Living in Charlotte County Florida

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The Shell Factory & Nature Park – a destination in Southwest Florida you don’t want to miss

Our grandchildren were visiting for a week and we decided to take them to The Shell Factory and Nature Park in North Fort Myers.  The Shell Factory and Nature Park is a destination for family entertainment and shopping.  You should really plan to spend the entire day, if not more than one day.  There is so much to see and do.  Here is a link to their home page:  http://www.shellfactory.com/default.php

We started our day by eating lunch at Captain Fishbones Fish N’ Steakhouse.  They offer lunch and dinner all week long.  They have seating in different areas such as tables, booth seating or seating at the bar.  The menu has a variety of options from sandwiches to seafood baskets, appetizers, prime rib, pasta and steaks.  The grandchildren ordered from the kids menu and had several choices which included the meal and a beverage.  I had the fish and chips basket and it was plenty to eat and very good.  If you go in the evenings, they have live entertainment or you can just stop in for a drink.  They have a variety of sea life and animals hanging from the ceiling which makes the experience even more exciting.  Here is the link to Capt’N Fishbones and their menu:  http://www.shellfactory.com/menu.php

After lunch we decided to take the grandkids to the Nature Park.  I had been to The Shell Factory many times, but had never been to the Nature Park.  I am an animal lover, so it was exciting for me.  I took lots of photos.  There is a fee to enter the Nature Park, which is Seniors $10, Adults $12, Children 4 to 8 $8, and Children under 3 are free. Be sure to print the coupons from their web site before you go.  Here is the link to the Nature Park:  http://www.shellfactory.com/nature-park.php

The park has over 350 animals to see.  When we visited, many of the animals were getting fed, which made it nice because they came out into the open, where sometimes they are hiding.  While walking through the park, we could see the different habitats and cages where the animals live.  We got to see raccoons, caotimundis, kinkajous, lemurs, birds, iguanas, tortoises, turtles, and fish.  When we first entered you can put money in a machine and get food to feed the turtles and fish in the ponds.

In addition to walking by the cages, you can go to the Petting Farm.  The kids loved feeding the animals there and petting them.  Again, they have coin machines where you can purchase feed for the animals.  We got to see goats, sheep and a pot belly big.  I laughed and enjoyed the baby goats so much.  They would run around and jump on top of their cages.  It reminded me of little puppies running around playing.   Right next to the petting farm there was a zebra, a camel and a pony.

At the desk where you pay for your admission you can also buy gator biscuits to feed the alligators.  The biscuits come in a brown paper bag and you have to carry the bag around until you get to the alligator pond.   The alligators are very large from 7’ to 9’.  Some were sunning themselves and others just had their heads peeking above the water.  As soon as the grandkids starting throwing the biscuits in the water, the gators came a running.

Next we went to the Eco Lab.  I didn’t like this place, too scary for me.  They have native and exotic snakes, reptiles, spiders, hissing cockroaches and all kinds of insects.  You can watch them in their cages or most were in a fish tank like glass container.

And lastly at the Nature Park we went through Dinosaur Park.  They have replica dinosaurs, which the grandkids climbed on and had their picture taken.  As you walk by the dinosaurs they have descriptions of each one and they have them making dinosaur noises through the speakers. This area also has two playgrounds and a picnic area with an outdoor butterfly garden.

Upon exiting the Nature Park we ventured over to The Shell Factory retail store.  This store has the world’s largest collection of seashells.  The retail shop is an experience in itself.  You could spend the entire day just in there.  They have seashells, fossils, sea life, coral, shark teeth, shark jaws, pearls and more.  It is also a tourist destination so they have plenty of souvenirs such as jewelry boxes, candles, wind chimes, photo frames, magnets, key chains, and clothing.

There are different sections of the retail store including the Pirates Cove where you can see pirates and hear them planning their adventures.  There is a Subway franchise inside.  There is a gourmet fudge shop with homemade fudge and other candies and sweets.  There is metal art display by John Perry.  There is a jewelry section where you can pick a pearl out of a mussel and have it set while you wait or purchase all types of jewelry.  Inside you will also find a Christmas shop, which operates all year long. There is a train that runs around the shop near the ceiling.  There is also a stuffed wildlife animal section.  Here is the link to the Retail Store:  http://www.shellfactory.com/retail-store.php

After spending quite a while shopping, we took the grandkids over to the arcade area within the retail shop.  There are coupons online for here too.  You get tokens to play the games and collect tickets.  You can use the tickets as cash to buy items within the store.  Two of the grandkids went into the hurricane simulator.  And while we were there, they had the crab races.  You can pay money to enter in the crab races and you win gifts.  You get to select which crab you want.  They paint the crab shells to make each one unique.

