Florida tops the list for many when it comes to fun in the sun and vacation. Every year sun and fun-seekers make the trek to the sunshine state from all across the country, and from around the world. While many popular tourist destinations, such as Orlando and Miami, top the list for many visitors, those “in-the-know” who have discovered the relaxed beach town of Venice, Florida know that this is truly a gem! Whether you are living in Florida already and are looking for fun things to do around the state, or if you are visiting Florida and looking for some off-the-beaten-path destinations to discover, you won’t be disappointed with all the fun things to do in Venice, Florida!
Explore Downtown Historic Venice
Exploring the beautiful historic district of Downtown Venice is definitely one of our top picks for things to do in this magical town. The town was actually one of the first “master-planned” cities to be built, and due to the location along the bays and water the creators were inspired by Venice, Italy. So you’ll find much of the historic downtown area has classic Italian architecture as well as beautifully manicured gardens and palm tree-lined boulevards.
Thinking of moving to Venice? Check out our complete Venice Relocation Guide.
Downtown Venice is full of boutique shops and restaurants that line the streets, making it a lovely place to spend a day or evening out. There is a wide variety of top-notch Italian restaurants downtown, as well as multiple bakeries, coffee shops, wine bars, lounges, and multiple French cafes too! Dining al fresco downtown is nice any time of day, but is especially nice in the evening.
Visit the Venice Fishing Pier
If one of your favorite things to do is go fishing, then the Venice Fishing Pier is probably the best place to do it. Even if you don’t have a lot of experience or don’t have your gear with you, no worries! You can conveniently rent poles and gear on the pier itself for a reasonable price, making it a fun activity even if you have never done it before.
Even if you aren’t an avid fisherman, visiting the Venice Fishing Pier is a must-do activity in town. It’s located on a gorgeous stretch of beach and even just taking a walk out to the end of the pier is a nice stroll. Plus, on a good day, you’ll love the views of the clear blue water and if you are lucky you may even be able to spot some dolphins!
There are few dining experiences that are better than waterfront dining, and Venice offers a wide array of bayside and beachfront restaurants to choose from. One popular restaurant for visitors is Sharky’s on the Pier for some of the best Florida seafood in a laid-back, fun environment. The restaurant is literally at the entrance to the Venice Fishing Pier, so you can’t miss it. Also located above Sharky’s on the 2nd floor is Fins restaurant, which is a higher-end reservations-required restaurant that is perfect for watching the sunset during a romantic dinner.
But there are many other wonderful waterfront restaurants in Venice besides Sharkys and Fins. The Crows Nest is another waterfront restaurant that is highly recommended by locals, as well as Dockside Grill.
Take a Bike Ride Along the Legacy Trail
Believe it or not, biking is pretty big in the Sunshine State, and it’s something that we also love to do in Venice. The Legacy Trail is a wonderful paved trail perfect for biking, walking, rollerblading and more. It stretches from Venice all the way up to Sarasota, giving you plenty of distance to get in a good workout or just relax and enjoy the scenery.
In fact, the south end of the trail around Shamrock Park in the South Venice neighborhood offers some great views in particular, as you ride along the Intracoastal Waterway you can enjoy the boats and wildlife. However, the entire trail is quite beautiful with an abundance of natural scenery that also makes for a fun and exciting bike ride.
Go Boating, Sailing, or Jet Skiing
Being located right on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico makes Venice the perfect place for taking your sailboat, jet ski, or any other type of boat out for an excursion. This is an ideal area for boating and water sports because you have multiple bays, as well as the Intracoastal and canals that connect different bodies of water. Plus, there’s the open ocean too! If you don’t have your own boat or watercraft, there are also multiple places where you can rent.
Visit Snook Haven and Enjoy Some BBQ and Music
One place that surprised us when we first arrived in Venice was Snook Haven. Located east of downtown right along the Myakka River, this little hidden gem offered a lot more than we anticipated. It is primarily a restaurant, and you can dine in the table service area inside or even out on their patio overlooking the river. But you can also do their quick-service walk-up window and sit at any number of outdoor tables in their outdoor courtyard area.
