Englewood, Florida, you call That a transformation
In the year 1993, we came the first time to Englewood in Florida. It was almost by accident because this gem is off the main drag. It takes just a short detour if you don’t want to miss this pearl located on Lemon Bay. Englewood sits on a peninsula called the “Cape Haze Peninsular,” which is right on Florida’s beautiful Southwest coast.
We have to admit that back in the 90’s Englewood was still a sleepy, small fishing town. Shopping was pretty limited. Some outdated grocery stores and a medium size Walmart kept everybody alive. Yes, restaurants were there, not too fancy, and not many outdoor restaurants. A few other service providers, like car dealers, doctors, hairdressers, and lawyers were also present. No Home Depot, no Lowe’s, nothing like that at all.
The beaches were in a “very natural” state. Invasive Australian Pine trees dominated the vegetation at Stump Pass. Englewood Beach, a little further down the road from Stump Pass, had only very outdated restroom facilities to offer. But they were at least functioning and usable.
Any kind of real “entertainment” was non-existing. Of course, there was some live music here and there, but that was it. But Englewood was charming, and the people seemed to be down to earth and very friendly, talkative, open minded…and happy. What else do you want?
Our friends always said that it takes at least another 20 years before it is awakening from a quiet sleep. They were right.
Dearborn Street, Englewood’s Main Street, really needed a kick in the rear end. Of course, there was the “Brewery,” a place where you could drink a freshly brewed cold one. But that was almost the highlight of the town. To call this little road “Main Street” was a far fetched exaggeration. Some side streets had more to offer.
Our friends, who were running a boat rental near the bridge to Manasota Key, were always joking about the “old, grumpy” people who were living in Englewood. Yes, the overall population was “old” at that time. The majority of citizens were retirees. “The grandparents live in Englewood. Their kids live in Venicesunsetand the grandkids live in Sarasota.” That was what they always said.
A nice joke with an element of truth back in the early 90’s. However, there was a reason “older” people liked Englewood so much. The home prices were, compared to other areas, “dirt cheap alternative to When you are on a fixed income you need to be cautious with your money, right? For younger people, the sky always seems to be wide open and they can take a greater risk. They have all the time in the world. We have all been there, too.
Despite the fact that Englewood had only “limited service” and many “grumpy old people,” which in our opinion was not the case, we decided to buy our first home in Oyster Creek Golf and Country Club. We loved the small town feeling, we loved the area, we loved the proximity to the beaches.
Now the calendar tells us that we are in the year 2016. So, what happened within the past 20 years? Most notably, Englewood is not a sleepy fishing village anymore. A busy 4-lane road cuts the town in two halves and connects it with Venice, Port Charlotte and the rest of the world. New stores are everywhere, and the Walmart eventually morphed into a 24-hour Super-Walmart. Home Depot and new Publix stores opened their doors. More small shops and large stores and businesses are popping up like mushrooms after a warm summer rain.
Dearborn Street is still changing, but it is a lot closer to a “Main Street” now. There is a popular Farmers Market once a week. The Englewood Event Center provides high-quality entertainment at an affordable price, and the new Ann Dever Memorial Regional Park is a hub for active people. If you just want to walk the miles of trails through a beautiful park, you don’t need to be an athlete. However, if running the half-marathon, you need to be a little more in shape.
Don’t leave Fido at home when you go to the park– there is a nice dog park where he can mingle with other carnivores and exchange fleas. Tennis courts and an Olympic size swimming pool make this park a delight. You want to skate a little? Or play tennis, football, cricket or basketball? Here you can do it. Are you a penny-pincher? This must be heaven for you. There is no entrance fee for the park. If you want to go swimming, you need a pass, but it is still reasonable.
Now the beaches: The beaches underwent extensive remodeling. Stump Pass, the southern end of Manasota Key, became a beautiful State Park. The invasive Australian Pines disappeared; all gone for good. True Floridian plants are taking over again. A brand new boardwalk, restroom facilities and picnic tables and a kayak launch are available.
A shady footpath meanders through the lush subtropical vegetation and leads the visitors to the southern tip of the island – which is called Stump Pass. No bars, no restaurants…pure and unspoiled nature, though. This beach is heaven for nature lovers. You can also bring your kayaks and explore Manasota Key’s backyard, the “Lemon Bay.”
Compared to the 90’s, Englewood Beach is also barely recognizable anymore. All restroom facilities are brand new; plenty of parking space, kids playground, and boardwalks through the dunes make this a pleasant place to hang out. Across from the beach, you’ll find several establishments where you can combat hunger and thirst.
Don’t forget to watch the sunset while listening to live music. Life is good – and it won’t get any better. Tiki Bars and waterfront restaurants are lining up along the bay. We missed them so much back then. There are also a lot more people sitting, dining or just having a drink outside. Everybody is active with hiking, biking, and kayaking.
There are two more beach access points on Manasota Key to choose from: each one is different. You have to find out yourself which one you like best: Stump Pass Beach State Park, Englewood Beach, Blind Pass Beach or Manasota Key Beach. You may even like all of them..which gives you at least the alternative to go to a different beach every day.
Sometimes you may reach a point, where you have explored all the restaurants. You know the ingredients of the meals better than the cook. You know the inventory of many shops better than their employees. You have exhausted all the entertainment opportunities. You’re done with golfing, boating, para-sailing, fishing and jet skiing. Now you might ask yourself: “Are there still other places on the peninsula worth seeing?”
The answer is: “Yes, indeed.” You don’t want to miss Cape Haze, Don Pedro Island or Boca Grande. The Bush family comes to this Old Florida Island and former pirate hideout almost every year. Does that mean that they are pirates, too?
The tarpon fishing tournament is a different story. Fishermen from all over the world come to Boca Grande every year. The goal is to find out who can convince the dumbest and biggest fish to bite on his hook. The good thing is: all the fish are getting released afterward. They do not end up on the grill. Fortunately, the bones and texture of the meat make them quite unappealing. That’s their life saver.
There is even more going on in the area, but we do not want to spill the beans about everything that is happening here. Everybody needs a little room for own inspirations. Therefore, take that little detour, come to Englewood and work it out for yourself.
Now, did all the transformation of the past 20 years ruin the “old Florida small town feeling”? Not at all. Englewood has just become a more “modern, laid-back place,” a town with a lot of potentials.
By the way: Real Estate is still affordable in Englewood. Now younger people are moving back to Englewood again. First-time home-buyers are noticing that houses are more in their budget. You see, the grass is not always greener on the other side.
Did we spark your interest? Let us show you which neighborhood is right for you. We know the area very well, and we can point you in the right direction. You can start here to browse the best neighborhoods in Englewood. Give us a call (941 – 244- 8341 or email us anytime if you have just a question, or when you are ready to go house hunting.