BEST LIVING CHRISTMAS TREE

Bob “Fig” Newton

There are few things people find more enjoyable during the holiday season than seeing a “living Christmas tree” — which usually means a church choir singing on a tiered structure resembling its namesake holiday icon. More...

BEST MUSICIAN

Brian Carpenter

Brian Carpenter had lost his job, his girlfriend and was losing his house when he picked up one of the few things he had left to his name: his bass guitar. More...

BEST TRIPS FOR TRAVELING ALONE

Jennifer Huber

By day — most days, anyhow — Jennifer Huber is the public relations manager of the Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor & Convention Bureau. More...

BEST PERSON TO BE PHOTOGRAPHED WITH AT AN EVENT

Nanette Leonard

Nanette Leonard is the human equivalent of the Eveready bunny. Between her passionate support of the Punta Gorda Chamber, the Animal Welfare League and a few interests of her own, she seems to be at every local event. More...

BEST-LOOKING COUPLE

Ed and Wynelle Hill

He was from “up North” in New Hampshire. She was from “down South” in Georgia. Like most of today’s busy professionals, Ed and Wynelle Hill found it a challenge to meet the right person. More...

BEST PLACE TO HOOK A BIG ONE

Boca Grande Pass

Charlotte Harbor attracts thousands of anglers annually, and those looking to hook the big one know to head to Boca Grande Pass for tarpon, a challenging sport fish. Since the mid-1800s, the pass has attracted U.S. More...

BEST SNOWBIRDS

White pelicans

There is a type of snowbird that doesn’t create traffic jams, cause long lines at restaurants or turn quiet condo communities into a seven-day pool party. More...

THE BEST PLACE TO PICNIC WITH TIGERS, GATORS, LIONS, BEARS...

Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary

You can “dine” with, not be “dined on,” just a few feet away from over 150 exotic animals at the Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary. It’s not a zoo but a rescue/ rehabilitation, learning and conservancy for exotic animals. More...

BEST MOTIVATION FOR CHANGING THE TV OR RADIO STATION

Politics

Invitations to Christmas dinners were rescinded, longtime Facebook friends were blocked and couples divorced over the 2016 presidential election. Most thought the election’s nastiness would dissipate after Nov. More...

BEST DECISION TO MAKE YOU WONDER IF OFFICIAL WERE HIGH

Mary Jane put on hold

If you search for medical marijuana dispensaries in Charlotte County, you’ll get zero results, and that goes for the rest of the state, too. Florida’s Amendment 2 was passed by 71 percent of voters in November, but what do they know? More...

BEST POLITICAL TUG-OF-WAR

Growth vs. no growth

The return of the building boom and Punta Gorda’s rising star as a vacay destination has sparked renewed interest from developers who are once again approaching the City Council and development review board with potential projects. More...

BEST WAY TO FACE THE MUSIC

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney

During Congress’ first Trump-era recess, U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Punta Gorda) was ambushed by constituents eager to share their views about health care reform, Russia and other hot topics. More...

BEST LOCALLY PRODUCED SPIRIT

Alligator Bay Rum

Brothers Alex and Ben Voss founded their cane-to-rum distillery just a year ago and have since been introducing legions of residents and visitors to Alligator Bay’s five traditional handcrafted rums. More...

BEST PLACE TO GET YOUR IRISH ON

Celtic Ray

Travel + Leisure magazine ranked the Celtic Ray second on its list of “The 50 Best Bars in the U.S. to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day,” — and if you’ve been there, you know why. More...

BEST PLACE TO EAT AND SHOP WITH A HEART

Two Thrifty Girls

TV has given us the likes of “Two Broke Girls,” “Golden Girls” and “Gilmore Girls”; however, the girls behind this Taylor Street café/boutique, Natalie Ingle and Betty Folkerth, are not only committed to providing More...

BEST FOR SIMPLE TO SIMPLY ELEGANT

The Caterer

Let The Caterer deliver just the right flavor to your next party or special event, no matter if it’s a small get-together with friends, an elaborate wedding reception, major milestone celebration or corporate seminar. More...

BEST WATERFRONT PLACE TO BRUNCH WITH YOUR BUNCH

Hurricane Charley’s Raw Bar & Grill

Live music, Sushi Sam and sunsets over Charlotte Harbor happen every day at Hurricane Charley’s. But come Sunday, there’s a reason to arrive as early as 9 a.m. – or just stick around after Saturday night. More...

