The City of Venice is located on the coast in Southwest Florida about one hour south of Saint Petersburg. It was formerly known as Horse and Chaise, but settlers renamed it due to the many natural waterways.
Venice grew with the arrival of the railroad in 1925, but subsequently slowed with the 1929 stock market crash. The city gained a new life with an Army Air Base during WWII and the circus coming to town for its winter home in 1960.
Currently, the city of 25,000 features a lovely, historic downtown and many beautiful beaches. It is known as the “shark tooth capital of the world” and offers visitors many things to do, some of which I’ve listed below.
Enjoy the Beach
Of course, with Venice being on the Gulf Coast, any tourist would like its beaches. Caspersen is the most popular beach in Venice. Its sandy shore extends over 1.5 miles and is known for its shark teeth. There are parking facilities for the early birds, or it may also be reached by bike along the Venice Waterway Trail. It, however, is not dog friendly.
To get to the beach, dogs and their owners must first enter the dog park which is separated into small and large dog sections. That said, all dogs going to the beach must go through the large dog section. This can be a little squirrely with dogs of all sizes on and off the leash.
Once on the beach, dogs of all sizes are free to roam together. Unfortunately for me, Annie is afraid of the water and won’t chase a ball, so to get her energy out, I had to walk back and forth between the two signs which mark the end of the dog beach. I guess my I too distracted by Annie to snap a photo.
Brohard Beach and Paw Park is bigger than Bonita Beach Dog Park that I visited in Bonita Springs, but smaller than Jupiter Off-Leash Beach. While I still like Jupiter Off-Leash Beach the best, Brohard Beach gave Annie some space to run, and the surrounding facilities are very nice.
In fact, I kept VANgo parked at Maxine Barritt Park with bathrooms and outdoor showers all day. We took several short walks on the paved path around the pond while admiring the birds, watched the sunset from one of the many benches, and later strolled down to the Venice Fishing Pier and Sharky’s.
Eat at Sharky’s on the Pier
Sharky’s on the Pier is the only beachfront restaurant and tiki bar in Venice, and the wildly popular restaurant caters to hundreds of guests daily. The restaurant specializes in fresh fish and live music. Enjoy the atmosphere while over dinner or while strolling the 700-foot Venice Fishing Pier which is free to access.
Watch the Sunset
As with the benches at Maxine Barritt Park, the Venice Fishing Pier is also a nice place to watch the sunset while fishermen reel in their catch. Annie and I along a few other vanlifers spent our entire (though very slow paced) day in this area of Venice. We didn’t even make it to Venice’s historic district until the following day.
Stroll the Historic District
The historic district in Venice is very nice. The small square with a parking area in the center features many boutiques, cafes and mermaid statues. While I’m not a big shopper, I had recently learned of a friend’s passing, so I stopped into some shops to purchase a gift for her family. I wound up with a porcelain frog because she like them, but flamingos and tortoises were a more popular choice!
I recommend arriving to the square by 10am as the parking fills up quickly. Cars were circling as Annie and I left VANgo to check out the nearby Venice Waterways Trail.
Go For a Bike Ride
The Venice Waterways Trail begins just a few blocks from the historic district at Venetian Waterways Park. The paved trail follows the canal for five miles one way from the old train depot all the way to Caspersen Beach. At the beginning, check out the murals and along the way, keep an eye out for the gopher tortoise.
As mentioned in my post, Things to Do in Sanibel Island, the gopher tortoise is both a threatened and keystone species. Venice and other municipalities are trying to protect them. With the many signs posted, I finally spotted one!