Hunting for sharks’ teeth on Venice Beach, boating on the Gulf, kayaking on the Myakka River and barbecuing at the North Jetty Park are among the most popular outdoor activities in the Venice area.
We haven’t found a place on Florida’s Gulf coast that rivals our community in public access to beaches, trails and preserves. And that’s why Venice is consistently rated as one of the best places to live, raise a family and retire.
We’ve got beachfront parks, sports parks with tennis, basketball, football and myriad other facilities, and two paw parks for our canine companions. And unlike many coastal communities, you can find abundant free parking and dozens of places to launch a boat or kayak.
The Sarasota County and city park systems, along with private organizations, offer group exercise classes, swim lessons, and sporting facilities for tennis, pickleball, croquet, football, softball, baseball, soccer and golf.
To experience Old Florida in its natural state, all you have to do is drive a few miles beyond the Venice city limits to reach Oscar Scherer State Park, Snook Haven or the Carlton Preserve, where 80 miles of hiking trails meander through dry prairie, pine flatwoods, mesic hammocks and seasonal wetlands. Our parks are popular destinations to observe white-tailed deer, wild turkey, bobcats, swallow-tailed kites, various wading birds and an assortment of wildflowers. Get out there and start enjoying.
Brohard Beach and Paw Park
1600 Harbor Drive, Venice
For dog lovers, few outings with our furry friends top the Paw Park. There are separate entrances and fenced-in parks for big and small dogs, with benches and plenty of shade. For water-loving Labradors and other pooches, take the paved path on the park’s west end to the half-mile dog beach, where well-behaved dogs are allowed to swim and roam off-leash, but only in between the signs. Everyone is expected to pick up after his dog. No lifeguards.
4100 Harbor Drive, Venice
The southernmost beach in the Venice area, Caspersen has miles of unspoiled shoreline, making it one of the best places to hunt for shells and prehistoric sharks’ teeth. Erosion makes it difficult to walk on the shore during high tide, but beachside nature trails will take you past freshwater and saltwater marshes, mangrove areas, and tidal flats. The area includes a park with an expansive covered playground, kayak launch, restrooms and a trail leading to the Venetian Waterway Park. The beautiful beach park is south of the Venice Municipal Airport and bounded by the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway.
8570 Manasota Key Road, Manasota Key
Beautiful, secluded south county beach at the west end of Manasota Beach Road. It includes picnic tables, beach wheelchairs, restrooms, outdoor showers and paved trails. On the Intracoastal side, there’s a boat ramp, dock and boardwalk that meanders through mangroves. Lifeguards on duty year-round.
100 Casey Key Road, Casey Key, Nokomis
Nokomis Beach provides the only public beach access to exclusive North Casey Key, where multi-million dollar beachfront mansions line the shore. Nokomis Beach is known for its twice-a-week drum circles that bring together musicians, artists and visitors. The music inspires amateur belly dancers and others to move along with the beat. Residents and visitors often bring a picnic to enjoy the music and a magnificent sunset. The beach’s historic pavilion, designed in the 1950s by late Sarasota School of Architecture legend Jack West, who restored it a few years back, provides a respite from the sun. The pavilion now includes a community room, making it a popular destination for beach parties and community events. Parking, bathrooms and outdoor showers. A second pavilion with public bathrooms is located about a quarter-mile north of the beach.
North Jetty Park
1000 Casey Key Road, Casey Key, Nokomis
An amenity-rich beach park frequented by locals and one of the most popular destinations for family picnics, weddings and parties. Next to the channel where the Intracoastal Waterway flows into the Gulf, you’ll find some of the most beautiful vistas of the area. The park includes a large covered pavilion (available for rent), numerous smaller picnic pavilions, a playground, volleyball courts, concession stand, grills and bathrooms. You can walk to the long-standing North Jetty Fish Camp to buy bait, coffee, snacks and beer and sit on the deck, or visit a newer concession for breakfast, lunch and snacks.
