Venice Beach

Travel Guide North America USA Western United States California Southern California Los Angeles County Los Angeles Venice Beach

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Introduction

Venice, also sometimes referred to as Venice Beach, is a district of Los Angeles in Southern California. Its colorful Boardwalk is a great scene: free, fun, and funky, making the "short list" of things to do in Los Angeles.

Venice was the creation and dream of one man, Abbot Kinney. Kinney was an investor who built a sort of recreation of Venice, Italy including a massive system of canals and a huge entertainment complex that opened in 1905 and became very popular.

The overly ambitious canals were mostly filled and made into streets in 1929. A few of the canals survive and are lined with funky, expensive, and architecturally diverse urban homes. A stroll along a couple of the remaining streets is a lesson in architectural eclecticism.

Kinney's huge Pacific Ocean Park entertainment complex survived until the mid-1960s, eventually succumbing to competition from Disneyland and others. The spirit of his seaside entertainment complex however, still pulses in Venice's captivating Boardwalk.

In the 1950s and '60s, Venice became a center for the Beat generation. There was an explosion of poetry and art. Major participants included Stuart Perkoff, John Thomas, Frank T. Rios, Tony Scibella, Lawrence Lipton, John Haag, Saul White, and Philomene Long. Jim Morrison of The Doors also lived in Venice and wrote much of his poetry and song lyrics here.

In the late '60s, Venice became a center for radical activism, including a Black Panther chapter, a Free Venice (from Los Angeles) movement and many other activities opposing various urban renewal plans. Venice, today, is a community in the throes of gentrification but maintains a strong identity and progressive political posture.

More than one hundred years after Kinney's debut, Venice remains unique and well worth the visit.

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Sights and Activities

Canals. Venice's canals (complete with ducks) are home to some of LA's most eclectic residential architecture. See tiny bohemian cottages next to million-dollar ultra-modern houses. The canal streets are between Washington Blvd. and Venice Blvd; park on Dell to access.
Abbot Kinney. The Abbot Kinney district (the area along Abbot Kinney Boulevard) runs for about 1.5 miles between Main St. and Washington Blvd. The area is a hotspot for artists and hipsters and includes numerous shops, restaurants and bars including several excellent art galleries, about a half-dozen interesting clothing boutiques and over a dozen cafes and eateries. Named for the developer who originally created the "Venice of America", the area holds an annual festival featuring music and art.
Ocean Front Walk (Venice Boardwalk Assc.) (between Washington Bvld. & Navy). Venice's Ocean Front Walk runs between Washington Blvd. to Navy. Along the walk you will find an assortment of retailers, from tourist souvenir shops, bike rental outlets, arts and crafts booths, restaurants and "snack shacks" for dishes from around the world to hot dogs and corn dogs, ice cream, coffees and smoothies. You'll find henna tattoo artists, chair massages practitioners, fortune tellers and more. Of course, sit at one of the ocean-side restaurants to watch the parade of people go by.
Venice Beach. One of the LA area's more popular beaches, including the infamous Muscle Beach which the city has set up as an outdoor weightlifting gym for the local hulks. People watching along Venice Beach is something to put on your "things to do before you die" list. Think of the scene as a Bohemian-Mardi Gras-Beach Blanket Bingo-Circus. If that doesn't make any sense, well neither does Venice and that's the charm. Every summer day and every weekend, join the parade of humanity strolling amongst amazing and bizarre street performers, obscenely bulging body builders (at Muscle Beach), eclectic shops and street vendors, panhandlers, and beautiful, scantily clad, people desperately seeking attention. Go ahead and stare at it all. That's the point. Walking is fine but if you like to bike there is a great path along the beach. There are many places to rent bikes. However, you cannot ride them on the pedestrian street. During the summer months Muscle Beach hosts various bodybuilding and figure contest, including the Venice Championships (Memorial Day Weekend and early September ) and Mr. & Ms.
Venice Pier (End of Washington). Venice Pier offers parking, fishing and access to the beach below. Just before the Pier on Washington Blvd., there are numerous restaruants for fine dining or a quick bite, and great places for an evening of drinking. Plus, there are numerous shops for all your beach needs -- from swim suits and sunglasses, to sunscreen and sweatshirts

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Getting There

Driving from Los Angeles International Airport, take Lincoln Boulevard (CA-1) north and turn left on Venice Boulevard.

Taking a public bus from LAX to Venice is quite simple; take a free shuttle to the LAX Transit Center then board a #3 Santa Monica Blue Bus, north; ask for an interangency transfer. Get off at Washington Blvd. and at the NW corner of Lincoln and Washington take the Culver City Bus #1, west. Get off at Pacific and Windward; you are now in the heart of Venice Beach and Ocean Front Walk.

