Venice Florida Vacation Guide

[y] Venice FL Visitors Guide

Take in the fresh Gulf breeze by strolling throughout Venice. Leave the car at your vacation rental and get out and walk around while taking in the view. With so much to see in Venice, you don’t want to miss anything and Venice is the perfect town to walk around and take photographs. Or just enjoy the beautiful historic homes, rest in the plentiful parks, or stroll along the beach as the waves crash along the shore.

With the new 10-mile bike/walk path that lines the Intracoastal Waterway, you can virtually access all of the Venice Beach areas on foot. Throw on your walking shoes and find the path from your rental, or find one of the many parking spots along the path, and you will not run out of sights to see anytime soon. Start off in downtown Venice, near Tampa and Miami Ave. and find historic homes nestled together with quaint local shops and cafes. Most of the buildings in this area were built in the 1920s and show the remarkable preserved history of Venice. For detailed pictures and information about the historic buildings and homes in Venice while strolling through the downtown area, visit the Archives and Triangle Inn Museum located at the Historic Triangle Inn at Blalock Park, 351 South Nassau Street, which runs parallel to South Tamiami Street, south of the downtown area of S. Venice Street and S. Miami Street. They can provide a wealth of information regarding the original construction and reconstruction of the buildings and homes in the historic areas to take along on your walking tour of Venice.

Venice Beach Florida Visitors Guide
Venice Beach Venice, Florida; photo by flickr/meluhnee

Don’t miss the Historic Train Depot, right in the heart of downtown, which was recently reconstructed to resemble its original glory from the 1920s. The Depot is located underneath the Venice Avenue Bridge and offers to park, so it’s a good place to start your walking tour of Venice.

Venice also houses over 30 parks, recreation facilities, and beaches, with almost all of them on the Venice Beachside and centrally located near the Intracoastal Waterway Park. So there is an abundance of places to get out and stretch your legs after a long car ride or flight to your vacation destination. Stroll along the beach at any number of Venice public beaches or venture into the uncultivated land at places like Casperson Beach Park. The Venice government website at http://www.venicegov.com/parks.htm gives a brief description of each park and recreation site, with a map to help direct you to where you may want to go. If you don’t have access to the website on your vacation, visit the Centennial Park in downtown Venice between W. Venice and W. Tampa Avenues. Here you will find an information kiosk about Mainstreet Venice that will help guide you to local parks and the best places to begin your walking adventure in Venice.

Venice Sunsets

End almost any vacation day right by viewing a beautiful Venetian sunset. There are many places to catch a sunset but nothing compares to relaxing and enjoying the last few moments of daylight like the North and South Jetties in Venice. The Jetties are opposite each other and set up the connection between the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway. Either side you choose gives a pleasant view of the sun that sets in the West over the Gulf of Mexico. Both locations are known for showing the splendor of Venice with ample opportunities to enjoy the background of dolphins jumping in the warm waters. These spots are also nice to get one final fishing opportunity in before the sun goes down.

Sunset at Caspersen Beach Florida
Sunset at Caspersen Beach, in Venice, Florida; photo by wikimedia/Grendelkhan

Humphris Park, known to locals as the South Jetty, is located at the very end of Tarpon Center Drive near Roberts Bay. Tarpon Center Drive begins near Venice Public Beach and will lead you as far North as you can go on the Southern end of Venice Island. Here you will find the South Jetties. It is not a large park, but sits right on the water and offers a spectacular view of the calming water and the setting sun over the Gulf. There are plenty of benches, picnic tables, and even restrooms and a concession stand, but consider bringing your own sunset picnic to this romantic and peaceful spot.

North Jetty Beach/Nokomis Beach is also a great place to catch a Venetian sunset. It is located further north in Venice at the southern tip of Casey Key. There are plenty of park benches, picnic tables, and restrooms, but the best view is offered by climbing onto the rocks to see the final rays of the sun.

If you are in the mood for drinks and live music in the background as you watch the sunset, try Sharky’s on the Pier. To find Sharky’s, head to Brohard Beach off of Harbor Drive for the only restaurant in Venice that offers a refreshing view of the Gulf of Mexico. If you are finished with dinner before the sun begins to set, stay and walk over to the Venice Fishing Pier at Brohard Beach and stay to see the remainder of the sun go down.

