Florida : Safety by City
- Amelia Island
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- North Port
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- Palm Beach Gardens
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- Pompano Beach
- Port St. Lucie
- Punta Gorda
- St. Augustine
- St. Petersburg
- Vero Beach
- West Palm Beach
- Winter Park
Punta Gorda, Florida, is one of those cities between Tampa and Fort Myers that if you aren’t looking for it, you might not even give it a second thought.
A “blink and you’ll miss it” kind of town in a state filled with beautiful adventures.
Let me tell you as someone who spent a lot of time in Punta Gorda — don’t blink.
Not only is this city of fewer than 20,000 people the Charlotte County seat, but it’s also a charming town filled with history and growth.
What you won’t see today are the scars that Hurricane Charley left behind in 2004.
The city took a nasty hit from the Category 4 storm and it rose from the ruins to be the Punta Gorda of today.
There’s a memorial to commemorate the solemn day in history.
From a fishing village filled with shops and restaurants that could easily fill a day to the harbor walk where you can stroll along the Peace River to parks where you can become one with nature — this unique city is worth a visit.
The small-town vibe is complemented by a very low crime rate.
Warnings & Dangers in Punta Gorda
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk in Punta Gorda. Crime rates are exceptionally low and it's a friendly town.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There's low risk when using public transportation in Punta Gorda. Charlotte County offers a transit system, but it's a very large area and you should make reservations up to four days in advance. It's just not very practical for travelers. You can also hail a cab or take a rideshare. Much of the downtown area is walkable, but the best advice is to have a car of your own so you can explore.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here and no pickpocket reports were filed in 2020. That doesn't mean throw caution to the wind, but just know you don't need a death grip on your purse or wallet here.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Hurricane Charley made landfall here in 2004 with winds of 90 mph. A gust of 111 mph was recorded before the anemometer was destroyed by the winds. Hurricane Irma caused a storm surge in 2017. This is a great place to visit when there isn't a hurricane or tropical storm approaching, but if one is, you need to get out fast.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There were only two robberies in Punta Gorda in all of 2020. That's very low risk if I've ever seen one.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here. The biggest threats come from the terror of mother nature.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The scam risk for a traveler is low. Many of the scams target the elderly population of Punta Gorda.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
I'm a single woman and I went to Punta Gorda often. There's nothing inherently dangerous about it, but the harborwalk isn't lit very well after dark. That's the only time I thought twice about safety. This is a low-risk area.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The water passes all state and federal requirements, so there's a low risk. The only time you should be extra cautious is after a heavy rainstorm or any kind of flooding. The area is low-lying and surrounded by water, so contamination of the drinking water can happen quickly.
Safest Places to Visit in Punta Gorda
Fisherman Village is a great starting point for your Punta Gorda visit.
The design of the village perfectly balances an old fishing village feel with modern amenities and the most unique shopping you’ll find in the region.
The decorations and photo ops of the village are worth the trip before you even set foot in a store.
While some tourist shopping areas have pressure-driven salespeople everywhere, that’s not the vibe here.
There are several great restaurants here.
For a casual meal, I’d recommend Harpoon Harry’s and if you want a more upscale dining experience, you shouldn’t miss The Captain’s Table with second-floor views of the harbor.
The harborwalk in Punta Gorda stretches 2.4 miles and is great for a morning run or a sunset stroll.
Along this path, you’ll see Laishley Park, where there’s a Hurricane Charley memorial.
Military fans will love the Military Heritage Museum with artifacts from wars from the Revolutionary Period through current-day military challenges.
You can also visit the Veteran’s Park Memorial Garden.
The Interactive Foundation is a great way to cool off for kids and adults.
Stop by the A.C. Freeman House, a national register of historic places landmark, showcasing a rare Victorian home in this area.
If you want a little more excitement, check out the Southwest Florida Skydive Club and see Charlotte Harbor from 10,000 feet in a freefall (the ripcord is pulled at 5,000 feet).
Places to Avoid in Punta Gorda
There just isn’t a dangerous part of Punta Gorda.
Crime rates are anywhere from two to ten times lower than the national average.
That said, there are parts of the city that are very dark at night.
Since it’s not a big city, there aren’t going to be surveillance cameras everywhere.
I would recommend always staying in well-lit areas and, unless you are going out for a nice dinner, don’t spend a lot of time walking around at night.
This is a mostly residential area, so you don’t have a reason to be driving around those areas.
The streets are well-laid out and GPS will keep you on the right route.
There’s a small downtown historical corridor that comes to life at night, and this is the best place to find live music.
It’s not a typical downtown with homeless people everywhere.
It’s got a certain charm and the night air is filled with music coming from one of several bars.
