Venice Beach in Los Angeles

For the ultimate beach experience, Southern California’s Venice Beach is a culturally rich melting pot and world-famous tourist attraction.

Just under 30 minutes from LAX, this bohemian playground of fun includes a lively drum circle, a popular waterfront skate park, street performers, and fortune-tellers. You name it, Venice Beach has it!

Located in Los Angeles County this certified Blue Wave Beach resides between the famous Santa Monica Pier to the north and Marina Del Rey to the south. Venice Beach attracts visitors worldwide for its free-spirited seaside atmosphere, Venice-like canals, amusement pier, and legendary Ocean Front Promenade.

Similarly, the three-mile coastline of Venice Beach hosts numerous tourist hot spots like coffee bars, funky shops, posh art galleries, and street entertainment. The beach area buzzes with activities with the busiest stretch from Park Avenue to the north and Venice Boulevard to the south.

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The Los Angeles beach resort pays tribute to the Italian city of Venice, loaded with quaint canals, pizzerias, and bridges. Venice Beach features a pedestrian walkway, bike paths, children's playgrounds and beach volleyball.

Fun Fact: Venice is also a prime destination for the entertainment industry. Many film and television directors shoot scenes at the beach. In addition, Popular television shows like Three's Company and Baywatch were shot in Venice, as were films such as The Doors, American History X, Jackie Brown, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Xanadu, Get Shorty, Fletch, Chinatown, and horror classic, The Birds.

Venice Beach is now open, including all boardwalk stores and restaurants. Most of the shops open around 11:00 a.m. and close around sunset. The Venice Boardwalk closes nightly at midnight and reopens at 5:00 a.m. No dogs are allowed on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays between Memorial Day to Halloween.

Pro Tip: Venice Beach is safe to visit during daytime hours only. It's not recommended at night as the area is less trafficked and can be sketchy! With a history of criminal activity, it's best to be aware of your surroundings at all times.

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Venice Beach Boardwalk

With an estimated 30,000 tourists a day, and over ten million each year, the Venice Beach Boardwalk is the second most visited destination in Southern California. The Boardwalk extends along the paved two-mile Ocean Front Walk and bustles with bars, trendy restaurants, unique boutiques, and its own Venice Beach Recreation Center. Although it's referred to as a 'boardwalk,' the path is a concrete pathway that separates the sandy beachfront from the residential/business area. Known for its eccentric, quirky nature, the heartbeat of the Boardwalk features mimes, jugglers, psychics, and musicians.

Wide shot of the Venice Beach Boardwalk with people playing volleyball and skating at sunset near Los Angeles, California, USA5 of the Most Fun Things to Do at Venice Beach Boardwalk

  1. Since there's no shortage of free art, murals and sightseeing to do up and down the Boardwalk, grab your camera and start snapping!
  2. Explore the many Souvenir Shops: Here, you'll find artists selling their wares, specialty jewelry shops, clothing boutiques and a plethora of souvenir stores to bring something home to your family and friends.
  3. Check out the numerous street acts from jugglers, dancers, contortionists, poets and guitarists, all performing their hearts out for your enjoyment.
  4. Free Gym Equipment: Yes, you read that right, free! If you're missing your weekly exercise routine, have no fear, the beach has all your lifting needs. You can also run, walk, swim, surf or play some hoops.
  5. Segway down the Boardwalk: For an even more unique experience in this funky LA neighborhood, try the Venice Segway Rentals near the Skate Park. Experts will teach you how to ride before your self-guided beach tour.

Amazing Venice Beach Attractions

Venice Beach Activities

Beyond the obvious people-watching, scenic beach and mountain views here's a highlight list of Venice Beach featured destinations you don't want to miss!

  • Venice Beach Farmers Market: This open-air market is open on Fridays from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and offers an assortment of local vendors preparing delicious cheese and artisan food. Enjoy fresh, local organic vegetables, fruit, fish and homemade bread. The market also hosts local artists, live music and cooking demonstrations.

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  • The Old Venice Beach Pavilion: The beach's pavilion, built in 1964, is an iconic landmark that provides a shady spot for picnicking in a gorgeous beach setting.

Pro Tip: Personal fire pits or grills placed directly on the sand are prohibited. The best spots for bonfires are Dockweiler State Beach near El Segundo and Cabrillo Beach down in San Pedro.

  • Muscle Beach Venice Gym: This world-famous attraction hosts special events and tournaments, while the Venice Beach Recreation Center offers several activities that include basketball, volleyball, paddle tennis, and handball.

Fun Fact: Muscle Beach was once the stomping ground for famed actor and past California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

  • Venice Beach Fishing Pier: The 1,310-foot concrete pier resides on the south end of Venice Beach at Washington Boulevard. The renowned pier close to Santa Monica was once recognized as the best pier on the west coast. The popular fishing spot includes sand bass, yellowfin drum, and Atlantic mackerel.

Pro Tip: You do not need a fishing license to fish on the Venice Pier, even though a sports fishing license in California is required for anyone over 16 years old.

  • Venice Beach Skate Plaza: This world popular skate park was opened in 2009 by a group of local skaters. It's fun to watch these incredibly talented athletes!

Interesting Fact: In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, officials filled the skate park with sand to prevent citizens from using it.

 

  • Public Art & Venice Murals: Visitors may find numerous murals, sculptures, and public art sightings up and down the Boardwalk. There's the "Touch of Venice." The mural pays homage to the famous opening sequence in the 1958 classic film noir "Touch of Evil" directed by Orson Welles.

    Ground view looking up at a mural of historical figures at Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California, USA

    photo credit: Robby Virus via Flickr

  • Venice Beach Walking Tours: Promenade through the famous film locations of films like Spike Lee's White Men Can't Jump. Tours explore the Venice Beach Canals, which in 1982 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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  • Rent Bikes or Beach Cruisers: Soak up the sun as you coast down Venice's 22-mile Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail (that links Santa Monica to Torrance), and smell the Pacific Ocean's salty breeze.

