punta Gorda & Charlotte Harbor on the Gulf Coast in Southwest Florida. Last year, we had the opportunity to take a sponsored trip to visit the area, take in the sights, sounds, and eat a lot of amazing food. Punta Gorda, FL is an amazing foodie town. Here’s why!

First of all, you need to get there. Frontier Airlines has made that super easy. When in season, you can fly from PHL to PGD (Punta Gorda) three times per week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday) and return from PDG to PHL. Alternately, you can take American Airlines from PHL to RSW (Fort Myers, FL) which is about 30-40 minutes south of Punta Gorda.

(FAST or Florida Airport Shuttle Transportation offers friendly and reliable airport transportation to and from Punta Gorda Airport or Southwest Florida Airport. We highly recommend them. Ask for Gene and tell him Philly Grub sent you!)

Second of all, you need to figure out where you’re going to stay. We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside. This hotel is right on the Charlotte Harbor so the view is spectacular!

Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside

Four Points by Sheraton at Punta Gorda Harborside

Four Points by Sheraton at Punta Gorda Harborside (source: Google)

The accommodations at Four Points by Sheraton at Punta Gorda Harborside are super comfortable! The rooms are spacious, bright, and clean. There is free Wifi which is a must for traveling foodies. There’s a pool. Hello, this is Florida after all. There’s a casual restaurant and bar, Dockside Grill in Punta Gorda, FL, right inside the hotel on the first floor which serves the classic American fare and offers a variety of beers on tap in addition to some standard cocktails. There’s also a Tiki bar outside! That was the first place we hit after we checked-in and got settled.

Tiki Bar at Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside

TT’s Tiki Bar in Punta Gorda

The tiki bar was in full swing when we got there in the afternoon. Floridians and tourists alike were enjoying some libations and the breeze off the harbor. We hung out for about an hour or so nibbling on nachos and drinking Margaritas, natch! Such a relaxing way to spend the day.

Inside Tiki Bar at Four Points Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside

Inside TT’s Tiki Bar in Punta Gorda

We highly recommend staying at this hotel in Punta Gorda, FL. While the the Dockside Grill and TT’s serves food and munchies, save your appetite because there’s plenty of other restaurants and eats in Punta Gorda. And we went to many of them. Let’s explore the restaurant scene of Punta Gorda and things to do while there, shall we?

Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda

An absolute must visit while in Punta Gorda is Fishermen’s Village. This unique gem is a resort destination that offers waterfront restaurants, boutique shopping, entertainment, and harbor tours right from the marina.

Fishermen's Village Punta Gorda FL

Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda, FL [Photo: David Johnson/Philly Grub]

From the marina at Fishermen’s Village, you can take a sightseeing cruise around Charlotte Harbor with King Fisher Fleet Cruises.

King Fisher Cruises Port Charlotte Harbor FL

King Fisher Sunset Cruises Port Charlotte, FL [Photo: David Johnson/Philly Grub]

We can’t recommend this experience enough. The sunset cruise up and down Charlotte Harbor was stunning – so serene and beautiful. We have MANY pictures of the breathtaking sunset, but take a look at the picture below and you will get the gist.

Sunset on Charlotte Harbor FL

Amazing Sunset on Charlotte Harbor FL

After the cruise, you’ll want to grab something to eat at one of the many restaurants at Fishermen’s Village such as The Captain’s Table, Harpoon Harry’s, Scotty’s Brewhouse, or the Village Fish Market, serving New England-style seafood in Florida. We had a great meal here. The seafood and fish we sampled was fresh and delicious!

Village Fish Market at Fishermen's Village in Punta Gorda FL

Village Fish Market Punta Gorda, FL [Photo: David Johnson/Philly Grub]

Downtown Punta Gorda: A Foodie’s Delight

If you’re not sure where you’d like dine downtown, how about taking a walking food tour of Punta Gorda instead? Southwest Florida Food Tours offers the Bites of Punta Gorda Culinary Tour which a 3 hour walking tour that takes you through the Punta Gorda’s Historic District with stops at 5 restaurants and eateries.

City of Punta Gorda FL

Downtown Punta Gorda, FL [Photo: David Johnson/Philly Grub]

We LOVED this tour. Not only for the food, but because it was a great way to see Punta Gorda and the many murals they have. Like Philadelphia, they are proud of their murals and go to great lengths to preserve the mural art that is found throughout the downtown on buildings. Visit Punta Gorda Historic Mural Society’s website to learn more!

