Charlotte at a Glance
|Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Murdock, Englewood, El Jobean; Manasota Key, Cape Haze, Placida|
|Sandy Beaches||12 miles|
|Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail||7 sites|
|State Parks & Lands||Acres|
|Babcock Ranch Preserve||73,239|
|Cape Haze Aquatic Preserve (Lee)||11,000|
|Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area (Lee)||80,335|
|Gasparilla Sound-Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve (Lee)||80,000|
|Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve (Sarasota)||8,000|
|Lower Peace River Corridor De Soto||2,050|
|Yucca Pens State Wildlife Management Area (Lee)||14,577|
|Charlotte Harbor Preserve (Lee)||43,388|
|Don Pedro Island State Park||230|
|Stump Pass Beach State Park||227|
|Island Bay National Wildlife Reserve||20|
|Bays & Inlets|
|Charlotte Harbor, Lemon Bay, Charlotte Bay|
|Rivers & Paddling Trails|
|Myakka River, Trout Creek, Peace River, Shell Creek, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail|
Charlotte County, named for Britain's Queen Charlotte Sophia, is a diverse landscape of small cities and barrier islands that, along with Lee County, encircle 270-square-mile Charlotte Harbor. Its shoreline (mostly in conservation) encompasses inlets, a mangrove-lined aquatic preserve, the Peace and Myakka rivers and 28 miles of beach.
Punta Gorda (the county's oldest city) has restored 16 sites on the National Register of Historic Places including two historic districts, a trolley, brick streets lined with royal palms, wide-veranda tin-roofed homes, cafes, art galleries, shops and boutiques.
Port Charlotte burgeons with theatres, marinas, yacht clubs, golf courses, tennis courts, parks, a stadium, historic and cultural arts centers and over 165 miles of man-made waterways—many access the harbor.
Don Pedro Island State Park, a 230-acre barrier island between Little Gasparilla Island and Knight Island accessible only by boat or ferry, has a fishing dock, nature trails, restrooms and picnic pavilions, but no camping. The bay side is lined with mangroves; the gulf side a mile of white sand beach.
Three miles south by bridge over Lemon Bay, Stump Pass State Park offers 1.7 miles of beach on southern Manasota Key. It features numerous activities including ranger-led nature walks to view sea turtles, manatees, gopher tortoises, snowy egrets, least terns and magnificent frigate birds. Mangrove swamps surround the park's other three islands (Peterson, Whidden, and Little Whidden Key) in Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve.
Charlotte Harbor envelops five aquatic preserves: Lemon Bay, Gasparilla Sound/Charlotte Harbor, Cape Haze, Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass–submerged lands that provide sanctuary to bird rookeries, fish nurseries, salt marshes, seagrass meadows and mangrove forests.
Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve surrounds Stump Pass Beach State Park and Don Pedro Island State Park. Cape Haze Aquatic Preserve is part of the greater Gasparilla Sound - Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve, the largest and deepest of the five preserves. Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park, the fourth largest state park, is a sanctuary for mangrove forests, shallow seagrass meadows and an abundance of marine life. Six miles of trails are marked for hiking, fishing, paddling and observing wildlife. The Peace and Myakka rivers flow into Charlotte Harbor, mixing fresh and salt water. The other two aquatic preserves in this system, Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve and Pine Island Sound Aquatic Preserve, are in Lee County.