The center of Venice Florida is an island set off from the “mainland” by the Intracoastal Waterway. John Nolen’s original plan for Venice, completed in 1926, made no provision for the Intracoastal, which was planned in the 1950s and completed through Venice in 1967.
It makes the historic part of Venice Florida an island accessed by three drawbridges. Modern Venice is a much larger city, extending for several miles to the northeast.
The purpose of this 3000-mile (4800-km) navigation channel from Boston, Massachusetts to Galveston, Texas is to to protect coastal shipping from weather and wartime attack.
Not much coastal shipping these days, but plenty of pleasure boats, so Venice’s “Grand Canal” is now bordered by parks with bike/walking paths, boat ramps and picnic tables.
The first grand boulevard to be laid out in Venice’s master plan, it is now the city’s main east-west thoroughfare. Divided by the Tamiami Trail (US Route 41 Business) into East and West portions, West Venice Avenue is the heart of the city, with shops, restaurants, parks, and its own drawbridge across the Intracoastal Waterway.
The historic old road along Florida’s Gulf Coast south from Tampa to Miami (“Tam[pa-M]iami”—get it?) has become US Route 41. At Venice, it splits into US 41 Business, which crosses the northern and southern drawbridges to Venice Island and passes through the historic center. US 41 By-pass, lined with larger businesses and shopping malls, skirts Venice Island to the east, rejoining US 41 Business south of the city.
A break in the barrier island along Venice’s northern coast at Casey Key allows boats to pass from Lyons, Dona and Roberts bays out to the Gulf of Mexico. The break, known as Casey’s Pass, is framed by two stone jetties: South Jetty at the northern tip of Venice, and North Jetty at the southern tip of Casey Key in Nokomis. Both jetties are popular for fishing, bird-watching, strolling, and beach access. Venice Beach extends all the way from West Venice Avenue to South Jetty.
Map of Venice Florida
Google Map of Venice. US 41 Bypass follows the Intracoastal Waterway which forms Venice Island.