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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Punta Gorda is a Florida Classic

Punta Gorda at a Glance

Location: Southwest Florida

Access: Five airports, including Punta Gorda Airport, Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, Southwest Florida International Airport, St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport and Tampa International Airport; U.S. Highway 41; Interstate 75

Hotel rooms: 2,700+

Contact Info:

Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitors and Conventions Bureau


Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center

Built: 2009

Exhibit Space: 20,000-square-foot main hall

Other Meeting Spaces: The Great Lawn, 18,000 square feet of outdoor meeting space overlooking scenic Charlotte Harbor

Meeting Hotels

Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor

Guest Rooms: 785

Meeting Space: 60,000 square feet

The Wyvern Hotel

Guest Rooms: 63

Meeting Space: 650-square-foot meetings and events room, rooftop sky deck

Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside

Guest Rooms: 106

Meeting Space: 1,095 square feet

Palm Island Resort

Guest Rooms: 44

Meeting Space: 1,500 square feet

Who’s Meeting in Punta Gorda

US Sports Congress

Attendees: 250

Leadership Florida Annual Meeting

Attendees: 500

Florida Planning and Zoning Association

Attendees: 80

Located just 30 minutes north of Fort Myers on the state’s southwest coast, Punta Gorda offers visitors a true taste of “old Florida” along with all the modern amenities needed for a memorable meeting.

The city was founded in 1884, and its streets and blocks were arranged along the southern side of the Peace River at its mouth on Charlotte Harbor. Each waterfront block was designated as a park, and the city still boasts a string of parks that are connected by Trabue Harborwalk, a 2.5-mile public promenade.

“I had been coming down to Punta Gorda since around 2011, and I just fell in love and knew that I wanted to be here,” said Jeff Berg, senior sales manager for meetings and conventions at Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor and Convention Bureau. “We’re still very much an off-the-beaten-path kind of destination, pristine and with a lot of old Florida charm.”

Destination Highlights

The Boca Grande Pass connects Punta Gorda’s Charlotte Harbor with the Gulf of Mexico, and is the tarpon capital of the world, as well as one of the top sports fishing destinations on the planet. With 219 miles of shoreline, the harbor’s estuary is a mosaic of salt marshes, beaches, open bay, seagrass meadows, tidal creeks, mudflats, salt barrens and mangrove forests.

In addition to abundant nature, Punta Gorda offers great dining, shopping, and a vibrant arts and cultural scene. Along the harbor walk, Fishermen’s Village beckons with more than 30 cute and quirky shops, a full-service marina, and restaurants, including Harpoon Harry’s and the Village Brewhouse, which has a great selection of craft beers.

Punta Gorda’s sunny Florida climate and flat terrain make it incredibly bike- and pedestrian-friendly. The Punta Gorda Pathways is a system of about 18 miles of bicycle and walking trails connecting the waterfront, neighborhoods and shopping districts. The 22-block historic district just west of downtown is also a pleasant stroll, with many Queen Anne-style homes dating from 1884 to 1930.

Next to Laishley Park, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Wall monument pays tribute to the almost 60,000 men and women who gave their lives in the conflict, while the Punta Gorda History Center displays artifacts and photographs from the region’s past.

Distinctive Venues

An event at the beach is pure Florida, so meeting planners should consider hosting something at Englewood Beach, which features pristine white sand, sparkling Gulf waters, and spectacular sunset views. Amenities include a 900-foot boardwalk and three large pavilions with picnic tables and charcoal grills.

For laughs and linguine, take your group to Visani Italian Steakhouse and Theater, which combines delicious Italian cuisine along with comedy performances. Audiovisual equipment, in-house catering, and music and comedy entertainment are available for groups of up to 200.

A taste of old Florida is on hand at Laishley Crab House, which overlooks Laishley Marina. The restaurant offers full catering services, an event room that seats 100 people and a conference room for 20.

An enchanting sanctuary of art and nature, the 27-acre Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens celebrates Florida’s natural landscape with more than 4,500 plants, trees and bamboos, along with a world-class collection of sculpture. The facility can accommodate groups of more than 500.

Another interesting option is to go rustic on a real working ranch at Cypress M Ranch, which can host up to 200 guests and offers a la carte and full packages for special events. For unusual wines (watermelon, anyone?) along with more traditional tastings, the Gilded Grape Winery and Wine Bar can accommodate groups of up to 50.

Major Meeting Spaces

Located on the waterfront, the 44,000-square-foot Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center offers panoramic views of both the river and harbor. The center’s largest space, Hibiscus Hall, can be divided into three sections and has almost 20,000 square feet, accommodating 1,500 guests in theater style and 900 at seated banquets. Adjacent to the waterfront, the Great Lawn can offer receptions for up to 2,000 people. Full catering and A/V are available.

In addition to a guests-only golf club, the Sunseeker Resort offers 785 guest rooms, 20 dining concepts and 60,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event spaces. The largest ballroom boasts 14,000 square feet and waterfront views.

The Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside has 106 guest rooms and meeting space, which accommodates up to 70 attendees. The Comfort Inn and Suites Port Charlotte-Punta Gorda has 81 rooms and a meeting room suited for 50 in theater-style seating, while the 93-room Country Inn and Suites has meeting space for up to 40.

For seclusion and exclusivity, Palm Island Resort has private beaches, along with indoor and outdoor facilities that offer varied settings and can accommodate up to 120 people. Tented events can be arranged for up to 500 guests, and a variety of on- and off-island lodging is available. Palm Island is accessible only by ferry or water taxi.

After the Meeting

No trip to Punta Gorda is complete without time spent on the water. Lemon Bay Dolphin Tours takes 42 passengers on a catamaran cruise of Lemon Bay in search of dolphins, as well as osprey, eagles, great blue herons and manatees. Many other fishing charters, sunset sails and tiki cruises are also available throughout the area.

On dry land, nature-lovers will want to head to one of the area’s seven sections of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, including Charlotte Flatwoods Environmental Park. It’s home to wading birds, great horned owls and bald eagles, and visitors may also spy otters, bobcats and deer.

Visitors can take a cockpit tour of a Huey helicopter at the Military Heritage Museum, which tells the story of the American armed forces from the Revolution to the present day.