Located just south of Sarasota, but not quite as far south as Fort Myers or Sanibel Island, Venice sits in a sweet spot along Florida's southern Gulf Coast that makes it the perfect destination for anyone looking to make the most of 14 miles of stunning white sand beaches.
In addition to those beautiful beaches, Venice is also known for all kinds of exciting ways to enjoy the great outdoors. It is a fabulous destination for boomers interested in exploring arts and culture, boutique shopping, or a wide range of outstanding restaurant choices.
The area that would eventually become Venice, Florida was originally named Horse and Chaise. However, it was renamed by Frank Higel in 1888 because it reminded him of Venice, Italy where he spent time as a child.
Sometime around 1916, John Nolan was brought in as a city planner to turn this naturally beautiful area into a well-planned Gulf Coast paradise. Then, when the area was connected to nearby Tampa and Miami in the early 1920s, the population began to grow at a rapid pace.
Venice was also the winter home of the famous Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus during the 1950s, and the creation of the Intracoastal Waterway in the 1960s attracted even more people to the area.
Getting to Venice
If you are flying in to Venice from somewhere else in the country, the Sarasota/Bradenton Airport (SRQ) is probably going to be your best bet. It is about 20 miles north of Venice. Other options include Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) about 30 miles away, Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers and Tampa International Airport (TPA) are both about 60 miles away.
If you are driving, Venice is just a short detour off of I-75.
Cost of Living in Venice
With a cost of living index of 101.3, Venice comes in just slightly higher than the national cost of living baseline of 100, but it is also just slightly lower than the average cost of living for Florida.
Here’s a look at the average low and high temperatures in Venice throughout the year:
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Venice Area Healthcare
There are plenty of healthcare options close by. Sarasota Memorial is the biggest hospital in the area but other options include Sarasota Memorial Hospital – Venice, HCA Florida Englewood Hospital, HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital, and more.
Everything about the Venice lifestyle revolves around enjoying the great outdoors in one way or another. There are so many different parks tucked into various corners of town that even the most experienced locals have trouble making use of all of them.
Residents have their choice of great options like taking their dogs to Paw Park, enjoying daily music at the gazebo or splashing in the fountain at Centennial Park, playing pickleball at Bypass Park, or checking out The Monty Andrews Arboretum at West Blalock Park.
If a day at the beach is what you're after, you've got plenty of options in Venice, including Venice Beach, Chauncy Howard Park, North or South Brohard Parks, or just explore a little off the beaten path and discover your own strip of Venice beachfront paradise.
Shark Tooth Hunting
Speaking of beaches, no article about things to do in Venice would be complete without mentioning a favorite pastime of both locals and tourists: shark tooth hunting!
Venice bills itself as “The Shark Tooth Capital of the World” and celebrates that designation with an annual Sharks’ Tooth Festival each year.
From Venice Magazine:
“The waters around Florida were always rich with sharks, including the extinct megalodon—the largest shark that ever lived. And that means the waters were rich with sharks’ teeth, too. Sharks’ mouths are full of teeth—some have as many as 15 rows of teeth—and they produce and lose teeth constantly. A single shark might lose 50,000 teeth in its lifetime. And the shallow and sedimentary conditions of Venice allowed for the creation of thick fossil beds. Wave action exposes and erodes the fossil layer and deposits the teeth and bones daily on our beaches.”
While many residents make the decision to live in Venice because of the lifestyle, one of the things that keeps them happy while living here is a thriving cultural scene.
Anyone who has a passion for the performing arts will gravitate towards the regular entertainment at the Venice Theatre, but that's not all that Venice has to offer. There is also the Venice Performing Arts Center where you can find The Venice Symphony, and The Venice Chorale.
On top of that, there is also a wealth of history and culture on display at the Venice Museum & Archives and The Venice Art Center.
Because of its reputation as a Florida Main Street City, shopping in downtown Venice is always going to be an enjoyable experience.
You can spend an entire day browsing through local boutique shops like Mother's Cupboard Spice Shoppe, Coppola Artistica, and the Venice Olive Oil Company.
There is also an excellent farmers market every Saturday morning right outside of city hall.
Venice is also home to a wide variety of dining options featuring everything from hot dogs to white-linen fine dining.
If you're looking for something on the hot dog side of that spectrum, Mad Dogs should be your first stop. Get yourself a Coney Island Dog there!
For something a little nicer, but still casual enough for sandals, options like Blu Island Bistro and BrewBurgers Pub & Grill offer the perfect mix of outstanding food in super informal environments. Both restaurants are best known for their burgers, but BrewBurgers also has an exceptional Blackened Grouper Sandwich.
If fine dining right on the beach is what you are in the mood for, you can find exactly that at Fin's at Sharky's. This is a steakhouse “with a serious seafood side” that boasts some mouth-watering specialties that will keep you coming back over and over again. In my humble opinion, the best Italian restaurant in Venice is Made in Italy.
Where to Retire in Venice
Being just an hour south of Tampa and about the same distance from Fort Myers means Venice is surrounded by a bunch of great 55+ communities for you to consider. There are also plenty of great non-age-restricted communities nearby, depending on your specific needs.
Grand Palm is truly a one-of-a-kind community! This beautiful, amenity-rich, nature-focused community in Venice, Florida is exactly what resort living should be like. Residents enjoy easy access to downtown Venice and beaches (20 minutes away) and a multitude of activities right in their own backyard with an on-site activities coordinator, state-of-the-art fitness facility, and large, resort-style pool with water slide. Single-family homes and villas start in the $400k's.
Located just south of Venice in Sarasota County, Boca Royale Golf & Country Club offers a rare lifestyle that feels more like a vacation than the everyday. Residents of the gated 1,000-acre community enjoy a full line of fun and fitness amenities, including an 18-hole par 72 golf course. A beautiful amenity center and clubhouse round out the community. The community offers both single-family homes and attached villas starting in the $400k's.
For retirees seeking an active lifestyle on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Wellen Park in the Venice area is a next-generation community made up of friendly neighborhoods and a vibrant downtown. Wellen Park is currently the third best-selling community in Florida, trailing only The Villages and Lakewood Ranch.
There aren't any 55+ neighborhoods in Wellen Park yet, but the wide range of community amenities, and proximity to great Venice area beaches, great restaurants, and Braves Spring Training baseball more than make up for that fact. Home prices generally start in the $400k's.
If you'd like help from a real estate agent for your search, just fill out the form below and I'll match you up with the best agent I know, based on your specific needs:
With all kinds of outdoor activities, a first-class arts and culture scene, great boutique shopping, and more than a few excellent restaurants, it isn't hard to see why Venice is such a popular choice among boomers looking to relocate along the Gulf Coast. The only thing missing from this perfect town is you!
Micah Dunford says
I live on condo on island and this is best biking community in FL..bar none