Looking for the best things to do in Venice FL?
The beach city of Venice is one of the best kept secrets in Southwestern Florida. Located along Interstate 75 just south of Sarasota/Bradenton, Venice averages over 250 days of sunshine and winter temperatures that rarely dip below 50 degrees. The city is home to 25,000 year-round residents and thousands of seasonal snowbirds and tourists each winter. Venice sits right on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico and boasts several beaches, hundreds of eateries, and an array of cultural options to entertain visitors and residents alike.
As a celebration of its oceanside location, Venice is host to a citywide art installation consisting of dozens of mermaids and seahorses. Each sculpture in the display, known as FantaSea Venice, is sponsored by a local business and uniquely designed by an area artist. Coastal Living named Venice it’s “Best Place to Live on the Coast” in 2020, and one of the “Happiest Seaside Towns in America” in 2015.
With designations like that, you can rest assured that planning and taking a trip to Venice, Fl will be well worth your time. Whether you choose to drive or to fly, getting to Venice is easy. Several flights a day arrive into the nearby Sarasota/Bradenton Airport, and the Tampa International Airport is only a little further away.
So if you are wondering what to do in Venice FL – look no further. The following list is a selection of some of the best activities and attractions that Venice has to offer.
30 Best Things to do in Venice FL
Activities & Sports
1. Cycling on the Legacy Trail
Rent bikes from one of the many Venice bike shops and hit the trail! The Legacy Trail is a 20-mile long converted railroad path that runs right through the heart of Venice.
The multi-use trail is ideal for cycling and pedestrian use, as there are very few traffic crossings. The path even crosses waterways at several points where it’s possible to see samples of Florida wildlife right in the middle of town.
2. Gulfside Golf at Lake Venice Golf Club
If you get the urge to get in a last minute round of golf during your visit, your best bet is the Lake Venice Golf Club. Since no tee times are allowed, play at Lake Venice’s 27 holes is first come first served.
Lake Venice has been awarded the prize for Best Public Course several times, most recently in 2020. The club has a bar and restaurant overlooking the 18th green so you can grab refreshments before or after your round and watch the action.
3. Cruising the Venetian Waterway Park
Venice would be a poor name choice if it didn’t have waterways going through it! Luckily it does, and those waterways are lined on both sides with 5 miles of concrete trails.
The trails are great for walking, running, skating or cycling. If 5 (or 10 if you do both sides) miles isn’t long enough for you, the Waterway path meets up with the 20 mile long Legacy Trail at the Historic Venice Train Depot. Users of the trail will be able to see a variety of boats motoring along the channel, and many are treated to sightings of manatees.
4. Catch a Shark at the Venice Fishing Pier
This 700 foot pier is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Venice area, and for good reason. The views of the Gulf from the pier are memorable at any time of day, particularly around sunset.
Since the pier is open 24 hours a day, visitors can always find a time to drop by for a photo or two. While there, why not rent a fishing pole and try your hand at saltwater fishing? There is no fishing license required to throw out a line from the pier, and bait can be purchased from the nearby shop.
5. Launch a Kayak at Higel Marine Park
Located on Roberts Bay, the Higel Marine Park is an ideal spot to launch a kayak or canoe and go paddling. The Bay connects to the Intercoastal Waterway and holds several islands that are great for exploring and/or wildlife viewing.
Visitors who don’t have a vessel of their own can choose to rent from one of the nearby marinas. Parking is free if somewhat limited, and there are restrooms available for visitors to use.
6. Hike the Trails at Jelks Preserve
With over 8 miles of hiking trails, it is easy to spend hours enjoying the natural settings of Jelks Preserve. The trails are often shaded and dog friendly (leash required), and afford views of the Myakka River.
Be sure to take a camera along to capture pictures of the Florida wildlife you might see throughout your walk, including armadillos, gopher tortoise and any number of birds. Parking at the Preserve is free but can be crowded during peak hours.
7. Alligator Creek Trail at Woodmere Park
Woodmere Park is located right in the middle of Venice, but once you step foot on the Alligator Creek Trail you’d never know it. The Park itself is accessed off of Jacaranda Boulevard, and the entrance to the 1.5 mile long Creek trail can be found near the main building.
In addition to the Creek trail, Woodmere Park has a 2.5 acre dog park, basketball and tennis courts, and even an indoor gymnasium.
Food, Drink & Shopping
8. Eat Conch Fritters at Sharky’s on the Pier
Sharky’s restaurant is a legendary Venice landmark. Located right on the Gulf of Mexico, the views from the deck at Sharky’s are unmatched. Their food and drinks are just as good!
Be sure to try the conch fritters. These fried treats are similar to hush puppies but with a seaside twist. Sharky’s has live music almost every evening to entertain diners. If you’re looking for a more formal vibe, right upstairs from Sharky’s is their upscale steakhouse called Fin’s.
