A DAY AT THE MUSEUM
Welcome to Punta Gorda, home of the Military Heritage Museum!
Your journey to the Museum will most likely take you through the city of Punta Gorda. Punta Gorda is a historic town that lies along beautiful Charlotte Harbor. Streets lined with huge royal palms, beautifully restored period homes with wide verandas, brick lanes, street lamps and benches leave an almost tangible old-Florida atmosphere. Nearly everything is waterfront here — from hotels and shopping to parks and fine dining.Heading west on West Marion Avenue, you will soon come upon the Military Heritage Museum entrance on your right just before the main entrance to Fishermen’s Village, a top tourist and shopping attraction in southwest Florida. You will find parking both underneath the main museum building as well in the nearby Fishermen’s Village parking areas. The museum is just a short walk along a scenic pathway with great harbor views. You can also take a Fishermen’s Village free golf cart ride from the Village to the museum and back by calling 941-456-3883 for golf cart transport. As you enter the grand lobby of the Military Heritage Museum, you will be greeted by our friendly volunteer veterans who serve as museum guides along with the staff at the Base Welcome Center. At the Base Welcome Center you will have an opportunity to select from a variety of tours and programs being offered that day.
One of the most popular tours is a tour of the main galleries found on the first floor. After viewing our special exhibit, you will then start your walk-through — with pre-revolutionary U.S. military history through 20th century exhibits right up to modern conflicts currently underway. This tour provides an interactive journey through three period rooms of exhibits and displays. The Hall of Heroes is a very special gallery dedicated to honor and remembrance of many great leaders in our history. It also tells the stories of the Florida Medal of Honor recipients as well as the museum’s Wall of Warriors designees. Along your journey on the first floor, you will find a fully stocked Ship’s Store and quaint café. In addition to souvenirs, books and other military-themed offerings, you will also find tasty refreshments. Feel free to relax at our tables inside, as well as outside along our veranda with its nice views of the marina and harbor. Admission to the first-floor galleries is a donation-supported experience.
The Military Heritage Museum also offers several unique experiences for its member-visitors not found anywhere else. At the Base Welcome Center you will be able to purchase a membership day pass, seasonal pass or annual pass for individuals, families or groups. A membership pass provides you access to the galleries on the first floor and second floor of the museum including the Future Force Academy. The second floor Future Force Academy provides the museum’s member-visitors an immersive experimental journey that educates them on the various cultural aspects of what it’s like to join and serve in the U.S. military. Another way to frame the difference is that on the first floor the visitor is, through an interactive experience, a witness to history. On the second floor, they “become” a character reliving history. While suggested, it is not necessary for a member-visitor to follow the guided “joining through deployment” journey. Member-visitors may also choose a self-directed experience, participating in the many experiential exhibits and activities found throughout the second-floor program areas. The Academy Library is also part of the second floor and may be accessed during normal business hours.
The Military Heritage Museum has a magnificent 247-seat theater available for use by its members. The theater is used for showing movies, theater performances such as reenactments and musical performances. During most days, special movies and other activities may be taking place for members to view at their leisure. The Base Welcome Center will have a posting of the times and shows available. Some theater programs may have a cost that would include a discount for members, though most programs during the museum gallery hours will be free for its members.A day at the museum provides opportunities for visitors of all ages. Many families visit our museum and enjoy the variety of activities available. The museum also offers a great educational opportunity for children, college students and anyone else looking to better understand military history and heritage. Average visits last anywhere from a couple of hours to an entire day. For those of you who are staying in the area over several days, weeks or months, as well as those who are year-round residents, consider making multiple visits. Between the ever-changing variety of program offerings available in the theater and other areas of the museum, our special and rotating exhibits and the many simulated activities available throughout the Future Force Academy, there is more than enough reason to keep coming back.
Be a Pilot
On the first level, take a walk-through history through three unique galleries: from the Revolutionary War through modern conflicts. Visit the Hall of Heroes and its special Medal of Honor exhibit. With thousands of artifacts, graphics, videos, realistic dioramas and touch screens, the gallery experience is unparalleled in southwest Florida. On the second level become part of history through simulations and virtual reality utilizing our aircraft, tank, and range simulators. In the Advanced Individual Training School, “fly” a F-16 or P-51 Mustang, command the helm of a Navy destroyer, take a parachute jump, experience the laser range, or drive a tank – four incredible simulations and virtual reality experiences. The second level also includes the War Room, home of the Museum’s Kids Discovery Zone and virtual reality exhibits as well as the full-service Academy Library with its over 5000 books and publications and computer-interactive activities. Check out the beautiful 247-seat Gulf Theater and the many documentaries and shows held throughout the year. The Ships Store offers a wide variety military-themed caps, shirts, and other souvenir items to help you remember your museum experience.