BEST PLACE TO GET FRESH

Peace River Seafood

Order this quintessential crab shack’s blue crab bucket and you won’t mind working for your meal. More...

BEST WAY TO PARTY ON THE PEACE

Nav-A-Gator Grill

Trop-rock provides the soundtrack, nature and the Peace River a serene backdrop, while tropical cocktails and creative cuisine indulges the other senses at this remote Lake Suzy destination popular for its laidback atmosphere and live entertainment. More...

BEST PLACE TO FEEL LIKE AN OLD FRIEND

Phil’s 41 Restaurant

Phil’s, a longtime fave for residents and tourists, offers daylong two-for-one happy hour adult beverages in the lounge or on the patio and a menu so diverse you’ll need more than one visit to sample its signature dishes. More...

BEST SUMMER GIFT

River City Grill & Italia

The sister restaurants in downtown Punta Gorda are ready to roll out their annual summer special guaranteed to keep you coming back through fall. More...

BEST REASON TO ELOPE

Amanda Willis

She’s not Kristen Wiig and she wasn’t on an airplane, but maid of honor Amanda Willis must have seemed like one of the bridesmaids from “Bridesmaids” at her best friend’s January wedding in Charlotte County. More...

BEST MALE BOX

Englewood’s notorious mailbox

Danny Duncan pranked his mom in November by erecting a 6-foot tall, penis-shaped wooden mailbox in front of their Englewood home, stirring international attention and catapulting Mr. More...

BEST MISUSE OF A HALLOWEEN COSTUME

Bad guys in masks

Right around Halloween last year, a group of “creepy crooks” committed crimes while wearing trick-or-treat masks. More...

BEST VARIETY ON OR OFF WHEELS

Mattas Motors

Saving money matters, as does finding just the right vehicle. For more than 45 years, the family owned and operated Mattas Motors has put drivers behind the wheel of quality pre-owned trucks, cars, motorcycles and off-road recreation vehicles. More...

BEST DESERVED JOURNALISM COUP

Sun writers win the Pulitzer Prize

In 2013, an inmate at Charlotte Correctional Institute died under mysterious circumstances. In the offices of the Charlotte Sun, the editorial staff wanted to know why. More...

BEST COMMUNICATING GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL

Nancy Prafke

Wouldn’t it be nice if Punta Gorda residents had access to a weekly communiqué of some type, telling them all about what’s happening in the city, from government issues to entertainment to frequently asked questions? More...

BEST RESCUE BY NON-RESCUERS

Hands Across the Harbor runners

An avid runner, Craig Smith was 7.2 miles into the Hands Across the Harbor half-marathon when he collapsed. The quick thinking of fellow runners to administer CPR and chest compressions kept him alive until the ambulance arrived. More...

BEST LOCAL MAD HATTER

Marie LaBrosse

There’s no missing Marie LaBrosse. It’s not because of her infectious good humor or her eagerness to engage you in conversation (and do most of the talking). Quite frankly, it’s her hats. More...

BEST VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATION

TEAM Punta Gorda

What started as a civilian-led initiative to help the city recover from Hurricane Charley continues to grow in membership and scope for this group devoted to civic pride, community involvement and beautification. More...

BEST $107,00 WOMAN

Tish Sheesley

Tish Sheesley, executive director of the Arts & Humanities Council of Charlotte County, decided to push the envelope with the 2017 Dancing with the Charlotte Stars fundraiser. Her lofty goal? $80,000. More...

BEST-LOOKING POLITICIAN

County Commissioner Dr. Chris Constance

Political candidates must have quite a skill set: the smarts to understand the issues, the courage to make the right decisions, the charm to win over voters. And, of course, it sure doesn’t hurt to be doggoned good looking. More...

BEST BIRD-WATCHING SITE

Audubon-Pennington Park

A cypress swamp, oak hammock and pine flatwoods provide prime habitat for birds of all feathers in the unlikeliest of spots — smack dab in a large residential area between Midway and Peachland boulevards. More...

BEST PREDATOR MENACING CHARLOTTE COUNTY

Coyotes

They are becoming more plentiful — ergo, incidents where they interact with humans are becoming more common. Coyotes are, on occasion, terrorizing Charlotte County. More...