Venice Beach Hot Spots to See

  • Abbot Kinney Boulevard: This mile-long lane, once named the coolest block in America by GQ," is lined with posh art galleries, upscale restaurants, and local pubs.
  • Mosaic Tile House: This tourist attraction perfectly captures the beautiful idyllic ambiance of Venice. Artists Cheri Pann and Gonzalo Duran transformed their live-work space into a colorful array of gorgeous tiles, stones and clay wares. The husband and wife team offer guided tours of their home, which also has a gift shop. The space is open on Saturdays from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Owners required reservations.
  • Pacific Resident Theatre: This intimate theatre run by local actors produces classic and new plays by emerging playwrights. Since 1985 the theatre has hosted a full calendar of shows and events. Pacific also features a young actors conservatory that offers acting classes.

Places to Eat & Shop in Venice

  • Friday Food Trucks: Check out Venice Beach special events like the first Friday of each month; food trucks cater to travelers offering fab beach fare and lively music.
  • Strange Invisible Perfumes: Choose from an assortment of hydro-distilled Eaux de toilettes.
  • All Things Fabulous: For dynamic loungewear that is both comfy and eye-catching, stop by this shop for the hippest pajamas on the coast.
  • Urbanic Paper Boutique: Calling all romantics! This chic boutique is a writer's haven with custom stationery, pens and paper.
  • Hinano Café: This fab eatery offers pub fare like burgers and beer. Hinano opened in 1962 and attracted legends like Jim Morrison of the Doors.
  • High Rooftop Lounge: For a spectacular panoramic view of the Venice skyline, you must check out the Rooftop for the boho ambiance and specialty cocktails.
  • Felix Trattoria on Abbot Kenney Boulevard features delicious handmade pasta and antipasti. Chef Evan Funke prepares everything in a glass-enclosed air-conditioned space so patrons can watch their meal as it's made.

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  • Small World Books: This little shop has showcased local authors with many hard-to-find independent imprints for over five decades. It's a book lover must-see destination!
  • Electric Lodge Performing Arts Center: This fab performing arts center offers a black box theater, dance studio, commercial kitchen, and rehearsal space. The Lodge produces various venues and hosts special workshops on acting and self-empowerment. Lodge classes include dance, music, and art—the lobby seconds as a posh gallery space featuring art exhibits and displays. Guests are welcome to explore the area, watch shows or participate in-class workshops.
  • Menotti's: This hot spot is great to grab a cup of java and pastry before taking a stroll along the scenic Venice byway. The café is a popular gathering spot with breathtaking vistas. Menotti's unique menu includes local favorites like its avocado-poached eggs.
  • ChocoVivo is an eco-friendly chocolate super-store and café that offers impressive dark chocolate products produced at its own plantation and roastery. ChocoVivo chocolate is stone-ground and only comes in dark chocolate without additional additives like milk powder, soy or cacao butter.
  • Superba Food & Bread: This boho-chic café serves Southern California dishes specializing in fresh homemade bread and baked goods. The breakfast menu offers their special avocado toast made of rip California avocados, spicy radish sprouts and organic olive oil. Other items include a tasty black rice salad with pineapples, cauliflower, and cashews.

Venice Beach Parking

Free street parking in the neighborhood is limited. Venice Beach has three large pay parking lots at both ends of the Boardwalk with over 1,200 spaces. Additional smaller pay parking lots run throughout the neighborhood with an expanse of lesser pricy parking areas inland, between North Venice and South Venice Boulevard.

Pro Tip: On Windward Avenue, street parking may look free, but there's a central meter on each side of the street to pay for the numbered spots with a one-hour time limit.

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Venice Beach Backstory

Originally called the "Venice of America," the Venice neighborhood began as a seaside resort town. Entrepreneur Abbot Kinney developed the area in 1905 for its quaint waterways and unique beach cottages.

Kinney won the marshy land in a coin toss and then marketed the area to assimilate its namesake Italian city. He built a system of canals, which, unfortunately, only a few of the original have survived. Kinney hired artist Fex Peano to design the buildings with Venetian architecture, adding gondola rides through the canals. Kinney built a 1,200-foot long pier, then added an auditorium, dance hall, restaurants and cottages to rent. The area drew around 100,000 tourists on weekends, and its popularity grew to 10,000 residents. Now Venice covers an area of 3.1 square miles with a population of over 40,885 people.

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Venice Beach Legacy

By 1910, the area became more amusement-driven with several rides, game booths, an aquarium, Racing Derby, and Venice Miniature Railway. The pier burned in the 1920s, and after Prohibition was re-built to compete with neighboring piers. It reopened with two roller coasters, a Fun House and more rides. Today the Venice Canal Historic District is a charming place to stroll through with its European flair and vibe. In the 1930s, developers began producing oil, which caused issues with the canals. In the 1950s, the area became undesirable due to misuse and neglect.

Other Venice Beaches

Other famous Venice beaches include Fort Lauderdale's "Venice of America" just 30 miles north of Miami. The Florida destination is world-famous for its extensive canal system, with over 300 miles of waterfront beaches, rivers and canals. There's also Venice Beach, Florida, just south of St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Mexico.

Today Venice Beach, California is known for its upscale commercial and residential areas. The picturesque canals have made the beach property a hot destination for affluent homeowners like Julia Roberts, Angelica Houston, and Kate Beckinsale.

 

 

 

 


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Written By Erin

Erin Poche` is a Utah-based writer and editor for Tripster and contributing writer for BeyondType1. She also writes and edits for an indie publisher of fanta ...

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