The walk-up window and sitting outside is actually our favorite. It’s such relaxed environment, it almost feels like a beer-garden type of place under the tree canopies and with all the lights they’ve hung. Plus, there is a stage and they have regular entertainment pretty much every day of the week.
They have some great BBQ on the menu as well as some pretty amazing nachos with homemade chips (top it with some pulled pork and oh my gosh…). The drink menu also includes some great craft beers as well.
Boat Ride on the Myakka River (out at Snook Haven)
While we’re talking about Snook Haven, we want to mention that you can also go out on the river. You can rent kayaks right there on the property if you want, or you can even take a boat tour with a 3rd party company they have operating on site.
Getting out on the water to spot some gators and other wildlife in the area really makes you feel like you are worlds away from tourist-crazy Florida. It’s a peaceful trip on the river, and it’s a nice way to top off a fun afternoon or evening out!
Many Amazing Beaches! (Caspersen, Venice, Brohard, Manasota, Nokomis, etc.)
The beaches here in Venice never cease to take our breath away. They honestly are some of the most beautiful beaches that you will find on the southwest Gulf Coast of Florida. The crystal blue waters combined with the untouched nature of most of the beaches in the area is truly something special. Plus, there are just so many of them!
In fact, from downtown Venice within less than about 15 minutes in multiple directions and you can be at around 5 different beaches! Venice Beach is just west of downtown Venice, and south of that is Brohard beach (where you’ll find the fishing pier and Sharky’s), and just south of that is Caspersen Beach. Even further south just a few minutes out of town is Manasota beach as well!
Just across the water to the north of Venice on the other side of the Jetty is Nokomis Beach area as well. While it’s technically a different town, this beach is actually closer to downtown than even Caspersen!
If you are open to driving a little further north, you can be to Siesta Key (voted best beach in the country) in around 20-25 minutes depending on traffic. And south of Venice about the same distance you could be at Englewood Beach as well! There are honestly so many beaches around here – it’s a dream!!!
READ MORE: Free Yoga on Venice Beach (even for beginners)
Take Your Pup to the Best Dog Beach in Sarasota County!
While we’re talking about beaches, we simply cannot go further without mentioning the best dog beach in Sarasota County…and honestly one of the best we’ve found in the state and possibly the country. South Brohard beach, which is the area just south of the Venice Fishing Pier and beach area is actually designated as a public dog beach!
We’ve actually taken our rescue Labrador to beaches from coast-to-coast here in the US and all over Florida. And we can tell you that the Venice Dog Beach is part of the reason we moved here. It’s AWESOME! Our pup absolutely loves it, plus it’s a wonderful beach for us just to hang out ourselves.
NOTE – this is an off-leash dog beach. It’s critical that you have your dogs under voice-control and that they play well with other dogs (and people) if you bring them here. But also take note that if you are on this beach, many dogs will come up to you since they are off-leash. So be aware.
Shark Tooth Hunting (on the beach)
Venice is actually known as the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World” because of all the fossilized shark teeth that can be found along its beaches. Don’t worry, these are super old teeth! They date back millions of years to when the area was underwater and a feeding ground for various sharks. Even though you can find shark teeth on many beaches around Florida and even in other states, the sheer abundance of them here in Venice is mind-blowing.
Even on our first visit to Venice, we found teeth washing up on shore as we were just walking along the beach!
A popular activity here in Venice is to grab a sifter and go shark tooth hunting! You can buy sifters at many of the shops around town, or you can even make your own (which is what we did). Scooping up sand along the shore where the waves are breaking and then carefully sifting through to find all these cool fossilized teeth is actually a pretty fun activity. There are so many shapes and sizes to them that it really can keep you occupied for hours at a time.
Just be sure to put on that sunblock! The sun is no joke here, especially in the summer.
Visit the Jetty to Watch the Boats and Spot Wildlife
The Venice Jetty is located just west of downtown and to the north of Venice Beach. There is a park here where you can walk around and you can also walk down the Jetty. You’ll see a lot of people fishing here every day, or just kicking back to watch the boats go in and out of the bay as well as wildlife spotting. There are some awesome birds here to be seen, as well as manatee and even dolphins!
