If you haven’t had time for a summer vacation yet – or you just want to squeeze in another one — staying close to home is the way to go. There’s a reason tourists from all over the county flock to our area. We’ve got an array beautiful beaches right in our own backyard! If you want to maximize enjoyment while soak up some rays, check out this list of our favorite local beaches:

Caspersen Beach

Stretching south beyond the edge of Harbor Drive, Caspersen Beach runs over a mile and a half in length. Consistently ranked one of the top beaches in the nation, this location is a prime spot. While there’s free public parking, it tends to be crowded on weekends, so getting there early or visiting during the week is ideal. Looking for some adventure? Venture into Caspersen Park, a 177-acre nature trail that is a bit more secluded. On the east side of the park, there is a kayak launch that allows beachgoers access to the intracoastal waterway and Lemon Bay.

South Brohard Beach and Paw Park

This dog-friendly beach is located across for the municipal golf course on South Harbor Drive. If you want to bring Fido along, Paw Park is the place to do it! From a fenced in play area to a 100-yard dog beach section and doggie water fountains and showers, this beach truly caters to four-legged friends. Even better, if your furry companion is voice command trained, there’s no need for a leash. South of Paw Park, you’ll find a humans-only entrance with a boardwalk, benches, showers and picnic tables. This beach tends to be overlooked, so if you’re longing for a low-key, tranquil experience, look no further.

Brohard Beach and Fishing Pier

This beach is renowned for its 700-foot fishing pier. Sharky’s is the restaurant and tiki bar situated directly on the beach and offers gorgeous views, with some of the best seafood around! It is free to access the pier and a fishing license is not required. Bait and fishing gear can be purchased at Papa’s Bait Shop. Brohard Beach is also known for being home to many shark teeth hidden under the powdery sands. Parking is free and there are multiple beach access points off Harbor Drive.

Venice Municipal Beach

A multitude of sand dunes line this hidden gem. Venice Municipal Beach offers plenty of views of paradise, making it a fairly popular spot. Parking is limited, so plan your visit accordingly. Near the entrance pavilion there’s a restaurant, concession stand and restrooms. A quarter mile off shore a reef is located for scuba divers to enjoy. Another unique feature are the floating wheelchairs that recline and can be used on sand or in the water, making this beach accessible to all.

North Jetty Beach

One of the more family friendly beaches in the area, North Jetty Beach offers a variety of activities. While this one is located in Nokomis, it’s actually closer to downtown Venice than Caspersen or Brohard Beach. The nearby parking is both free and plentiful, which is fantastic for families with small children. This beach boasts a playground, volleyball courts, a bait shop, concession stands and of course, restrooms, showers and picnic tables. There’s also a launch area for kayaks, small boats and canoes that can access creeks, bays and the inlet to the Gulf. Fishing is convenient from both the jetty and shoreline. Dolphins frequent the inlet and waterways, which delight children and adults alike.

Nokomis Beach

Local teens and young adults flock to Nokomis Beach, particularly on the weekends. It can get crowded and parking is limited, so keep that in mind. This location is lined with vintage motels with plenty of character, history and charm. Running along the dunes are a boardwalk, pathways to the beach and picnic areas. Near the main entrance you’ll find restrooms with showers, and local businesses across the street that cater to beachgoers. The 22-acre beach park also offers a boat launch. If you are there Saturday around dusk, you’ll get to witness the drum circle, a primitive musical event that is not to be missed.

If you’re staying put this summer, the above beaches can help provide an abundance of excitement and joy. We bet the idea of a staycation just got better!