The city of Venice, Florida, has a population of approximately a little over 20,000 residents. 20,000 is a decent size for a town in Florida and easily manageable. Like the sister city in Italy, the city center of Venice, Florida, is also surrounded by water.
While the Italians built their town on more than 100 small islands located in the shallow Venetian Lagoon and separated by canals, Florida’s Venice sits on one piece of land, surrounded by an artificial waterway, called “Intracoastal Waterway.”
No lagoon, no little islands, and very few canals - and no gondolier is singing heartbreaking songs while taking tourist on a gondola ride. So, Florida's Venice appears to be a little less romantic than its Italian counterpart. But who cares? It is what it is.
The median resident's age is on average 68 years in Venice, which is an indicator that Venice is clearly a retirement community. The whole area is about 17 square miles in size, with a significant portion of the city located on an island. The island is only accessible via three modern drawbridges. The artificial Intracoastal Waterway is actually the culprit that created the Venice Isle.
The historic district, the downtown area, the municipal airport, and all the beaches are located on the "Venice Isle." Commercial activity, accept from stores and the airport, are banned. There are no fast food or other chains or box stores on the island, only individually owned stores and shops are inviting tourists to pull out their credit card.
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Dining and Shopping
Venice has a vibrant downtown area with small shops, boutiques, local coffee- and wine shops, bakeries, restaurants, and ice cream parlors. Grocery shopping, banks, and medical facilities are often within walking distance, but the big box stores and chains are all on the mainland. Come and experience historic Venice downtown with individually owned stores – absolutely no chains. Perfect!
The downtown area is also very active. There are often concerts, art exhibitions, parades, and other activities.Those events are attracting a lot of people from all over the county and beyond.
Evenings are filled with shows at “The Venice Little Theater” or concerts by the “Venice Symphony.” It is true that Sarasota has more entertainment opportunities, but what is the problem? Sarasota is only 20 minutes away. If you are craving for a special event at the Van Wezel, you can be there in a short time.
Parks, Recreation, and Beaches
Venice has more than 30 parks, ranging in size from tiny pocket parks to parks with miles and miles of biking, and hiking trails. The smaller parks are scattered all over the town. They are little shady spots with benches and flower beds where the visitor can rest for a while to enjoy the gentle wind blowing from the Gulf of Mexico. Sometimes people do not even recognize that they are there. They sit down on a bench without appreciating that this thing is located under a nice, shady canopy of trees.
And there are “serious” parks with tennis and basketball courts, boat ramps, canoe and kayak launches, and miles of walking and biking. Even the Legacy Trail runs through Venice, connecting all the communities along its way to Sarasota. This former railroad track provides miles of excellent biking and hiking. One of those days, this trail may run from Canada to Key West, however, there are still some obstacles in the way.
If you want to play a round of golf on one of the world-class golf courses in the area, or if you want to explore the half-dozen area nature preserves, nothing is hindering you. You will find them everywhere. If not...you will find them here.
We should also not forget the number-one reason why everybody is here: the beaches. People say that the 7-mile long beach in Venice is one of the most unspoiled stretches of public beach in all of Sarasota County. Is it an exaggeration? Find out for yourself. Read more about the area Beaches here
The sand can not compete with Siesta Keys's, it is not so white, so crisp, so cool, however besides that, the beaches are perfect. Who cares that the sand is a little more grainy, but who cares.
It is easy to get around in Venice. You can walk, use your bike, car , or public transportation. One thing is not going to happen, floating around in a gondola, while the gondolier is belting out dramatic love songs. Venice has no canals where you can do that.
There is the main traffic artery called Tamiami Trail or US 41 running through the city of Venice. From there you can get everywhere. You can also use your bike, or you can use the SCAT (Sarasota County Area Transportation) bus system to get around.
For less than two bucks you can get almost everywhere in Sarasota County. By the way, the whole Island of Venice is walkable or better - "bikable", but if you ever need to leave town and go somewhere else, you are only minutes away from the Interstate I-75.