9. Find Bargains at the Elephants Trunk
Venice has a number of thrift stores to choose from, including several national chains. One of the more unique locations is the Elephants Trunk, a non-profit store operated by the Hospital Volunteers of Venice.
Elephants Trunk is a two story thrift store filled with a well organized array of second hand items. Proceeds from sales go to fund grants and scholarships for various local Venice causes.
10. Dig into a Shrimp Burger at BrewBurgers
If you’re a fan of burgers, beer, or both, this place was custom made for your taste buds! Brewburgers has two locations in Venice to choose from. They even have a food truck that appears in various locations around town.
Consistently voted the best burgers in Venice, they have a wide variety of styles and toppings to choose from. Naturally, since they are in Florida there is a Blackened Shrimp Burger on the menu.
They also offer an array of Signature Burgers including the Maddy B, a bacon and herb cheeseburger between TWO grilled cheese sandwiches. Pair either one of those along with a glass of icy cold local beer and you’ve got a winning combination!
11. House Smoked Fish Dip from Off the Wagon
While there are other restaurants around Venice that have a Smoked Fish Dip on the menu, not many of them actually smoke the fish themselves. Nor do they go to the trouble of pairing it with their own house made pickled onions.
Proving that they are not just another brewpub, Off the Wagon does both of these things, and they do them well! In addition to the fish dip and the usual array of burgers and sandwiches, OTW also prepares a mean bowl of Ramen.
12. Spice it up at Tikka Indian Cuisine
Craving authentic Indian Cuisine? Tikka Indian Cuisine serves up curries, tandoor, and other classic flavors of India from its location in Bird Bay Plaza.
Items from their menu are available for takeout as well as dining in. Serving sizes are generous, and Tikka is known for great customer service. Gluten Free options are plentiful if you are sensitive to that sort of thing. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner every day except Monday.
13. Try the Tasty Pig from 3 Bridges Brewing
Housed inside the Off the Wagon brewpub (for the time being), 3 Bridges Brewing is one of only a few Breweries in Sarasota County, and the only one in Venice.
One of their flagship beers is the Tasty Pig, an award-winning West Coast style IPA. Over the years the brewing team has accumulated several awards, including 7 gold medals. 3 Bridges is slated to expand and will open in their own space later in 2022. For the time being, their beers can be found in several bars and restaurants around Venice.
14. Afternoon Tea at La Petit Jardin
For over 45 years, La Petit Jardin has been providing Venice visitors a taste of Europe. Open for Breakfast and Lunch, their menu offers a variety of crepes as well as a quiche du jour.
Every Friday and Saturday from 2-4pm La Petit stays open later to give a proper afternoon tea service. During this time they also offer select wines and cocktails. All sales at La Petit Jardin include a 20% tip, so be prepared for that when the bill arrives.
15. Have a Drink at Venice Wine & Coffee Company
Why choose between wine or coffee when you can try both? At the downtown Venice Wine and Coffee shop, expert wine purveyors work alongside trained baristas to offer customers the best of both worlds.
They also have a small daily selection of food items available for purchase to enjoy alongside your beverage of choice.
16. Seafood from Detweiller’s Farm Market
Usually a grocery store isn’t much to get excited about, but there’s something special about Detweiller’s Farm Market. This regional store has some of the freshest produce around, as well as sustainably sourced meats and seafood.
The Detweiller’s Deli has an assortment of Amish specialties, and there is even an ice cream shop on site where you can buy a hand-dipped cone to nibble on while you shop. Be aware of what day you choose to visit, as the Market is always closed on Sundays.
17. Gator Bites at Snook Haven
This old Florida eatery outside of Venice gives customers a great selection of foods in an Everglade style setting. Known for their barbeque as well as seafood dishes, Snook Haven offers riverside dining with views of wildlife while you listen to live music.
Not only can diners see alligators in the nearby river, they can also order some off the menu! Snook Haven’s Gator Bites are deep fried nuggets of alligator tail and are a popular choice. Their homemade chips are also a customer favorite, and they make their own veggie patty as well for those who choose not to eat meat. Snook Haven has a full bar and sells a wide selection of local beer in both cans and on tap.
18. Visit Venice Olive Oil Company
In the heart of downtown, you’ll find the Venice Olive Oil Company. For over 10 years this quaint shop has been the Venice area’s source for premium quality oils, vinegars, and gourmet foods.
Many items can even be shipped directly so shoppers don’t have to transport their purchases themselves. VOOC also offers culinary classes and tastings throughout the year. A complete schedule of events can be found on their website.
A great rainy day activity in Venice.
19. Buy Vegetables from the Venice Farmers Market
Each Saturday throughout the year the Venice Farmers Market opens downtown at the City Hall. During the peak season, over 60 vendors show up each week to peddle their wares.
From pristine produce and beautiful bakery goods to carefully constructed crafts, there are thousands of items available for you to browse through. This market support local charities and accepts SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits. While most outdoor events are dog-friendly, this farmers market is not. Please leave your pets at home.
