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Things to Do in Venice, Florida
Venice is a charming small city on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico on the west coast of Florida. It has white sand beaches, miles of hike & bike trails, an old-fashioned historic downtown with Northern Italian architecture, and more than 100 shops, restaurants and coffee shops. Venice is located directly on the Gulf, rather than on a barrier island. Thus, Venice is one of the few Florida destinations where visitors can walk between the beach and downtown. Here are 10 fun things to do in Venice:
Venice is a charming small city located on the west coast of Florida
Venice Municipal Beach
1. Sunbathe on Venice Municipal Beach / Swim in the Warm Gulf Waters
Venice has miles of white sand beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. The most popular beach is Venice Municipal Beach, with ample free parking. It is also easily accessible from downtown by walking or bike riding. It has been awarded the "Blue Wave" certification for its cleanliness and environmental conservation. Along with sunbathing on its white sands and swimming in the warm Gulf waters, visitors can search for shark's teeth and shells, and divers can explore a coral reef just a quarter mile offshore. Facilities include changing areas, outdoor showers, and a snack stand serving hot and cold food and drinks at reasonable prices.
The jetty is the perfect place to watch boat traffic
2. Watch the Boat Traffic at the Jetty
The Venice jetty is the perfect place to watch a steady parade of boats underway between the Gulf of Mexico and the inland waterways (Dona Bay, Roberts Bay, Lyons Bay, intracoastal waterway). There is free parking, a concrete walkway on the jetty, and a nearby park-run snack stand with low prices.
The fishing pier is a scenic place to cast in a line.
3. Fish from the Jetty, Beach, Fishing Pier or a Boat
Anglers are in for a treat in Venice. Good locations to cast in a line include the jetty, the beaches, the fishing pier, or a boat. Depending on the season, fisherman can fish for tarpon, flounder, blue fish, cobia, pompano, shark or a number of other species.
Caspersen Beach is a secluded beach to go shelling
4. Go Shelling on Secluded Caspersen Beach
Caspersen Beach is the longest beach in Sarasota County, and has been left in its natural state. This beach reflects what Florida beaches looked like before Florida was settled, and visitors will enjoy the seclusion of this windswept and uncultivated beach. Beach combing is likely to result in finds of prehistoric sharks teeth and shells.
Alligators inhabit this lake near the dog beach
5. Watch the Dolphins, Pelicans, Manatees and Alligators
The wildlife in Venice is active and great fun to enjoy. Dolphins frolick near the jetty, off the fishing pier, and anywhere along the miles of sandy beaches. Pelicans continually dive into the water to snare fish. Manatees lazily swim in the inlet. Alligators cruise in a fenced-in lake near the dog beach (watch your children and dogs!).
The Venetian Waterway Park lines both sides of the intracoastal waterway
6. Ride Bikes on the Venetian Waterway Park
The Venetian Waterway Park is a paved trail that follows along both sides of the intracoastal waterway to either Caspersen Beach Park on the west side of the waterway, or the Shamrock Park and Nature Center on the east side of the waterway. This linear park also connects to the Legacy Trail, which is a paved rail-to-trail northward through the beautiful Oscar Scherer State Park and on to Palmer Ranch east of Sarasota. Thus, bikers can travel an uninterrupted stretch of paved trails all the way from Caspersen Beach on the south side of Venice to Sarasota. Of course, joggers, hikers and dog walkers will also enjoy the scenic views along these trails.
7. Search for Prehistoric Shark’s Teeth
Venice is also known as the Shark Tooth Capital of the World because of the abundance of prehistoric shark teeth and marine fossils that are readily found there. Beach goers can collect shark teeth ranging from 1/8 inch all the way up to 3 inches or more. Some beachcombers have found megalodon shark teeth that are 6 inches long and worth well in excess of $1000! Shark teeth can also be found underwater by skin divers near shore, and by scuba divers farther out.
Golf is available on the Island of Venice for very reasonable rates
8. Golf on the Inexpensive and Uncrowded Public Golf Course
The Lake Venice Golf Course was voted the Best Local Golf Course in 2009. It is a public course where tee times are not necessary. Golfers can walk or use carts. The scenery along the course is natural and beautiful. Rates are very reasonable: only $19 for 18 holes walking in the morning, and a special rate of $11.00 after 3:00 pm.
Venice's historic downtown area has many places to eat, drink and shop
9. Grab a Bite for Lunch or Dinner at an Outdoor Cafe
The historic downtown area of Venice has an expansive variety of restaurants and cafes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, snacks and sweets. Many of the eateries offer outdoor dining on the wide sidewalk, and several offer live music. Several ice cream stores are available to top of the day with a cold and sweet treat.
10. Shop at the Many Boutiques and Art Galleries
The historic buildings in Venice's historic downtown use Northern Italian architecture to present a tempting selection of independently-owned shops, galleries and boutiques. Fashion shopping includes clothes for the entire family, along with shoes, jewelry and handbags. There are also gift stores, gourmet fee shops, and specialty shops. One gift store offers a full selection of seashells and sharks teeth!