Venice, California is a short bus ride or $25-ish cab ride from LAX. For this particular trip I was staying first in downtown, and then at LAX, but rather than stare at planes all day for my last hours in Los Angeles, I thought a day wandering the boardwalks and canals of Venice might be a more entertaining alternative. While I have been to Venice many times, I have only ever been able to experience it in bite size chunks in between other activities, but if I was to come back here for a quick break or holiday, I'd try and stay in this neighbourhood known for it's eclectic, and creatively stimulating vibe.
So what is there to do in Venice?Well...
The boardwalk along the beach is something special with its ocean breeze, endless seaside expanse, and let's face it, downright strange people. From Muscle Beach to the Venice Beach Freak Show, this place is super... "eclectic," to put it nicely. There's intentionally wacky entertainment, and there's everything else that falls into the same category but entirely unintentional. You could spend hours people watching here. Catch some rays on the beach, wander the weirdness that is the boardwalk, reminisce about the glory days of Baywatch on cable television, and watch the sun go down over the mayhem.
Menotti's - Following the trend of great espresso drinks, and even more interesting subtle roasting, Menotti's serve's up delicious coffee and simple eats on Windward Avenue by the beach right by the famed "Venice" hanging letters sign.
Intelligentsia Abbott Kinney - The unabashed parent of hipster cafe's everywhere has a location on Abbott Kinney Boulevard in Venice. Cool shop, stylish clientele, and suitably expensive and interesting coffee roasts on hand for your enjoyment.
While there are plenty of places to eat along the beach, a short walk over to Abbott Kinney or to Rose Avenue is your best bet for a good meal. Whether it be quick eats, or a fine meal, there are no shortage of amazing places eat once you exit the more touristy beach area . There are also plenty of cool shops to browse with everything from mid-century modern furniture, to clothing made from reclaimed burlap sacks.
Rose Avenue - A great place to find a wide variety of eateries and bistros. Great sidewalk dining and patios also. If you can't get into the restaurant of your first choice, there will be another equally appealing one next door or across the street. Great dining fun, and on-trend eats for everyone from the deliberate carnivore to the gluten-free vegetarian crowd. There's a great post on The Tasting Page describing some of the Rose Avenue eats in greater detail.
Venice Beach Wines - A great first stop in the evening on Rose Avenue for some wine and appies, or if you're enjoying it, just stay for dinner.
The Otherroom - This place feels like a place to see and be seen. Sexy dim lighting, plenty of beers on tap, and plenty of dark corners in this busy public house.
The Brig- One of Venice Beach's legendary "dive" bars. Good cocktails, good prices, pool tables, less attitude. This is a fun stop for the end of the night.
Wander Some More
The canals of Venice Beach are the original daydream of legendary tobaccoist Abbott Kinney. At night they make for the perfect stroll through the uniquely designed homes and manicured yards of the neighbourhood. Wander back to Venice Boulevard from Abbott Kinney BLVD through the canals and get lost in the moonlight and warm glow of the homes along the waterways.