Way Down Upon Myakka River…, or so the tune could go. The Myakka River is a winding, mysterious dark-water river that is designated as a “Wild and Scenic River,” only one of two rivers in the state with this distinction bestowed by the Florida State Legislature.
You can catch pristine nature and Florida wildlife anywhere along the 60-plus mile banks, spanning between the Hardee/Manatee County line and its eventual flow into Charlotte Harbor. Myakka State Park is a great way to enjoy the river, while hiking, biking, canoeing, picnicking and camping in historic cabins. But for a funky river hangout with a wild beat, a memorable way to experience the Myakka River is to stop in at Snook Haven, located off River Road in Venice.
Snook Haven is a restaurant with an Old-Florida setting that includes meandering oak trees that meet in the middle providing a natural canopy over a quaint restaurant. You can grab an order of scrumptious smoked wings, among a myriad of other tasty choices, including fresh fish, ribs, pulled pork, and a cold beer, and sit along the river enjoying the beautiful surroundings. If you’re into the craft beer craze, you will enjoy sipping on some of Florida’s finest. That alone would satisfy the requirements to be called a “cool water bar,” but there is much more to this place. A backbeat of the blues, provided by a variety of popular bands who fill the events calendar at the establishment, keeps you singing along to well-known standards with live bands most days of the week. A busy river tour boat keeps a steady supply of people waiting for the boat in your line of sight, so if people-watching is your thing, then this is the best atmosphere for that.
The lore of Snook Haven dates to the Prohibition Era where smugglers found favor with the location, set on a remote peninsula along the borders of the Myakka River. Years later, the movie, “Tarzan,” was filmed near Snook Haven and as you spend time there, images of young lads swinging from vine to vine in the trees up above are not difficult to visualize. Other uses of the facility included a risqué fishing camp developed by a wealthy entrepreneur for he and his buddies to enjoy. Today it is a popular venue to enjoy live music, eat gator bites, enjoy nature and see Florida for what our forefathers must have seen, in its rawest form, which is rather magical and timelessly beautiful. Throw your canoe on the back of the truck and feel free to drop it in along the banks of the river after you enjoy your meal. Snook Haven could be considered one of the coolest Sarasota County-owned facilities out there. Stop in and see how the Myakka River in Venice at Snook Haven is gathering a whole new generation of fans with an infusion of vintage funk and Old-Florida charm.
If you’d like more information on upcoming events at Snook Haven including a growing and popular Blues Festival, please visit their website at www.snookhaven.com
photos from Snook Haven Facebook page