Casperson Beach, Venice FL

If you are on the quest for a beautiful, clean beach park where you can relax and enjoy the view of the Gulf of Mexico or take a brisk hike through the trails on your vacation, you need to check out Casperson Beach. Located just over the Intracoastal Waterway on the southernmost point of the island of Venice Beach, Casperson Beach is a refreshing look at what Venice has to offer.

Caspersen Beach
Caspersen Beach, Venice, FL; photo by flickr/pamontgo

Most beach parks only offer you a place to simply relax on the beach, but Casperson Beach is made up of 177 acres of uncultivated land where you can roam down the beach or back into the trails to Bed Lake with the feeling that you have escaped civilization right at your vacation destination. During the weekends, Casperson Beach has become a place of interest to some locals and tourists, but since most vacationers stay near the Venice Public Beach, you are still sure to find somewhere quiet to unwind and take in the view. During the weekdays, even during the summer months, you can manage to feel as though you are completely surrounded by solitude both on the beach and in the trails.

Casperson Beach linked up with the Venetian Intracoastal Waterway Park and has two easily accessible routes to the park from both Harbor Drive and from the Waterway bike path. With plentiful picnic tables, park benches, and children’s play areas this is a great place to bring the entire family for a relaxing day at the beach or a bike ride and a picnic lunch.

Don’t forget, one of the famous attractions to Casperson Beach is the great shelling available on this untouched splendor. But it doesn’t stop there; the child in all of us will love searching for sharks’ teeth fossils on the shore of Casperson Beach. Fossil hunting is allowed and this is a great way to take home a piece of Venice that serves as a reminder of your vacation long after you leave.

Venice Public Beach

Venice Public Beach is easily accessible from anywhere in Venice and is a great place to spend the day with the family at the beach. Located right near the heart of Venice, at the very end of Venice Avenue, this public beach is always posted with lifeguards during the summer months and makes a prime spot to bring young children who may need an extra set of eyes while playing in the water. The Venice Public Beach park also offers concession stands, restrooms, picnic tables, and even sand volleyball courts, making this an excellent place to enjoy a day in the sun with the entire family.

Venice Public Beach Florida
Venice Public Beach Florida; photo by flickr/[email protected]

The beach is only 6 acres in size but definitely reigns as one of the most popular beaches in Venice, with easy access to downtown, to Harbor Drive and to the Venetian Walkway Park. This is also a wonderful place to pick up fossilized shark’s teeth if you are not interested in heading all the way down to Casperson Park, or want to stay in a range of the lifeguards. Local divers know Venice Public Beach as a good place to dive for shark fossils. There is also a reef contained other fossilized materials, sand dollars and a great view of the fish, about a quarter-mile off the shore, so many experienced divers or sorcerers like to use Venice Public Beach as a starting point.

Surprisingly, although Venice Public Beach offers several amenities like playgrounds and lifeguards to keep the children safe, it is not super crowded. Especially if you arrive early in the day there is ample opportunity to find parking spots and there is always a place to set up camp on the beach for a day in the sun. Venice Public Beach is the most accessible from Venice Avenue. If you come over the Venice Avenue Bridge or the US-41 Bypass, Venice Avenue is one of the first streets you will see or just stay on Venice Avenue from the Venice Avenue Bridge. Take Venice Ave. all the way down and you will meet the shoreline and Venice Public Beach.

Blind Pass Beach, Venice FL

A quiet place to enjoy the native beauty of Manasota Key

Looking for a quiet place to enjoy a beautiful sunrise and a morning of fishing? Blind Pass Beach is the perfect place to be for a morning or afternoon of solitude at the beach. Also referred to by the locals as Middle Beach, because it sits in between Manasota Beach and Englewood Beach on the beautiful Manasota Key barrier island, it has an abundance of small coves on the Lemon Bay side that make for many opportunities to catch fish. If you aren’t having any luck fishing on the bayside, you can always switch to the Gulf of Mexico side and try your luck there.

