Off-The-Beaten-Path: Cortez Fishing Village

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Cortez Fishing Village (credit: HolidayTripper.com)

Cortez Fishing Village (credit: HolidayTripper.com)

Visit Florida’s last commercial fishing village on your vacation

You can easily drive by the Cortez Fishing Village on your way to Bradenton Beach, Longboat Key or Anna Maria Island, but within the few blocks, you can drive down the narrow roads into old Florida and see the last remaining commercial fishing village. Located in a tranquil area of Sarasota Bay, the village is truly on island time, and you can get some fresh seafood while you’re at it!

Old fishing village

Cortez isn’t a living museum – it’s the real thing! Drive down the narrow roads and you’ll see small bungalows dating back to the 1920s (there’s a self-guided walking tour online) or visit Florida Maritime Museum. Sit on the docks and watch the fishing boats come in – there’s a fish wholesaler, retailer, seafood restaurant and working boatyard here.

The history

This intracoastal fishing village was settled in the late 1880s by families from North Carolina and these families are still represented in the village generations later. The Cortez Village Historical Society is gone to great efforts to preserve the historical buildings and fishing shacks that were a part of this area’s unique history. Cortez is now designated as a Historic District with the National Register of Historic places.

Fresh seafood restaurants

If you want seafood that’s fresh, you can’t get fresher than restaurants close to Cortez. There are a number of restaurants here – we’ll feature them in upcoming articles but if you’re heading there sooner, the restaurant right on the docks is the Starfish Company.

Commercial Fishing Festival

The annual event raises money for the FISH Preserve, a natural area on Sarasota Bay’s north shore that the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) is restoring.

How to get there

From Cortez Rd. W./Hwy. 684, turn onto 119th Street W. and you’re in Cortez village.

Tell us…

Do you prefer historical stops when you’re on vacation?

  • Don Randazzo N.J.

    Just visited the village. Beautiful. The memorial for Michael Taylor prompted my search .
    The water is a dangerous place . I live on the Jersey Shore. Hurricane Sandy was a beast.