As Valentine’s Day soon approaches, many couples and other romantics will be looking for non-traditional ways to celebrate their love this holiday. For an enchanting Valentine’s Day that is anything but ordinary, upgrade from the standard box of chocolates or long-stem roses with a romantic retreat to a sweet spot on Southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast that will sweep your Valentine off his or her feet.
In a secluded coastal hideaway, tucked halfway between Sarasota and Fort Myers, lies Punta Gora/Englewood Beach, a charming collection of nine coastal communities surrounding the state’s second largest marine estuary, Charlotte Harbor. The area offers breathtaking beaches, charming accommodations, natural attractions and an unspoiled beauty that inspires romance.
Providing an exceptional opportunity to cozy up to a sweetheart this February (or any time of the year), here, peaceful pastimes for two include:
Cruising Around Charlotte Harbor: Kindle the romance on kayak as you traverse some of Florida’s most scenic waterways in this eco-centered aquatic paradise, with opportunities to spot an array of marine life and other wildlife. Blessed with over 200 miles of natural shoreline, barrier islands and mangrove forests, Charlotte Harbor’s Blueway Trails is a charming collection of fascinating paddling trails with a variety of habitats ranging from freshwater rivers and creeks to saltwater coastal areas.
Add some splash to your romance with an intimate kayak wedding or vow renewal package offered by Phoenix Kayak Tours and paddle off into the beachy bliss of coastal Southwest Florida. Choice of remote barrier islands for reception locations (with opportunities to kayak Punta Gorda, Placida, Englewood, Charlotte Harbor and Boca Grande) include:
Don Pedro Island, just about the most perfect beach anywhere with plenty of shells and warm water, is a secluded barrier island accessible by boat or car ferry. Picnicking, birding and wildlife viewing are popular here, but the star attraction is the mile-long beach at the State Park fronting the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Little Gasparilla Island is also accessible by boat. It’s part of seven miles of secluded beaches, along with Don Pedro Island and Knight Island, perfect for swimming, fishing, shelling, and bird watching. Accommodations for the wedding party and guests are available in rental condominiums and homes, just know guests need to bring their own supplies, as there are no stores, restaurants on-island or cars on the island.
Manasota Key is home to Chadwick Park at Englewood Beach and Stump Pass Beach State Park where beachgoers regularly comb for shells, take in an afternoon of sunning and swimming, or surf-fish for the main course for that night’s dinner.
Knight Island (Palm Island), accessible only by ferry or boat, has two miles of beaches where it’s easy to get Florida sand in your shoes. A prototype for white sand, blue sky and clear water beaches, Knight Island is home to Palm Island Resort, a popular wedding and honeymoon venue.
Boca Grande, a historic fishing village and beach town set on Gasparilla Island at Boca Grande Pass, is highlighted by a circa-1890 lighthouse, a host of charming shops and boutiques, and a walking- and biking-friendly downtown where captains of industry and Presidents play.
Pedaling Through Punta Gorda – Florida’s First Free Bike Loaner Program: Recognized as a Florida bike-friendly community by the Florida Bicycle Association, historic downtown Punta Gorda is the perfect place to embark on a lovers’ leisurely pedal. Couples can bring their own bikes, or opt instead to use one of the City’s complimentary loaner bikes, offered at six area locations. Go for a romantic ride and enjoy a memorable journey while taking in the natural beauty and historic charm that permeates the City.
Wining and Dining on Local Fare: Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach restaurants offer an array of unique dining experiences, with an eclectic mix of sidewalk cafes, seafood shacks, waterfront eateries, fine dining and sweet spots. Here, couples will enter into a foodie paradise where an incredible variety of unique and delicious (many outdoor) independently owned and operated restaurants are plentiful and chain restaurants are slim to none. Notable culinary experiences include dinner at Golden Spoon recipient The Perfect Caper, headed by multi-time nominee for the James Beard Foundation Best Chef in the South, Jeanie Roland; tropical, outdoor dining at Farlow’s on the Water in Englewood, offering live music, a beautiful view and delicious dishes with a splendid southern twist; and historic downtown dining with a unique setting at Turtle Club Tavern and Claw Bar serving full-on favorites with gourmet flair.
Sailing Away Together: Named one of the top 10 greatest places to sail in the U.S. by SAIL Magazine, Charlotte Harbor in the Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach area offers sailboat charters, sightseeing cruises, and private boat rentals. Take to the water and fall in love all over again while exploring Charlotte Harbor and discovering a favorite romantic pastime together.
Above are just some of the many ways couples can enjoy a peaceful escape in Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach. Please let me know if you would like any additional information or to plan a visit yourself, so you can experience all the area has to offer you. I work with the Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor & Convention Bureau and will be happy to help plan an itinerary showcasing all of things you’ll love about this eco-centered paradise, that provides all the best of Florida’s coveted outdoor activities all in one place.
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