South Sarasota County offers beautiful, and less crowded beaches.
You know all about the No. 1 beach in the country, Siesta Key Beach, and the art and culture found in downtown Sarasota, but what about the lesser known southern part of Sarasota County? In South County, you'll find hidden treasures and an Old Florida feel. South Sarasota County's well-kept secrets are no longer confidential, as we share the top 50 things to do down yonder.
1. Search for sharks' teeth on Caspersen Beach. Venice is the sharks' teeth capital of the world and you'll find the best selection of prehistoric sharks' teeth on Caspersen's sands. It's also the longest beach in the county. Harbor Dr., Venice
2. Get some peace and quiet on Venice Beach. You'll also find sharks' teeth at Venice Municipal Beach, as well as a coral reef off its shore. Venice Ave., Venice.
3. Go golfing. Venice is known for its golf courses. Check out public championship courses like the Golf Club at Capri Isles and Calusa Lakes (both 18-hole courses) and Waterford Golf Club (27 holes). www.golfinvenice.com
5. Get a new 'do at James Griffith Salon. You'll get a much-needed pick-me-up at this glamorous salon's location on the island of Venice. 257 Tamiami Trl. S. Venice, www.jamesgriffithsalon.com
6. Soak away your worries at Warm Mineral Springs. The soothing 87 degree waters at Warm Mineral Springs in North Port refresh themselves every couple of hours. The spring's mineral-rich water is famous for its healing properties. 12200 San Servando Ave., North Port, www.warmmineralsprings.com
7. Go green at the Venice Farmers' Market. Peruse local produce, plants, baked goods and jewelry each Saturday from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. in Centennial Park. www.venicechamber.com
8. Bring your furry friend to Brohard Paw Park. The park has dog drinking fountains, dog showers and a beach area where dogs can roam free. 1600 Harbor Dr. S., Venice.
10. Stroll on or fish off the jetty at North Jetty Park. Enjoy breathtaking views and original settings for going fishing or just taking a walk on the beach. Casey Key Road, at the tip of Casey Key.
11. Surf at South Jetty. With the right conditions, it is indeed possible to surf on the west coast of Florida. South Jetty is a popular spot for surfers when the waves are crashing. Take Tarpon Center Drive into Humphris Park, Venice.
12. Get beer and bait. Fuel your adventure at the North Jetty Fish Camp. North Jetty Park.
13. Venture deep into South County at Blind Pass Beach. Located on Manasota Key just a mile north of the Charlotte County line, this quiet, narrow beach makes for a great Gulf view. Manasota Beach Road, two miles over the Manasota Bridge.
14. Get a piece at Clyde Butcher Art Gallery in Venice. Clyde Butcher is a renowned black and white photographer. http://www.clydebutcher.com/home.cfm
15. Shop, eat and explore at the Dome Flea Market in Venice. The air-conditioned flea market offers up gifts, souvenirs, fresh produce and seafood, Italian food and all sorts of bargains, with free parking and admission, right by the beach. http://www.thedomefleamarket.com/
16. Take in a play at Venice Little Theatre. The nationally recognized community theater offers performances in two theaters. Shows include Broadway musicals, dramas, comedies, cabarets and concerts. www.venicestage.com
17. Try to spot Stephen King, or at least his house, on Casey Key. The famous horror writer calls Casey Key home.
18. Dance the night away at Sharky's on the Pier. Located at Venice Fishing Pier, Sharky's is a lively spot for food, drinks, music and dancing. www.sharkysonthepier.com
19. Revisit history at Historic Spanish Point. The home of Bertha Palmer, Historic Spanish Point's museum and grounds allow visitors to relive the early pioneer lifestyle in Sarasota County. http://www.historicspanishpoint.org/
20. Attend the annual Shark's Tooth Festival. Find all the shark's teeth you need, as well as food and art vendors, each spring at Venice's famed festival. www.sharkstoothfest.com
21. Explore the Venice Historic District. Downtown Venice's historic district is home to several buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
22. Bring a picnic to Englewood Beach. While serene Englewood Beach, located on Manasota Key, doesn't have a concession stand, it has picnic tables and plenty of sand on which to spread your picnic blanket. Beach Road, right over the drawbridge.
23. Discover treasures on Stump Pass Beach. At the very end of Manasota Key, you'll find a small beach known for its fishing, sharks' teeth and shells. There is also a hiking trail at the park where visitors may spot all sorts of wildlife. Exit 191 off I-75; at the tip of Manasota Key.
25. Go antiquing in Venice. The Green Butterfly, Lucia's Antiques and Just About Antiques are all antique shops along Miami Avenue.
