Planning a trip around Florida’s southwestern Gulf Coast? Be sure to set aside time to explore all the best things to do in Venice, Florida. Located in Sarasota County, this small Florida coastal town is known for soft sandy beautiful beaches, large green parks, and rich history.
For visitors, the most popular activities in Venice include watersports, fishing, and sunbathing on the soft sands under tall palm trees. The surrounding area offers plenty of breathtaking natural beauty and teems with wildlife. Whether you’re a beach bum or outdoor adventurer, Venice will keep you entertained for days.
Not sure what to do in Venice? Plan an inspiring trip to this Florida Gulf Coast city with this guide to all the best places to visit in Venice, FL.
Best places to visit in Venice, FL
Need a break from exploring Venice’s historic center? Centennial Park is a luxurious green space located right in the heart of downtown. Surrounded by boutique shops and unique restaurants, this popular public park is a perfect place to blow off some steam after a day of wandering about.
The small water park with interactive fountains is perfect for helping the kids cool down a hot summer Florida day. Centennial Park is also a hotspot for live music, concert, and special events. Depending on your schedule, you might even be able to hear a band or two!
Centennial Park is also pet-friendly; bring your four-legged friend along for a romp. Pets are also welcome along Venice Main Street and at the Veteran Memorial located inside the park.
A trip to Venice isn’t complete without spending a day or two at Venice Beach. Located right off Venice Avenue, Venice Municipal Beach is within walking distance to restaurants and ice cream shops if you need a treat while lounging in the sand. Food concessions are also located in the parking area. If you get tired of the water, enjoy the volleyball courts and the picnic pavilions.
Venice Beach is also a certified Blue Wave Beach. With the beach’s commitment to the conversation of its water and marine life, its white sands and blue waters are a vibrant and healthy place to relax and swim.
Venice is famed for its fossilized shark teeth. To increase your chances of seeing them in the “wild,” check out Caspersen Beach. Not only is Caspersen Beach is one of the top beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast; it’s also one of the top shelling beaches in the U.S. and is famed for its abundance of prehistoric shark teeth. The beach also boasts a nature trail meandering through its pristine coastal hammock.
The northern part of Caspersen Beach is a tourist hotspot featuring a canoe launch, a fishing pier, and covered picnic tables. If you want to get away from the crowds that often flock here, head to the southernmost tip of the beach. This area is more residential and popular among locals living the laid-back beach life.
Brohard Paw Park
Although many of the public downtown areas and restaurants are dog-friendly, most of the beaches in Venice do not allow canines. If your dog is tagging along on your Southwest Florida trip, head to Brohard Paw Park, the only beach in the area that allows pets.
Feel free to unleash your dogs at Brohard Paw Park to let them run amok on the soft sands. Besides being a pet-friendly beach, there’s not much else to do here. Nonetheless, you’ll find basic amenities, including restrooms, a fishing pier, and a few picnic tables. Overall, Brohard Park is a nice place to set up your beach chairs or play with your pet in the warm water.
Venice Fishing Pier
Located in the south part of the island, Venice Fishing Pier attracts anglers from all around the area to snag sea trout, king mackerel, and barracudas. Even if you didn’t pack any fishing gear, you can get your fix here. The on-site bait shop is easily accessible: You can buy or rent all the equipment you’d need here.
If you’re not at the pier to fish, the bait shop also offers visitors snacks, coffee, and souvenirs. The best part about Venice Fishing Pier is that you don’t need a fishing license to cast off the pier. Simply come by, throw a line in, and see what’s biting!
Just north of the main fishing pier, you’ll find Brohard Beach. Stroll down the short boardwalk to the soft white sand and enjoy the turquoise water, which is warm year-round.
Brohard Beach is found at the north end of the island in North Brohard Park, where the waves are gentle. Lifeguards are always on duty, too. It’s the perfect place to swim if you’re traveling with small children or aren’t a confident swimmer.
Besides sunbathing and swimming, there isn’t much to do at Brohard Beach. You’ll find a few basic amenities nearby though. After soaking up the sun, enjoy a picnic under the pavilion and wash off under the outdoor showers before heading back to your car or hotel.
Myakka River State Park
For history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts, Myakka River State Park is a must-visit. Native Americans and the first Spanish explorers traversed the canals of this area, now one of the most popular Florida state parks, searching for food and wildlife. Today, the Myakka River is a popular spot to see limpkins, osprey, and turtles. Alligator spotting is also common in the water and on the banks.
Enjoy the secluded parts of Myakka River State Park by exploring the miles of trails either on foot or on a bike. You’ll also find canoe and kayak launches scattered throughout the park. You can rent gear from the visitor center or bring your own.
If you’re taking to the walking trails, strap on some comfortable shoes. For swimming, bring along water shoes; some of the banks are pretty rocky and unstable.
Snook Haven Park
Located along the Myakka River, Snook Haven Park is a must-visit attraction while in Venice. From the outside, the former fish camp looks like little more than just a small beach shack. Don’t let its small statues full you though: Snook Haven Park offers visitors plenty.
Snook Haven has everything you need to spend the day as a true Floridian. Spend the morning canoeing or kayaking through the canals. For lunch, grab a table by the river and enjoy some traditional southern BBQ. End the day dazzling at a blazing sunset. You may even get to spot a gator or two!
Historic Downtown Venice
Most small Florida towns have a picturesque main street or historic center. Venice is no exception. Historic Downtown Venice is special in many ways, though. The entirety of the city center is pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly; feel to bring your walking shoes and wheels. Downtown Venice connects to the Legacy Trail and many camping sites, making it a perfect hiking destination.
