With new improvements and amenities, this gorgeous slice of Venice offers a world of fun.
By Kim Hackett ||| Illustration by John Potter
It’s been a long, slow unveiling but a southern, Gulf-front stretch of Venice—let’s call it our own South Beach—is primed for action, and a variety of it. From driving golf balls on the newly redesigned Lake Venice Golf Club to strolling on new boardwalks along unspoiled Caspersen Beach, residents and visitors will find a host of improvements and amenities. The area roughly stretches from the renovated Sharky’s on the Pier complex, which includes an upscale new Fins restaurant, south about three miles to Caspersen Beach, which boasts kayak launches, a new event room, a playground, new restrooms, boardwalks and a connection to the Venetian Waterway Park.
Sharky’s and More
One of Florida’s most popular restaurants, Sharky’s on the Pier has more than tripled in size since it opened nearly three decades ago as a concession stand and bait shop on the Venice City Pier. The Pachota family invested $5 million in expanding the Gulf-front tiki bar and restaurant, adding Fins, a fine-dining restaurant on a new second floor. The city pitched in to expand parking. After a drink or meal, visitors can walk over the Gulf on the pier, rebuilt a decade ago.
Maxine Barritt Park
What used to be a beachfront water treatment plant next to Sharky’s is now one of the city’s newest parks. With a circle trail around a pond and beautiful views of the Gulf, the park is becoming a popular destination for walkers, runners and strollers. It has a large pavilion, available for rent for weddings and private parties, and small picnic shelters, a playground and lots of parking.
For dogs and their devoted owners, this is Ground Zero—the only beach in all of Sarasota County where dogs are allowed. The one-acre park, part of 22-5.-acre South Brohard Beach, includes a parking area and fenced play yard that leads to the beach. After watching Fido run with his friends—or running with him yourself on the beach—you can take a break on a bench or spread out a picnic on a table. Along with showers to rinse off the sand, there are water fountains for people and for dogs. Open 7 a.m.-dusk every day.
Lake Venice Golf Club
One of the most highly regarded and affordable golf courses in Florida, the 27-hole golf club, on city-owned land, just finished $1.4 million in upgrades, including seven new holes by acclaimed golf course architect Jan Bel Jan, new cart paths and a new driving range and a ball machine. Across the street from Sharky’s, the course is beloved for its Gulf breezes and natural landscape, which occasionally offers an alligator sighting.
Sarasota County has spent about $2.5 million on building new bathrooms and boardwalks and improving trails and dunes on this beach, considered one of the county’s most beautiful and unspoiled. The new pavilion has won architectural awards for its striking modern design, which salutes the region’s Sarasota School of Architecture legacy. The bayside Caspersen Beach Park has a new multipurpose room. There’s a kayak and canoe launch, and paddlers can travel through freshwater and saltwater marshes, mangrove areas and tidal flats. The park also connects to the Venetian Waterway Park.
Venetian Waterway Park
This five-mile linear trail is popular with bikers and runners. The trail runs on both sides of the Intracoastal Waterway and connects to the Legacy Trail at the train depot, creating 23 miles of uninterrupted trails from South Sarasota all the way to Caspersen Beach. |||