By Gabriele Walkow
Charlotte Harbor & The Gulf Islands are home to more than 70 parks, preserves and recreational areas for Allegiant travelers to explore. This sampling of four parks offers a variety of activities that are fun for the whole family.
Centrally located in downtown Punta Gorda on the scenic Peace River, Laishley Park is perfect for the whole family, including Fido (as long as he’s on a leash). There’s a pretty gazebo with a pond, Veteran’s garden, shelter with picnic tables, fishing pier, boat ramp, restrooms and sidewalk for walking, jogging and biking. The interactive fountain with pulsating water will be a definite hit with the kids! Get an ice cream from Harborwalk Scoops and Bites and enjoy the dazzling view of Laishley Park’s breathtaking marina.
PONCE DE LEON PARK
Visit this beautiful 10-acre park at Ponce de Leon Inlet to see dramatic sunsets over Charlotte Harbor from a sweeping stretch of beach. As you enter the park, you will pass the Peace River Wildlife Center, a bird rescue and rehabilitation facility. Wildlife abounds along the raised interpretive boardwalk so don’t forget your camera! Two fishing piers, a playground, beach, shelter, boat ramp, picnic tables and restrooms round out the amenities. Look for numerous statuettes of Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon, who came ashore in this area in the early 1500s.
PORT CHARLOTTE BEACH PARK
For family fun in the sun, head to this scenic waterfront park in Port Charlotte. With a swimming pool, beach, playground, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, canoe and kayak rentals and a fishing pier, there’s plenty to keep everyone busy here. BBQ grills and picnic tables invite a cookout. This quiet park on the bay is rated on TripAdvisor as #2 of 30 things to do in Port Charlotte.
ANN DEVER MEMORIAL REGIONAL PARK
A sanctuary of old growth pines, scrub habitat and a mangrove fringe along Englewood’s Oyster Creek, this is a 420-acre natural gem. In addition to an observation platform, walking trails and a boardwalk, this nature preserve is home to a swimming pool and playground. Do some bird watching while canoeing and kayaking or go fishing. This dog-friendly park has picnic tables, BBQ grills, restrooms and a dog park.
For more information on these and many other area parks, visit charlotteharbortravel.com.