Are you thinking Venice, Italy, or Venice, California? I’m talking about Venice, Florida, not to be confused with the muscle beach in California. When I first visited the seaside community, I really didn’t know what to expect. On my first visit I was in need of immediate triage to the heart and some serious beach time. Recently, I had the good fortune to make a second visit to the island (with a recovered heart) and I was in good company. A girlfriend and I made our way to visit our friend and her husband in their home in Venice.
The moment you drive over the bridge and enter Venice Island, the peaceful pace will overtake you, immediately causing you to down shift. Our getaway plan was, well, to not have a plan. And as three friends gathered for a couple of days of downtime, we had the chance to relax together, rest together, and laugh together. It was a complete treat to be hosted so graciously by our friend. She waited on us. Thought for us. Cared for us. It was so refreshing. It was a real soul vacation. The morning included waking up to put a bathing suit on, having coffee, hitting the pool to float around for hours, snacking, dinner at a great restaurant, then hitting the beach for the most magnificent sunset. What’s happening tomorrow? Press repeat, but head to the beach early instead.
The beaches in Venice are just as magnificent as any I’ve ever seen and they’re not overcrowded. It’s Italian architecture and beautifully landscaped boulevards are reminiscent of the Italian city whose name it borrowed. If you go, fly into Tampa, it’s just an hour drive. The community has some of the best restaurants–even one named Sharky’s, taking after the town’s claim to fame as the shark tooth capital. Plan to make breakfast one of your star meals. Dog lovers, get the pancakes at the Lucky Dog Diner- go early and take a seat at the counter and take in all the dog decor. Grab a homemade scone at Upper Crust Bakery located in the heart of downtown Venice, it’s locally owned since 2000 and they have classic pastries with a great breakfast menu. The best kept secret in town is Blu Island Bistro. If you go for breakfast have Italian Eggs and try the Sangria too! For dinner you have to have Italian at Cassariano. The best view and seafood, even the sushi is most wonderful at Finn’s at Sharky’s on the Pier. Make reservations to sit outside. Catch a frozen beverage and lunch at their sister spot, a tiki bar called Sharky’s on the Pier. It’s the only beachfront restaurant and tiki with a fishing pier!
I think Venice is the best kept secret for beach vacations. It’s easy to get to, a quaint town with amazing beaches and great eateries. Not to mention, Venice is home to one special friend who provided such a restful and rejuvenating getaway. She’ll never know the gift she gave me, just by allowing us to invade her home, her pool, her kitchen, her routine. What a great vacation!