South Brohard Beach
1900 S. Harbor Drive, Venice
South Brohard adjoins the Paw Park and features abundant parking, restrooms and natural dunes. It’s a great place to set up an umbrella for a long day of swimming, collecting shells and searching for pre-historic sharks’ teeth. No lifeguards.
The city’s main Venice Avenue ends at the city’s most popular beach. The beach has a wide expanse of sand, beach volleyball, a shaded pavilion with picnic tables and a concession stand, which serves breakfast and lunch. Walking distance to restaurants, entertainment and shopping. A quarter-mile offshore, a reef is a popular place for divers who search for sharks’ teeth, fossils and ocean life. Lifeguards on duty year-round.
Bay Street Park
300 Bay St., Osprey
A 19-acre park in the heart of Osprey, Bay Street is a great locale to take the family for a picnic and the children to play in the playground. A large picnic pavilion is a popular party site.
Blackburn Point Park
800 Blackburn Point Road, Osprey
A 15-acre park that straddles Blackburn Point Road on the northern end of the Key. The park includes boat, kayak and sculling ramps, fishing piers, covered picnic tables, parking, boardwalks and nature trails. Parking for cars and non-motorized boat trailers and restrooms. Boat ramps provide access to Little Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico through the Venice Inlet.
1800 Mabry Carlton Parkway, Venice
Eighty miles of hiking and equestrian trails provide a perfect way to experience Florida in its natural state. Explore the dry prairie, moss-draped oak trees, and seasonal wetlands within the park’s hiking and equestrian trails and observe white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and occasionally, a bobcat on this 25,000-acre reserve.
200 W. Venice Ave., Venice
This downtown park features a gazebo and a children’s play fountain, where water spouts up from in-ground fountains and provides hours of free fun for kids and their families. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
371 Olivia St., South Venice
This four-acre neighborhood park has a dedicated group of volunteers who organize clean-ups and special events such as Easter Egg hunts and visits from Santa. The Friends group has taken initiatives to fund raise for various park improvements including a new playground, installed in 2009.
Chauncy Howard Park
601 The Esplanade N., Venice
Here you’ll find beach access for those with wheelchairs, with an accessible boardwalk as well as bike racks, benches, showers and drinking fountains.
Chuck Reiter Park
250 Fort St., Venice
Home of Venice Little League, the park has four baseball fields, batting cages, a concession, restrooms and a playground.
Dr. Fred Albee Park
245 Saint Augustine Ave., between Nassau Street and St. Augustine Avenue.
Named for Dr. Fred Albee, a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon who came to Venice from New York and helped build the city, this pocket park includes picnic tables, benches and statues.
1221 Poplar Drive at East Gate Drive
A neighborhood park with a playground, picnic shelter, tables, bike rack and a drinking fountain.
Englewood Recreation Center Park
101 N. Orange St., Englewood
Nestled in what was once a lemon grove, this 10-acre park features a playground with open-area picnic tables and outdoor restrooms. The park also includes a practice softball field, lighted tennis and basketball courts, shuffleboard courts and outdoor fitness facilities.
Englewood Sports Complex
1300 S. River Road, Englewood
Considered one of Sarasota County’s premier sports complexes, this 136-acre property has Little League and softball fields, soccer fields and tennis courts. Picnic shelters, meeting rooms and an 11,000-square-foot gymnasium are available for rent.
Located at Nokomis Avenue, Pedro Street and Ponce de Leon Street
A cast-iron Italian fountain, landscaping and benches add a European charm at the intersection of three downtown streets, where visitors take a break from the hustle and bustle.
Foxworthy Campus/By-Pass Park
1101 Gulf Coast Blvd., Venice
A hot spot for recreational softball, this 38-acre park has four lighted adult softball fields, along with two tennis courts. Picnic tables and a playground also offer a reprieve from athletic activity.
450 W. Venice Ave., Venice
Located in downtown Venice, the three-acre Hecksher is a great park for drop-in basketball, tennis, shuffleboard and racquetball as well as playgrounds and picnicking for families and friends.
