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Cape Coral: A ‘waterfront wonderland’

By Staff | Oct 6, 2021

FILE PHOTO

Cape Coral, a popular community that often tops lists of the fastest-growing cities in the country, has become a destination to live, not just to visit, and also claims the title of the largest municipality between Tampa and Miami.

With more than 400 miles of canals, the Cape has been dubbed a “waterfront wonderland” by residents, thanks to captivating — and remarkably affordable — waterfront properties with direct access to countless boating destinations.

An abundance of marine life — including dolphins, manatees and other aquatic treasures — can be found playing about the canals and waters of the Cape.

Surrounded by the Caloosahatchee River, there are endless boating and water-themed activities to delve into year-round.

The city has several boat launches that feed to the Gulf of Mexico, as well as miles upon miles of freshwater canals and lakes.

There’s never a dull moment in the Cape, as the city plays host to many of Lee County’s major events and street parties, and offers a plethora of concerts and night life in its downtown entertainment district; the South Cape along and around Cape Coral Parkway.

Hop aboard an event trolley to tour local establishments in the South Cape, maybe go exploring along nature trails or the city’s numerous bike trails.

Catch a show at Cultural Park Theater or, during the summer season, hit Sun Splash Family Waterpark to cool down.

With nearly 40 indoor and outdoor park facilities, the Cape provides something for all walks of life to enjoy.

Burrowing owls — the city of Cape Coral’s official bird

Cape Coral is home to unique species of owl that the city has made its own: the burrowing owl.

Burrowing owls are the only species, of 171 owls, that live underground, making them more susceptible to predators and enhancing the risk of having their burrows destroyed.

The owls dig these burrows for protection and, of course, nesting.

Burrows can be spotted in usually dry areas, circular in shape, usually 3-6 inches in width, with debris decorating the entrance during breeding season (February-July).

Burrowing owls may use abandoned gopher tortoise or armadillo burrows, as well as man-made structures.

Other than vacant lots, you may see burrowing owls in dry prairies, pastures, agricultural fields, airports, parks and golf courses.

The Florida burrowing owl is no stranger to Cape residents, with more than 2,500 burrows scattered around the city they call home.

Cape Coral is home to the largest known population of the Florida burrowing owl, which is a threatened species. These pint-sized birds burrow underground where they nest from early February through mid-July.

In November 2016, these small birds were given the status of threatened by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Their eggs, their young and active nests are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Thousands of residents from across Southwest Florida attend the Burrowing Owl Festival each year to enjoy nature-themed activities such as bus tours to observe the burrowing owl habitats, interactive butterfly exhibit, nature hikes at Rotary Park, guest speakers and more.

Cape Coral even has a play on Groundhogs Day — Burrowing Owl Day, where “Owliver” and “Owlivia” come out of their burrow to see their shadow, signifying six more weeks of “winter” in sunny Southwest Florida.

A local brewery even named a brew after the city’s official bird–a Kentucky Common Burrowing Owl Beer.

Cape Coral Yacht Club — A great place to relax

A scenic spot to kick back, relax and enjoy a view is the city’s original waterfront landmark is the Cape Coral Yacht Club.

Complete with a public waterfront beach, newly renovated, Jr. Olympic size community pool, kiddie pool and waterfront restaurant — relaxation awaits.

Bring your boat and drop it into the Caloosahatchee for a day of exploration on the water.

Or, bring your fishing rod and cast off the pier.

The Boathouse Tiki Bar & Grill on site serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. They also offer a unique experience: “Hook and Cook” You catch it, they cook it.

Grab your racket and play a match of tennis at the courts on site.

The community park also offers racquetball and shuffleboard courts, as well as a beach playground area.

Also on the property is the Tony Rotino Center, providing life-enhancing opportunities, primarily for adults age 50+. Their staff is committed to encouraging personal growth, fostering new friendships and helping individuals maintain independent, healthy lifestyles.

The park is open 7 days a week and offers swill lessons, exercise programs, lap swimming, a Master Swim Program and summer youth camps.

5819 Driftwood Pkwy, Cape Coral.

Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve

The second largest preserve green space in Cape Coral

Cape Coral is a Purple Heart City, with a rich veteran population. If you head into the Cape via the Midpoint Memorial Bridge, you’ll be welcomed by one-of-a-kind, stunning statues and dedications to the United States Military at Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve.

The 365-acre preserve is the second largest preserved green space in the city, located by Veterans Parkway.

