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Venice Beach, California

Guide to Visiting Venice Beach

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The beach was here long before an idealistic real estate developer dubbed it Venice, but today Venice Beach is both a town and a recreational seashore, one of the funkiest, most varied and fun beach scenes in the Los Angeles area.

The ocean's edge is nice in Venice Beach and you'll find a profile of it here, but it's not the surf and sand that take center stage. Instead, it's the lively sidewalk scene, where you'll find artists, palm readers and bikini-clad roller-skaters mixing with chanting, saffron-clad Hare Krishnas and wriggling belly dancers.

See It Now: Take a Venice Beach Photo Tour

Venice Beach Points of Interest

  • Venice Boardwalk It's really more of a sidewalk than a "board" walk, but a walk down it is the best way to explore the waterfront scene. You'll pass street performers, skaters, artists, gawkers and vendors selling all kinds of items from incense to sarongs.

  • Muscle Beach: This is the place where Arnold Schwarzenegger and hosts of other body-builders have "bulked up" in the outdoor weight room. If you'd like to have your day in the sun, you can buy a day pass at the office.

  • Venice Canals: A few blocks remain out of some 16 miles of man-made waterways that once graced Venice-of-America, founded in 1905 by local developer Abbot Kinney. You can walk along them in the area bordered by Washington, South Venice Blvd., Pacific Ave. and Ocean Ave.

  • Venice Beach Graffiti Walls: The graffiti artists who gain permits to paint here exhibit a high quality of artistic flair. They're busy at work on selected weekends.

  • Venice Beach House: The exuberant house at 12541 Beatrice (which faces the waterfront path just north of the Venice Pier) is a must for fans of architect Frank Gehry. Every time we show up with camera in hand, it seems to have been painted a different color scheme, but the basic layout stays the same.

  • Abbot Kinney Blvd: The travel writing press has been touting Abbot Kinney as the newest hip spot for years, but it's just now starting to live up to the hype. It's a few blocks away from the waterfront, but worth a stop for nicer restaurants than you'll find at the beach and for a browse in some of the funky boutique shops selling clothing, home decor items and other fun stuff.

Venice Beach Tips

  • If you photograph them street performers, it's polite to tip them a little.

  • Jody Maroni's Sausage Kingdom is famous for its hot dogs and makes a good place to grab a bite to eat.

  • Walk south of Venice Blvd. to get to the pier and see the quieter side of Venice life and the beachfront lifestyle.

  • In early October, the Los Angeles Triathlon kicks off with a swim in Venice, then the participants take off on Venice Blvd., blocking cross traffic and generally making it hard to get anywhere.

Venice Beach Review

We rate Venice Beach 4 stars out of 5 for its funky beachside ambiance where almost anything goes.

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Venice Beach Essentials

  • Location: West Los Angeles on the Santa Monica Bay. See directions below
  • How Long: Allow two hours to half a day or more
  • Best Time to Visit: Not surprisingly, Venice Beach is busiest in summer, but may be prone to morning and evening fog. To enjoy the crowded hustle-bustle, arrive mid-morning or later on a weekend. Summer weekday afternoons can also be pleasant. The beachfront goes to sleep after dark.

More Nearby Towns: Marina Del Rey | Santa Monica

Getting to Venice Beach

From I-405, take Washington Blvd. west. Park on the street if you're lucky, or in one of the public parking lots.

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