BEST SOLID DECISION ON BAD GAS COMPANY

Charlotte County vs. J& D Cable

The company responsible for a pair of Charlotte County gas line breaks last October was fired by the county after the breaks backed up traffic from Kings Highway to Midland Boulevard. More...

BEST LOCAL POLITICIAN

Kim Amontree

When asked why she thought she might have been selected for our “Best of Charlotte County” honors, Charlotte County School Board member Kim Amontree’s response was priceless: “Maybe because I am brand new, and I haven’t More...

BEST ELECTED OFFICIAL

Roger Eaton, Clerk of the Circuit Court

With his easy smile and politician’s good looks, Roger Eaton handily won voter approval — 75 percent — as the next clerk of courts last November. More...

BEST LOCAL MURDER MYSTERY - SOLVED

Tara Sidarovich

It took police 11 years to arrest the murderers of 19-year-old Tara Sidarovich, the Punta Gorda woman who vanished in 2001, and another five to put them behind bars — permanently. More...

BEST OVER-THE-TOP WAY TO GET PROTEIN

Keith Mann, Three Suns Ranch

When army veteran Keith Mann decided to go on the Paleo Diet in 2009, he decided to add grass-fed beef to his eating regimen. Problem is, Mr. More...

BEST SALVATION OF SUDS

Fat Point Brewery

Beer lovers were sobbing in their suds when word spread that Charlotte County’s first and only microbrewery, Fat Point Brewing, was closing on its two-year anniversary party in February. More...

BEST WAY TO VISIT EUROPE WITHOUT FLYING

Tina’s Café & Bakery Vienna

Hankering for authentic sachertorte or strudel to satisfy the sweet tooth? A passport isn’t required to savor the flavors of Vienna and Europe. More...

BEST SIGN MASHUP

Denny’s Hooters

For those of us with the perpetual mind of a 13-year-old boy, we proudly admit we giggle every time we pass the corner of Tamiami Trail and Veterans Boulevard near the Port Charlotte Town Center mall, where the Denny’s sign appears directly abo More...

BEST PLACE TO SEARCH FOR SERIOUS MERCH

Punta Gorda Downtown Merchants Association

Downtown Punta Gorda is home to a bounty of locally owned boutiques, artists’ galleries, restaurants and other businesses offering an equally expansive array of merchandise and services. More...

BEST REASON TO BULK UP FOR LESS

Cheney Brothers Express

Here’s something you probably didn’t know: Cheney Brothers has an open-to-the-public store offering its CBI labeled groceries, refrigerated and frozen foods as well as big-name brands, including Dole, Kraft, Nabisco, Sara Lee, Tyson and o More...

BEST OF BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER

Dean’s South of the Border

Offering three squares and daily specials, Dean’s in Punta Gorda is the go-to destination for down-yonder Tex-Mex fare. Dine indoors or out on the cantina’s patio, enjoy live music or watch your team on 20 TVs. More...

BEST PLACE FOR A CHANGE

The Wyvern Hotel, 360 Perch & 88 Keys Florida

Under new ownership by Edgecap Partners II LLC, an affiliate of Edgewater Group LLC (“Edgewater”) based out of Pennsylvania, The Wyvern has undergone a major metamorphosis with an emphasis on the Punta Gorda community.  More...

BEST BLEND OF NEW AND CLASSIC CONCEPTS

Village Fish Market & La Fiorentina

Sue and Nick Randall jumped at the opportunity to open a second Punta Gorda restaurant to complement their popular Village Fish Market at Fishermen’s Village. More...

BEST PLACE TO BURY A BODY

Riverside Drive

While clearing debris in late February near the railroad tracks that run parallel to Riverside Drive in Punta Gorda, a railroad worker spotted what appeared to be a human skull. More...

BEST REASON TO CARRY PEPPER SPRAY IN YOUR CAR

Mark Salinardi

Marie Larocca, a 76-year-old grandmother driving in her blue Jaguar XJR, was trying to exit the Punta Gorda Walmart this winter when she was rear-ended by Mark Salinardi in a green Honda Accord. When Ms. More...

BEST 27 YEARS ON 41 'INCREDIBLE'

Don Gasgarth’s Charlotte County Ford

For 27 “INCREDIBLE” years Don Gasgarth, owner of Don Gasgarth’s Charlotte County Ford, has brought his community style sales philosophy to Charlotte County and all of our surrounding areas. Today, as you drive on U.S. More...