Venice, also known as Venice Beach, has a fantastical, anything can happen atmosphere. The seaside setting is a lively one, with such easy to satirize sites as Muscle Beach, where weightlifters pump iron under the sun, in full sight of passersby.
Venice is right down the shoreline from Santa Monica, a much more reserved town when compared to the counter cultural goings on at Venice. This is especially true of Venice’s Ocean Front Walk, a 2.5 mile promenade lined with vendors, hipsters, surfers, artists, burnouts, and tourists from around the world. The promenade has an array of budget priced eateries selling fast food – one of the most famous is Jody Maroni’s Sausage Kingdom, which has been serving up sausage sandwiches since 1979.
Venice got its name from its network of canals built in 1905. Visitors can explore these via footpaths leading up and down the canals, which are lined with charming homes. In 1982, the area was included in the National Register of Historic Places.
One of the more mellow ways to enjoy Venice is to walk out on the Venice Pier, which is located at the end of Washington Boulevard, and usually lined with fishermen.
In 1907, Venice Beach was the site of the first documented surfing demonstration in California. Venice is also considered to be the birthplace of skateboard, as chronicled in the film Dogtown and Z-Boys. Visitors will find it easy to get into the swing of things by renting bicycles, skates, roller blades, and boogie boards.
Venice’s most famous resident was Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors. It’s said that he wrote many of his song lyrics and poems on Venice Beach.
Over the last decade or so, Venice has shrugged out of its hippie trappings and some neighborhoods now offer sophisticated shopping and dining, especially on Abbott Kinney Boulevard. This neighborhood dates back more than a century, and is named after the original deep-pocketed founder of Venice, Abbott Kinney.
Standouts on the five-block shopping nexus of Abbott Kinney Boulevard include Heist for accessories, Bazar Vintage items, A. Kinney Court for cool shades, and Surfing Cowboy for vintage surf items and retro furniture.
When it comes to food, go to Intelligentsia for a great cup of joe; The Tasting Kitchen for breakfast and brunch; and Primitivo for tapas (try to score a seat on the backyard patio).
While Venice doesn’t lay claim to having the best hotels in LA, there are some good options for those who want to make Venice their base of operations. The Victorian-era and reasonably priced 15 Rose Ave Hotel & Vacation Rentals was built by Abbott Kinney back in 1908. Hotel Erwin is a short 100 yard walk to the beach, and features HIGH, a popular rooftop lounge. The Cadillac Hotel is located right on the boardwalk, and offers ocean views.
Venice Beach for Families — A Perfect Day … Nothing like Venice Beach in LA — or the world