The best part about the Blind Pass Beach is that it is never too crowded because visitors have three other options of public beaches on Manasota Key. Since there is a bridge connection in the north near Manasota Beach and another bridge connecting in the south near Englewood Beach and Stump Pass Beach, most visitors choose those beach locations closest to either bridge. The variety of options for beaches on Manasota Key keeps visitors from crowding into one small space. So you will have plenty of room to spread out, and enjoy a peaceful afternoon fishing or sunbathing here at Blind Pass Beach.

Although most beachgoers pick the closer Manasota Key destinations, a great reason to visit Blind Pass Beach is the drive along Manasota Key Road. You will encounter a few homes along the way but most have kept the beautiful natural vegetation of the area. There is not much traffic heading towards Blind Pass Beach, so take your time and enjoy the beautiful view of the beach and the water.

There are amenities like restrooms, picnic tables, a canoe launch and even a small hiking trail available but this may not be the best place to bring small children for a day in the sun. No lifeguards are on duty and although there is a playground, it is on the other side of the parking lot, far removed from the beach area. For couples or those with older children occupied easily by the sand and the beach, this is a great place to relax without worrying about lots of noise and disturbance from other beachgoers.

From Venice, take US-41 (Tamiami Trail) south to SR 776/Englewood Road then right onto Manasota Beach Road and once you head over the Manasota Bridge head south about 2 miles and you will end up at Blind Pass Beach.

Oldest home in Venice Florida

Venice is often referred to as an old railroad town but coming over the Venice Avenue Bridge to the Venice Beach area, an old railroad town is the furthest thing from your mind. Your first impressions will instead be something of awe at the beautifully preserved splendor of the coastal town. There is a reminder of a quieter, simpler time as many of the historical buildings and the architectural heritage of Venice remains from the early 1920s and even before.

Lord-Higel House restoration project; photo by Venice Heritage Inc

Lord-Higel House

The original architectural plans of Venice were to mimic a Northern Italy town and local residents and area historians have made a conscious effort to keep these plans intact. Right now the Venice Historical Commission is working on saving the oldest home in Venice, a building that supersedes the majority of Venice buildings that have remained or been restored from the 1920s. Constructed in 1896 and originally located at Stone Grove citrus fields, the home was first moved to 811 Laguna Drive in the 1950s so that the railroad tracks could be continued through the citrus fields.

The home, now affectionately called the “Lord House” by local historians, is scheduled to move in the summer of 2005 by the city of Venice, to a location owned by the city on Granada Avenue near City Hall. The home sat on the Laguna Drive land near Roberts Bay since the 1950s and was always maintained by private owners, but the city stepped in to save the home because the most recent private owner wanted to tear down the home to build a new house on the lot. Many local residents with historical ties to the area like Ron Higel, whose ancestor Frank Higel named the city “Venice” because it reminded him of Venice, Italy where he was raised, wanted to see the home preserved because he lived in the home at one time and helped to move it in the 1950s.

Costs of moving the home are estimated at around $60,000 to $80,000 with renovations near 1 million dollars. Once renovations are complete this will be a wonderful historical gem open to visitors, which further displays local Venetians’ desires to preserve the history and beauty of their town.

Fishing in Venice Florida

Florida is not only a place to lie on the beach during vacation but also a place with unlimited potential for fishing. Venice Beach in Florida is located on the Gulf of Mexico so the fishing patterns will be unique to the area and unlike the other side of Florida facing the Atlantic Ocean. Some popular fish you will find in the Gulf waters are grouper, hogfish, dolphin (mahi-mahi), seabass, shark, and even sailfish. There are other fish that have a shorter fishing pattern in the Gulf Coast, so depending on what time of the year you choose to visit you may also be able to find red snapper, amberjack, cobia, barracuda, and king mackerel.

Whether you are an expert fisherman or a novice who just wants to try throwing out a line, there are many places to test your fishing skills in the Venice area. Remember that one of the first things you want to do is obtain a temporary Florida fishing license while visiting the area unless a sight specifically posts that you can fish without a license. If you are in the need for bait and tackle, most bait and tackle shops or local convenience stores near the water will also sell a temporary or even year-long fishing license for less than $20. There are both freshwater and saltwater licenses, but for your purposes in Venice, you will want to make sure you purchase a saltwater license unless you plan to adventure in the nearby lakes away from the sea.

