The Perfect Destination for Bicyclists, Venice, Florida
Venice, Florida is a bicycle-friendly environment with plenty of bike trails throughout the area. The city offers a mix of parks, city bike riding and off-road biking. Since the weather is warm most of the year, it’s an ideal destination for bicyclists. Here is a guide for places to ride in this charming beach town. You can download some free maps as part of your planning.
Aside from the many cycling roads bordering the Gulf of Mexico coast, the city also offers lots of off-road biking opportunities, as well as parks and city riding. If you’re looking for just a day out, head to the coast to bike alongside the water; especially if you have limited time. Otherwise, spend the day exploring the many city roads and trails.
Choose which path you want to cycle. For example, MapMyRide.com suggests a beach loop that crosses through Brouhard Beach and Casperson Beach before turning towards the Venice Avenue shops. This long route is usually used by cycling aficionados. When choosing a route, go for a long one if you want a long, intense riding experience. Most of the cycling roads in Venice are paved and many are used by cyclists training for a race or looking for intense training. You’re in Florida, so don’t forget to lock up your bike as you travel from trail to trail. Also, don’t forget that in Florida a bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle. Bicyclists have the same rights to the roadways, and must obey the same traffic laws as a motorist. These laws include stopping for stop signs, obeying traffic signals, turning lanes, signaling a turn using the right signalling, etc.
Paved Scenic Trails
There are several places Downtown in which bikes share street lanes with drivers. Harbor Drive is a major street for bicycle riding, as it connects with many of the streets that lead to the beach, where there are opportunities to ride with an ocean view. The Venetian Waterway Trail will connect you with scenic destinations such as Brouhard Beach and Caspersen Beach. One of the best stops to start your trip is a 1911 train trestle over South Creek, the river that winds through Oscar Scherer State Park. If you ride south from the train station, you’ll soon find yourself on the Waterways Trail. This trail splits with one paved path on the west side of the Intracoastal Waterway and one bike path on the east side. The western route extends five miles to beautiful Casperson Beach, a public park. This stretch of beach is famous for its fossil shark’s teeth, with lots of beach-goers wandering the beach looking for shark teeth.
From Casperson Beach, you can explore beyond the trail by riding north to Brohard Beach, which should include a ride through the quiet and historic streets of Venice and its beautiful downtown.
Most of the bike trails in Venice are paved and often used by cyclists training for races. Tourists often choose longer beach loop trails to enjoy as much unique natural scenery as possible.
The Legacy Trail is a ten mile path between Venice and Sarasota. This private trail, surrounded by nature, passes through seven different access points including Oscar Scherer State Park. Some of the starting places for people to explore the trail are the Venetian Waterway Park and the Venice Train Depot. Rest areas with benches and restrooms can be found throughout the trail.
Both the Legacy Trail and Venetian Waterway Trail are open from sunrise to sunset. There are numerous benches on both trails with restrooms and parking at the trailheads. Don’t forget that these are multi-use trails, with bikers, joggers and walkers all sharing the same trail. The trail gets very busy during the winter season when tourists descend on the area.
One of the more enjoyable stretches of the trail system is from the Venice Train Depot north through Oscar Scherer Park. Round trip, this takes about 15 miles. You’ll find amazing scenery – over waterways and through undeveloped wood and wetlands.
The Legacy Trail was completed in the Fall of 2011 and encompasses several points of historic interest for bicyclists. The trail occupies the space formerly used by the CSX Railroad. It also follows tracks laid for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
While the Legacy Trail is used by many bikers every day, it is also shared with walkers, joggers, people on rollerblades and various forms of alternative transportation. It’s mainly a quiet place to enjoy nature until you cross Roberts Bay, which gives you the vibrant energy of city life. In the wilderness areas you will encounter the sounds of cardinals and mockingbirds. You may see turtles, snakes and black squirrels. In the streams that you cross you may see three foot crawfish.
Bike Rental Shops
If you happen to feel like riding in Venice but do not own a bike, you can either purchase or rent a bike from various bike shops. Florida Bike & Beach, Real Bikes and other businesses offers rentals, repairs and classes. Bicycles International sells and rents bikes and is located near the beach.
Popcycles — Publix Northridge Plaza, 5130 Palmer Plaza Blvd, Sarasota. 941-921-245. This shop is located in Palmer Ranch, near the north end of the Legacy Trail.
Siesta Sports Rentals — Southbridge Mall, 6551 Midnight Pass Rd, Siesta Key. 941 346 1797. Close to the north end of the Legacy Trail.
Siesta Key Bike and Kayak — Capt’n Curts Village, 1224 Old Stickney Point Road, Siesta Key. 941-346-0891. Near the north end of the Legacy Trail.
Real Bikes — 581 US Highway 41 Bypass North, Venice. 941-485-3113. Near the south end of the trail at the trail bridge over U.S. 41.
Bicycles International — 1744 S. Tamiami Trail (U.S 41), Venice. 941-497-1590. South of the southern trailhead for the Legacy Trail, close to the Venetian Waterway Trail.
Beach Bikes and Trikes — 941-412-3821. Mobile-only service with free delivery and pickup to residences, hotels or trail locations in Venice and Nokomis along the Venetian Waterway Trail and the south end of the Legacy Trail.