Blue water, sandy beaches, palm trees and a charming downtown. These are just a few things that describe Venice Florida. Located on the Southwest coast of Florida, only 75 miles south of Tampa, this small city is full of character. It's easy to spend a day, a week or even months, shopping in the historic downtown or trying not to get burned at the beach.
But when the time comes that you start looking for something else to do, here are five things that you may not know about (so don't be surprised when you see the locals there too.)
1. Walk from Caspersen Beach to Manasota Beach
Instead of laying on the beach all day, see a different part of Manasota Key by walking this three mile stretch of sand. It can take a little preparation, making sure that you carry a water bottle, wear sunscreen and have transportation available at both ends (unless you want to walk back three miles as well), but you will be well rewarded. Look for prehistoric shark teeth and enjoy the views of houses and seashell trees along the way.
If you're not already familiar with this legendary photographer, you need to be. His large format, black and white landscape photography is unrivaled. We are fortunate to have his gallery, darkroom and store located in an industrial park in town. Plan to spend an hour walking around looking at his photographs and you'll inevitably find something to buy.
This popular 10 mile stretch is part of the Rails to Trails initiative and goes from Venice to south Sarasota (and is currently being extended even further). Open from 6 a.m. to sunset, this multi-use trail is well loved by locals. Although there are 7 free parking areas where you can join the trail, my favorite is at the Historic Venice Train Depot. You can park at the Depot or at Legacy Park beside it. There are bathrooms for changing and drinking fountains to fill your water bottle. Plus the Depot itself is worth checking out.
This is a great opportunity for photographers and bird lover's alike to watch native birds build nests and raise their chicks. Early morning from November to May is the best time to see the action. Bring your binoculars or long lens and plan on spending an hour or two just watching the birds fly back and forth onto the rookery's island. And yes, there is at least one alligator in the pond so watch your step. This rookery is located behind the Robert L Anderson Administration Center on Tamiami Trail.
If you're tired of eating out, I have another great option for you. This popular year round market is the go to place for the freshest local fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses and fish. The onsite farmhouse bakery and ice cream shop will complete your visit. Is it weird that a grocery store should be on a to do list? YES. But once you've been to Detwiler's, you'll wish you had known about it from the start of your trip.