Best camping near Sarasota: Camp Venice on Myakka River

Camper paddles the inlet at Camp Venice
Camper paddles the inlet at Camp Venice near Sarasota

~ When Kathy and I travel around Florida in our RV, we gravitate towards state parks to find solitude in a natural Florida environment. There are private campgrounds that offer that kind of ambiance as well, but they are few and far between. Too often, you feel like you are staying in a trailer park with one RV park on top of another.

So you can imagine our joy when we occasionally find a private campground that embraces the authentic Florida. Such has been our experience at Camp Venice, a tree-shaded, privately owned campground nestled in oak hammocks on the banks of the Myakka River.

We take an RV camping trip every February with friends from upstate New York every. We’ve been doing it for more than 10 years with an emphasis on state parks, and every year we face the crap shoot to reserve a campsite at 8 a.m. exactly 11 months before the desired date.

No problem at Camp Venice. Campers get first dibs on booking the same days for the following year.

There are more than 100 sites with full hook-ups available for RVs at Camp Venice, including 19 directly on the water for an easy launch into the river. If you don’t get a waterfront site, no worries: there is a boat ramp where you can leave your yaks.

During the winter months, the snowbirds bring their tote-a-boats, small fold-up boats with small engines. These boats are excellent for use in the river, especially for fishing, and the make a good alternative for those who don’t like to paddle.

A special area of the campground is set aside for tent campers. Those sites also have easy access to the river from the inlet. Most of the tent sites are shaded by huge spreading oak trees clustered in a circle or along the riverbank. There are also three sleeping cabins available for rent.

Although not a challenging hike, the owners have created a nature trail that goes out to and along the Myakka, perfect for an after-dinner or breakfast walk.

Facilities include a heated swimming pool, laundromat, community room with arts and crafts programs in winter and a small store in the campground office with essential supplies.

Paddling past the Snook Nook on the Myakka River
Paddling past the Snook Nook on the Myakka River near Sarasota.

Next door to the campground is a popular riverfront fish shack called the “Snook Haven” which features banjo bands, barbershop quartets, country music and an occasional Elvis impersonator ever day of the week in winter. Under new management, the Snook Nook is on the banks of the Myakka with a beautiful view of the river.

A new Publix Supermarket opened this year just a couple of miles east on Venice Avenue.

Getting there: Camp Venice is located at the east end of Venice Avenue, just off the River Road, less than a mile south of Exit 191 on Interstate 75. The road going back to the campground is a well-maintained sand surface, and it is shared with a few homeowners and the Snook Nook riverfront restaurant. You can’t miss the Snook Nook signs.

Camp Venice Retreat

Camping at Myakka River State Park

An excellent camping option nearby is at Myakka River State Park. Here’s a Florida Rambler article about the campgrounds in Myakka park.

Whether you camp at the park or at Camp Venice, you’ll want to visit Myakka River State Park, one of the biggest, oldest and some say best parks in the Florida system. Here’s a Florida Rambler story about visiting Myakka.

Related articles on Florida Rambler


  1. Avatar

    One things to note, lots of gators. Beautiful area with swamp and grassy areas. Very nice staff and the canopy walk is unbelievable!

  2. Avatar

    Live oak HAMMOCKS?????

    I have heard of tree CANOPIES before, but not HAMMOCKS…

    • Bob Rountree
      Bob Rountree

      Understandable. When I first moved to Florida, I didn’t know, either.

      A hammock is a grove of trees on “high” ground, which actually may be just a few inches above adjacent water levels. It’s most commonly applied to a stand of trees on “islands” within a wetlands area, of which there are many in subtropical Florida.

      To visualize…. As you drive across the state, you’ll see broad prairies of grass with a patchwork of dense tree “islands.” Those are hammocks. Most of those prairies are actually wetlands, often used as pasture during dry periods, and the tree hammocks are on mounds.

      The term is unique to the subtropics.

      A canopy is the branch spread from those trees.

  3. Avatar

    Based on this Florida Rambler article our family camped here with two other families March 2011. It was an amazing place! Old Florida at its best. The facility is run by a very friendly staff that keeps the grounds and facilities very clean. A heated pool was an extra treat! And the river is full of beautiful scenery and wildlife. People were catching large Tilapia right across from our campsite and sharing them with a resident hawk. Great memories! Thank you Florida Rambler!


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