Charlotte County, Upscale and Down

Should you fear that Charlotte County, Punta Gorda and the surrounding areas are good only for eating food, you're mistaken. You can also learn about where food comes from. We travel writers began Day 3 at the Peace River Wildlife Center.

We saw injured birds including two bald eagles, quite close up. The highlight was wading in Peace River. The adventure is held periodically and anyone can sign up through the Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center. After learning about the creatures that live in the water, such as blue crabs, snails, hermit crabs and way more, we waded in with nets on sticks and caught a bunch.



Here's a horseshoe crab, which is more spider than crab, apparently.



We had one of our very best meals, a take-out crispy eggplant burger with pepper salad and goat cheese spread with sweet potato chips from River City Grill.



The produce for the lunch was grown at Worden Farm, a sizeable, impressive, organic enterprise owned by two PhDs, husband and wife, who are committed to changing the way the world eats.



Here are cherry tomatoes on the vine. Take an educational hayride of the property, and time your visit to hear a seminar, such as on vegan cooking.



Three more teasers, then I am off to take a walk on the beach.

We had cocktails on the roof of the sleek Wyvern Hotel -- live music, martinis, rattan-ish sofas and chairs.



Next up was a phenomenal meal at the playful, rustic Peace River Seafood. The business is also a wholesaler and retailer, so the shrimps and crabs from local waters could not be fresher.

As a teaser, here are some stone crab claws.



The shrimp are unusual, and from local waters. Phenomenal.



Crabs are the house specialty, so get messy with the blue crabs or the garlic clusters. These plates are only about $15 each, which is a tremendous bargain given the quality.





The evening's final tasting was of truly spectacular desserts at an upscale restaurant with a well-coiffed clientele called The Perfect Caper. Based on the sweets, I'd try it for dinner in a flash. Here is the  gingerbread ice cream sandwich filled with dulce de leche gelato drizzled with caramel sauce.



I'm off for that walk now. As if it'll make a dent in the waistline.

Next and final stop: Opus restaurant, an urban-looking retreat in downtown Punta Gorda. Brunch. Bring it on.

Eat well,