A massive Iwo Jima Memorial catches the eye right way, as the iconic 20-foot statue depicts five Marines and a Navy hospital corpsman raising the American Flag on the highest point in Iwo Jima. The monument in Cape Coral is not a replica, but one of three originals created by sculptor Felix de Weldon.

Other memorials include an Iraq War dedication, bricks in the ground that honor Vietnam Veterans, a Merchant Marine and Navy Armed Guard memorial and a Gold Star Mothers memorial.

Flags representing each military branch fly high over these monuments that represent sacrifices made by those in times of war.

Approximately 6,600 feet of nature and walking trails await along boardwalks, taking you into shaded areas that lead to a canal where you can rent kayaks.

Mangrove roots along the trails almost give the appearance that the ground is “alive and walking.”

Wildlife sightings are also abundant, including eagles, ibis, herons, wading and migratory birds, raccoons, snakes and more.

A visitors center is on site to provide information on programs offered, wildlife and trail guides. The park is open from 8 a.m. till dusk year-round.

2500 S.E. 24th St, Cape Coral. Park Office: 239-549-7395

Cape Coral is home to nearly 40 different parks scattered throughout the city, offering different adventures and activities.

Popular parks include:

• William “Bill” Austen Youth Center & Eagle Skate Park; 315 SW 2nd Ave.

• Jaycee Park; 4215 SE 20th Place.

• Four Freedoms Park; 4818 Tarpon Court.

• Rotary Park Environmental Center; 5505 Rose Garden Road.

• Jim Jeffers Park; 2817 SW 3rd Lane.

• Sirenia Vista Park; Corner of Ceitus Parkway & Old Burnt Store Road.

For a full list of Cape Coral parks, visit www.capecoral.gov/department/parks_and_recreationhome/.

Cape Coral Art Center and Cape Coral Art League

The Cape Coral Art Center has been an artist community resource in Southwest Florida since 1977. Located in Rubicond Park on Coronado Parkway in SE Cape, the Art Center offers classes for all skill levels in fine arts and fine crafts year-round for residents and guests of all ages.

New renovations in 2019 were made possible thanks to $100,000 in grant money from the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs, which the city matched and doubled.

The nearly 14,000-square-foot space that includes galleries, studios/classrooms and a specialty art supply store received grant money to freshen the look of the gallery and other areas encompassing the two-building layout.

The Art Center features a main gallery and side galleries usually featuring local artists.

Inside of the Cape Coral Arts Studio there are all new floors, ceilings and lighting — which Art Studio supervisor Julie Gerhard said is so crucial to students perfecting their craft.

For more information on the Cape Coral Arts Studio and a full list of classes and hours, visit “http://www.capecoral.net”>www.capecoral.net, select the Parks & Recreation Department and find the studio under “Recreation Facilities.” Cape Coral Arts Studio is at 4533 Coronado Parkway.

The Cape Coral Art League (CCAL) was chartered in 1965 as a not-for-profit 501(c)3 and 501(a)2 charity organization that promotes the advancement of art throughout Southwest Florida.

CCAL was incorporated in 1966 to promote the advancement of art in Cape Coral and other local areas. The current studio location on Cultural Park Boulevard was built and opened in the fall of 1984 with a beautiful gallery addition joining the fold in April 1991. With the help of a state grant, a second art room studio was built in 2002 that provides more space for art classes, workshops and a multitude of art events.

The Cape Coral Art League offers year-round classes for adults, youth and children; features eight major art exhibits each year in their gallery; other art shows, including our annual art fair and workshops with world-renowned artists. For more information visit capecoralartleague.com. CCAL is at 516 Cultural Park Blvd.

Cultural Park Theater

The 184-seat community theater is the largest in Southwest Florida, and puts on a dozen productions each season. Along with original shows, Cultural Park hosts second stage productions from local acts and performers. Its Broadway season, which begins each September and lasts until May, brings classic and contemporary musicals and plays to life. Shows usually run Friday, Saturday and Sundays, with tickets being $29 for adults, $27 for seniors, $20 for students and $10 for children under 12.

528 Cultural Park Boulevard.

Cape Coral Museum of History

The museum features a picture display of the history of Cape Coral, as well as a large mural of the former Cape Coral Gardens — or Rose Gardens — a Native American Room, a Military Exhibit, prehistoric fossils, an authentic Cracker House and more. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday-Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Admission for adults is $5 and free for children under 17 and students with ID. Tours are available, as well as a gift shop.

544 Cultural Park Boulevard.