Venice Beach & Pier
One of the Suncoast’s staple attractions, Venice Beach and its famous Fishing Pier offer a classic destination trip for Florida travelers.
History of Venice Beach, Florida
When visitors come to Venice, they often look for world class beaches and, of course, the famous Venice Fishing Pier. This iconic structure is part of what makes Venice Beach unique in Sarasota. Pioneer Richard Roberts started his homestead in the 1870s near Roberts Bay and the beach. He ran a small citrus operation until the railroad developed through the area. A widow moved in and purchased 60,000 acres of land south of Robert’s Bay and called it Venice.
The town of Venice grew around her development from a small citrus and fishing community to a larger home for tourists and people who wanted to live where it was warm year round. Today, the town has lots of shopping, arts, beaches, and pedestrian friendly areas, including the pier, that bring visitors and locals together in this thriving community.
Venice Beach Park
Don’t forget to take in the beach park while visiting the area. Located west of downtown and south of the inlet to the Gulf of Mexico, this area has a landmark Sail Pavilion, built in 1964. It stands today as an iconic spot to visit with a long history in the area. Food concessions, lifeguards, volleyball courts, picnic facilities, and boardwalks are part of the charm of Venice Beach Park.
Shark Tooth Capital
Venice Beach is known as Shark Tooth Capital of the World due to the sheer number of prehistoric chompers found in the water and the sand. On any given day, tourists and locals wander the shores sifting sand for pointy treasures that date back to a time when 52-foot sharks swam the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. There are 370 varieties of sharks with several rows of teeth that fall out with more growing back eerie time. A single shark may produce as many as 25,000 teeth in its lifetime, leaving behind interesting specimens for visitors to pick up as treasures.
Heart of Venice
The pulsing, beating heart of Venice lies in the West Venice Avenue and historic district areas. It is there on the boulevard visitors can visit quaint sidewalk cafes, charming boutiques, and enjoy some peace and quiet. Several antique shops line ‘Antique Row,’ along Miami Avenue one block south of Venice Avenue. Be sure to check out the town’s live theater and symphony orchestra for some added arts and entertainment.
Venice KMI Bridge
The Venice KMI Bridge runs north from Venice to Nokomis. Visitors will enjoy a drive out to Casey Key over the bridge as they head north along the Gulf. The road is narrow but shaded with tropical trees, giving it a beautiful view as travelers take in views of the blue Gulf waters. The drive goes for several miles north to Blackburn Point Road where people can return to the mainland at Osprey and take in the breeze and breathtaking sights along the way.
Venetian Waterway Trail
Visitors love to bike the Venetian Waterway Trail in Venice Beach. The trail is approximately 9.3 miles long and follows the east and west sides of the Intercoastal Waterway. The Legacy Trail connects with it near the historic Venice Train Depot and goes all the way to Caspersen Beach. The park itself is home to scrub jays, alligators, and bob cats so be sure to bring binoculars and a camera to capture some of the interesting wildlife along the way.
Venice Beach is home to nesting turtles. In season between May and October, Venice Beach welcomes large numbers of marine turtle nests, including Green, Leatherback, Kemp’s Ridley, Hawksbill, and Loggerhead. Nesting turtles are protected by wildlife conservationists and are not to be disturbed. Visitors are welcome to view them from afar or take tours to learn about conservation efforts and snap photos of the beautiful seasonal journey.
Venice Beach, while beautiful, is not the only attraction visitors love to come see in the area. Venice Avenue has beautiful Italian Renaissance-style architecture. With buildings and historical landmarks dotting the avenue, Venice Beach is even more appealing when visiting these iconic locations. Stroll through boutiques and shops, dine in at a cafe or restaurant, and enjoy the ambiance of being in an old-world style shopping district close to the beach.
Iconic Venice Fishing Pier extends 700 feet into the Gulf of Mexico. Unique in structure, this spot is free for fishermen and women to drop a line and check out the sunrise or sunset, Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, there is no license required to fish off the pier. Picnic and restroom facilities are available. Sharky’s on the Pier is the only restaurant on the pier offering food and beverages to revellers who want to check out the beach and pier. Be sure to stop in at Papa’s bait Shop located midway down the Pier for bait, coffee, t-shirts, or just to visit this iconic shop. Fishing rods and reels are available to rent for $15 per day. Scoops and shovels are also rentable for a small fee to collect shark’s teeth or shells.
Venice Beach & Pier FAQ
A: Yes, fishing is allowed, and better yet, it’s free!
A: The pier is open 24/7. At 720 feet long, 22 feet wide and 20 feet high, it is susceptible to storms that have destroyed it at various points in history. It was rebuilt in 1984 and again worked on in 2020 to restore parts of the pier to make it safe to open for pedestrians, fishers, and visitors to the pier.
A: Venice Fishing Pier does not require a fishing license. All fishermen and women need is equipment they can bring themselves, rent, or buy from local suppliers near the pier.
A: Fishing off the pier lands some great catches. Expect to find kingfish, Spanish mackerel, and tarpon, among many other types of fish.
A: As of 2019, shark fishing is illegal. Fishing regulations put in place by Florida Fish and Wildlife require people to get a license and ban chumming the water. There is no longer the option to catch sharks off the pier without getting a fine.
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