Avenue des Parques to Venice Beach
Stroll under expansive banyan trees and view the lovely historic homes along West Venice Avenue. This beautiful pedestrian park runs through the middle of West Venice Avenue and includes displays and plaques commemorating the city’s history.
Higel Marine Park
1330 Tarpon Center Drive, Venice
One of the most peaceful boat ramps in town, Higel Park is also a launch point for the Dona Bay/Roberts Paddling Trails. A charming picnic spot overlooks the waterway, making it a great spot to relax and enjoy the sunset.
2000 Tarpon Center Drive
Located at the entrance to the south jetty, the park is popular for fishing, surfing, and catching beautiful sunrises and sunsets because of its stunning views of the Gulf and Intracoastal Waterway. The park has picnic tables, benches, showers, restrooms and a concession, which sells breakfast sandwiches, hot dogs and other snacks.
Knight Trail Park
3445 Rustic Road, Nokomis
A rural 271-acre park is the site for outdoor adventure and sport. The park offers archery, hiking and camping; there are also shooting ranges, including trap, skeet, sporting clays, pistol and rifle shooting. Classes available.
Laurel Park and Sandra Sims Terry Community Center
509 Collins Road, Laurel
A community center with a deep commitment to the area’s youth, providing after-school and summer programs. The 13-acre park includes a fitness trail, tennis and basketball courts, playgrounds, a community garden and access to the Legacy Trail.
Stretching from Sarasota through the heart of Oscar Scherer State Park and into Venice, this 10-mile trail on the former CSX railway is both recreational and educational. Learn more about the town’s history as you surround yourself with the natural beauty of old Florida. A popular trail to run, bike, rollerblade or stroll.
Marina Park and Boat Launch
301 E. Venice Ave., on the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway, with access on the north side of East Venice Avenue next to the bridge
Public boat launch into the Intracoastal Waterway. The park has benches, restrooms and views of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Maxine Barritt Park
1800 Harbor Drive S., Venice
A popular location for festivals, athletic events, weddings and family reunions, this park includes a large pavilion, picnic shelters, an oval walking trail, bathrooms and showers and a sunset-viewing platform. Named for a community activist who wanted a natural park on what once was a water treatment plant, Maxine Barritt has become a popular locale for athletic competitions including the annual Rev3 Triathlon, which attracts athletes from all over the world.
830 Groveland Ave. at Country Club Way in the Edgewood District
The Edgewood neighborhood park includes a basketball court, multipurpose field, softball field, handicapped-accessible playground, picnic tables, benches and bike racks. Named for Lota Mundy, a generous benefactor in the early 20th century who donated the land.
Patriots Park at Venetia Bay
800 Venetia Bay Blvd., Venice
A contemplative park where the community commemorates and celebrates its veterans. The park features a 14-foot steel beam recovered from the World Trade Center. The park includes a pond, restroom, and covered picnic areas.
1251 Pinebrook Road, Venice (adjacent to Wellfield Park)
This lesser-known park has lighted tennis courts, a basketball court, a disc golf course and a fitness/nature trail that meanders through pine flatwoods. It includes stations and equipment to stop and do exercises, such as pull-ups and push-ups.
Prentiss French Park
500 Manatee Court at Narvaezi Street
Named for Prentiss French, the landscape architect who worked with John Nolen to design the city of Venice, the park includes a playground, trails and a picnic area.
Lyons Bay, Venice
Known by locals as “Snake Island,” this popular party and picnic destination for boaters is off the shoreline of the Intracoastal Waterway and can only be reached by watercraft. Venture past its beachy shoreline and you’ll see mangroves, a variety of coastal hammocks, wildflowers, birds and butterflies on the 12-acre site.
115 North U.S. 41 Bypass. Parking access from Calle de Toro, off of North Grove Street
Built a few years ago, the park is located along a pond where you can spot numerous waterbirds and other wildlife. Shaded picnic area, benches and limited parking spaces.