The Venice Jetty is technically the South Jetty, as the North Jetty on the other side of the bay entrance is on the Nokomis side of the bay. As with the Venice Fishing Pier, the Jetty is a stunning place to watch the sunset in the evening!
Watch the Surfers at Venice Beach (if the waves are up)
Some of us love nothing more than catching waves on our surfboards, and while the Gulf Coast of Florida is typically calmer than the Atlantic side, when the winds pick up or when there are storms in the area, Venice Beac offers plenty of action! However, if you would prefer to just sit back and watch the surfers, you can do that from Venice Beach or even over at the jetty, which is actually a pretty great spot to watch them!
Paddle Out to Snake Island (if you have a boat or rent one)
If you have a boat and come into the Jetty toward the Bay you will find an island positioned right in the middle of the route as you enter the bay. This is called “Snake Island” and it’s a popular sandy spot for people to take park their boats, kayaks, canoes or paddle boards while they hang out on the sandy island. When the weather is great, you’ll see many people picnicking, playing ball or just hanging out. It’s a great place to watch the boats go by as well.
Enjoy a Sunset Drink & Maybe Some Live Music
Sunsets in Florida are truly a celebration. And while you can enjoy the sunset from many places around town, sometimes it’s made a little more special when you have a drink in your hand and some chill tunes playing in the background. Some of the best places around Venice to enjoy a sunset drink with some music include Dockside Grill, as well as Nokomos Sunset Hut and Pops Sunset Grill. And of course, there’s also the famous Sharky’s and Fins as well. All of these places are perfectly positioned for some amazing sunset views!
Eat Some Mouth-Watering Italian Food at Trattoria Da Mino
There are a number of great Italian restaurants in Venice. However, one place that we absolutely love is Trattoria Da Mino! It’s a fairly small restaurant right on Venice Avenue with high quality and authentic Italian food. We’ve met many waiters from there who are actually from Italy, and having been to Italy 3+ times myself…I have to agree it is legit!
Nothing beats sitting outside on a warm Florida evening to dine on authentic Italian cuisine. Just thinking about their chicken parmesan with their rich tomato sauce and pasta seriously makes my mouth water. The flavors are incredible.
Walk the Trails Around Shamrock Park and Watch the Boats & Wildlife
Living in the South Venice neighborhood, we are spoiled because Shamrock Park is just a few blocks from us. This is a huge park with basketball and tennis courts, as well as a playground and nature center. But what we love most about Shamrock Park are the walking and biking trails. There are many of these paved nature trails that go all around the park, and even run alongside the Intracoastal Waterway. It’s really part of the Legacy Trail system and also connects to the Venetian Waterway Trail as well.
READ MORE: Best Neighborhoods in Venice, Florida
We enjoy biking along the trail, but also just going for a long walk with the dog can be a lot of fun. There are some benches along the way for you to sit and enjoy the views, and you can watch the boats going by on the waterway as well. We’ve even seen people fishing off shore alongside the trail too in some areas. Chances are you may see some wildlife too, including Gopher Tortoises, who can often be found walking across the pathway or nearby.
Catch a Baseball Game
Another relatively new thing to do in Venice is to catch a baseball game at the recently opened Cool Today Park. This is actually the home of the Atlanta Braves Baseball Spring Training! Being an Atlanta native and huge Braves fan, my husband was super stoked about this place being so close to home here in Venice.
Being able to go out to the stadium to catch a spring training game is high on our list of fun things to do on a beautiful spring day. However, even when they aren’t playing we’ve discovered that their Tomahawk Tiki Bar is the place to score a great outdoor lunch and beverage. Perched up on the concourse outside and overlooking the field, you can sometimes see them practicing and they also will play games up on the jumbo screen that you can watch from the tiki bar.
Honestly, the food here is some of the best that you can find around town! It really is so good. Josh is a massive fan of the shrimp po’ boy (apparently it is one of the top items on the menu), but I’m in love with the Philly cheesesteak wrap. Although, their nachos are heavenly as well – although, massive so definitely share the nachos!
