The somewhat ‘bohemian’ community still hangs on to many vestiges of the 1960s when ‘flower power’ ruled, and the little community is jam-packed between Santa Monica and Marina del Rey, reachable by foot from both communities. Ocean Front Walk is a mile long strip along the beach chock full of artists, performers, skaters, fashionable dogs, souvenirs of every kind and plenty of opportunity for pictures. Sidewalk cafes there are perfect for people watching, and the muscular bodybuilders working out at Muscle Beach’s “Pit” have to be seen to be believed. A block off the beach on some of the side streets you’ll find worthy restaurants and respected art galleries.
Electic shops, art galleries, and fascinating restaurants and wine bars populate the interesting Abbot Kinney Boulevard neighborhood, particularly between Venice Boulevard and Main Street, including surfing collectibles, etched glass, women’s art collaboratives and wall murals.
No visit to Venice Beach is complete without a stop at the famous Venice Canals, located north of Washington Boulevard at Dell Avenue. These early 20th century canals were created by Abbot Kinney in his quest to replicate the canals of Venice, Italy. Today they criss cross a delightful intimate neighborhood of exqusite bungalows, scenic walkways, miniature wood raised bridges, and gardens lacing the sidewalks and unusual homes.
If you continue 1/2 mile further west on Washington Boulevard, you can enjoy a stop at this “End of Washington” district, which spills directly into the old Venice Pier. Metered or parking lots will give you an opportunity to explore the view from the pier, and the plethora of shops, cafes, bars and fine restaurants located here.
Some of my favorite places in Venice are:
Barrique former Ado – 796 Main St, Venice, CA 90291
Hidden Italian restaurant located in a tiny yellow house and away from the Abbot Kinney crowds. Authentic food and great wine last. Great for dates. Make a reservation.
Gjelina – 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
Nice scene, good salads and wine. Always crowded. Go direct and wait for a table, almost impossible to get a reservation.
The Boardwalk – Venice Boardwalk
Fun and eclectic, tons of shops and things to see. Crowded on weekends and pleasant on weekdays.
The Fire House – 213 Rose Ave, Venice, CA 90291
Healthy choices for lunch and breakfast.
Golds Gym – 360 Hampton Dr, Venice, CA 90291
A historical landmark where many Hollywood actors and Bodybuilders used to workout and still do. I have seen The Rock there and many others. Fun to go workout one day and just look at the pictures on the wall.
James Beach – 60 N Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
Old school bar and restaurant. One of the few places you can go for a drink in Venice.