Summertime, Summertime, Sum-Sum Summertime
Presenting SWFL ponderances and peculiarities, even if this isn’t the most wonderful time of the year
Those of us who endure the full cycle of “seasons” in Southwest Florida know that summer presents suffocatingly steamy and scorching conditions.
But we’re looking on the bright side of things that get us through sum-sum-summertime, much as our friends in North Dakota get through w-w-w-w-winter.
We follow the journey of boat captain Kristina Voigt, who reinvented herself in the early months of the pandemic — something one New York couple is entirely grateful for.
Floridians tend to gravitate north in the summer for a few days or a few weeks. World traveler and Southwest Florida artist David Acevedo gives us plenty of reasons to get way out of town this summer, and for those who want to stay closer to home, we provide reasons why a day trip up the road to Punta Gorda is worthwhile.
To the surprise of many Southwest Florida newcomers, summer vegetable gardening presents many challenges. University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences shares abundant resources for navigating our unique growing climate.
And, lest we forget, Southwest Floridians still love the outdoors, even as the UV rays beat down mercilessly. We provide information about a new product that might just help you avoid the sun’s damaging rays.
Summer here can be brutal, as it can be in every other state in the nation. We’re grateful that Florida has basically ubiquitous air conditioning that keeps us cooler than in other hot-hot-hot states in the country.
Literally and figuratively, life is easier when you keep your cool.
Ease on Up the Road
Discover Punta Gorda, the little city that doesn’t sleep
by Kathy Grey
It’s only an hour’s drive from 5th Avenue South in Naples to the city of Punta Gorda, situated between Fort Myers and Sarasota. Located on Charlotte Harbor, Punta Gorda is defined by its quiet sophistication, historic ambiance, bricked streets, fine cuisine and impenetrable sense of community.
We’ve amassed a collection of experiences day-trippers might enjoy in Punta Gorda, the quaintest little city in Southwest Florida.
Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens
5827 Riverside Drive, Punta Gorda
This 30-acre waterfront oasis encompasses the diversity of five ecosystems, including marshlands, wetlands, mangroves, uplands and tidal basin. Flowering trees and plants bloom throughout the year, and more than 15,000-square-feet of boardwalks and docks provide optimum viewing of the garden’s vast sculptures.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Laishley Park, 200 Harbor Walk Drive, Punta Gorda
It stands as a symbol of America’s honor and recognition of the men and women who served and sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War. Inscribed on the black granite walls are the names of more than 58,000 men and women who gave their lives or remain missing. The Punta Gorda replica is approximately 50% of the size of the original memorial wall in Washington, D.C.
Vietnam Wall of Southwest Florida at Laishley Park
Military Heritage Museum
900 W. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda
The Military Heritage Museum honors veterans from all branches and eras of U.S. military service to help the public better understand the contributions and various experiences of American servicemen and women through authentic artifacts and individual stories. View the Museum’s Gulf Theater schedule here.
1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda
Widely known throughout the region, Fishermen's Village is a waterfront shopping, entertainment and resort complex situated along Charlotte Harbor. Visitors can spend a full day exploring its offerings of more than 30 shops and restaurants, a full-service marina and a resort with 47 timeshare villas on the second floor.
Visual Arts Center
210 Maud St., Punta Gorda
The Visual Arts Center, located across from Fishermen’s Village, offers ever-changing exhibits that are free to explore. Its gift shop is filled with curated items created by local artists, and fine art supplies are available in its art and supply store.
Punta Gorda Historic Murals
Guided and self-guided tours are available to explore the area’s history as told through striking murals created by area artists.
The bridge walk from Punta Gorda to Port Charlotte provides breathtaking views of sky and harbor.
The Perfect Caper
121 E. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda
Jeanie Roland is the chef/owner of the city’s flagship gourmet restaurant. She “Beat Bobby Flay” at his own Food Network game a few years back and has authored two cookbooks. Since 2002, The Perfect Caper has been a favorite destination for Gulf Coast diners everywhere.
201 W. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda
This upscale/casual eatery specializes in seafood and other Florida fare, masterfully created by Chef Keith Meyer. F.M. Don’s, with its lively bar and live music, is owned by hometown restaurateur Chris Evans, who has seen his share of successful dining establishments in the city.
139 W. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda
This historic red-brick tavern in the heart of Punta Gorda’s dining district unites gracious hospitality with friends and good food. The restaurant’s singular architecture draws diners in for a singular experience.
The Celtic Ray Public House
145 E. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda
Known locally as “The C-Ray,” this traditional Irish pub features quality imported beers and freshly made family recipes, including its famous fish and chips. With its entertainment vibe and undeniably Irish flair, this place is unique not only to Punta Gorda but to the Southwest Florida region.
Perch 360° at the Wyvern
101 E. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda
Located on the rooftop of the Wyvern Hotel, this beautifully landscaped bar and restaurant overlooks downtown Punta Gorda and Charlotte Harbor. Its tapas menu is extensive, as are its signature cocktails, craft beers and boutique wines.
Carmelo’s Italian Ristorante
321 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda
Chef Carmelo prides himself in authentic Italian cuisine, including some old family Sicilian recipes. Considered one of the most romantic restaurants in Charlotte County, Carmelo’s also accommodates special group events.
SUN LOVER ALERT
Ban the Burn
This sticker might have the potential of saving your skin
by Kathy Grey
As this chapter focuses on summertime, we’re giving a nod to a product we recently learned about: a sticker that works as a sunscreen ticker, or timer.
It’s called SPOTMYUV (“spot my UV”), a wearable sticker that alerts the wearer to reapply sunscreen.
Aside from sunscreen, we can’t think of a more practical necessity for your beach bag.
SPOTMYUV features Dermatrue, which, manufacturers say, is proven to absorb sunscreen and wear off at the same rate as your last application of sunscreen protection does. The sticker’s color-changing layer warns you that it’s time to reapply sunscreen.
Each time you cover the sticker with sunscreen, the sticker “SPOT” turns clear, indicating you’re protected from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
When your sunscreen wears off, SPOTMYUV turns purple to remind you to reapply, and each “SPOT” lasts up to one day.
Although èBella has not tested the product’s efficacy, the technology suggests SPOTMYUV has the potential to literally save your skin.
To learn more, visit SPOTMYUV.com. The product is available there and on Amazon.