The Venice area, with no natural harbor, was slow to develop. Early settlers came in the 1860s, stimulated by land grants, and the Venice Post Office was established in 1888. Growth was further stimulated by the building of the Seaboard Railroad line and a planned community was laid out for the city.
The plan was used by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, a railroad labor union, to build a retirement community on the Gulf Coast. The Tamiami Trail, connecting Miami to Tampa, came through Venice in the early 1920s and in 1927, Venice was incorporated.
Venice, with a population of about 18,000 is actually five communities; Venice, South Venice, Nokomis, Laurel, and Osprey. It sits right on the Gulf shore, unprotected by a barrier island. Old Venice has preserved the original small town atmosphere of the community by creating the Historic Venice District and an Architectural Review Board to ensure it will retain its northern Italian renaissance style. South Venice is along US 41, just beyond the city limits.
It is a center for shopping and light industries and is the home of Manatee Community College’s South Campus, Venice Health Park, as well as beautiful housing areas and golf communities. Nokomis is north of Old Venice and offers elegant residential living, shopping and all the amenities. It contains magnificent waterfront homes amid the tropical growth along the Gulf shoreline. Laurel is a small, mostly residential community just beyond Nokomis.
Osprey is the northernmost of the Venice area communities. It has comfortable, older neighborhoods and several small businesses. The Venice area offers a laid-back lifestyle, yet it is a community with many activities. It has good shopping, fine dining, and a community calendar, busy with arts activities, festivals and special events. It has miles of beautiful and even very natural beach areas, and it an abundance of well-kept parks and recreation areas.
There is everything a boater or a fisherman could ask for ñ fishing offshore, in protected waters, off the public pier, or from the beach, and it is right on the Intracoastal Waterway for those who want to canoe, kayak, or cruise. The Gulf Coast of Florida is called the Culture Coast and Venice too is a great supporter of cultural activities. It is also within a short drive of culture-rich Sarasota.
Arts & Culture
The Venice Symphony (70 to 75 musicians) began performing in the early 1970s. Its regular season consists of six sets of triple performances, and one additional performance of its January Pops Concert. It performs as a full orchestra, a chamber orchestra and smaller ensembles.
The orchestra also has an extensive education program. http://www.thevenicesymphony.org/
Venice Public Library offers classic and contemporary films weekly from September through May. The library is part of the Sarasota County library system. http://www.librarytechnology.org/lwc-displaylibrary.pl?RC=10543
The Lemon Bay Playhouse, located in nearby Englewood, is a volunteer community theater. It offers live performances in a 90-seat theater. http://www.lemonbayplayhouse.com
Venice Art Center is focused on stimulating and encouraging the appreciation of art. It offers galleries, workshops, a cafés, and several summer adult courses.
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota is the largest museum/university complex in the nation. The Museum, which includes 21 galleries of internationally recognized European and American art, is considered the most significant cultural asset of the state. The 66-acre complex also features Ringling is Circus Museum and his mansion on the waterfront. http://www.ringling.org
The Asolo Theatre Company performs primarily in the 500 seat Harold E. and Esther M. Mertz Theatre (Asolo Theatre) in Sarasota. The building was originally built as an opera house in Scotland. Performances are November through June. http://www.asolo.org/
Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota offers contemporary theater at its Mainstage, or The Cabaret which offers fine dining with theater entertainment. It also hosts Sarasota Festival of New Plays each May.
The Sarasota Orchestra (formerly The Florida West Coast Symphony) performs more than 100 concerts a year, including Masterworks concerts, Family, Children, and a variety of Pops concerts. Four ensembles also perform in the area. http://www.sarasotaorchestra.org/
La Musica International Chamber Music Festival joins outstanding musicians from Europe and America to perform each April at Sarasota Opera House. http://www.lamusicafestival.org/
The acclaimed Sarasota Ballet of Florida performs from September through April. http://www.sarasotaballet.org/
The Sarasota Film Festival showcases independent and international features, shorts and documentaries. http://www.sarasotafilmfestival.com
Sarasota Opera Company presents concerts year-round and is home to a fine youth opera program. http://www.sarasotaopera.org
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota, renowned for its acoustics, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Since opening in 1970, it has featured Pavarotti, Leonard Bernstein, Bob Dylan, Cary Grant, The Boston Pops, Willie Nelson, The Chicago Symphony, The Temptations, and many others. http://www.vanwezel.org
Marie Selby Gardens Botanical Gardens was recently named one of America’s Top Ten Botanical Gardens. http://www.selby.org
Mote Marine Laboratory, just north of St. Armands Key, is one of the top three visitor attractions in the area. It also runs an extensive number of educational programs.