Browse the boutique shops or head to one of the local restaurants on the main street, Venice Avenue, for fresh seafood and live music. If you’re into antique shopping, the historic downtown has many small places to stop for unique used items.
Looking to spot wildlife around Venice? Head to Humphris Park, a long jetty projecting into the clear turquoise water of the Gulf of Mexico. The park is one of the best places to go in Venice for manatee and dolphin sightings. Grab a seat on one of the many benches to gaze at the pelicans or stand along the jetty to see the marine life below.
If you go in the evening, Humphris Park also offers stunning Gulf sunset views. You’re also allowed to fish along the jetty if you have a license and bring your own gear and bait.
Even though Humphris Park is a hotspot for tourists, it’s always relaxing with cool breezes and the sounds of seagulls above. Word of warning: If you plan to climb over the rocks for photo ops or better views, strap on some sturdy shoes to avoid injuries.
Venice Museum and Archives
Interested in learning more about the history of Venice? The Venice Museum and Archives has over 30,000 historic artifacts from photographs, objects, and archives. Educational classes and programs are ongoing. No sign-up is required; you can always just pop in for a program or two during your stay in Venice.
Many of the exhibits at the Venice Museum and Archives are revolving. The historic building housing the museum is also quite interesting. It’s designed from typical 1920s Floridian architecture, influenced by the Spanish. Take a self-guided tour through the museum or sort through the collection of artifacts on your own to learn all about the Florida city’s history.
Venice Area Audubon Society
If you came to Southwest Florida for bird-watching, the Venice Area Audubon Society should be one of your first stops in Venice. Attend one of the free environmental classes or take a tour of the butterfly garden. Feel free to bring along the kids, too: There are ongoing activities for children here. It’s a great place to help your kids gain an understanding of why protecting the environment is essential to keeping wildlife healthy.
Tours at the Venice Area Audubon Society cover how society protects and conserves the habitats of birds and other wildlife. Make sure to wear hiking boots as some of the trails are pretty rocky and unstable. Rent or bring along a pair of binoculars to spot birds in their natural habitat.
Historic Venice Train Depot
Owned by the Venice Historical Society, the Historic Venice Train Depot offers daily tours of the depot and the surrounding area. At this popular tourist hotspot, you can learn about Venice’s train history and its association with the Ringling Brother’s Circus.
The main attraction is a 1953 Pullman Standard train, complete with the original caboose and most of the original parts. You can also learn more about the circus movement in Venice through the history tour and the statue of Gunther Gebel-Williams. (If you’re a fan of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, you’ll recognize Gebel-Williams as a world-famous animal trainer.)
After the Historic Venice Train Deport tour, enjoy a picnic or take the kids to play in the circus and train-themed playground.
Are you an avid hiker or just love taking nature walks? Traipse along the Legacy Trail, a beautiful trail stretching from Sarasota to Venice Curry Creek Preserve. The 20-mile trail features many trailheads where you can park your car and embark on a quiet hike through Venice.
The trail sections range in length between under a mile to about 20 miles for tackling the whole Legacy Trail. Many of the hiking & biking trails are paved making them perfect for cycling or rollerblading.
For more of a challenge, bring sturdy hiking boots and climb through the gravel and roots on one of the more difficult hiking trails.
One of the most popular beaches near Sarasota, Nokomis Beach is a must-visit on your Venice trip. Despite its age, the top to bottom renovations in 2008 made Nokomis one of the best beaches to visit in Florida. Use the boat ramp and dock on the bayside or head to the beachside for swimming and sunbathing. With lifeguards and shallow water, Nokomis Beach is a great swimming spot for kids.
Besides the water activities, you can find a shaded picnic spot for a relaxing lunch or walk along the boardwalk to see pelicans and other birds native to Venice. If you get tired of the beach, head to the playground or the volleyball courts for a quick match.
Located about 10 minutes from historic downtown Venice, Jelks Preserve is home to more than 8 miles of hiking trails. Although close to town, the preserve does see as much foot traffic as other nature parks. It’s a great spot for a quiet hike with friends or families—or to take your pup out for a walk on a leash.
The main trail at Jelks Preserve loops 4.9 miles, teeming with wildlife and benches to stop and rest. Much of the trail is paved, making it suitable for hikers and walkers of all skill levels.
As the preserve is low-lying, its trails are prone to flooding after rainfall year-round. If you’re visiting during Florida’s rainy season, be sure to wear waterproof hiking shoes to keep your feet dry and comfortable.
Oscar Scherer State Park
Looking for more hiking opportunities around Venice? Oscar Scherer State Park offers over 15 miles of trails. The park is easily accessible from the Legacy Trail. For a full day of outdoor activities, hike or bike along the trail with a stop in the park.
Oscar Scherer State Park is home to Lake Osprey, a small swimming lake surrounded by nature and wildlife. Bring a canoe or kayak for a relaxing paddle or hop in for a quick swim after a hike.
The beauty of this Florida state park is unmatched with colorful sunset views over the lake and beautiful boardwalks through the forests. Surrounded by highways and neighborhoods, it’s an unexpected nature oasis in the middle of the city.
Best places to stay in Venice, FL, for sightseeing
For the ultimate beach vacation, book yourself into one of the suites at this popular inn. Each studio features a full kitchen and dining area. Cool down in the outdoor pool, relax in the hot tub, or take a dip in the Gulf, a quick walk away.
Perfect for couples and families, this mid-range hotel offers spacious modern rooms. Amenities include an outdoor pool, hot tub, and fitness center. Downtown is a quick drive away.
A 5-minute drive from Nokomis Beach, this comfortable all-suite hotel is the perfect home away from home. Even if you’re not interested in self-catering, you’ll enjoy a ton of great amenities, including an outdoor swimming pool, sun terrace, and free continental breakfast.