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Cape Coral Living Magazine

Yacht Club Community Park: Cape Coral’s Original Waterfront Landmark Opened in 1962

Feb 27, 2018 07:08AM

Cape Coral’s Yacht Club Community Park has its own white sandy beach on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River. Photo courtesy of Cape Coral Parks & Recreation.

Gallery: Cape Explore: March-April 2018: Yacht Club Community Park [5 Images] Click any image to expand.

When Debra and Michael Hastings head to Cape Coral, seeking to escape the cold winters in Michigan, they usually spend a few hours soaking up the sun on what they consider to be “Cape Coral’s little hidden beach.”

Located on the southern end of the Cape along the Caloosahatchee River, this public beach is part of Cape Coral’s Yacht Club Community Park. The Hastings have been coming here for the past 18 years, and both vow never to miss a day at the park as long as the weather is good. Michael, a retired auto worker whose parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at the Yacht Club ballroom several years ago, has made it a point to visit the park with his wife, Debra, for exercise, a relaxing cocktail at the Boat House Tiki Bar & Grill and to honor his parents’ memories from the past.

“My parents just loved spending time down here on the water and living in the Yacht Club neighborhood,” Hastings reminisces. “They would walk the pier and white sandy beaches several times per week. They never boated or fished but just enjoyed the quiet atmosphere. Mom would call me every time she saw dolphins. I really miss that.”

The Hastings are not alone. Locals and visitors have been enjoying the Yacht Club’s waterfront amenities since it opened in 1962. Built in the community’s early days by Cape Coral developers Leonard and Jack Rosen, the Yacht Club was designed to be one of the city’s focal points, as well as a special location for fishing, boating, parties, anniversaries, business meetings and weddings.

Amy Anderson, a Cape resident since 1983, loves the convenience and small-town feel of the beach. “Sometimes it really beats the drive to Fort Myers Beach or Sanibel,” Anderson says. “It’s only two minutes away for us, and we can picnic, relax and then get home early. It’s not the Gulf of Mexico, but how many beaches are right in the city?”

Little has changed over the years at the park. The Boat House Tiki Bar & Grill, which opened in 2014, has drawn more people to the area and has made parking a bit more of a challenge. The public fishing pier has been replaced and updated. Almost everything else has remained virtually unchanged.

The park has a heated Junior Olympic-size pool and kiddy pool, open to the public seven days per week. Swimming lessons are available for children at least six months old through adulthood. Water aerobics classes and other water exercises are offered each week. The pool area has become very popular for hosting birthday parties.

Approximately 5.5 miles from the Sanibel Causeway, the Yacht Club has two boat ramps providing quick and easy access to the Gulf of Mexico. Trailer parking fees per day are $10, payable at the station next to the ramp. Cape Coral residents can obtain an annual parking decal for $50.  

The Yacht Club marina serves as a permanent home for up to 89 vessels within its basin area. Daily, monthly and annual slip rentals are available for boats up to 55 feet long. A fuel dock is open daily providing gas, diesel, bait, ice, a pump-out station, restrooms, showers, and washer and dryers. Tennis and handball courts, along with a pro shop, are located alongside the yacht basin.

The Tony Rotino Senior Center occupies space next to the Yacht Club ballroom and has been serving members of the community age 50 and older since 1977. The center is named in honor of the late Anthony Rotino, a long-time city council member who worked tirelessly to raise money for the facility. It offers a wide variety of programs, activities, concerts and special events throughout the year.

Wendy Schroder, president of the Cape Coral Historical Society & Museum, knows just how important the Yacht Club has been to Cape Coral’s citizens throughout the community’s history. “The Rosen brothers created many amenities for Cape Coral, but a really special one is the Yacht Club,” Schroder explains. “To me the design of the Yacht Club is so unique and special, with the inside of the ballroom resembling a yacht with wooden beams. I do chuckle, however, when I hear stories from the early teenage residents that would go to the ‘teen center’ events... and are now members of the Tony Rotino Senior Center.”

IF YOU GO

Yacht Club Community Park

5819 Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral
CapeCoral.net; 239-574-0806

Written by Joe Yapello, a contributing writer for TOTI Media.
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