There are other areas of The Shell Factory that we did not get to that day.  There is a Fun Park which has bumper boats, water wars, paddle boats, and miniature golf.  There is an admission fee for each of these activities:  Paddle Boat $10, Miniature Golf $5, Bumper Boats $5, and Water Wars $2 per bucket.  Here is a link to the Fun Park:  http://www.shellfactory.com/fun-park.php

There is also a Dog Park.  Dogs can go into the park and run and play.  Admission is free and it is open all day.  There is a large pool used for dog jumping events and dog rehabilitation.  Dog clubs use the park for events.  Here is the link for Doggy Heaven:  http://www.shellfactory.com/doggy-heaven.php

The next time you are looking for something to do with family, friends or children, take a ride on out to The Shell Factory.  It is located at 2787 North Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers.  You can call 239-995-2141 or email questions@shellfactory.com if you have any questions before you go.

Tammy Hayes, Realtor, Green Lion Realty, Port Charlotte, FL

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Downtown Punta Gorda Gallery Walk

Punta Gorda, Florida has a quaint downtown with a variety of museums, art galleries, specialty stores and restaurants.  On the third Thursday of every month there is a Gallery Walk in downtown Punta Gorda from 5pm to 8pm.  There is free parking at the Punta Gorda parking garage and other locations throughout town.  You can pick up a gallery map at any of the participants or the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce and Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce.  The following web link at Everything Punta Gorda also has maps:  http://everythingpuntagorda.com/blog/maps-of-punta-gorda/.

Come on out and take a leisurely stroll by foot or take the free trolley from stop to stop.  There are flip flops painted on the sidewalks of members of the Punta Gorda Downtown Merchants Association who sponsor this event.  Browse the shops and galleries, enjoy some food and beverage samples, listen to a variety of local musicians and entertainers, observe beauty and health demonstrations, and stay for dinner or drinks at one of the local restaurants who stay open past 8pm.

Even though Punta Gorda is a small city, there is much to see and do.  Support the local merchants and enjoy an evening out by attending the Gallery Walk.  It is an enormous success started by a few people with a vision for helping downtown historic Punta Gorda come alive.

Tammy Hayes, Realtor, Green Lion Realty, Port Charlotte, FL


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55+ communities in Charlotte County, Florida

Florida is the destination for many retirees and people looking for a second home to get away from the cold winter weather up north.  55+ communities offer an opportunity to live with people of the same age range and enjoy the retirement lifestyle.  Most of these communities offer maintenance free living.  Amenities include anything from golf, tennis, community pool, clubhouse, shuffleboard, and more.  They also have deed restrictions, rules and regulations, covenants, and homeowner association fees.  Choose the style of living and price range that meets your needs.

 

Here are some of the 55+ communities in Charlotte County, Florida.

 

Single Family Homes and Villas

  • King’s Gate
  • Doran Heights
  • Englewood Beach
  • Park Place Estates
  • Rio Village Lakes
  • Sunshine Villas
  • Foxwood

 

Condos

  • Aqua Gardens
  • Abbey House
  • Berkley House
  • Cambridge House
  • Charlevoi
  • Chelsea House
  • Essex House
  • Hampshire House
  • Maria Manor
  • Oak Forrest
  • Oaks III
  • Oaks IV
  • Oxford House
  • Quails Run
  • Raleigh House
  • Regency House
  • Sanctuary at Cape Haze
  • Sanctuary at Golden Tee
  • Sunrise Towers
  • Vel Gardens

 

Mobile Home Parks

  • Blue Heron Pines
  • Maple Leaf Estates
  • Windmill Village
  • Vizcaya Lakes
  • Port Charlotte Village
  • Alligator Park
  • Burnt Store Colony
  • Eagle Point
  • El Jobean Ward
  • Gasparilla Pines
  • Gulf to Bay Co Op
  • Holiday Mobile Estates
  • Holiday Travel Park of Englewood
  • Hunter Creek Village
  • Lazy Lagoon
  • Lemon Bay Isles
  • Mary Lu Mobile Home Park
  • Mobile Gardens
  • Oyster Creek
  • Parkhill Estates
  • Pelican Harbor
  • River Forest
  • River Haven
  • Sandalhaven Estates

 

To search for homes in these communities and surrounding counties, visit My Florida Regional MLS at http://myfloridahomesmls.com/.

 

Tammy Hayes, Realtor, Green Lion Realty, Port Charlotte, FL


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Seminole Lakes – a guard gated golf community in Punta Gorda, FL

Seminole Lakes is located in south Punta Gorda, FL off of US 41 and 3 miles to I-75.  It is situated on approximately 250 acres of land that offers low maintenance single family home living in a park-like setting.  It is a much sought-after community that is gated and guarded 24/7.  It is only a few minutes from downtown and historic Punta Gorda and Fishermen’s Village.  Both offer fine shopping, dining, and spacious parks with vistas and wide open water as well as a bike and walking paths around the city.

Seminole Lakes offers resort-style amenities such as an 18-hole executive semi-private golf course with pro shop, club house, restaurant, in-ground heated pool, fitness center, and clay and hard court tennis courts.  The Tennis Center offers special clay court memberships and many tennis related activities during the year.  There is a tiki hut at the pool where many activities are held.  The exercise room, lending library and a small kitchen surround the community pool. The roads are paved and private.  The community offers public water and sewer, underground utilities, tree-lined streets, wide sidewalks and street lamps.

