Manatee County Parks and Recreation

Manatee County Beach
Rick Scwartz

Manatee County is home to a variety of locations that invite its visitors to participate. The G.T. Bray Recreation Center welcomes guests the chance to improve their physical health while working in a cooperative environment. The Agriculture and Extensive Service serves to educate the residents of Manatee County with education from the University of Central Florida. Finally, the Florida Maritime Museum educates its visitors with important records of the essential relationship with Florida has always had with the ocean.

G.T. Bray Recreation Center

The G.T. Bray Recreation Center offers a great catalog of activities for its guests. There is a fitness center, a kiddie pool, a splash pad, clay tennis courts, raquetball, pickleball, and a gym, where participants are welcome to play basketball, volleyball, cornhole, and badminton. Classes in Beach Yoga, Strengthening and Lengthening, Cardio Flex, Zumba, and many others are also open for participation. There is also a full swimming complex with triple water slides and even a Skate Park.

Sports Leagues for Youths and Adults

Youth participants are welcome to join leagues in soccer, basketball, little league baseball, football, cheerleading, and lacrosse. Adults also have options like soccer, softball, and even that olden time-favorite: horseshoes. Look for more information at their site.

Agriculture and Extension Service

This unique service brings the resources of the University of Florida down to Manatee County in order to improve the relationship between its citizens and the natural environment. Programs offered in the service include the Master Gardener Volunteer Program which educates and informs the residents of Manatee County about environmentally safe and sound means of cultivating plant life. The Mobile Irrigation Lab gives research proven information to residents about water conservation while encouraging them to maintain their landscapes with irrigation. Tenets of Agriculture are also included in the program, including information pertaining to Livestock and Forages, Vegetable Production, Ornamental Production, Pests and Fertilizer, and Soils Units.

Florida Maritime Museum

Nestled in the Port of Cortez is the Florida Maritime Museum, which aims to preserve and share traditional knowledge, cultural artifacts, and personal accounts of Florida's fishing and maritime heritage. The museum itself is housed at the Cortez Nature Preserve in a school house from the year 1912. Permanent exhibitions at the museum include the Blake Banks Shell Collection which was the personal collection of Captain Blake Banks who collected specimens throughout the gulf of Mexico. Ship model exhibits are also permanently housed on site which display scaled models of historic ships. The Maritime Library is also available for a slower paced look at the history and stories of Florida's ties to the sea.

These three locations offer recreation, agricultural education, and explain the history of the relationship Floridians have always had with the ocean. There are always more ways to participate in the events going on in Manatee County, and now is a better time than ever to check them out.