Venice Beach is the epitome of eclectic Southern California cool and an ideal spot for people watching any time of year. If you’ve never been, here are a few things you should know to have a most excellent time in Venice California.
Start At The Pier
Venice can be accessed on bike, foot, Segway and more but if it’s your first time, a good place to start is at the Venice Pier and work your way down the Venice Boardwalk on foot. That way you don’t miss anything. Simply input “Venice Beach Pier” into your mapping app and you’ll be taken directly to the end of Washington Blvd.
If you can grab metered parking on Washington, this is your best bet, ($3.50 for 2 hours). However, if aren’t feeling lucky, the Washington Blvd Lot (3100 Washington Blvd) is 2nd best and depending on the time of year rates range from $5-15 for the day. This will help you avoid paying $30 to park and having to entrust your keys to some stranger.
Most Excellent Things To See Along The Venice Boardwalk
World's Smallest Front Yard
As you head north of the Pier and make your way along the boardwalk, the first sight you’ll see is the “World’s Smallest Front Yard”, which is literally a tiny patch of grass above a fountain and the words displayed “World’s Smallest Front Yard” just underneath it.
Gawk at the bodybuilders or work out yourself for $10 at the world famous Muscle Beach, where Arnold Schwarzenegger pumped iron back in the day. The Venice Beach staple has now expanded to include a protein supplement shop, Muscle Beach Nutrition, just across the boardwalk from the gym itself.
White Men Can't Jump Courts
Across from Muscle Beach, enjoy a pickup game at the very basketball courts where White Men Can’t Jump was filmed. The competition is fierce so depending on your skill level, you may want to just watch from the sidelines.
Rope Climb & Chin Up Bars
If you’re feeling confident, the rope climbs and chin up bars behind the Muscle Beach gym are open to the public. I am not that confident, but my god- daughters were. They climbed all the way to the top without even so much as a rope burn.
Perhaps the most famous thing about Venice Beach are the street performers. From human robots to human acrobats, the unique talent on display is always sure to draw a crowd. Just keep an eye on your valuables at all times on the Boardwalk.
Independent artists display their works on the sidewalk and in booths along the boardwalk. A great place to pick up a meaningful souvenir and support the arts.
Tattoo parlors abound in Venice, but for the non-committal, there are various Henna Tattoo tents set up along the way where you can choose your temporary tattoo without the pain or the commitment.
Venice Drum Circle
Saturdays and Sundays from Noon to Dusk you can visit the Venice Drum Circle at the end of Brooks Avenue on the beach. Hundreds of people gather with their drums, congas and shakers to play, dance and sing together.
Where to Eat in Venice
C&O Trattoria on Washington Blvd is a Venice Italian staple. You can grab dinner after your tour of the Boardwalk.
James Beach on Venice Blvd, ½ block from the beach, offers great salads and fish tacos. They offer a Summer Brunch, lunch and dinner menu.
Venice Upscale Cool
Abbot Kinney is the Melrose of the Beach, with many shops actually mirroring their Melrose locales. As a nod to Venice founder and Tobacco millionaire, Abbot Kinney, Abbot Kinney Blvd has become the go-to upscale shopping destination in Venice. You can find sunglasses to soaps to luxury clothing and restaurants that exude an upscale California cool vibe.
Here are some of my favorite recommendations:
Warby Parker – find quality California sunnies at a reasonable price.
The Dailey Method- If you want a barre workout that will kick your butt.
Le Labo- Find your signature scent. I dare you not to fall in love with Santal 33.
Inteligentsia – For fabulous cappuccinos.
Aesop- for luxury hand soap. Resurrection is my favorite.
Greenleaf – for a quick healthy salad
Gjelina- for lunch, but go early (11:30 am) because they don’t take lunch reservations and they’re always packed.
The Tasting Kitchen- for a memorable dinner, make reservations at the Tasting Kitchen. The branzino is amazing.
Venice is one of the unique treasures of the Southern California beach scene. Everyone should experience it at least once. Here’s what you should know for an excellent time in Venice Beach:
- Start at the Venice pier (park at the meter or the Washington lot)
- Take in the Boardwalk on Foot
- Keep an eye on your valuables
- Muscle Beach and Street performers are must sees
- For an upscale experience of Venice, hit up Abbot Kinney
Happy people watching!
Welcome to Honey & Figs! I'm Lisa. I love helping people with practical ways to live more abundant lives based on my own experience. You can click here to find out more about me.
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