While it’s not dangerous to be here at night, definitely use the same safety protocols as you would in any other city.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Punta Gorda
- Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park is a popular outdoor adventure in this area. It spans 43,000 acres of mostly untamed wilderness. You’ll most likely be kayaking through the region, and you need to bring a compass, GPS, water, and sunscreen. There are places you’ll be alone and you will need to make sure you can navigate your way back.
- There’s a lot of walking to do in Punta Gorda, so wear sturdy shoes. I once walked through this area in flip-flops and paid for it the next day with sore feet and calves.
- Not only are there alligators in Punta Gorda, in 2020 a rare crocodile was spotted. While crocodiles aren’t native to this area (but alligators are), a 70-year-old croc turned up in a canal. Wildlife officials can only assume it was brought there by someone. If you see an alligator in Punta Gorda, don’t approach it. They won’t attack people by instinct, but don’t risk it. Keep small pets away from them as well. If you see freshwater in Punta Gorda, assume there’s an alligator in it.
- If you want to fish in Punta Gorda, you have plenty of options, but you’ll need a fishing license first. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission offers separate licenses for freshwater and saltwater fishing, so make sure you get the right one.
- If you want to go to the beach, it’s going to be a bit of a haul from Punta Gorda as there’s no direct path. Your best options are to go to Boca Grande, which is a 50-minute drive (with some toll roads along the way), or Sanibel Island south of Fort Myers, which is more than an hour away.
- Sign up for Alert Punta Gorda if you are going to be staying in this area. Law enforcement will send out all emergency public notifications. This includes weather warnings, wildfire development, missing people, and search and rescue operations.
- Florida is the lighting capital of the United States. Three people were killed in 2021 in Florida by lightning, and one of them was near Punta Gorda on Sanibel Island. Follow the rhyme “When thunder roads, go indoors.” Wait 30 minutes after a storm passes before going outside again. I’m pretty brave when it comes to storms and I even chase storms from time to time, but Florida lightning was so intense I always ran inside when storms were coming.
- If you rent a boat, abide by all the “Wake Zone” requirements. There are manatees in the water that can get severely injured by boats going too fast. These “gentle giants” of the ocean are often seen in the Charlotte County canals and they can’t move very fast. Go slow, and prepare for manatee sightings, which is a pretty cool experience!
- The hurricanes that hit this area left a lot of vegetation dead and/or uprooted. This has turned into a danger for another disaster — wildfires. The fires in this area have been known to have smoked so thick it shuts down I-75. This is a major thoroughfare leaving many travelers stuck. If you see a wildfire, report it, and don’t ever drive through wildfire smoke.
- When you look at the flood plain maps of Punta Gorda, the whole city is included. If a tropical storm is approaching, get out. There’s very little you can do by staying and rising water, combined with a rising tide, can spell real danger for someone not used to tropical flooding. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
So... How Safe Is Punta Gorda Really?
Across the board, Punta Gorda’s crime rates are 41% lower than the national average, but for segments like property crime, it drops to 83% below the national average.
Here’s how your chance of being a victim of a crime breaks down:
- Violent Crime: 1 in 1390
- Aggravated Assault: 1 in 1622
- Robbery: 1 in 9735
- Theft: 1 in 92
You are going to have a hard time finding a city safer than this one for a getaway weekend or a long trip.
There are a lot of retirees who call this place home, and snowbirds fill up the area from October through March.
If you see any senior citizens in trouble, help them out.
Scammers try to pretty on the seniors across the Florida area.
How Does Punta Gorda Compare?
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- Visas - All Visa requirements are handled at the airport, on your cruise ship, or at the port of entry. Nothing else is required to get into Punta Gorda, Florida.
- Currency - You'll use the U.S. Dollar throughout the entire Charlotte County area, and all of Florida for that matter. Credit cards provide the best protection against identity theft and getting your money back if you are a victim. It's okay to carry cash here, but as we'd recommend with any other city, don't go waving around a wad of cash.
- Weather - You'll love the weather here in the fall, winter, and spring. It's why so many people snowbird here. The temperatures are generally in the 70s or 80s for highs and drop into the 50s or 60s at night. A jacket would be a good idea. Summers are hot and humid, with highs into the low 90's and barely reaching the mid-70s at night. Add in the humidity and you'll need plenty of loose, light-colored clothing that can handle sweat.
- Airports - There's a small airport in Punta Gorda with commercial flights. The Fort Myers airport is 40 miles away. There are two airports in the Tampa area; Tampa International, and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport. Those are both about two and a half hours away.
- Travel Insurance - The weather in this part of Florida is unpredictable and Punta Gorda has a special risk of flooding, so get travel insurance to protect your trip in case the weather gets severe.
Punta Gorda Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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