Three International Airports (Sarasota International, Tampa International, and Fort Myers International) are within easy reach. The Punta Gorda airport is also for many a good option. They have added quite a few destinations. And if you happen to have a Lear Jet in your hangar, Venice Municipal Airport may be your destination.
Information about the Area
Sarasota and Tampa/St. Petersburg lack the small-town character of this cozy seaside heaven, and Fort Myers is not only out of sight; it is also far more prominent and more buzzing. Therefore, Venice is Venice, and it is meant to play in a different league.
We can assure you that most of the 20,000 plus people who live here are entirely happy with what they’ve got.
Like many cities in Florida, Venice is also called a “historic” city. Well, it all depends on what one’s idea of “historic” or “historical” is. If 200 years is already the definition of “historical,” yes, Venice is historical.
The early 18th century was the starting point when the first settlers “invaded” the mosquito-infested swampland and built the first primitive log cabins. From there it was a bumpy road to what Venice is today, but it worked out perfectly.
The big parking area in the center of Venice is “the” place for small and big events. It is the spot where the farmers market attracts a lot of people every Saturday morning, and it is the place where all the other main activities take place. This place is actually the center of the downtown area. There you can park your car and start your shopping spree.
Not too long ago some developers put in a proposal to get rid of the parking area by building a massive high-rise parking garage. Fortunately, that was turned down, and the people of Venice will still enjoy all the events that take place in the original parking area in the future.
And those events do happen frequently. Once in a while even Main Street will be closed for certain events. Parades and art festivals are such events that attract thousands of people from all over the county.
"Shark Tooth Capital" of the World
First of all, it is only about shark teeth, not sharks! The teeth you can find in the sand are from prehistoric animals, sharks that have ceased while hunting for prey millions of years ago. With the right tool and a little luck, everybody can find those historical artifacts, and if your fingers are not all thumbs, you can make beautiful necklaces with those fossilized shark teeth.
So, if you are looking for the Shark Tooth Capital, come to Venice. If you are looking for the "Shark Capital" of the world you need to go to another place. The winner of the name "Shark Capital" is...Smyrna Beach. There you can look those babies directly in the eye. How wonderful is that?
Main Street, Fishing Pier, Paw Park, and Beaches
Venice Isle is the location of four different Beaches. “They are some of the most uncrowded stretches of beach along Florida’s coastline” – if you want to believe those “advertising people.” That is at least what they say. Are they telling the truth? Marketers never lie, but the truth will come out.
Venice Municipal Beach is the most popular beach and draws the biggest number of beachcombers. It is not far from several bed and breakfast accommodations and within walking distance from downtown Venice. So, on several occasions this will be a hot spot, and don't expect to be the only one on this beach.
South Brohard Beach is further south and a little less populated. Here you will find plenty of space to relax. The Fishing Pier is also just around the corner. If you need a drink or something to eat, Sharky’s on the Pier, or the more upscale “Fins,” are waiting for you.
The Paw Park and Beach
If your four-legged companion wants to take a dip in the Gulf of Mexico, you can take him to the Paw Park next to Brohard Beach. Here he can run around with you or other dogs. He can make friends with other dogs while the owner gets a nice reddish "sun tan." He will love it; you will love it, everybody will love it. By the way, there are NOT many dog beaches on Florida’s West Coast, but this is one of them. For pet lovers read more here.
Caspersen Beach is the fourth beach on the Island of Venice. With over 9,000 feet of beachfront, it is the longest beach of all Sarasota County beaches. Untouched and in an entirely natural state, you will still find boardwalks, public restrooms (all new) and free parking.
We do not know who came up with the 9,000 feet, though, because the beach seems to be endless. If you are in the right mood, you can walk for miles and miles until you reach Englewood beach. Be warned: that will take a while, and there are no restaurants and bars in between.
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