Golf membership is not required for Seminole Lakes’ residents. The 18-hole course features 4,525 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 62. The course rating is 60.7 and it has a slope rating of 95.  Information on Seminole Lakes Country Club can be obtained on their web site at:  http://www.seminolelakes.net/index.htm.  The clubhouse offers lunch and special events such as weddings and business meetings. The dining area seats up to 120 people and includes a dance floor.  There is also a private dining area as well as a full service liquor bar and an outdoor covered seating area.

This lively and idyllic community of just fewer than 500 well cared for homes offers single family homes in the price ranges of $157,000 to over $375,000.  There are two to three bedroom models with lanais, garages and meticulously landscaped lawns.  Some of the homes back up to one of the eight lakes or the golf course where you will see some of Florida’s most beautiful birds and wildlife.  Many of the homes also offer a third car garage for parking your golf cart or a private pool in your own backyard.  Residents often ride around the community in their golf carts.  The homeowner association fee includes landscape mowing, the maintenance of private roads, the guard house and the community pool.  The owner is responsible for shrubbery care.

Seminole Lakes Property Owners Association is managed by Star Hospitality Management, Inc., 26530 Mallard Way, Punta Gorda, FL 33950.  The office hours are Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm.  The office phone number is 941-575-6764.   The email is star@sunletter.com.  The homeowner association web site with the rules and regulations, by-laws, covenants, articles of incorporation, swimming pool rules, calendar of events, board meeting minutes, photos, and more can be found at:  http://slccfl.com/.

Contact a Realtor today so you can arrange to stop by for a visit and find out why so many residents have fallen in love with Seminole Lakes.  You can view current listings by going to the local MLS at:  http://myfloridahomesmls.com/.

Tammy Hayes, Realtor, Green Lion Realty, Port Charlotte, FL


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Kings Gate – a 55+ gated, golf community in Charlotte County, FL

Kings Gate is a 55+ gated, golf community in Port Charlotte, FL.  It is conveniently located near I-75 off of exit 170 on Kings Highway.  It is close to shopping, restaurants, medical facilities, fishing, boating, swimming, and beaches.

Kings Gate offers a wide variety of activities in addition to the 18-hole executive golf course such as billiards, softball, bridge, dancing, water aerobics, fitness, bocce court, library, craft room, lawn bowling, lighted clay tennis courts, pro shop, 30,000 square foot clubhouse, heated Olympic size pool and spa, and an on-site restaurant offering lunch and dinner.  The restaurant is open to the public. Most of the people in the community motor around on their golf carts rather than driving their car.

The community even has their own year round activities coordinator.  They play cards; have pot lucks, dances, socials, excursions, chorus, clubs, lectures and more.    It is a casual, relaxing place to live.  Even though it is a 55+ community, grandkids are always welcome to visit.

The community offers many home choices from 1,300 square foot to 2,000 square foot single family homes and golf villas. There is still time to build with some vacant lots available. Go to the sales center within the community and they would be happy to show you around.  All of the homes have public water and sewer as well as underground utilities and lawn irrigation.  Ground maintenance is included in the homeowner association fees.  Most of the homes have 2 or 3 bedrooms, a garage and some have a golf cart garage.  If you don’t plan to purchase a home, there are seasonal rentals available.

The Kings Gate Golf Club has annual and seasonal membership packages.  They have a practice putting green, private and clinic golf lessons, rental golf clubs, golf leagues, and tournaments.  Non-members can also golf.  It is open to the public and all abilities are welcome to play.

To find out more information about his community and see photos you can go to their web site at:  http://www.kingsgatehomes.com/.

Tammy Hayes, Realtor, Green Lion Realty, Port Charlotte, FL


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Living in a resort style community

Some people prefer to live in a deed-restricted community with all the amenities you could imagine.  One such community is Islandwalk at the West Villages in Venice, Florida.  It is an 830-acre, 24-hour guard gated community with luxury single family homes, patio homes and townhomes surrounded by lush Florida landscaping as well as lakes and preserves.  The builder is DiVosta Homes.

Living in this community is like being on vacation while you are at home.  Some of the many amenities include walking and bike paths and bridges, nature walk, 8 har-tru tennis courts, bocce courts, heated lap pool, huge resort beach pool, fitness center, community center, card rooms, craft rooms, function rooms, library, massage room, full time activities director, a boardwalk with gazebos,  and the list goes on.  The only drawback for some people is paying the homeowner association fees.

The community also offers a variety of social activities such as a Super Bowl party, ladies luncheon, bands, coffee and donuts, bingo, holiday dinners, crafts and cards.  Another nice thing about the community is its convenience to the nearby gulf beaches where you can enjoy swimming, boating, fishing or shelling.  Shopping is just up the road in Venice or North Port and Port Charlotte.

Living in this community is like living in Paradise!  If you are thinking of moving to the area, you don’t want to miss it.  Call a Realtor to make your appointment today.  To read more information about the community and see photos visit their web site at:   http://www.divosta.com/communities/fl/venice/islandwalk-at-the-west-villages/16219/index1.aspx#.VZk8iflVhBd

Tammy Hayes, Realtor, Re/Max Palm Realty, Port Charlotte, FL