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.
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, taking the children to enjoy Legacy Park, playing shuffleboard at Hecksher Park, or checking out The Venice Arboretum at West Blalock Park.
Shark Tooth Hunting
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, The Venice Concert Band, and The Venice Chorale.
Because of its reputation as a Florida Main Street City, shopping in downtown Venice is always going to be an enjoyable experience.
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.
And 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.
Being just an hour south of Tampa and about the same distance from Fort Myers means Venice is surrounded by a bunch of great communities for you to consider.
To the north in Tampa you’ve got Del Webb Lakewood Ranch, a 55+ active adult community located in the master-planned community of Lakewood Ranch near Sarasota, and Valencia Lakes by GL Homes, which has a stunning selection of twin villas and single-family homes that provide the ultimate in carefree living.
Then to the south near Fort Myers you’ve got Valencia Bonita, also by GL Homes. Valencia Bonita features an opulent 45,000 sq. ft. clubhouse and carefully designed single-family and villa home designs that are tailored to those looking for spacious layouts and sophisticated style. Valencia Bonita is located just minutes from pristine beaches, tranquil nature preserves, chic shops and fine dining. Plus, everyday conveniences including banks, grocery stores and top rated medical facilities are also just a short drive away. Homes start in the low $300k’s.
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!