The working waterfront village of Cortez is a slice of living history. It retains its roots as a commercial fishing community, and attracts visitors to its seafood houses and fishing and other watersports charters.
At the heart of this community southwest of Bradenton, the Florida Maritime Museum occupies the 1912 Cortez Rural Graded Schoolhouse. Photographs, exhibits, and model boats explore Florida’s maritime history with a focus on Cortez, once a boatbuilding capital.
Admission is free to the museum, and behind it another historic building undergoes restoration. Across a bridge out back, you can also visit the free Cortez Cultural Center, which recalls history with more of a human focus.