Punta Gorda FL Mural

End of the Line Mural in Punta Gorda FL [Photo: David Johnson/Philly Grub]

Our culinary walking tour of Punta Gorda took us to the following restaurants: Isabel & Annabel’s Mexican Restaurant, Trabue (now closed), Manatee’s Pizza, The IceHouse British Pub, and Harborwalk Scoops and Bites.

We thoroughly enjoyed visiting all of these establishments as they all had unique food and atmosphere. We especially loved IceHouse Pub because we got to try some great beers which helped cool us down in the Florida heat!

Beer Flight at IceHouse Pub in Punta Gorda FL

Beer Flight [Photo: David Johnson/Philly Grub]

Peace River Seafood

While the walking tour was outstanding, we were incredibly impressed by our visit to Peace River Seafood. A true seafood lovers paradise!

Peace River Seafood Punta Gorda FL

Peace River Seafood [Photo: David Johnson/Philly Grub]

Not only is it a restaurant, but also a seafood market where you can pick up the fresh catch of the day to make for yourself at home.

Peace River Seafood Market Punta Gorda FL

Peace River Seafood Market [Photo: David Johnson/Philly Grub]

Every thing they serve is caught FRESH that day. In fact, we had a fun time picking our our blue crab that would be served to us that morning!

Blue Crab at Peace River Seafood Punta Gorda FL

Blue Crab Pickin’ at Peace River Seafood [Photo: David Johnson/Philly Grub]

And let me tell you, they were DELICIOUS! I’ve had blue crab before, but there was something special about these. They were rich, succulent, and sweet! Look at all that crab meat!!

Delicious Blue Crab at Peace River Seafood Punta Gorda FL

Eating Blue Crab at Peace River Seafood [Photo: David Johnson/Philly Grub]

We also learned how to make Gator Gumbo while we were there. No, we didn’t catch our own gators. 😉

Gator Gumbo at Peace River Seafood Punta Gorda FL

Fresh Made Gator Gumbo at Peace River Seafood [Photo: David Johnson/Philly Grub]

I’ve had multiple gumbos before, but this was probably the best I ever had. It contains Florida gator, fresh caught shrimp, Cajun andouille sausage, the “holy trinity” (celery, onion, and green pepper), and fresh crab all served with saffron rice. The chef showed us how they make their roux (base of the gumbo); it generally takes a few hours for the roux to turn the proper milk chocolate brown color for maximum gumbo flavor.

Delicious Gator Gumbo at Peace River Seafood Punta Gorda FL

Gator Gumbo Y’all [Photo: David Johnson/Philly Grub]

We highly recommend you check out Peace River Seafood for the freshest seafood in Punta Gorda (and don’t forget to tell them Philly Grub sent you!)

The Perfect Caper: Fine Dining in Punta Gorda

If you’re looking for something a bit more fancy/upscale, The Perfect Caper is for you.

The Perfect Caper in Punta Gorda FL

The Perfect Caper in Punta Gorda FL [Photo: David Johnson/Philly Grub]

We enjoyed an exquisite dinner here. The atmosphere was elegant, but not stuffy at all. The elevated cuisine was mostly American with French influence. Everything we had was well-executed — we enjoyed a bevy of fine food — Steamed PEI Mussels, Crispy Shrimp, Salmon Tartare, Beet Salad, Pomme Frites, Filet Mignon, and Lamb Chops… just to name a few. The Perfect Caper delivered high-quality fare that we were beyond pleased with. Our party left quite full as you can imagine!

Fat Point Brewing in Punta Gorda

After such a fine dinner, we popped on over to Fat Point Brewing, a craft beer brewery and taproom in Punta Gorda, for a few post-dinner beers.

Fat Point Brewing Punta Gorda FL

Fat Point Brewing in Punta Gorda FL [Photo: David Johnson/Philly Grub]

They brew many beers, both year-round and seasonals, and we sampled quite a few!

Fat Point Brewing Flight Punta Gorda FL

Fat Point Beer Flight [Photo: David Johnson/Philly Grub]

If you’re a beer lover, you have to visit Fat Point Brewing. Start with the Big Boca Ale and work your way up from there.

From Punta Gorda to Englewood Beach

We experienced a lot in Punta Gorda in a short amount of time. I believe we only scratched the surface there, but we were whisked away to nearby Englewood Beach, FL for another adventure!