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Getting Around

Venice itself is pretty much small enough to walk in, especially along the beach. You can hit more inland areas of Venice by car, bike, or on Metro bus lines.

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Eat

Jin Patisserie, 1202 Abbot Kinney Blvd, ☏ +1 310-399-8801, ✉ info@jinpatisserie.com. Tu-Su 10:30AM-7PM. Abbot Kinney's exquisite tea garden and pastry shop resides right next to Aragon Ct. Jin offers an exceptional selection of teas and signature truffles, as well as a delectable food menu. The quaint spot is an ideal location for baby showers, bridal showers, and Mother's Day celebrations.
La Cabaña, 738 Rose Ave, ☏ +1 310-392-7973. Open 11AM to 3AM daily. This easy-to-find Mexican restaurant is just west of Lincoln Blvd. Great food in large quantities. Burritos start at $4, with most other entrees priced between $6 and $12 and margaritas available for about $6 more.
Mao's Kitchen, 1512 Pacific Ave (Pacific and Windward), ☏ +1 310 581-8305. Serves Hunan cuisine.
Zelda's Corner, 9 Westminster Ave, ☏ +1 310-314-6458. Thu-Tu 9:30AM-5PM. Artisan Sandwich shop just off the boardwalk in Venice. Offers a selection of sandwiches and soups, as well as macaroni salad and mini donuts.
C&O Trattoria, 31 Washington Blvd, ☏ +1 310-823-9491. M-Th: Lunch served 11:30AM-3:30PM, Dinner served 3:30PM-10PM; F: Lunch served 11:30AM-3:30PM, Dinner served 3:30PM-11PM; Sat: Breakfast served 8AM-1:45PM, Lunch served noon-3:30PM, Dinner served 3:30PM-11PM; Sun: Breakfast served 8AM-1:45PM, Lunch served noon-3:30PM, Dinner served 3:30PM-10PM. Located right next to the beach and a short walk from the Venice Pier, C&O Trattoria is a popular spot for casual dining as well as large birthday parties. This Northern Italian seafood restaurant features an indoor seating area and a patio, with menu items available in either "individual" or "gargantuan" portions (for family-style meals). The wait staff is friendly, and every night during dinner hours, activity temporarily pauses for a restaurant-wide singalong of Dean Martin's "That's Amore," during which servers roam around and toast with the diners. The atmosphere is comfortable and fun, and their garlic balls are famous. Prices range from $5-10 for "individual" sized dinner antipasti to $15-20 for "gargantuan" sized entrees.
The Firehouse, 213 Rose Ave, ☏ +1 310 396-6810. Built in a retired firehouse, this restaurant/bar offers all manner of breakfasts, sandwiches, and other meals from a "healthy" and "less healthy" set of menu selections. Weight lifters from Venice Beach gorge themselves on egg whites, chicken breasts, broccoli and tofu, while the rest of the population has a variety of sandwiches and breakfast items to choose from. The ambiance is fun, the food is decent, and prices are reasonable. $7-$15.
Hama Sushi, 213 Windward Ave, ☏ +1 310-396-8783. Serves lunch on weekends from 11:30 until 2:30, and dinner daily after 5:30. The sushi is reasonably good and not outrageously priced, but the love-it-or-hate-it feature of this restaurant is the numerous screens scattered around the eating area showing everything from sports to 1950s surfer flicks. For some this provides a unique atmosphere, while those with attention deficit issues may not be able to focus on just one thing for days afterward. Happy hour daily from 4-7PM features $1 off drinks and a variety of menu items for $2-5.
Joe's Restaurant, 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd, ☏ +1 310-399-5811. Joe's offers gourmet California/French cuisine in an elegant setting. Quiet, not overly crowded, and laid back, the chefs will probably stop by to say hello during your meal, and waiters will be more than happy to allow you to sample the wines before ordering. There are fixed-price dinners for $50 to $70 per person, or entrees can be purchased for $20 to $35. An extensive wine list offers bottles from the $30 to $500 range.
Wabi-Sabi, 1637 Abbot Kinney Blvd, ☏ +1 310-314-2229. As its hip Abbot Kinney location demands, Wabi-Sabi doesn't easily fit one mold, offering good (but pricey!) sushi as well as Asian-fusion cuisine. The menu includes everything from sushi to beef dishes to pumpkin dishes. The wait can be long on weekends.

