Venice, also sometimes referred to as Venice Beach, is a district of Los Angeles in Southern California. Its colorful Boardwalk is a great scene: free, fun, and funky, making the "short list" of things to do in Los Angeles.
Venice was the creation and dream of one man, Abbot Kinney. Kinney was an investor who built a sort of recreation of Venice, Italy including a massive system of canals and a huge entertainment complex that opened in 1905 and became very popular.
The overly ambitious canals were mostly filled and made into streets in 1929. A few of the canals survive and are lined with funky, expensive, and architecturally diverse urban homes. A stroll along a couple of the remaining streets is a lesson in architectural eclecticism.
Kinney's huge Pacific Ocean Park entertainment complex survived until the mid-1960s, eventually succumbing to competition from Disneyland and others. The spirit of his seaside entertainment complex however, still pulses in Venice's captivating Boardwalk.
In the 1950s and '60s, Venice became a center for the Beat generation. There was an explosion of poetry and art. Major participants included Stuart Perkoff, John Thomas, Frank T. Rios, Tony Scibella, Lawrence Lipton, John Haag, Saul White, and Philomene Long. Jim Morrison of The Doors also lived in Venice and wrote much of his poetry and song lyrics here.
In the late '60s, Venice became a center for radical activism, including a Black Panther chapter, a Free Venice (from Los Angeles) movement and many other activities opposing various urban renewal plans. Venice, today, is a community in the throes of gentrification but maintains a strong identity and progressive political posture.
More than one hundred years after Kinney's debut, Venice remains unique and well worth the visit.
Driving from Los Angeles International Airport, take Lincoln Boulevard (CA-1) north and turn left on Venice Boulevard.
Taking a public bus from LAX to Venice is quite simple; take a free shuttle to the LAX Transit Center then board a #3 Santa Monica Blue Bus, north; ask for an interagency transfer. Get off at Washington Blvd. and at the NW corner of Lincoln and Washington take the Culver City Bus #1, west. Get off at Pacific and Windward; you are now in the heart of Venice Beach and Ocean Front Walk.
Venice itself is pretty much small enough to walk in, especially along the beach. You can hit more inland areas of Venice by car, bike, or on Metro bus lines.
- 1 Canals. Venice's canals (complete with ducks) are home to some of LA's most eclectic residential architecture. See tiny bohemian cottages next to million-dollar ultra-modern houses. The canal streets are between Washington Blvd. and Venice Blvd; park on Dell to access.
- 2 Abbot Kinney. The Abbot Kinney district (the area along Abbot Kinney Boulevard) runs for about 1.5 miles between Main St. and Washington Blvd. The area is a hotspot for artists and hipsters and includes numerous shops, restaurants and bars including several excellent art galleries, about a half-dozen interesting clothing boutiques and over a dozen cafes and eateries. Named for the developer who originally created the "Venice of America", the area holds an annual festival featuring music and art.
- 3 Ocean Front Walk (Venice Boardwalk Assc.) (between Washington Bvld. & Navy). Venice's Ocean Front Walk runs between Washington Blvd. to Navy. Along the walk you will find an assortment of retailers, from tourist souvenir shops, bike rental outlets, arts and crafts booths, restaurants and "snack shacks" for dishes from around the world to hot dogs and corn dogs, ice cream, coffees and smoothies. You'll find henna tattoo artists, chair massages practitioners, fortune tellers and more. Of course, sit at one of the ocean-side restaurants to watch the parade of people go by.
- 1 Venice Beach. One of the LA area's more popular beaches, including the infamous Muscle Beach which the city has set up as an outdoor weightlifting gym for the local hulks. People watching along Venice Beach is something to put on your "things to do before you die" list. Think of the scene as a Bohemian-Mardi Gras-Beach Blanket Bingo-Circus. If that doesn't make any sense, well neither does Venice and that's the charm. Every summer day and every weekend, join the parade of humanity strolling amongst amazing and bizarre street performers, obscenely bulging body builders (at Muscle Beach), eclectic shops and street vendors, panhandlers, and beautiful, scantily clad, people desperately seeking attention. Go ahead and stare at it all. That's the point. Walking is fine but if you like to bike there is a great path along the beach. There are many places to rent bikes. However, you cannot ride them on the pedestrian street. During the summer months Muscle Beach hosts various bodybuilding and figure contest, including the Venice Championships (Memorial Day Weekend and early September ) and Mr. & Ms. Muscle Beach (July 4th).