20. Take your pup to the Beach at Brohard Paw Park
Dog owners know how hard it is to find a place where you can put your toes in the sand and play with your pup. Just south of the Venice Fishing Pier you’ll find Sarasota County’s only dog-friendly beach, Brohard Paw Park.
The park is open daily from 7am-dusk and is a great place to let your pooch off leash so it can chase the waves. There are restrooms available, as well as showers for both humans and dogs to clean up after you play.
One of the best things to do in Venice Beach.
21. View Sunsets at South Jetty
On the north end of Venice is an area known as the South Jetty. This is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike to gather at the end of the day to socialize and watch the sunset.
Dogs are allowed in the parking lot but prohibited from the beach and walkway. Parking is free but be sure to arrive early enough to get a spot!
22. Search for Seashells at Caspersen Beach Park
Hidden away from downtown, Caspersen Beach Park is popular with locals and visitors alike. The beach is a great place to hunt for souvenir shells and shark’s teeth to take home as a reminder of your Venice trip. Venice is nicknamed “The Shark Tooth Capital of the World”, and for good reason.
Thousands of fossilized teeth wash up onto area beaches every day and are easily found by those with a trained eye. Free and plentiful parking is nearby, as well as restrooms with shower stations to rinse off the sand. There is even a playground at the beach if more entertainment options for the kiddos is needed.
23. Take a Picnic to Venice Myakka River Park
At the end of Laurel Road, one can find the entrance to Venice’s Myakka River Park. This small and fee free park is an ideal quiet spot to take a picnic and enjoy the natural settings.
There is a free canoe/kayak launch for those who want to pick up a paddle and explore the river. Just be sure to keep an eye out for alligators in and along the waterway!
24. Watch for Dolphins at Venice Beach
Just east of the historic downtown area you’ll find Venice Beach. The beach is a classic Venice stopping point for visitors and residents to enjoy ocean views. Dolphins can often be seen feeding just offshore along with a variety of birds.
In the summer months the Venice beaches are also home to hundreds of marine turtles who make nests and lay eggs. Parking at the beach is free, and restrooms are available for use. Food and drink can be purchased from on-site vendors as well as the many nearby restaurants.
25. Automobile Museum at Ideal Classic Cars
If you are a vintage car buff, you might want to plan a stop at Ideal Classic Cars to visit their automobile museum. The shop is located in South Venice right off of US-41 and admission is free. Cars available for viewing range in dates from the 1920s to the 2020s.
Because every car is available for purchase, the lineup of vehicles is always changing. If you get tempted to purchase a car during your visit, the store can arrange to have it shipped to any location, worldwide. Ideal Classic Cars are open to the public every day except Sunday.
A true hidden gem in Venice.
26. Spring Training Game at CoolToday Park
If you’re a baseball fan, Southwest Florida is the place to visit in the Spring! Teams from all around the country have Florida based parks where they do their Spring Training. Venice is home to CoolToday Park, where the Atlanta Braves tune-up before opening day.
The park opened in 2019 and hosts a variety of events beyond just baseball games. Their on-site restaurant and Tiki bar is even open year-round, so you don’t have to wait for baseball season to have some of your favorite ballpark foods.
27. Hear the Symphony at Venice Performing Arts Center
Just on the edge of downtown Venice, the Performing Arts Center venue hosts a wide variety of entertainment. The shows range from plays and rock concerts to symphonic performances.
The nearly 47,000 square foot building has a 2,000 square foot stage and over 1,000 seats with no obstructions. The symphony performs monthly at the Center where tickets are surprisingly affordable, even for the best seats.
One of the best things to do in Venice at night.
28. Watch an Equestrian Show at Fox Lea Farm
Fox Lea Farm is located right off Interstate 75 on the eastern edge of Venice. The farm offers the opportunity for horse lovers to ride, train, or even watch horses perform in Olympic style competitions.
Food and drinks are available for purchase from the on-site vendors. For guests looking for overnight accommodations, there are sites for RV and Camper parking. You can bring your own or rent one of theirs.
29. Explore the Venice Museum & Archives
To learn about the history behind the city of Venice, there’s no better place to go than the Venice Museum and Archives.
Entrance to the museum is free, and there is a gift shop on site where historical souvenirs can be purchased. There are permanent and rotating exhibits showcasing the cultural and economic development of the region. Also, not to be missed is the Monty Andrews Arboretum that is installed in the city park adjacent to the museum.
30. Free Concert at Venice MainStreet
Throughout the year, events sponsored by the Venice MainStreet organization are held in the downtown area. One of the most popular is the bimonthly Friday night concert series at the Centennial Park gazebo.
Most events, including the concerts, are free and open to the general public. Attendees are asked to provide their own blankets or chairs for seating. While no alcohol is permitted in the park, there are many food and drink options surrounding the concert grounds.
With all these activities and more, there’s no shortage of ways to have fun in Venice! It is easy to see why so many travelers choose to return there year after year for their vacation destination. Plan a trip there yourself – you won’t be sorry!
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