Just west of Los Angeles on the Santa Monica Bay, lies Venice Beach, home to artists, rollerskaters in bikinis, muscle men and those interesting looking people in long, flowing robes. Did I forget the belly dancers? This is one fun beach the is an epicenter of culture and quasi-culture, with people trying to introduce everything from a “look” to a celebration of whatever is on their mind that week.
Venice Beach is exciting all year round, but most busy in the summer months. Because of the ice cold Arctic flow from the north that hugs the shoreline, if you get here real early, there may be some eerie fog. It burns off as the sun comes up and just makes the place that much more magical. But try to come on a weekday and you’ll find room for parking, room at the beach, and the crazy, amazing spectacle that each person brings here in the form of their own creativity and expression.
We’ll be breaking out specific parts of Venice Beach by themselves, since there are areas here which deserve their own report, but for now know that when you come here you’ll have lots to see. Specifically:
The Venice Boardwalk, which you’ve probably seen on TV or in movies, is a sidewalk, really, and not made of boards. This is our recommended way to see the beach and what’s happening around the Venice Beach area. Here is where the street performers are doing their acts that pretty much awe and entertain. You’ll also find the skater girls (and guys) and other artists that hang out. Look out for the vendors which will have spread a place on the sidewalk selling everything from perfumed soaps to incense.
Muscle Beach is another famous part of Venice Beach because it was here that Arnold Schwarzenegger and many other famous bodybuilders bulked up right outside on the beach. So popular that today you actually have to buy a day pass at the beach administration office to be able to take your day pumping iron at Muscle Beach.
If you’re spending some time in the area, we recommend a trip out to see the Venice Canals, some 16 miles of man-made waterways that were once a part of Venice-of-America way back in 1905. A developer named Abbot Kinney thought it would be super cool to have canals and homes and for a small part, he was right. Worth a look, the canals go from Washington all the way to Ocean Avenue.
You’ve probably seen the graffiti walls in commercials and they are right here at Venice Beach as well. Graffiti artists actually get permits to paint the walls which are astounding, and show the area’s artistic flair. Artists are not here every weekend, but you’ll probably stumble on one working there if you make the effort to come out. The art walls are located right on the beach north of where Venice Boulevard meets the beach. You’ll see them from a distance.
Venice Beach House is found here and is a great stop if you’re into architecture at all. Frank Gehry is the architect and the city keeps us on our toes as to how the house may be painted each year. Walk or drive by; it’s interesting to say the least.
Locals say the best meals in the area are around the Abbot Kinney Boulevard area. It’s up a few blocks from Venice Beach, but worth the detour. Granted, Venice Beach has its own flavors of restaurants, but Abbot Kinney Boulevard has the best. If fact, after you eat, tour the area on foot to see the fun and funky shops that carry everything from Havaiana flip flops to mementos for you home.
– Tan sand, very sandy-like, fine
– If you like the street performers, tip them!
– Parking is a premium, arrive early on a weekday
– South of the main beach is quieter
– Los Angeles Triathlon starts here in early October