When you plan a vacation, what do you look for? Fun entertainment? Shopping nearby? Delicious and varied
dining? Maybe a cruise or fishing trip?
Museums and art
galleries? Fun and games? Of course, comfortable and reasonable
priced accommodations are at the top of the list. Would you
consider it a dream vacation if all this could all be found at
one resort? Well, look no further. The Villas at Fishermen's Village in Punta
Gorda, Florida is your dream vacation. Everything you want all
together in one resort.
entrance to Fishermen's Village
When you first enter Fishermen's Village
you are viewing a mall, unlike any others. It's indoors but has
an outdoor feeling to it. There are no entrance doors just a
covered archway lined on both sides with unique shops on the
ground floor. Above
the brightly lit shops the balcony of the villas invites you to
take a closer look at this special lodging.
Upstairs you step into a cozily furnished two bedroom apartment,
complete with a real kitchen and a loft for the kids. It's more
like a residence than a hotel or motel suite. Naturally there
are cable/DVD and free internet connections available. The
balcony overlooking the mall is an ever-passing study in
humanity for people watchers (and dog-watchers as the downstairs
mall is pet friendly) but it is the view from the back balcony
that will blow you away.
Pelicans, ships of all types and sizes, maybe even a leaping
dolphin await your gaze. You are looking out on the sparkling
waters of Charlotte Harbor.
|Family room and kitchen of a
Downstairs, next to the marina, you find
the heated pool, tennis courts, shuffleboard, BBQ
and picnic area.
You have laundry
facilities on site. Free bicycles are available through what is
known as the "Yellow Bike Loaner Program" and can be returned
either at Fishermen's Village or at Charlotte Regional Medical
Center – Wellness Center, Laishley Municipal Marina, Isles Yacht
Club Marina or the
Wyvern Hotel. Interconnecting bike paths ring the area so you
can ride from any place in Punta Gorda to any other safely. The
city is filled with gorgeous murals telling its history. All of
them are located on or near the bike paths.
||The Military Museum
located near the front of the mall
However, the mall has so much going on
you may never want to leave. All of the shops are individually
owned. No chains here. Merchandise ranges from high-end designer
specials to tees and souvenirs. But there is so much more than
just shops. The Military Heritage Museum retells tales of the
valor of our brave fighting men and women through all our wars
Culture is not neglected either.
Creations at the Village, one of the newest businesses in the
mall, is a gallery filled with colorful art. It has watercolors,
glass, fabric art and more. Its owner, Nina Sedule-Ross says,
"If I think it's beautiful, it belongs in here."
|Creations at the Village Art
||Tables at Fish Market Restaurant
overlook Center Court
You won't lack for entertainment. Center
Court is a venue for the area's top bands and musicians every
Friday and Saturday. Every holiday from Mardi Gras to New Years
offers an excuse for
bands and festivities. Muttini Mingle, Pawtastic Yappy Hour,
sponsored by Salty Paws,
one of the Village's boutiques offering pet related items both
for and about your pet is a regular event. Kid's fishing events
sponsored by Kingfisher Fleets are another. There is no end to
the variety of entertainment you will find.
|Amy and one of her helpers at
||Choices at Simply Sweet are
No matter what food you are in the mood
for, you will find it here. For that first sip of coffee in the
morning, The Good Ole Days Coffee Shop is a perfect stop. Simply
Sweet A Confectionary Cafe is
a New Orleans themed Cafe serving breakfast and lunch. It's
specialty is homemade pralines, cupcakes and top drawer
chocolates including Norman Love Chocolates. This is the perfect
spot for dessert no matter where you dine. Owner, Amy Hicks,
explained she and her husband, Brian, have been in retail
business since she was in her thirties. When they moved to Punta
Gorda they first opened a shop selling retail tourist items
called Beach Bum's Gifts here in Fishermen's Village. Seeing
visitors here, she said, "We found there was a nice market for
gourmet sweets. We wanted to showcase upper end chocolate but
not cut out the children so we have some things for them too. "
|Seafood Platter at Fish Market. No one leaves hungry
Harpoon Harry's and Captains Table anchor
the end of the mall and offer either fine dining upstairs at the
Captains Table or casual dining with full bar and live music
Village Oyster Bar provides fun evening
dining with a full bar.
Another great restaurant to sample while there is Village
Fish Market. The unusual twist for a Florida restaurant is that
the food is cooked with a New England styling. When we asked
restaurant supervisor, Lynn Tucker about that, she told us,
"Because the owners are from New England and they are doing what
It works for them. They have been there
for 32 years and have won "Business of the Year" several times.
One reason for the success is the freshness of the seafood. Lynn
explained "From the time it's caught to our door is less than
36 hours. Only way to get fresher is to catch it yourself." She
added "If you do go out on one of the fishing cruises and catch
a fish, bring it in here and we will cook it for you."
Can't beat service like that. For anyone
with special dietary needs, they offer a special gluten-free
menu and will do special order meals as well. They have a full
service bar so you can enjoy a cocktail while dining.
Thinking of all that fish, brings to mind
the extensive marina that is a part of Fishermen's Village. You
can step out your door and board
a Kingfisher Fleet boat. Try a sunset cruise, a trip to
Cabbage Key or Cayo Costa, Boca Grande or Burnt Store, another
marina on the harbor's eastern shore, or a fishing trip. You can
even charter your own boat here.
Let me tell you, when the Kingfisher boats
return to the dock, the pelicans are waiting. They put on quite
a show cleaning up any scraps they can scrounge for the boat's
deck. One little white egret tried to muscle in and a big
pelican gave him short shrift. Those pelicans may look
awkward on land but they are so graceful in the water and
air. One of the fishing crew places the catch on a dockside
cleaning table and expertly cleans them for the fishermen while
the pelicans try their best to swipe one. None succeeded when I
was watching, thanks to the diligence of the fish cleaner.
Another company located at the Village
Marina will rent you anything from a stand up paddleboard to a
fully-equipped pontoon boat. Of if you plan to stay land bound,
you can rent a covered surrey bike complete with a fringed top
that will take your whole family around the town, at least until
your pedaling feet give out.
When you stay at Fishermen's Village you
are seeing a unique part of Charlotte County's history. The
Village stands on the site of what was Maude Street City Docks
built in 1928 and 29 to replace an even older part of Charlotte
County's history, the King Street Pier. In the 1920's there were
as many as seven plants supporting the harbor and deep sea
fishing industry. Each of these companies operated small "run
boats" that made periodic trips to the stilt houses used as
fishing camps that dotted the harbor and into what is now the
intracoastal waterway. A few of these old camps still remain and
are now on the National Historic Registry. The companies
collected the fish, iced them down and shipped them off to
northern markets. By 1930, the numbers had dwindled to just two.
Then in 1939, a fire destroyed both plants. West Coast Fish
Company threw in the towel. Punta Gorda Fish Company continued
on in a much smaller fashion. A crab packing and later a shrimp
packing plant opened but by 1977 the remaining buildings were in
disrepair. In 1980, a new chapter began and Fishermen's Village
Is this not the most unique lodging
experience you could ever wish for?
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