Discovering the Charms of Port Charlotte, Florida

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Port Charlotte is located midway between Sarasota and Fort Myers, Florida, yet for all of its attractions it is frequently missed by Snowbirds heading south through the state.
That’s not unusual because in the last century railroads and highways missed it as well and it remained an area of farming and ranching. Development changed all of that and in 2015, Forbes listed Port Charlotte on the list of 25 best places to retire. The many RV parks attest to the fact that a large number of snowbirds now call Port Charlotte home, at least for the winter.

Possibly its location at the upper end of a long sheltered bay has a lot to do with its present popularity. The large number of gulf islands and miles and miles of quiet waterways provide abundant water activities for those interested. This estuary with a mix images2of freshwater and seawater is a top area for several varieties of fish just waiting for you to wet your line. This can be especially exciting if you join a chartered fishing vessel. The silent coves and peaceful waterways provide miles of enjoyable canoeing and paddling. If you are looking for rest and relaxation on white, sandy beaches, then the miles of beaches of the harbour, and the Gulf islands are sure to attract you.

These waters are ranked highly as top places to sail in Florida and many Snowbirds arrive with their own boats to spend the winter. The bay is wide and provides plenty of opportunity for the skilled, and unskilled sailors. There are several yacht clubs and many have sailing lessons available for the novice, or to teach new skills to the experienced sailors. The availability of sailing charters attracts a lot of visitors who don’t have a boat, but want to experience the lure of the open water while captained by experienced staff. Often a small group will charter a captained craft for a day, a weekend, or a week to explore the Gulf Islands and even farther away, southward into the Florida Keys.

Port Charlotte’s 20 golf courses are designed to keep you in town. Rolling green fairways, edged by sparkling blue water and punctuated with cleverly designed white sandy traps will certainly hone your skills. Enjoying a game in the sun, the gentle breezes softly blowing in your hair, and the memories of snowy fields left behind, is a major reason so many Canadians are spending the winter here.
Of course if you really want to slow down you can join the many visitors who know that images1Florida is a birders’ paradise. There are several wildlife management areas near Port Charlotte that are set aside to protect the birds. Thousands of acres of protected lands are there for you to enjoy. Some have winding trails suitable for slow drives through the cool pine forests and along the freshwater habitats. A host of environmental centres have interpretive walks along miles of carefully designed trails where you can spot the graceful hawks, or the many flitting smaller birds that spend the winters here.
You might like to finish off the day by relaxing while others do the work. The Charlotte Symphony orchestra’s 70 musicians present several concerts and highlight some of the major holidays with music. It’s a great place to be when they present their Christmas Pops coming forth with traditional carols and other great music heralding the season.
Do you like plays? There is always time to watch groups such as the Charlotte Players who are just one of the theatrical productions you can find in the area.
Nearby Punta Gorda has become a leader in the country as a top Mural Town. Twenty nine painted murals showcase the history of the town. Pick up, or download, a walking tour map through the streets and discover these beautiful murals. Find a place to sit and relax as you marvel at the artist’s skill in re-creating memories of Punta Gorda’s past. It doesn’t hurt either if the place you find to sit is at a rustic, shaded sidewalk café.
The area is also known for the diverse art galleries. Their art is not confined to canvas.

images4Many visitors drop in to see driftwood carvings, or art with seashells. These artists have so many novel ideas in creating objects that are one of a kind. Whether you are looking for oil paintings, sculptures, ornate jewellery, or beautiful vases and pots, you are sure to find them.
Shopping for some is a well honed skill, and the Port Charlotte Town Centre has more than 100 stores in which to practise those skills. Places to eat too! Port Charlotte’s huge variety of restaurants cater to the wishes of the winter visitor. You may want to go with the southern style barbecued foods, or the exotic food from some distant lands, but you’ll certainly be stopping at one of the seafront diners for a wide choice of fresh seafood.

Snowbirds are usually looking for a place with a warm, relaxing atmosphere to spend the winter. They also want the opportunities to be there for more strenuous activities. So whether it’s miles of quiet beaches, sailing, golf, or shopping, Port Charlotte has it all.

Yuma, Arizona – A Snowbird’s Best Kept Secret

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Yuma, AZ, is an oasis in the middle of the Sonoran Desert that attracts visitors from all over the United States and Canada. Nestled in the southwest corner of Arizona between the Yuma and Gila valleys, the city lies just west of the Gila and Colorado River confluence. The warm climate, the endless sunshine, and the close proximity to Mexico makes Yuma feel like a snowbird’s best kept secret.

Yuma is the sunniest place in the United States. With 90% sunshine year round and temperatures that rarely drop below 25℃, Yuma claims the record for most hours of yearly sun by the Guinness Book of World Records. But it’s not just the record sun and warmth that keeps Canadians coming back here – Yuma’s close proximity to Mexico offers visitors the opportunity to experience authentic Mexican and southwestern culture.

With such a perfect desert climate, Yuma is also the date capital of the world and the largest date processing center in the world is located in Yuma. The dry, desert heat, also makes Yuma a prime location for outdoor events, like the Tunes & Taco Festival in April, the Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival in November, and the Somerton Tamale Festival in December.

poolTableIn addition to its desirable climate and plethora of cultural activities, many think of Yuma, AZ as a bypass on the way from Phoenix, AZ to San Diego, CA, but Yuma is so much more than just a rest stop. With endless desert activities, perpetual sunshine, and a thriving cultural scene, many Canucks are taking up residence at one of Yuma’s many affordable RV sites that Encore RV Resorts offer in this region. With a variety of resorts offering unique amenities and community sizes, you can escape the winter cold for the sunniest place on Earth no matter what lifestyle you like. Encore RV resorts like Desert Paradise RV Resort and Foothill Village RV Resort, have the same convenient amenities as other larger resorts such as fitness centers, pools, hiking and biking trails, and game rooms. And with a smaller community of residents, it’s easy to make new friends and be as active or relaxed as you want.

