Neighborhood Snapshots

What to Do on the Island of Venice

Visitors flock to Venice's palm-tree lined streets, lively historic downtown district and powdery white beaches.

Photography by Su Byron November 30, 2016 Published in the December 2016 issue of Sarasota Magazine

Venice pier a5hols

“New Urbanism” hadn’t been invented yet. But in 1926, city planner John Nolen designed the city of Venice to be a walkable community with abundant green space around a central municipal hub. Today, visitors flock to the palm tree-lined streets of its lively historic downtown district, scenic parks and powdery white beaches. It’s a city on a human scale with unique shops and restaurants and a rich cultural scene.


Café Venice Restaurant and Wine Bar has a wide-ranging menu of small bites, salads (try the signature grilled romaine) and inventive entreés, including roasted rack of lamb and Country French Pot-au-Feu. Eat inside or on the terrace. 116 W. Venice Ave., (941) 484-1855,

Soak up the sunshine and panoramic Gulf views at Sharky’s on the Pier, with casual  fare, a tiki bar and frequent live music. Fins offers a more upscale dining experience and the same gorgeous view. 1600 Harbor Drive S., (941) 488-1456,; (941) 999-3467,

At Made In Italy, a sophisticated crowd enjoys the chic bar scene and authentic pizza, pastas (gnocchi Amalfitana, stuffed with shrimp, arugula and smoked mozzarella), burgers, paninis and a full range of entreés. 117 W. Venice Ave., (941) 488-8282,

At Le Petit Jardin Café you can fill your crêpe with just about anything savory or sweet for breakfast or lunch. You’ll also find a battalion of sandwiches and sumptuous desserts. 1500 E. Venice Ave., Suite 401, (941) 485-4449,


At Venice Olive Oil Company, along with an array of oils and other delicacies (oven-fried garlic Parmesan green beans), you’ll discover olive oil-themed skin lotions, dipping dishes and sea salt grinders. 101 W. Venice Ave., (941) 483-4200,

Venice Trading Company is a Fair Trade boutique and showcase for global artisans who create stunning home décor, accessories, apparel and jewelry from limited resources. 211 Miami Ave. W., (941) 786-9132,

Seaside Chic Boutique stocks designer clothing, accessories and jewelry for women of all ages. You’ll find handmade jewelry from Spain, Vegas cowboy boots, crocheted lacy tops and knit sweaters. 305A W. Venice Ave., Venice, (941) 484-1313,

Island Life Hammock Company has a relaxing selection of hammocks and hammock chairs and swings, along with colorful Adirondack chairs and tables and metal yard sculptures. 329 W. Venice Ave., (941) 488-8727,


Caspersen Beach is a four-mile-long dreamscape of saltwater marshes, mangrove forests, sea grapes and tidal flats, with a boardwalk over the dunes, fishing pier, kayak launch, shaded picnic areas and playground and fitness park.

Take in a play at Venice Theatre, one of the largest and most active community theaters in the United States. They offer a packed season of comedies, dramas, full-scale musicals, cabarets and contemporary productions. 140 W. Tampa Ave., (941) 488-1115,

From November through April, the Venice Symphony presents a variety of classical, pops and festival concerts at the new state-of-the-art Venice Performing Arts Center. 1 Indian Ave., (941) 207-8822,

Snook Haven Park boasts 2.5 acres of natural Florida splendor along the scenic Myakka River. Take a chartered river tour, or rent your own boat, canoe or kayak. The restaurant serves casual eats, often with live music. 5000 E. Venice Ave., (941) 485-7221,

Venice Art Center has excellent changing exhibitions, frequent lectures and special events and children’s and adult classes in drawing, jewelry-making, photography, painting, printmaking, sculpting and more. 390 Nokomis Ave. S., (941) 485-7136,

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