- 2 Venice Pier (End of Washington). Venice Pier offers parking, fishing and access to the beach below. Just before the Pier on Washington Blvd., there are numerous restaruants for fine dining or a quick bite, and great places for an evening of drinking. Plus, there are numerous shops for all your beach needs -- from swim suits and sunglasses, to sunscreen and sweatshirts.
- Venice Canal Holiday Boat Parade. usually the second Sunday of the month of December. Residents of the canals decorate small (and sometimes homemade), non-motorized boats and punt or row down the canals in their finest—and funnest—holiday decor, brilliantly lit and costumed. There is a flair for the dramatic, so expect to see anything from a floating Starship Enterprise to a Viking longboat traversing the narrow waterway.
- Venice Penguin Swim Club. Annually on January 1. The annual "Chilly" Swim is held at noon off the beach north of Venice Blvd. and south of Windward Ave.
- Venice Annual Art Walk. mid-May. Held in the Abbot Kinney area, and benefiting a local charity.
- 3 Venice Beach Music Festival, 1 Windward Ave (Windward Plaza Park). late August. A free, full-day festival featuring an electric variety of music performed on a beachfront stage.
- Abbot Kinney Blvd. Festival. end of September. Features food trucks, multiple music stages, local merchants, beer gardens, and plenty of rides and activities for kids.
Abbot Kinney Blvd. reflects the neighborhood's funky feel with eclectic shops, artist galleries, one-of-a-kind clothing and more. There are also many local artisans and craftsmen at Venice Beach along the Ocean Front Walk. Items range from tourist items, handmade jewelry, spoon art and bottle art (which is really cool) to bongs made out of beer cans.
- 1 Small World Books, 1407 Ocean Front Walk. 10AM–8PM daily. Medium-sized bookstore. Lots of interesting books, and the peace and quiet makes a nice break from the high-energy beach scene outside.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
|Mid-range||$10 - $20|
- 1 Jin Patisserie, 1202 Abbot Kinney Blvd, ☏ , [email protected]. Tu-Su 10:30AM-7PM. Abbot Kinney's exquisite tea garden and pastry shop resides right next to Aragon Ct. Jin offers an exceptional selection of teas and signature truffles, as well as a delectable food menu. The quaint spot is an ideal location for baby showers, bridal showers, and Mother's Day celebrations.
- 2 La Cabaña, 738 Rose Ave, ☏ . Open 11AM to 3AM daily. This easy-to-find Mexican restaurant is just west of Lincoln Blvd. Great food in large quantities. Burritos start at $4, with most other entrees priced between $6 and $12 and margaritas available for about $6 more.
- 3 Mao's Kitchen, 1512 Pacific Ave (Pacific and Windward), ☏ . 12:30PM-3:30PM,4:30PM-10PM. Serves Hunan cuisine.
- 4 C&O Trattoria, 31 Washington Blvd, ☏ . M-Th: Lunch served 11:30AM-3:30PM, Dinner served 3:30PM-10PM; F: Lunch served 11:30AM-3:30PM, Dinner served 3:30PM-11PM; Sat: Breakfast served 8AM-1:45PM, Lunch served noon-3:30PM, Dinner served 3:30PM-11PM; Sun: Breakfast served 8AM-1:45PM, Lunch served noon-3:30PM, Dinner served 3:30PM-10PM. Located right next to the beach and a short walk from the Venice Pier, C&O Trattoria is a popular spot for casual dining as well as large birthday parties. This Northern Italian seafood restaurant features an indoor seating area and a patio, with menu items available in either "individual" or "gargantuan" portions (for family-style meals). The wait staff is friendly, and every night during dinner hours, activity temporarily pauses for a restaurant-wide singalong of Dean Martin's "That's Amore," during which servers roam around and toast with the diners. The atmosphere is comfortable and fun, and their garlic balls are famous. Prices range from $5-10 for "individual" sized dinner antipasti to $15-20 for "gargantuan" sized entrees.
- 5 The Firehouse, 213 Rose Ave, ☏ . Built in a retired firehouse, this restaurant/bar offers all manner of breakfasts, sandwiches, and other meals from a "healthy" and "less healthy" set of menu selections. Weight lifters from Venice Beach gorge themselves on egg whites, chicken breasts, broccoli and tofu, while the rest of the population has a variety of sandwiches and breakfast items to choose from. The ambiance is fun, the food is decent, and prices are reasonable. $7-$15.
