When visiting Venice, most travelers will be wearing blinders to everything outside of the living museum that is "the city of canals." If old churches and squares and gondola rides are all you want to experience, then you need look no further than our Venice Culture page; if you think day trip escapes within a few hours that include skydiving, skiing, climbing, kayaking, biking, and much more deserve space in your itinerary, then read on.
For those who like a more extreme counterpoint to their leisurely piazza stops, there are two skydiving operations near Venice; Skydive Thiene has a drop zone to the northwest (past Padua) and Skydive Venice runs from the town of Santo Stino di Livenza to the northeast. If you want to maintain a high level of adventure that will also test your physical endurance, then a trip to the north of Lake Garda (equidistant between Milan and Venice) will allow the most intrepid rock climbers a challenge. The town of Arda and its sheer limestone cliffs are one of the foremost climbing destinations in Italy.
The Brenta Dolomites, an extension of the Alps, dominate the region of Trentino just to the north. This is a skier's paradise, with eight ski resorts (Madonna di Campidoglio and the resorts of the Val di Sole are spectacular) and access to the via ferrata, an incredible mountaineering trail with steel rungs built into the peaks to assist in their passage. A bit closer to Venice and somewhat less extreme as far as verticality is concerned, is the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park. This park, north on the A27, is a haven of wildflowers, mountain refuges, and transcendent landscape views. Head east from here for one of Italy's most fantastic rock formations, the three-pronged Tre Cima di Lavaredo. The adjacent Paternkofel/Monte Paterno provides a stellar hiking opportunity that also doubles as a high-endurance biking route (it's actually used in the end stage of the Giro d'Italia).
Then again, why test yourself against the elements if you're one to make leisure a central focus of your trip this time around? Venice's beach, simply called Lido, is a long and convenient stretch of sand that gets extremely busy during the summer months, as does the mainland Lido di Jesolo just to the north. A bit more off-the-beaten-path, but quite possibly more lovely are the coastal towns up the coast, Grado and Caorle. Both have clean, beautiful beaches and town centers worth exploring ; Grado is summer fun on a peninsular strip and Caorle boasts a city center anchored by a thousand year old bell tower. There isn't as much to do south along the coast, although kayaking and canoeing in the delta of the River Po is a viable alternative to roasting yourself on a beach.
For further information, browse our specific activity pages, travel videos, and much more; you'll find that there is so much more to do in proximity to Venice than you ever would have imagined.