There are so many wonderful things about the State of Florida and many of them are just plain free! On this site, I'll be exploring the free side of Florida as well as low cost options for your weekends or vacation. But because I don't want to steer you wrong, I'll post after I visit these places myself. Have a great time on the site and on your own adventures!

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Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez, FL

The 1912 Cortez Rural Graded Schoolhouse.
Having taken up residence in the historic 1912 Cortez Rural Graded School is the Florida Maritime Museum on Florida's Gulf Coast. And this is an interesting little place - the phrase "plenty of character" leaps to mind. Interesting, but a bit different than I was expecting. Based on the name, my thoughts were more along the lines of ... say the history of the fishing industry in Florida, or maybe even just the West coast. And really, it was - with a caveat.

The Exhibit Room.
When visitors first enter the old schoolhouse, they are greeted with a wall of interesting photos and articles related to the original school. These pictures and stories become even more insightful once you learn this was a working school until as recently as 1970. To the right is the entrance to the exhibition room, a beautifully restored display area full of relics, pieces of local and U.S. history, and hand-built models of actual fishing boats. The visitor winds their way through this serpentine of displays, reading blurbs of information throughout. Finally, you are brought to the exhibition room that has rotating displays that, at the time of this writing, were paintings by very talented local artists. This room appeared to have been a small auditorium or lunch room of some sort to the school, in it's day, indicated by the stage at the front. This stage area now, however, houses the Museum's library of donated books and periodicals that visitors are free to browse (just don't take them home!). Finally, in the rear of this same room is the rack of souvenirs for purchase.

While I certainly do recommend a visit to this location, I would also like to mention just exactly how it was different than I was expecting. The fishing and area history shown throughout the place seemed more centered around the certain families in the area and how they, themselves, were part of the fishing industry in the state. There is nothing wrong with this angle to the information - and nothing wrong with the information itself either. It was interesting. I was just hoping for a broader view of the history of the Florida fishing industry. But at an admission price of free, who can complain!

For more information on the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez, click the name or go to: http://cortezvillage.org/.

Click HERE for a map.

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