When you’re looking for some sunshine and water and a break from your daily schedule, pack up the family and check out the city of Port Charlotte. This small Florida town sits along the shores of the Gasparilla Sound, which is fed by the Gulf of Mexico. Your family can make its home away from home in a luxury villa, comfy condo or family home with an attached swimming pool with water views to wake up to each morning. When it’s time to select a Port Charlotte vacation rental, check out these eight towns in the area and pick the one that best suits you and your family.

1. Port Charlotte

When it comes to a relaxing family trip, Port Charlotte offers your family a slower pace and all the outdoor activities you crave. Spend your days fishing in the day or toss a blanket down on one of the beaches and splash in the water. Pack a picnic at your vacation rental, and head out to Bayshore Live Oak Park. You and your family can enjoy a day walking the trails that run along the bay in some places. When hunger strikes, break open the picnic basket or grill up hamburgers and hot dogs at the park’s barbecue grills.

2. Punta Gorda

Drive across the bay on Highway 41 to the bayside town of Punta Gorda with its selection of waterfront rentals and luxury homes. This town offers a fun scene for art lovers with plenty of small art shops in the area. You can enjoy hiking, biking, shopping and dining out in the evenings on fresh seafood that swam in the Gulf of Mexico earlier in the day. Head out to Fred C. Babcock-Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area where you and your family can bike around the area and take in some amazing views.

3. Charlotte Harbor

Nestled along the shoreline of Gasparilla Sound sits the community of Charlotte Harbor, just a few minutes from downtown Port Charlotte. People who make this area their home base enjoy the easy access to the water by boat, kayak or canoe. While staying this area, your family can spend some time exploring Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park. Take your camera to photograph the wildlife in diverse natural settings such as mangrove forests, marshes, scrub habitats and pine flat woods.

4. Harbour Heights

Move to the east away from the bay to settle in Harbour Heights with vacation rentals along the Peace River that include lakefront cabins and modest cottages. You and your family can fill your days with fishing from the dock of your rental or kayaking or paddling up the river for some peace and quiet. If you visit in the spring, time your visit to attend the Key Lime Festival in nearby Punta Gorda or the Summer Hafla.

5. El Jobean

A few minute drive from Port Charlotte is the small community of El Jobean, which sits along the Myakka River. This area offers the chance to unwind without a lot of tourists vying for beach space. Check out the small museums and art galleries, or enjoy fishing, biking, hiking, boating, and canoeing. When you and your family feel the need for some additional entertainment, drive the short distance to the Regal Town Center Stadium with its 16 screens to watch the latest comedy or action movie.

6. Charlotte Park

To the southeast of Port Charlotte is the community of Charlotte Park, which is part of the Punta Gorda metro area. Vacation rentals for your family in this area include waterfront homes, senior condos, and villas with outdoor pools. Spend some time shopping in the downtown area or exploring the waterfront. You and your family can schedule a charter with Back Bay Xtreme or King Fisher Fleet to spend a day fishing at all the best spots so your kids can catch one or two big ones.

7. Solana

To the east of Punta Gorda, your family can settle into one of the homes in Solana along the waterways that connect with the sound. This small community is part of the Punta Gorda urban area and shares many of its amenities. Enjoy fishing from a pier, try your hand at stand-up paddling, or bike around the community. If your vacation rental doesn’t come with bikes and you didn’t bring any from home, several shops in town rent bikes, including Acme Bicycle Shop and the Bicycle Center of Port Charlotte. You can even rent an electric bicycle to save your energy.

8. Lake Suzy

Travel less than 15 minutes northeast of Port Charlotte to the city of Lake Suzy. You and your family can avoid the crowds and enjoy a low key vacation reconnecting with each other in this area. Although it’s not along the bay, this area is just minutes away from the Peace River, where you can fish from the banks or explore the waterways in a canoe or a kayak.