Service Club Park at Brohard Park
1190 Harbor Drive S.
This natural gem is named for the service clubs in the community that volunteer their time, money and sweat equity to develop this gem of a park. Service Club includes picnic tables, grills, bike racks, a playground, restrooms, parking and a boardwalk to the beach, where you will find a beach volleyball court. This is a quiet spot with diverse vegetation. Native Florida slash pines grow almost to the water and provide a nurturing habitat for gopher tortoises and Florida scrub jays.
Shamrock Park and Nature Center
3900 Shamrock Drive, Venice
The nature center is a great place to learn more about Florida ecology and to see scrub habitat for native birds. The park has a 1.2-mile trail that connects with the Venice Waterway Park and Legacy Trail.
251 Shoreland Drive, Osprey
Primarily a kayak and canoe access point, Shoreland has no bathrooms and limited parking. The park’s location more than makes up for it, though, providing a pleasant view for birding and a cozy fishing spot.
Skip Stasko Park
2101 Scenic Drive, Venice
This neighborhood park serves as a trailhead for the Venetian Waterway Park and offers visitors a scenic place to unwind. It also has picnic tables and a gazebo.
Snook Haven Park and Riverfront Restaurant
5000 E. Venice Ave., Venice
Hugging the banks of the Wild and Scenic Myakka River, Snook Haven has long been a favorite with locals because of its Old Florida charm, live blues and banjo music and tranquil location next to the river. Sarasota County purchased Snook Haven from private owners several years ago and made substantial improvements, including boat and kayak ramps. The restaurant includes an outdoor patio where you can watch gators swim and enjoy a backwoods smokehouse menu. The bar serves about 20 beers, including local craft brews. Check out the daily water boat tours and kayak/canoe rentals.
Venetian Waterway Park
257 Tamiami Trail N., Venice
This 10-mile trail straddles both sides of the Intracoastal Waterway downtown and connects with the Legacy Trail at the Historic Train Depot. You can also go south on the Waterway Park and head to Caspersen Beach. You might see gopher tortoises crossing your path or a bald eagle perched high in a tree. The park is also home to scrub jays, alligators and bobcats, especially on the southwest side.
Venice Area Audubon Rookery
4006 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice
Part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, the 14-acre park consists of a small rookery island that provides photographers and other visitors spectacular views of nesting birds. The rookery is a highly used nesting spot for egrets, herons and anhingas. Visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon for the best light.
Venice Gardens Park
400 Shamrock Blvd., Venice
This 10-acre park makes a great neighborhood barbecue spot. The park has a picnic shelter with grills, playground, walking trail and an open field perfect for flying a kite or tossing the football.
Venice Myakka River Park
7501 E. Laurel Road, Venice
Surround yourself with lush vegetation and scenic views of the Myakka River at this picnic area and launch spot. Under shady oaks and palm trees, a paved trail winds around the kayak/canoe access point. There’s also a playground and restroom facility.
1251 Pinebrook Road, Venice
This park has an expansive sports complex, including three football fields and Letson Stadium, where the Venice Vikings youth football program competes, along with three soccer fields, two softball fields, three baseball fields, batting cages, disk golf, croquet club field and restrooms. Adjacent Pinebrook Park has two lighted tennis courts, a basketball court and fitness/nature trail.
3951 Woodmere Park Blvd., Venice
Green and spacious, Woodmere Park’s 36 acres feel far removed from Jacaranda Boulevard, the main street leading to the park. It has an air-conditioned gymnasium, along with three indoor rental spaces. A special feature of the park is the 2.5-acre dog park with water stations and fenced play areas, for dogs both big and small. The park is also popular for its well-attended pick-up basketball games.
Osprey Fishing Pier
133 Main St., Osprey
A haven for fisherman since the 1970s, the pier went through a major overhaul two years ago, making it more easily accessible for children and wheelchair-bound visitors.
Venice Municipal Fishing Pier
1600 Harbor Drive S., Venice
The public pier is located on the south end of the island of Venice, connecting to Sharky’s on the Pier restaurant. The 700-foot pier is great for fishing and sunset-watching, and nearby are six picnic shelters, two sand volleyball courts and public restrooms.