- 6 Hama Sushi, 213 Windward Ave, ☏ . M-Sa 4PM-10PM. The sushi is reasonably good and not outrageously priced, but the love-it-or-hate-it feature of this restaurant is the numerous screens scattered around the eating area showing everything from sports to 1950s surfer flicks. For some this provides a unique atmosphere, while those with attention deficit issues may not be able to focus on just one thing for days afterward. Happy hour daily from 4-7PM features $1 off drinks and a variety of menu items for $2-5.
- 1 Baja Cantina, 311 Washington Blvd (end of Washington, east of the Pier), ☏ , [email protected]. M-Th Noon-10PM, F Noon-1AM, Sa 10AM-1AM, Su 10AM-10PM. Tropical Mexican food with a great assortment of margaritas and other tropical drinks. Late night menu and drinks.
- 2 Cabo Cantina, 30 Washington Blvd (end of Washington, east of the Pier), ☏ . Su-Th 11:30AM-Midnight, F-Sa 11:30AM-1AM. Small but fun place; great assortment of tropical drinks, bar appetizers and during the summer months check by often to see their drink and meal specials. Indoor and outdoor seating.
- 3 Townhouse, 52 Winward Ave (located in the Venice Circle), ☏ . 5PM-2AM. A dive bar through and through. Though under new ownership, much of the old tradition, decor, and dankness remains. This is a good thing. This is the oldest continuously-running bar west of the Mississippi (it was a speakeasy during prohibition) and though never really a scene, it is nice place to stop off for a drink on a low-key night.
- 1 The Cadillac Hotel, 8 Dudley Ave (on Ocean Front Walk between Speedway Ave.), ☏ , [email protected]. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: Noon. The only hotel in Venice Beach located on the boardwalk on Ocean Front Walk and offering views of the Santa Monica Bay. $99-219.
- 2 Hotel Erwin, 1697 Pacific Ave (@ Windward and Pacific Ave), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Newly launched full service boutique hotel about 200 feet from the ocean in the heart of Venice Beach. Rooftop lounge called High with incredible panoramic views of the ocean and City of LA. Hotel has spacious rooms and 2 room suites, ideal for families. Many rooms have beautiful ocean views. Hotel has gated indoor parking.
- 3 The Inn at Venice Beach, 327 Washington Blvd, toll-free: , fax: . One block from the Venice Beach Boardwalk, adjacent to the world's largest man-made yacht marina. Has direct online reservations and special packages.
- 4 Venice Beach Hotel & Hostel, 1515 Pacific Ave (corner of Windward Ave.), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Private and shared rooms, housekeeping apartments, all with free internet.
- 5 Samesun Venice Beach, 25 Windwward Ave (located on Windward btwn Pacific Avenue and Speedway), ☏ , toll-free: . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. An affordable hostel with a central location $25-90.
- 6 Venice Beach Suites and Hotel, 1305 Ocean Front Walk, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Venice Beach Suites & Hotel offers fully furnished vacation/corporate suites in the heart of Venice Beach.
- 7 Venice Breeze Suites, 2 Breeze Ave (Located on the boardwalk, facing the beach), ☏ , [email protected]. Ocean front fully furnished vacation suites on Venice Boardwalk. Beautiful brick building has been remodeled retaining classic Venice Beach charm but with chic design and a variety of amenities. Full kitchens, bathrooms with rain showers, walnut floors, free WiFi, cable TV, parking and spectacular roof deck with BBQ and panoramic views across Los Angeles. Nightly, weekly, monthly rates available.
The following cities and neighborhoods share borders with Venice:
- Santa Monica - Venice's northern neighbor is another beach city that is slightly more touristy and features a fun and famous pier.
- Culver City - Located east of Venice, Culver City is the home of home of Sony Studios, and now has a number of very impressive restaurant options.
- West LA - The west side of the sprawling city of LA forms Venice's eastern neighbor, and is home to UCLA and the Getty Museum.
- Marina del Rey - Located south and east of Venice, the "marina of the king" is home to a vast number of restaurants and hotels, and while not as touristy as some of the neighboring beach cities is nonetheless a fun spot to spend an evening.
|Routes through Venice|
|Santa Barbara ← Santa Monica ←||N S||→ Marina del Rey → Long Beach|