Located about halfway between Tampa and Fort Meyers, Venice is a friendly little coastal community along the Gulf of Mexico. Venice vacation rentals are available to rent along the beach with more accommodations a few blocks away. On a beach vacation, your family will pass many fun-filled days playing in the warm waters of the Gulf, building sandcastles, and soaking up the sun. While traveling with kids, you always want to make sure that you have a few activities waiting in the wings for a rainy day or bored children wanting something else to do. Here’s a cheat sheet of the top 12 things to do with kids in Venice.

1. Venice Beach Jetty

Pack your fishing gear and binoculars before leaving your vacation rental for an afternoon on the Venice Beach jetty. After you arrive, settle your kids on a rock and help them bait their hooks. Spend a day fishing, and use the binoculars to spot some dolphins playing in the warm waters of the Gulf. Bring a cooler with you and you can take home any fish you don’t throw back for a fresh seafood meal.

2. Find an Antique or Vintage Item

For one weekend each month, Venice Mercato comes to life and opens to the public. At this furniture store, find things you never knew you needed. In addition to furniture, browse vintage decorative items for your home, such as pages from an old Audubon book mounted to reclaimed wood. Your kids are sure to love the idea of hunting for an unknown treasure that they might find.

3. South Venice Beach Ferry

Take your kids on a short ferry ride on the South Venice Beach Ferry that leaves about every half an hour to visit South Venice Beach. Grab a seat on the upper deck to get the best views and fresh sea air. After arriving at South Venice, you can hike around this little piece of land that’s only accessible by water and enjoy its pristine white sand and unspoiled nature.

4. Art Walk

Okay, so there isn’t an organized art walk in Venice, but there are tons of street art, street artists, and art galleries. Put on a good pair of walking shoes and hit the city streets looking for your favorite works of art. You and the kids can create a rating system and take pictures of your favorite works. This art can be anything from sand sculptures close to the beach to chalk images on the sidewalks.

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5. Venice Museum and Archives

On a rainy afternoon, get out of your vacation rental and take the family to the Venice Museum and Archives to learn a little more about the local history. This small museum offers free admission and some cool artifacts and fossils to keep your little ones interested during a short visit. Your little fishermen and women will love looking at the vintage photos of people holding up the fish they caught.

6. Find a Shark’s Tooth

In almost all the Venice souvenir shops, you’ll find a shark’s tooth necklace for sale. However, on Caspersen Beach, an afternoon of snorkeling will almost certainly turn up a couple of shark’s teeth that you can carry home. To improve your odds, stop by one of the stores to purchase a shark tooth sifter.

7. Take a Boat Tour

In the Myakka River State Park, your family can board a boat for a tour of the river. This is the state’s largest and oldest state park, and your family can enjoy some wildlife watching as the boat meanders down the river. See alligator, deer, and many bird species. This river runs through a variety of habitats, including wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands.

8. Go on a Safari Tour

From the middle of December until the end of May, your family can take a safari tram tour through the backcountry of the Myakka River State Park. You’ll get the chance to see deer, alligators, raccoons, eagles, hawks, and many other critters from the safety of your car and without the exertion of hiking. This is the perfect activity when traveling with smaller children.

9. Canopy Platform

Also in the Myakka River State Park, there is a canopy platform that takes your family above the trees. This wooden platform includes signs to let you know what you’re seeing. Although it doesn’t extend very far, it’s a great place to view the park from a new vantage point. Bring binoculars from your vacation rental to get a closer look at anything interesting.

10. Triangle Inn

Another rainy day attraction includes the Triangle Inn. This historic boarding home first opened its doors in 1927. You can wander through the large rooms and see what life was like at this earlier time in history.

11. Kayaking

Spend an afternoon out on the water on kayaks, or a canoe if you’re traveling with smaller kids, at the Oscar Scherer State Park. Start with the South Creek, a tidal blackwater stream that leads to the bay. Your family can bring your own kayaks from home and store them in the garage of your vacation rental or rent them from a local outfitter.

12. Venice Train Depot

At one time, Venice was the place that circus performers flocked to avoid the cold winters. At the Venice Train Depot, you can see the historic station where many circuses arrived and departed with performers, animals, and the building materials for the big tents.

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