Ravaged by Hurricane Ian in 2022 and flooded by Idalia’s storm surge in 2023, Camp Venice has seen its share of setbacks.
But all is well. Recovery has arrived.
This shady, private campground on the unspoiled banks of the scenic Myakka River looks better than ever.
We love this campground and have returned many times over the past 20 years, most recently in November (2023). The weather was perfect.
Why we like Camp Venice
Over the years, my wife and I gravitate to the natural, authentic Florida on our camping adventures, and that usually means state parks or our national parks and forests.
Camp Venice is one of a few private campgrounds in Florida that passes our test.
Nestled in a mature hammock of live oaks and blessed with lush palms, Camp Venice is on the wild and scenic Myakka River with 19 spacious riverfront RV sites (Sites 1-19) and include full hookups, plenty of breathing room and easy access to launch a canoe, kayak or paddle board from your back yard.
There are 8 riverfront tent sites, three of which (Sites 27-29) are listed for small trailers, but in reality won’t accommodate much more than a camper van or pop-up tent trailer.
Another 93 interior RV sites are scattered among the oak trees, including two dozen owner-occupied park models in the outer ring. The rest are available for daily, weekly and monthly rentals.
Interior sites have access to a paved boat ramp with grass shoulders, where you’ll find a small fleet of portable tote-a-boats and kayaks during the busy winter months.
A new public boat ramp is also available in a county park across from the entrance to Camp Venice, and another boat ramp is next door at Snook Haven, where you can rent kayaks from the concession.
Scroll lower in the story for the highlighted box with camping rates and links to the reservations page.
Campground facilities include a heated swimming pool, laundry, community room with arts and crafts programs in winter.
Although not a challenging hike, the property has a nature trail that goes out to the main river, perfect for an after-dinner or breakfast walk.
The main attraction of Camp Venice, at least for us, is the beautiful Myakka River, a state-designated wild and scenic river bustling with wildlife.
The closest supermarket is a Publix, 5 miles west of Camp Venice on Venice Avenue. However, rapid development along nearby River Road will likely yield something closer. It also appears likely there will soon be a convenience store and gas station at the corner of River Road and East Venice Avenue, near the campground.
Camp Venice, 4085 East Venice Avenue, Venice, FL 34292. Winter season rate for riverfront RV sites is $110 per night (plus tax), while interior sites run $85 to $97. Primitive tent sites are $50. After May 1, the rates drop to $85 for riverfront and $78 for interior sites. Email: [email protected] Phone: (941) 488-0850. Reservations can now be made online at campspot.com/book/venicecampground
Getting there: Camp Venice is on the east end of East Venice Avenue, just off River Road, a quarter-mile south of Interstate 75 Exit 191. East Venice Avenue is roughly paved, though better than in past years. Big rigs should watch for low branches. The “Camp Venice” sign at the end of Venice Avenue will direct you into the campground. Past the sign, you’ll be in Snook Nook County Park.
Things to do near Camp Venice
Snook Haven Park & Restaurant
Next door to Camp Venice
Next door to the campground is a popular riverfront fish shack Snook Haven, which was forced to shut down for three months for renovations after 2022’s Hurricane Ian.
Like Camp Venice, the restaurant was submerged in several feet of water for two weeks when the Myakka River overran its banks. And like Camp Venice, it’s back in business.
Snook Haven is iconic. It’s colorful history dates back to Prohibition, when smugglers used it as an inland distribution point for illegal liquor transported up the Myakka River from the Gulf of Mexico.
During the 1930s, the location was discovered by Hollywood to provide jungle scenes in multiple movies, and it became the base location for 1938’s “Tarzan’s Revenge.”
The property was purchased by Sarasota County in 2008, the restaurant revived and a public park developed around it.
The restaurant still has its ‘s classic “Old Florida” menu features BBQ, catfish, Gator bites and fried green tomatoes, and entertainment is offered on its outdoor even stage 5 days per week in winter (Wednesday through Sunday.)
Myakka River Tours
Snook Haven Park
River tours aboard a 40-foot pontoon boat are offered out of Snook Haven Park, adjacent to Camp Venice, three times daily on weekends and twice daily, Wednesday to Friday from November through May,. The one-hour tour is $25 for adults ($15 for children). Credit cards are not accepted. Cash or check only. Reservations are suggested on weekends. For reservations, call (941) 875-2070. Web site: loganrivertours
7 miles west of Camp Venice on Venice Avenue
The multi-use Legacy Trail offers a smooth, paved bicycle trail through great scenery with interesting signage highlighting local history. At the Venice Train Depot, it connects with the Venetian Waterways Park Trail, offering a continuous 30-mile ride. Going north from the train depot, the trail tracks through suburban back yards, Oscar Scherer State Park and scenic farmlands. Read more: The Legacy Trail
8 miles west of Camp Venice on East Venice Avenue
Venice’s fabulous beaches are curators of history, a gold mine of sharks’ teeth floating up in the sands of time. Everywhere you look, you’ll see people with their heads bowed, combing the surf line in search of these ancient souvenirs. Venice calls itself the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World.” Read more: Sands of time: Discover the beaches of Venice
Clyde Butcher’s Venice Gallery
7 miles west of Camp Venice off East Venice Ave on Warfield Ave.
Renowned Everglades photographer Clyde Butcher’s Big Cypress studio in Ochopee is well-known. Not as well-known, his Venice gallery is home to his 2,000-square-foot large-format darkroom where he produces original prints. Clyde’s photographs and books are on display and for purchase, and his darkroom may be available for viewing. The gallery is in an indescript industrial park off Venice Avenue at 237 Warfield Ave. Call 941-486-0811 for information and schedules of darkroom tours. Clyde’s web site: clydebutcher.com
Historic Downtown Venice
8 miles west of Camp Venice on East Venice Avenue
Buildings and homes in the Venetian style line the boulevards of this carefully planned city, built in the 1920’s by a railroad union seeking investments for its members. To get the most out of your visit, bring your bicycle and casually tour the side streets. In the center of town, around Centennial Park, are shops, galleries and restaurants.
You might like to read: 5 things to do near Venice
Warm Mineral Springs
9 miles southeast of Camp Venice via River Road and U.S. 41 east.
The only warm-water spring in Florida attracts thousands of visitors every year to experience its healing powers. The spring is said to have one of the highest mineral contents of any natural spring in the United States, and its appeal has been a major draw for eastern Europeans who have settled here, notably Ukranians. Once a private attraction, the spring is now owned and managed as a Sarasota County public park, where you’ll witness a continuously moving circle of pilgrims soaking in it’s 85-degree waters. Web site: www.northportfl.gov
Oscar Scherer State Park
12 miles northwest of Camp Venice via Venice Ave. and north on U.S. 41
Tucked into the urban sprawl along Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41), Oscar Scherer State Park is a 1400-acre wilderness with a 104-site campground, paddle trails for canoe and kayak, a freshwater swimming lake and 15 miles of off-road trails for hikers and mountain bikes, including access to the Legacy Trail linking Venice to Sarasota. Related story: Coastal oasis with camping, paddling, bike trail
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Bob Rountree is a beach bum, angler and camper who has explored Florida for decades. No adventure is complete without a scenic paddle trail or unpaved road to nowhere. Bob co-founded FloridaRambler.com with fellow journalist Bonnie Gross 14 years ago.