Venice located in the northwest of Los Angeles, between Santa Monica and LAX Airport, is world famous. Featured in TV series, and movies such as White Men Can't Jump, Baywatch, Nightcrawler, American History X and A Nightmare on Elm Street and it ranks high among the places people will want to visit when they come to LA.
For most people not from here, the beach promenade board walk is what draws them to Venice and also what they believe IS Venice.
Admittedly, Venice Beach is the heart of the neighborhood. A bustling stretch right along the beautiful beach, here is where you will find souvenir shops, restaurants, bars, and flashy eccentric personalities, performers, local artists selling their works, and the occasional local jogger just minding his/her business.
Expect a man with a yellow snake wrapped around his neck, next to a teenager rapping to a beat playing from a small portable speaker. Walk a little bit further down and you can take a photo of a huge sculpture made out of sand, get a temporary tattoo or eat some soft-serve ice cream.
Here in Venice, people-watching is probably my favorite thing to do!
Muscle Beach & Skatepark & Basketball:
Speaking of people-watching, how about spying on some muscular bodies working out under the sun and blue sky. “Muscle Beach” is basically a public outdoor gym, which is – just in case you are thinking, ‘great, maybe I’ll use its facilities’ – usually frequented by bodybuilders.
The area was newly renovated in 2019, so yes, if you like to have an audience of spectators while you lift weights and do pull-ups, notably among the crème de la crème of gym rats – come through.
For more fast-paced action check out the skatepark, where you will find a mix of amateur skaters, but also, quite regularly, highly-skilled pros who can do all kinds of tricks. The Pacific is right behind the skatepark which allows for some cool shots, imagine a skater jumping high with the sun setting behind him/her.
The basketball courts are also super fun, to just hang around or to PLAY. And yes you have seen them in the movie White Men Can't Jump.
But Why Is the City Called VENICE Beach?
Venice Canals: To the east, just a few blocks away from Venice Boulevard, you can explore the last remains of the part of Venice, that after its opening in 1905, was supposed to mimic the city we all know well – Venice, Italy. They even brought in gondoliers! A wealthy cigarette manufacturer, Mr. Abbot Kinney, conceptualized and funded the canal system that encompassed around 16 miles of waterways.
As more and more people owned automobiles by 1929, more than three quarters of the canals were filled in with concrete to build streets and the remaining canals decayed in the 1940s, because of general neglect.
In the 1950s, Hippies and Bohemians started settling in the area, and built an artist colony, with iconic large scale trompe-l’oeil and psychedelic murals. Among the locals around that time was Jim Morrison from “The Doors.”
Venice Beach still has the reputation and the flair of an alternative artsy neighborhood, but the rents and house prices have skyrocketed in the last decade. People blamed tech companies like Snapchat for driving up the prices.
It took the city until 1993 to step up to save the canals: 6 of the original canals were restored, 14 pedestrian bridges cross over them. The city renovated the area, and turned it into the quaint historic district it is today. A picturesque enclave, with an interesting, usually modernist, architecture, beautiful flowers and towering palm trees.
Wherever you turn your head and look, you will want to take a picture. Depending on the time of the day, the water reflects the light differently, and depending on the season, the houses and their front yards and gardens right by the water, will be decorated accordingly.
Going for a walk in the historic district is really recommendable, it’s a unique and intimate feel; a romantic escape close to the beach and the ocean.
The street that was named after the brain behind much of what sparked the buzz and craze about Venice in the first place, namely Abbot Kinney, has now become a tourist attraction in its own right.
Matcha, vegan burgers, boutique designers and very ‘instagrammable’ murals; it’s a lot of fun and it doesn’t really get old just like the beach front.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Abbot Kinney is a lively hip spot, where you can get a new pair of Birkenstocks and a fancy cup of pour-over coffee or just drink a beer on a cozy plant-overgrown patio.
Cafes you should definitely check out in Venice are Great White (right next to the venice street light sign), Deus Ex Machina, Intelligentsia, Dogtown Coffee, Menotti's Coffee Stop and Flowerboy Project.
You might think, hey, this is way too touristy for me, I’ll check out another beach. But before you miss out on Venice, just know that, even people who have been born and raised in Los Angeles, and have spent most of their life in the city, they go and visit, too! It’s really for everyone ☺