Weird, wonderful, wacky and totally Los Angeles, Venice Beach is Southern California's beach scene, magnified. Even the graffiti is larger than life - and the people-watching is top shelf.
On the boardwalk - which is really just a wide, concrete sidewalk - you'll see fortune tellers, artists, hawkers and buskers, roller-blading chicks wearing bikinis so skimpy they deserve the descriptor "string." And that's only the beginning. In various visits, we've encountered a band of chanting Hare Krishnas, dogs wearing sunglasses, GI Joe crawling along the sidewalk and a host of other characters. An hour strolling up and down the beachfront is entertaining to the max.
Venice Beach is more than just the sidewalk scene. Stroll a little way from the busy parts to the pier and walk out over the water for a quiet break - or walk out to the Graffiti Walls to admire some great examples of outdoor art.
This beachside town takes the name Venice from early developer Abbot Kinney's dream to emulate the Italian city beside the Pacific Ocean. It's only a few blocks' stroll to the remnants of those early canals, lined with cute, pastel-colored houses, flowing beneath arched, white bridges. Or head over to Abbot Kinney Boulevard for boutique shopping and some great restaurants.
Venice Beach is on the west side of Los Angeles, south of Santa Monica and north of LAX.
Pros and ConsWe love the anything-goes atmosphere at Venice Beach - and if you're from a quiet town, you could easily see more weird things in a day at Venice than you'd find in a month at home.
On the downside, some people are put off by the tinge of grunge or alarmed by some of the characters they encounter. The beach scene is a daytime phenomenon only and things don't really get going until mid-morning at earliest. Worst of all, parking can be especially hard to find when it's busy, leaving paid parking lots as your only option.
More About Venice Beach
If you need more information, check the Complete Guide to Venice Beach. It will tell you about hours, how to get tickets, admission discounts, how to get there and the best time to go.
Take a photo tour of Venice Beach to see what it's like.
See where it is on a map. It's the purple-colored balloon.
Don't Take Our Word For It
See how others rate Venice Beach - from Yuck! to Awesome! For your reference, everyone's taste is different and our readers are a fussy bunch, with the best-rated attractions in the LA area getting a little less than 60% Awesome votes.
We just report the results, we don't explain them. Despite being the #2 sight among readers' favorite things to do in Los Angeles, it gets a very low percentage of votes for Awesome! - you'll have to figure out what that means for yourself.