Visit the Ideal Classic Cars & Showroom
If you are a lover of automobiles, especially classic cars, then you absolutely must visit the Ideal Classic Cars & Showroom. Filled to the brim with some of the most stunning antique cars in the nation, it is a favorite of car lovers from all corners of the globe. Many of the cars are for sale too!
Learn About Venice at the Museum & Archives
If you are a history buff, then you’ll really enjoy some of the treasures you can discover at the Venice Museum and Archives. Venice has a rich history, and you can quench your curiosity about the area by combing through some pretty interesting artifacts and displays.
I’m always fascinated by how people settled an area, especially a place as rough and rugged as wild Florida (I mean, who could live here without A/C!). This experience will transport you to the past with an impressive collection of photos, art, and artifacts that played a role in creating the Venice that we know and love today.
Visit the Historic Venice Train Depot
Perhaps one of the more unique options when it comes to activities in Venice, Florida is checking out the historic Venice Train Depot. The railroad was actually hugely important to the settling of Florida, especially Venice. Here you can learn about the major influence railroads had on Florida’s history and even view some of the old train cars up close! Recently they even moved the historic Ringling Brothers Circus train car to the depot recently!
Enjoy a Show at the Venice Theater
If you are looking for a more cultural experience during a night out, then we would suggest enjoying a show at the Venice Theater. The theater is actually one of the most active local community theaters in the US, with many shows taking place throughout the year that you can enjoy.
READ MORE: Pros and Cons to Living in Venice, Florida
Relax in Centennial Park Downtown
If you are looking for a great way to enjoy the Florida sunshine, Centennial Park in Downtown Venice is the perfect place to do so. This scenic park offers a great atmosphere for relaxing, taking your dog for a stroll, or letting the kids play in the splash pad. The park also makes for a most idyllic setting for an afternoon picnic, especially near the gazebo area.
Being downtown, the park is a great place to people-watch or kick back after a nice lunch. They also have events downtown in the park, including movie nights and concerts at the gazebo on select nights.
Go Hiking, Camping, or Kayaking at a State Park
With its subtropical climate and waterfront location, Venice and the surrounding areas are the wonderful places to plan your next hiking or camping trip throughout the year. Plus, many of the State parks have waterways that allow for exciting kayaking adventures. State parks like Oscar Scherer or Myakka State Park offer some of the best options for exploring our diverse natural surroundings.
There are some great campgrounds on site at both of these parks, which are just a short drive from Venice. The Legacy Bike Trail goes right through Oscar Scherer State Park, making it a great jumping off point for biking the trail. And Myakka State Park has many miles of trails throughout the park. Plus, Myakka State Park also has some beautiful boat rides out on the lake too that we highly recommend!
Do Some Bird Watching at the Venice Rookery
Florida is rich in wildlife of all kinds, but we are perhaps most known for the wide variety of bird species that inhabit the region. Bird watching at the Venice Rookery will allow you a chance to appreciate some of the exotic birds that are native to the area, as well as the winter visitors that boost the bird population each year.
Enjoy the Venice Symphony at the Performing Arts Center
If you are a lover of classical music, then attending a Venice Symphony concert at the Performing Arts Center is a must. There, you can enjoy an evening of world-class entertainment and timeless music in a fantastic setting near downtown.
Take a Dolphin or Sunset Cruise
Rounding out our list of things to do in Venice, Florida is perhaps one of the most captivating experiences of all. Being located on the Gulf coast allows for some scenic boat cruises where you can go out to see dolphins swimming and flipping in the open water or enjoy a relaxing and romantic sunset cruise to end your day on a beautiful note.
What’s On Your Bucket List of Things to Do in Venice?
We’re so lucky to call Venice home, and every day it seems we are adding to our list of things we need to do! So we’ll keep adding to this list as we discover new adventures and share our input on what we enjoyed about them.
If you have a recommendation or something you are looking forward to doing most, please feel free to share with us in the comments below! We’re always looking for new things to add to our must-do list!