The greater Venice area offers many excellent parks with well-maintained facilities. There are softball and baseball fields, tennis courts, hiking trails, playground areas, picnic areas, boat ramps, camping areas, and even an archery course, pistol and rife ranges and trap and skeet ranges.
Many of the parks have a beautiful setting, with palms and flowers. Venice also has a Community Center. Oscar Scherer State Park offers swimming, fresh and saltwater fishing, canoeing, camping, boating, bicycling and hiking.
The area beaches are outstanding. Caspersen Beach is described as uncultivated, windswept, and secluded Completed left in a natural state. There are also nature trails, salt marshes and mangrove areas and tidal flats ñ a great spot to find sharks teeth. Surfers enjoy North Jetty Beach which is also a popular picnic spot. Nokomis Beach is a popular fishing spot and also has a boat launch ramp. The city also has a 740 foot fishing pier at Brohard Beach and there is playground equipment and boardwalks with covered picnic areas at nearby Service Club Park.
There are many additional recreational choices in the greater Venice area, including over a dozen golf courses. The city operates six public tennis courts, well-lit for evening play, in downtown Venice and two at the Pinebrook Recreation Center. And the Venice Ice Pavilion offers private and group figure skating and there are both youth and adult hockey teams.
The YMCA is a center for fitness in Venice. It has two indoor basketball courts, a fully-equipped gymnastics center, racquetball and tennis courts, an Olympic-size pool and a large fitness facility. Nearby Myakka River State Park is one of Florida’s oldest and largest state parks with 45 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks and pinelands.
The river and its two shallow lakes offer excellent birding, canoeing, fishing and wildlife observation. A seven-mile scenic drive winds through shady oak-palm hammocks and along the shore of Upper Myakka Lake. Over 39 miles of hiking and biking trails, and miles of dirt roads, provide access to the remote interior.
Manatee Community College, Bradenton, has a satellite Venice Campus. It offers associate degrees in arts and science, associate degrees in applied science, and one-year certificate programs. It also offers skills upgrade courses, workforce development and adult education classes.
The University of South Florida Sarasota/Manatee campus at Sarasota serves 2,500 students and offers 29 accredited degree programs and courses in 40 degree programs.
Ringling School of Art and Design, located in Sarasota, provides programs leading to a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. It enrolls both full- and part-time students who intend to become professionals in the visual arts. It also offers courses, lectures, exhibitions and continuing education programs. http://www.ringling.edu/
New College, located in Sarasota, is a liberal arts college with 650 students and 60 full time faculty. It offers over 30 arts and science disciplines. http://www.ncf.edu/
Treasure Island Super Seniors tennis.
The Sarasota County Aging Network (SCAN) is a networking organization comprised of representatives of profit and not-for-profit health, human services and social services organizations and others interested in issues related to aging. It offers a very good resource for information on services for older adults in Sarasota County. The SCAN Directory, published annually, is available online.
Bon Secours-Venice Hospital is a Catholic acute care hospital with 342 beds.
Sarasota Memorial Hospital is the second largest public hospital in Florida. It has a staff of 685 physicians and 845 licensed beds. It is among the top hospitals in the U. S. based on the number of open-heart surgeries performed annually. http://www.smh.com/
Englewood Community Hospital is an acute care hospital with a medical staff of 125 physicians.
Venice Municipal Airport
Sarasota Bradenton International Airport – http://www.srq-airport.com/
Southwest Florida International Airport, just south of Fort Myers, is served by a number of major airlines –http://www.flylcpa.com/
Tampa International Airport, located 55 miles north of Sarasota is served by most major airlines – http://www.tampaairport.com/
The Argonaut is the local Venice newspaper with a circulation of 40,000. It serves Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey, Westchester, Venice, and Santa Monica. http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/
Chamber of Commerce
Bradenton – 36 miles Fort Myers – 58 miles Sarasota – 24 miles St. Petersburg – 57 miles Tampa – 74 miles