At the larger Yuma RV resorts such as Araby Acres and Cactus Gardens, residents have the opportunity to take up short or long term residence at hundreds of different sites and acres upon acres of activities to maintain an active lifestyle. Scenic roadways, friendly atmosphere, and a calendar chock full of entertainment and group activities, there is no shortage of beautiful desert scenery and space to enjoy everything Yuma has to lakeoffer. The nearby Colorado River and Imperial Dam give residents great opportunities for fishing and boating, two of the many activities that Encore guests frequently enjoy. Heading out for a day trip across the border? The convenient location of Capri RV Resort provides guests endless opportunities to experience authentic Mexican culture and still be close to the comforts of home. The Yuma Arts Center, downtown farmer’s market, and casinos are also close by to all seven Encore RV resorts.

No matter which Encore RV Resort you stay at, you are no more than 20 to 30 minutes from the West Wetlands Park, which sits on the northwest edge of Yuma along the Colorado River. This 110-acre public park features a Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden, an Owl Habitat, equestrian trails, disc-golf courses, picnic tables, boating opportunities and more. Not too far from the West Wetlands Park is the famous Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park where visitors can walk through actual cells and solitary chambers of Arizona Territory’s first prison. Visitors can view photographs and exhibits of those who were incarcerated here for the 33 years that the prison was in operation. In fact, there were inmates who were imprisoned here and also helped to build the prison itself. In cooperation with the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park, the Prison holds activities every February to coincide with Yuma Crossing Day, a day mean to highlight the historical eras of Yuma’s past, from the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s to the mid-1900s through living history re-enactments.

curlingWhether you’re looking for a smaller RV resort with those big amenities, or because you want to be within close proximity to casinos and outdoor activities, Encore RV resorts in Yuma are a snowbird’s paradise.

Encore RV resorts are currently offering a 3 month stay special in a standard RV site for ONLY $1,416 at Capri RV Resort. This offer is valid until 4/30/17. Book by 8/31/16. Call 904-257-8434 to book today and mention promo code EBYUMA16.

“Clerbrook Golf and RV Resort is a great place to stay”

My wife and I are snowbirds from Canada and we love being Thousand Trails RV Campgrounds members. We take full advantage of the fact they have a reciprocal arrangement with Encore RV Resorts. It was through them we gained access to Clerbrook Golf and RV Resort, with over 1,250 sites on 287 acres in the heart of Lake County near Orlando. The seasonal rates here are quite affordable and Thousand Trails members can use Clerbrook as an alternate to Orlando under their membership.

Friendly People

The best part about staying at Clerbrook is the staff and the fellow campers The staff here is always cheerful. The manager and maintenance staff usually wave when they see guests and they are all very helpful. The people who camp here are friendly and welcoming. We arrived as short stay campers and were accepted by everyone. During our stay we got to take part in several activities and meet other people.

Golf and So Much More

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Clerbrook is a classic Encore RV park that makes snowbirds feel right at home. Clerbrook is situated around all 18 holes of the Clerbrook Golf Club. This is a great course with rolling fairways and greens, set against the backdrop of a nature preserves and lakes. Golfers love it here; but if you aren’t a golfer, there’s still lots to see and do.

We loved the wide range of programs and social events they have. They had everything we needed including heated swimming pools, hot tubs, rec hall, BBQ and picnic areas, a billiard room and card rooms. On top of that there’s a fishing area, a fitness center, horse shoe pits and nature walks. We loved the card games including Texas Hold ‘em Poker and Bridge. There’s arts and crafts too, if you feel so inclined. They sometimes bring in name entertainment acts and they hold several events here. Oh, and it’s also pet friendly.

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The great thing about Clerbrook RV is that it has so much going on around it as well. For golfers, there are several other course nearby. Clermont is about a half hour drive from Disney World and Universal Studios. It’s also near Sea World and Hollywood Studios. There’s lots to see and do with great shopping, restaurants and cinemas nearby. Wine lovers can head down the highway to Lakeridge Winery for free tastings and a tour. They have a summer music series that is free as well. The hot weather here makes it perfect for growing Muscadine grape varieties. You’ll have to taste for yourself and find out which ones you like. We thought the Proprietor’s Reserve was a world class dessert wine.

Day Trips

Orlando and Tampa are close enough for a day trip from Clerbrook RV. Baseball fans will love that there are several spring training venues nearby. Drive 75 minutes east to the Atlantic Ocean, Port Canaveral and Cocoa Beach. Or head west for 90 minutes to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge and Pine Island on the Gulf coast. There are literally dozens and dozens of lakes in the area, so there’s plenty of places to go fishing and then head back at night to tell your fish stories.

Wi-Fi and TV

When it comes to Wi-Fi, they have a reasonably fast hotspot here and it is worth the small cost. I do recommend an exterior antenna to maximize your connection. You can get several stations with decent reception over the air TV from Orlando

We’ll Be Back!

From our experience, Clerbrook Golf and RV Resort is a great place to stay. If you don’t have an RV, you can rent one of their furnished onsite rentals. We look forward to our next visit here.