One of Florida’s Last Real Fishing Villages
The charming and historical village of Cortez can be found on the northern edge of Sarasota Bay. It is well worth the visit for an AuthenticFlorida experience.
Where: Cortez Village is located off Cortez Road (or State Road 684), heading west towards Bradenton Beach, turn south (left) on 123rd Street, and go as far south as you are able.
Once there, you will see the A.P. Bell Fish Company, and the Star Fish Company. In addition to being a retail seafood shop, the Star Fish Company serves scrumptious fresh seafood outdoors, dockside. But in the winter season be sure to go early – for parking and eats. Simple seafood at it’s best. It is fresh and delicious, especially the grouper sandwich – and if you throw in the view– mangroves, Jewfish and Longboat Keys with a busy commercial fishing waterfront. It’s a five star authentic experience. If you have a boat, dockage is available.
Be sure to take a stroll around the neighborhood. This neighborhood really captures the older Florida coastal home architecture of past – the old white homes with front steps, screened in sitting porches, and most are small, compact homes of the old days. I felt like I walked back into my childhood. Definitely the real deal.
A.P Bell Fish Company
Some of the locals gather in the Cortez Community Center (4523 123rd St.) and build or refurbish old boats. The goal is to preserve traditional boat building skills. So, it is not uncommon to see someone sanding a boat or putting on a new coat of paint. Tuesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays you’ll find happy boat builders from 9 am – 3:30 pm.
Adjacent to the Bell Fish Company deck, you will find a public dock with artists drawing scenic pictures, local fisherman spinning a good yarn and many blue herons waiting for the next catch.
Annie’s Bait and Tackle
Old timey bait, tackle store with a small bar. You gotta love the Old Florida in this place. When they say “extremely casual dining” -a bathing suit will do. Check it out.
4334 127th Street West
Once the Cortez Schoolhouse built in 1912, the Florida Gulf Coast Maritime Museum is a treasure. The museum collects, preserves and interprets Florida’s Gulf Coast maritime heritage, with emphasis on the Cortez and coastal area. Our guide was a lovely docent who gave an historical overview, detailing the well-done exhibits. Featured are Calusa Indian archeological artifacts, an old wooden dugout canoe, hand spun fishing nets, model boats and displays, nautical objects, tools, art displays and plenty more.