Weston’s WannaB Inn

We stayed at Weston’s WannaB Inn on Manasota Key in Englewood Beach. Talk about the best possible place to stay for us (vintage mid-century modern crazy people). A real throwback kind of place as far as the architecture and decor.

Weston's WannaB Inn Englewood Beach FL

Weston’s WannaB Inn [Photo: Philly Grub]

We LOVED our room and it was basically right on the beach. Step outside, toes hit sand, and see ALL the beautiful blue water of the Gulf of Mexico. It doesn’t get any more beautiful than that.

Gulf of Mexico View from WannaB Inn Englewood Beach FL

Paradise AKA Manasota Key, Englewood Beach FL [Photo: Philly Grub]

Gulf of Mexico Charter Fishing!

Our adventure in Englewood Beach began with some early morning charter fishing with Capt. Chris O’Neil of Tail Chasers Charters. I’ve only been on a boat a handful of times so this was an exciting adventure to me. Never went deep sea fishing either!

Charter Fishing on the Gulf of Mexico with Tail Chasers Fishing

David Johnson… on a boat! [Photo: Philly Grub]

Capt. Chris took us about 15 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico. Blue sky and water as far as the eye could see. Not even a speck of land on the horizon. WOW! Yes, I did get a little seasick, but not too bad. I bounced back pretty easily. All total that day, I caught six fish! One of those fish we took back to the Lock ‘N Key to eat for lunch. 🙂

Lock ‘N Key Englewood Beach, FL

Once our fishing excursion had completed, we headed back to land to lunch at the Lock ‘N Key Restaurant & Pub in Englewood Beach. They will gladly clean and cook your fresh catch of the day. Cool, huh?

Lock N Key Englewood Beach FL

Lock ‘N Key Restaurant [Photo: Philly Grub]

While we were there, they were celebrating Let’s Eat Englewood Restaurant Week. While that menu was rather tempting, I was excited to feast on my catch — a paltry 6 lb. mackerel — but it was enough for everyone in our party to enjoy a few bites. We had ordered some other tasty things like fried conch fritters and calamari. I love calamari so much!

Fried Calamari at Lock 'n Key Englewood Beach FL

Fried Calamari at Lock ‘N Key Englewood Beach [Photo: Philly Grub]

Florida Sunset on Englewood Beach

After the excitement (and exhaustion) of fishing in the morning and a big fried lunch at the Lock ‘N Key, we headed back to the WannaB for a bit of a siesta before our dinner plans that evening. Once we were rested up and refreshed, we were treated to a beautiful Gulf of Mexico sunset. We celebrated this beautiful occasion with a little wine on the beach, too. It was an emotional moment for me, I have to admit. I didn’t think we were going to be able to vacation last year. When this opportunity came up, I relished it. It was what I needed and more…

Englewood Beach FL Sunset at Manasota Key

Manasota Key Sunset [Photo: Philly Grub]

What more can I say? True paradise!

Farlow’s on the Water

We ended our time in Englewood and on this Florida trip with dinner at Farlow’s on the Water. If you’re ever in Englewood, I highly recommend this be THE restaurant you go to. No really, you MUST go.

Owners are Keith and Laurie Farlow. He’s originally from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and she is originally from Louisville, Kentucky. They’ve managed to create a restaurant and menu that fits both of them. Big on fresh-caught whole fish; including many native to Keith’s Caribbean homeland such as Mahi, Wahoo, and others that he has delivered frequently. Laurie has something near and dear to her on the specialty menu… Kentucky Hot Brown! I’ve never had it before so that is exactly what I ordered.

What is Kentucky Hot Brown? It’s toasted sourdough bread topped with slow roasted turkey, tomato & bacon then smothered with our creamy cheddar cheese sauce and baked until hot & heavenly. So good, I almost died! 😉

We had a few other things, and killer cocktails, but you just have to experience it for yourself!

Conclusion: Visit Punta Gorda and Charlotte Harbor, FL!

You should take a foodie trip to Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, and Englewood Beach – end of story. Certainly go to enjoy the paradise of Florida, too. There’s more to do than eat, but the eating will be fun… I promise! Just tell them you heard all about it here first. And tag me on your photos! 🙂

Click on the image below to learn more about traveling to Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, and Englewood Beach, FL.

Punta Gorda, Charlotte Harbor FL Visitors Guide

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