There are a few different choices for fishing charters in the Venice area, intercoastal or deep-sea fishing charters. A good place to try either experience is the Florida Deep Sea Fishing Charters. They carry the fishing charter “Legacy,” which is docked at Crow’s Nest Marina near Venice Public Beach. Prices start at $475 dollars for 4 hours of up to 12 miles offshore. From Venice Public Beach take a right on Esplanade, then go about 1/2 mile to stop sign. Take a left on Tarpon Center Drive then go 1/2 mile and you will see The Crow’s Nest Marina on your right. It is best to call ahead for reservations at 941-473-4603.

If you will be in Venice, FL for the winter months the Gaona Sportfishing Charters will also be available in the area with Summertime Lady II. The Summertime Lady II has been featured on many outdoors sporting television programs and would be a real treat for your stay in Venice. They offer trolling, deep-sea fishing, bottom fishing, fly fishing and tarpon fishing. You can reach Captain Marco Gaona on the boat at 941-488-2311 or through email at [email protected]

Not an expert fisherman or want to stay with your feet planted on the shore? The Venice Fishing Pier at Brohard Park on Harbor Drive offers a 700-foot fishing pier, where you are not required to have a fishing license to fish from the pier. Another famous spot for fishing on the shore is Humphris Park, otherwise known as South Jetty, located at the southern tip of the Intracoastal Waterway, at the end of Tarpon Center Drive.

Venice Pier

The Venice Fishing Pier is the place to see and be seen in Venice. This 700-foot fishing pier is connected to Sharky’s on the Pier, the only waterfront restaurant in the Venice area. Officially the fishing pier is part of Brohard Park, which encompasses 67 acres of beautifully preserved beaches and uncultivated land along Harbor Drive. Brohard Park includes Service Club Park, Venice Fishing Pier, future Tramonto Vista Park, Paw Park, and South Brohard Beach and is usually the central location for major events happening in the Venice area. Surprisingly, even though the fishing pier is centrally located in Brohard Park, it still manages to maintain the image of a down to earth place to spend an afternoon fishing in the Gulf of Mexico waters.

venice pier florida
Venice Pier, Photo: Venice Aerial Photography for City of Venice Fl

There is no fee to access the pier and the best part is that avid and amateur fishermen alike can fish from the pier without a fishing license. So if you are just in town for a few weeks and want to try out fishing for the first time before you buy a license, this is the best place to start.

Respect the rules of the pier with signs that say “no alcohol” on the pier. You may see a few patrons breaking these rules, especially in the early evening when Sharky’s gets crowded with hungry customers waiting for a seat on the deck, but the rule is to help those who may be walking on the pier without shoes to keep from stepping on broken glass.

Even if you are not interested in fishing, this is a great place to end the day for a beautiful Venetian sunset. Don’t be surprised if you see a wedding party gathered on the beach for a sunset wedding at the same time, especially in the warm summer months. It is customary for those on the pier and at Sharky’s to watch and even applaud once the bride and groom are wed.

Of all the surfing spots available in Venice, this is one marked as the most popular, where waves break near the pier. Although you won’t find Hawaii size waves, most surfers say it is worth checking out, especially during stormy weather. If you are surfing down below the pier, beware of potential fishermen who may not see you or who may feel they have the right away near the pier area.

The best part about the pier is that there is nothing else around. Often a city pier will be surrounded by touristy restaurants, bars or beach shops, but besides Sharky’s, there is nothing but a beach for as far as you can see. This adds to the feeling of relaxation and enjoyment of an afternoon spent fishing or a quiet evening sunset without any major distractions.

To get to the Venice fishing pier, just take Venice Ave. Bridge to Venice Beach and follow Venice Ave. until you reach Harbor Drive. Head south on Harbor Drive and park in the lot that looks like it is solely for Sharky’s on the Pier. This will lead you right out to the fishing pier.

Venice Little Theatre

Are you in the mood for a night of entertainment and culture while visiting Venice? Venice Little Theatre, in downtown Venice, is a wonderfully rich experience for entertainment lovers of all ages. The Venice Little Theatre was transformed from the original Kentucky Military Institute to the Little Theatre in the 1950s and has come to serve the greater Venice community as the largest per capita community theatre in the country. The building is located near the historic downtown shopping area, at 140 W. Tampa Ave. and is filled with beautiful reminders of the rich history of Venice. 941-488-1115