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: KMI Bridge to the north, Venice Avenue Bridge to the east, and Circus Bridge to the south.
Off-island Venice is a much larger city, extending for several miles northeast, east and south.
Surrounding districts include Nokomis, Laurel and Osprey to the north, South Venice and Englewood to the south, and the separate city of North Port to the east.
The purpose of this 3000-mile (4800-km) navigation channel from Boston, Massachusetts to Galveston, Texas is 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 the Venetian Waterway Park with bike/walking paths, boat ramps and picnic tables.
The first grand boulevard to be laid out in Venice’s 1926 master plan, Venice Avenue 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 historic heart of the city, with shops, restaurants, parks. The Venice Avenue drawbridge joins Venice Island and the “mainland” to the east across the Intracoastal Waterway.
West Venice Avenue between Tamiami Trail (US 41 Business) and Harbor Drive is the historic shopping and dining district. Venice City Hall, the US Post Office, several churches and parks are also here.
From Harbor Drive west to Venice Beach, West Venice Avenue is a broad, shady boulevard with a fine park-like mall running its length.
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 (KMI) and southern (Circus) drawbridges to Venice Island and passes through the historic center.
US 41 By-pass, lined with larger businesses, light industry 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.
Map of Venice Florida
Google Map of Venice. US 41 Bypass follows the Intracoastal Waterway which forms Venice Island.