26. And in Nokomis. Elder's Antiques in Nokomis allows for shopping by appointment only. 901 S. Tamiami Trail, Nokomis.
27. Explore Dearborn Street. Englewood's Dearborn Street is home to Roaster's Coffee Bar at Village Gifts & Gallery. Peruse art and jewelry and even use their free WiFi. Englewoods on Dearborn brings food and music lovers together with its creative menu, live music and karaoke. The Elizabeth Bryant Gallery is also one of the street's artistic staples.
28. Get a taste of Italy at the Italian Festival. Venice's Italian-American Club holds an annual festival celebrating Italian food, music and beyond at the Venice Airport each February. www.italianamericanclubofvenice.com
29. Get crafty at Venice art festivals. Art shows and festivals take place annually in Venice. www.artfestival.com
30. Get tickets to the Venice Symphony. Take in an orchestra performance during your visit to South County. www.thevenicesymphony.org
31. Go green for St. Patrick's Day. Venice brings out the Irish spirit around St Patty's Day each year.
32. Hunt for eggs at the annual Easter Egg Hunt. An egg hunt takes place annually in Venice, adding some holiday spirit to the spring season.
33. Declare your independence during the Venice fireworks. Set off from the South Jetty by Venice Beach, you can see the fireworks from Venice, Nokomis Beach or a boat on the water. The show takes place every Independence Day after sunset.
34. Experience frights and delights at the Venice Halloween Parade. The annual Halloween event at Venice's Centennial Park features a costumed parade and trick-or-treating.
35. Dine on the Venice waterfront at the Crow's Nest. The Crow's Nest has been a local favorite for decades. Situated on the South Jetty, the restaurant not only has great food, but a beautiful view of the Intracoastal. www.crowsnest-venice.com
36. Bike along the Legacy Trail. Take advantage of one of Venice's bike trails. A relaxing way to exercise and see nature, biking is even more fun along the Legacy Trail, which extends from Sarasota to Venice. www.scgov.net/legacytrail
37. Take a drive. Sometimes the best way to see it all is from the air-conditioned comfort of your own vehicle. Drive across South County and take in the simple beauty in Osprey, Nokomis, Venice, Englewood and North Port. Don't forget to stop to explore along the way.
38. Check out the real estate. Locals and visitors alike often drive through Casey Key simply to marvel at the beauty of the expansive homes along the beach. Find beauty in homes of all shapes and sizes across South County. If you're thinking of making South County your home, contact a Realtor for a more productive and personalized tour.
39. Assess the school system. If you are considering a move to South County, there are several great schools for your children. Venice High School, Lemon Bay High School and Pine View School, a public school for the intellectually gifted, are all located in South County.
40. Go to college. State College of Florida, formerly Manatee Community College, has a Venice campus. www.scf.edu
41. Cheer on a high school sports team. Take in a Venice Indians football game! 1 Indian Ave., Venice, FL.
42. Wine and dine at Café Venice Restaurant and Wine Bar. Café Venice is a small bistro with a diverse selection of fine food and wine. www.cafeveniceontheisland.com
43. Go out to eat in Osprey. Morgan's Restaurant offers up outdoor dining and entertainment. www.bentleysresort.com
44. Stay at the Inn at the Beach. Located in Venice, there's a pool, beach access and waterfront views. www.innatthebeach.com
45. Get a villa on Venice Beach. Venice Beach Villas are close to downtown Venice and the beach. Studios and villas with one or two bedrooms are available. A pool, barbecue grills, free bikes and tennis and basketball courts are among the amenities. www.venicebeachvillas.com
46. Find your place in the sun in Englewood. A Place in the Sun offers vacation homes with private pools, as well as condos. Each is fully furnished and some offer golf and boating packages. www.placeinthesun.com
47. Stay on Casey Key Beach at the Beachcomber. The Beachcomber on Casey Key has an Old Florida feel and a Gulf view. www.beachcombercaseykey.com
48. Stay on Casey Key Beach at the Gulf Surf Resort. The Gulf Surf Resort is in the middle of five miles of private beach. The resort is pet friendly. www.gulfsurf.com
49. Stay on Casey Key Beach at A Beach Retreat on Casey Key. The resort sits on land stretching from the beach to the bay. Amenities include a fresh water pool and boat docks. www.abeachretreat.com
50. Stay informed. Peruse member listings and an extensive events calendar on the Sarasota Convention & Visitors Bureau website to learn more about South County and its fun, upcoming festivals, shows and other events. www.visitsarasota.org