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Drink

Baja Cantina, 311 Washington Blvd (end of Washington, east of the Pier), ☏ +1 310-821-2252. Tropical Mexican food with a great assortment of margaritas and other tropical drinks. Late night menu and drinks.
Cabo Cantina, 30 Washington Blvd (end of Washington, east of the Pier), ☏ +1 310-305-4010. Small but fun place; great assortment of tropical drinks, bar appetizers and during the summer months check by often to see their drink and meal specials. Indoor and outdoor seating.
Elvino, 1142 Abbot Kinney Blvd, ☏ +1 310-396-9705. Enjoy bread and olive oil along with a flight of three wines during the weekend hours of 5-9PM on Friday, 1-9PM on Saturday and 1-8PM on Sunday. Otherwise, browse through some great boutique wines. Cheers!
The Otheroom, 1201 Abbot Kinney Blvd, ☏ +1 310 396-6230. 5PM-2AM. Wine and beer bar with a large selection of beers on tap and by the bottle. The bar manages to be both casual and hip, with the crowd tending towards well-to-do 20 and 30 somethings. Dark, but not too dark with a good selection of modern alternative music in the background (at times a tad too loud). Lots of seating area, but the spots by the windows are prized. Bar has menu's for local delivery options and pretty waitresses. Earlier on warm evenings, the windows are opened giving a very open, breezy feel to the place.
Sunny Spot, 822 Washington Blvd (corner of Washington and Abbot Kinney), ☏ +1 310-448-8884, fax: +1 310-448-8889. Both a bar and Caribbean inspired restaurant, with a menu created by Roy Choi, the founder of the iconic Kogi BBQ food-truck. There is both an indoor and outdoor lounge area. edit
Townhouse, 52 Winward Ave (located in the Venice Circle), ☏ +1 310 392-4040. A dive bar through and through. Though under new ownership, much of the old tradition, decor, and dankness remains. This is a good thing. This is the oldest continuously running bar west of the Mississippi (it was a speakeasy during prohibition) and though never really a scene, it is nice place to stop off for a drink on a low-key night.

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Sleep

The Cadillac Hotel, 8 Dudley Ave (on Ocean Front Walk btwn Speedway Ave.), ☏ +1 310-399-8876, ✉ reservations@thecadillachotel.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: Noon. The only hotel in Venice Beach located on the boardwalk on Ocean Front Walk and offering views of the Santa Monica Bay. All rooms have been recently renovated. $99-219.
Hotel Erwin, 1697 Pacific Ave (@ Windward and Pacific Ave), ☏ +1 310-452-1111, toll-free: +1-800-421-8151, fax: +1 310-452-5479. Newly launched full service boutique hotel about 200 feet from the ocean in the heart of Venice Beach. Rooftop lounge called High with incredible panoramic views of the ocean and City of LA. Hotel has spacious rooms and 2 room suites, ideal for families. Many rooms have beautiful ocean views. Hotel has gated indoor parking.
The Inn at Venice Beach, 327 Washington Blvd, toll-free: +1-800-828-0688, fax: +1 310-827-0289. Located one block from the Venice Beach Boardwalk, adjacent to the world's largest man-made yacht marina. Has direct online reservations and special packages.
Venice Beach Hotel & Hostel, 1515 Pacific Ave (corner of Windward Ave.), ☏ +1 310-452-3052, fax: +1 310-821-3469, ✉ info@planetvenice.com. Private and shared rooms, housekeeping apartments, all with free internet.
Venice Beach Cotel, 25 Windwward Ave (located on Windward btwn Pacific Avenue and Speedway), ☏ +1 310 399-7649, toll-free: +1-888-718-8287, ✉ reservations@venicebeachcotel.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. An affordable hostel with a central location $25-90.
Venice Beach Suites and Hotel, 1305 Ocean Front Walk, ☏ +1 310-396-4559, toll-free: +1-888-877-7602, fax: +1 310-396-3989. Venice Beach Suites & Hotel offers fully furnished vacation/corporate suites in the heart of Venice Beach.
Venice Breeze Suites, 2 Breeze Ave (Located on the boardwalk, facing the beach), ☏ +1 310 566-2222, ✉ manager@venicebreezesuites.com. Ocean front fully furnished vacation suites on Venice Boardwalk. Beautiful brick building has been recently remodeled retaining classic Venice Beach charm but with chic design and a variety of amenities. Full kitchens, bathrooms with rain showers, walnut floors, free WiFi, cable TV, parking and spectacular roof deck with BBQ and panoramic views across Los Angeles. Nightly, weekly, monthly rates available.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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This is version 2. Last edited at 9:40 on Sep 27, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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