Known all over the world for its eclectic flair, Venice Beach is the funky, cool, artistic area that encompasses all things fun and colorful, snuggled against a backdrop of a beautiful beach and the Pacific Ocean.Venice has been the setting for countless Hollywood movies and is about 12 miles southwest of Hollywood.
Just south along the coast from Santa Monica, Venice Beach is also home to all kinds of unique shopping and dining opportunities, a fitness playground for the body building elite, an unrivaled skating and biking area for those active on their feet and hours upon hours of people watching either along the boardwalk or taking in the rays along the beach itself.
VENICE BEACH OVERVIEW:
Venice Beach lies on the Pacific Ocean and just south of Santa Monica. It is home to the legendary boardwalk (Ocean Front Walk).On any given weekend you will find abundant crowds of people lying in the sun, walking the boardwalk, shopping or enjoying parties hosted by homeowners of luxurious condos overlooking all the fun. Venice Beach has an assortment of activities to enjoy from rollerblading and biking, finding your inner artist to just relaxing in the sun.
THE VENICE BOARDWALK-(Ocean Front Walk)
The most famous and biggest attraction to Venice Beach, is the Venice boardwalk (also known as "Ocean Front Walk"). Stretching over a mile from Washington Ave up to the Santa Monica boarder, the boardwalk is full of shops, sidewalk performers, luxurious real estate and dining/bar options. The boardwalk is home to Muscle Beach which is an area where only the worlds top muscle builders come to workout and showoff for the crowds. There are also numerous basketball courts along the walk that are known nationally as a top tier street basketball area and a NBA recruiting ground where several NBA players were discovered.
There are numerous shopping opportunities along the boardwalk ranging from T-shirt stores, glass pipe outlets, trinkets and arts. In addition there are many smaller shop keepers who choose to maintain tables set up along the boardwalk showing a variety of unique merchandise. At several points along the boardwalk there also concrete skating structures that attract renowned skaters from all over the world to challenge their skills and play to the crowds. By staying on this path you will eventually enter the beaches of Santa Monica. The path that begins where the boardwalk begins at the Venice Pier and extends through Venice, travels a total of about six miles where it ends in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles. For those interested in more than just a leisurely stroll through the Venice area, there are many rollerblading and biking rental shops where you can get a pair of wheels to test your endurance along the beach beyond the boardwalk.
The best route to enter Venice Beach and Ocean Front Walk is from the Washington Blvd. entrance. This area has better parking opportunities at any point along Pacific Avenue. Once entering the inlet of Washington Blvd. and Venice Beach, you'll be greeted by dozens of restaurants and bars offering menus for all tastes. Upon hitting Ocean Front Walk you will make a right and proceed north. The first 10 minutes of the walk Ocean Front is lined with multi million dollar glass condos. Many of them have open balconies that open out on to the walk and on weekends are typically full of party goers and locals enjoying cocktails and bbqs as the crowd transverses below. Each home is different looking from the other and adds a flavor able taste and sight to the Ocean Front Walk.
The next area after the residential section is the commercial area. It is here the Ocean Front Walk and Venice Beach come alive with music, crowds and action. Muscle Beach is in this area along with numerous skate parks. On the right hand side (if still continuing north or east side) of the walk are numerous shops selling a variety of items from T-shirts to pipes to jewelry. In addition there are numerous cheap eating opportunities in this area, including grilled items such as chicken and corn on the cob, hot dog stands and hamburger vendors.
As you proceed through the jungle of hotdog stands, pipe stores, the art and jewelry dealers. skateboard ramps and paths you'll find many inlets off to the right to rent bicycles and roller blades. If you obtain a bike or set of skates, know the path leading out of Venice continues up to 4 miles up the coast to the Pacific Palisades-you could easily spend an entire day on wheels exploring this section of the coast.
Over the past twenty years, the downtown area of Venice has enjoyed a tremendous resurgence. Located along Abbot Kinney and Grand Blvds as well as Main Street, this area is about a block inland from the ocean and boardwalk. Full of unique bars, shops and restaurants, this area is the place to be on the westside on nights and weekends. Going back 70 years, this same area was big with Angelenos who would come from all over LA via street cars to let loose and relax. This area mainly comes to life on the weekends and evenings and is not heavily visited by tourists.
Every year the downtown section hosts a street fair called the Abbot Kinney Festival (named after a developer of Venice from the 1900s, Abbot Kinney-see more below). The Fair is usually held the last Sunday of September from 10am-6pm and will include a variety of exhibits in music, food and art.
Venice Beach was founded after local business man Abbot Kinney visited the Venetian Canals of Italy and had a vision of building the same layout in Southern California. In 1906 Kinney built a replica of the canal system he witnessed in Italy and created a cultural attraction of arts, poetry and other attractions in hopes of building Venice as a premier amusement attraction of the time. Unfortunately the locals didn't take to the concept then and Kinney quickly abandoned his vision of expanding the canals throughout Venice. Today the original canals that were built still run through the neighborhoods to the east of the beach with million dollar estates lining either side. Visitors can access the canals from Washington Blvd. just east of Pacific Ave.
FAMOUS VENICE RESIDENTS:
The likes of Bel Air, Beverly Hills and Brentwood are not the only areas home to high profile individuals and famous people. Venice is home to an assortment of celebrities both past and present including Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage, Tim Meadows, John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fiona Apple to name a few. In the 1950s and 60s Venice was home to the Beat Generation that included such notable poets as Stuart Perkoff, Frank T. Rios, Tony Scibella, John Haag and Philomene Long.
GETTING TO VENICE BEACH
Take Sepulveda Blvd north out of the airport to Lincoln Blvd. At Sepulveda and Lincoln make a left on Lincoln and proceed to Washington Blvd. You may park at LIncoln and Washington and walk in via Washington or take a left on Washington and a right on Pacific and proceed through the Venice area.
FROM WEST LA (Santa Monica, Beverly HIlls, Brentwood):
Take either Santa Monica, Wilshire, Pico or Olympic Blvds to Ocean Avenue. Make a left onto Ocean Avenue and proceed south. Ocean Avenue will lead you into the heart of Venice.
Take La Brea Avenue south to the 10 (Santa Monica Freeway). Take the 10 freeway west to Santa Monica. At the 10/405 interchange take the 405 (San Diego Freeway) south to LAX. . Exit Washington Blvd. and proceed west. Washington Blvd. Terminates at Venice Beach.
Take the 10 freeway west to Santa Monica. At the 10/405 interchange take the 405 (San Diego Freeway) south to LAX. . Exit Washington Blvd and proceed west. Washington Blvd. Terminates at Venice Beach.