For a half-day excursion during my visit to Naples, in southwest Florida, my dad, stepmom and I decided to visit Charlotte Harbor in Punta Gorda on the Gulf Coast. After a quick hour's drive on the interstate (I-75) from Naples we reached our destination in time for lunch. Fishermen's Village (http://www.fishville.com) is right on the harbor, and it's a fun shopping and dining area.
Highlights from today:
• Grape Nut Bread Pudding at Village Fish Market. I didn't ask for the recipe because I'm not too confident in the cooking department. But it tasted so creamy and delicious (with a crust of the Grape Nuts, the high-fiber cereal) that I would be tempted to try one of these recipes: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/grape-nut-pudding-recipes.html. The casual dining spot on the water has award-winning seafood from New England and Florida. I especially enjoyed my tomato stuffed with tuna salad for my lunch entree.
• The Military Hertiage Museum was fascinating. I confess, it's not a spot I would usually visit, but I knew it would be intersting to go with my dad, who served in the army and is a history buff. I joined him in a self-guided tour of the homey museum packed with memorabilia. Every item in the museum had been donated and it had a very personal feel, seeing the clothes, the weapons, displays of a bunker, even Lucky Strike cigarettes. The helpful and friendly museum volunteers answered our questions and told stories. More than any other collection I have seen, this gave me an idea what life in the military may have been like. I would return there and my dad said he could spend hours more looking around.
• Shopping - After about half an hour at the military museum, (Dad could have stayed far longer) it was fun to visit the clothing stores, craft galleries and a great little bookstore that also carried used books.
For my next trip to Charlotte Harbor and Punta Gorda, here's my To Do list. Thanks to fellow traveler and blogger Jennifer Huber for the great recommendations:
• Take a boat tour on Charlotte Harbor: http://www.floridasecrets.com/nese.htm. Here's the website for the Charlotte Harbor VCB: http://www.charlotteharbortravel.com. Or maybe a lunch or dinner cruise on the Harbor Lady, the boat that departs from Fishermen's Village. Bookings at http://www.kingfisherfleet.com
• Enjoy the gorgeous view and fresh seafood at The Laishley Crab House (http://ww.laishleycrabhouse.com). It opened in August 2009 and looks like a fun spot with a happening bar scene, too.
• Venture on a wading trip in Charlotte Harbor - they happen about twice a month. The website says, "Waders listen to, and participate in, a short lecture about the area and wildlife. Then, armed with dip-nets and buckets, the participants enter the seagrass beds to find a nursery full of small and young aquatic creatures. http://www.checflorida.org
And yes, I think it would be fun to make a trip down memory lane:
• Even though it's not on the water, this newer museum looks like fun: the Muscle Car City (www.musclecarcity.net). Opened the first week of March 2009, Rick Treworgy's Muscle Car City features nearly 200 automobiles of every era dating back to the 1920's.
• I will put on my explorer outfit and join the swamp buggy tour at Babcock Wilderness Adventures (www.babcockwilderness.com)