Venice is a vibrant area in Southern California with a tradition towards creative and artistic progression. In the 50s and 60s, it was a hangout for the Beat generation who were into poetry and art. It continues to be a center of social change with prominent residents. It is renowned for its canals, beaches, street performers and funky atmosphere. It stands as an important tourist attraction in Southern California.
Getting there and around
Catch a flight to Los Angeles International Airport if you’re coming from outside the country. Then, drive down to Venice or take a public bus which is conveniently numbered for its route.
Venice proper is convenient to walk around in although for inland areas you will need to take a car, hop onto a metro bus or cycle.
Fun things to do
1. Venice Boardwalk
The Venice Boardwalk stretches for about a half mile on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. On any given day, you will find hundreds of street vendors and performers doing what they do best – break dancing, broken glass walking, juggling, miming and singing. It is a virtual carnival arena. There are shops selling various items and, of course, plenty of restaurants and bars to slip into and enjoy a drink.
2. Muscle Beach
Muscle Beach is the favorite outdoor gym for body builders. Competitions are also held where you can sit and watch contestants battle it out.
3. Venice Canals
Originally conceived along the lines of Venice, Italy, in 1904, Venice Canals opened in 1905 for public pleasure. Later, with the coming of the motor age, it was more feasible to fill up most of the canals by converting them into roads. Six of the remaining canals became home to beatniks, artists and hippies in the 60s. In the 1970s, it became the venue for the Linnie Canal Downwind Boat Races. In later years, houses alongside the canals were rebuilt and new homes of the affluent came up on vacant lots.
4. Venice Beach Graffiti Walls
Artists with valid permits are invited to paint on the walls of Venice Beach. The ICU Art, an arts organization, manages and preserves the walls. The works are of high quality and boast artistic flair. Watch the artists at work on selected weekends.
5. Abbot Kinney Blvd
Abbot Kinney is a hub of action, lined with trendy boutiques, sidewalk cafes, bars and classy restaurants. It is, perhaps, the most lovable stretch in Venice catering to people of all age groups. It is located a few blocks from the waterfront.
6. Venice Breakwater
You’ll find several great breaks here for surfing. You can also get surfing lessons or go in for short boarding.
7. Venice Pier
With parking, fishing and access to the beach below, this pier has numerous restaurants, bars and shops.
8. The Venice Beach Recreation Center
The center is located near the ocean front walk and the bike path with facilities like basketball courts, gymnastics, volleyball court, tennis court and handball courts. It also has a new and sophisticated skate park.
Where to stay
1. Hotel Erwin
A service boutique hotel on Venice Beach, Hotel Erwin has spacious rooms and a fantastic view of the ocean.
2. The Inn at Venice Beach
Located adjacent to the Yacht marina with special packages, The Inn has all the basic amenities needed for a comfortable stay.
3. Venice Breeze Suites
With a view of the ocean front on Venice Boardwalk, Venice Breeze Suites has nightly, weekly and monthly rates available.
4. The Cadillac Hotel
The rooms here have good views of Santa Monica Bay. Located on the boardwalk on the ocean front, it is ideally situated.
5. Venice Beach Hotel and Hostel
Venice Beach Hotel and Hostel is on Pacific Avenue. You can choose from private, shared rooms and housekeeping apartments.
Where to eat
1. Jin Patisserie
Located on Abbot Kinney Blvd, this is a budget tea and pastry shop that serves a delectable food menu.
2. C&O Trattorio
An Italian restaurant located a short distance from the Venice Pier, it is popular with a casually comfortable atmosphere. It serves seafood with a superb menu selection.
3. The Firehouse
The Firehouse, situated on Rose Avenue, has good ambiance and food choices ranging from breakfasts, sandwiches and other meals.
On Abbot Kinney Blvd, Joe’s is a gourmet California/French cuisine restaurant. There is an excellent and extensive wine list as well.
5. Wabi Sabi
Also on Abbot Kinney Blvd, Wabi Sabi offers good sushi and Asian fusion cuisine.
There is no dearth of fun at night in Venice with the Sunset Party on the beach and plenty of music, drinks and dancing. You could also try out The Circle Bar on main street, The Otheroom and The Brig which are all centrally located.