The Los Angeles area is really big and spread out. If you just flew in and took advantage of cheap rental cars at LAX, you might not know where to drive first. For L.A. newbies, it can be hard to know one neighborhood from another, and where to go to find the kind of fun you’re searching for.
While you’re trying to decide, it’s important to remember that the Los Angeles area is more than just one city. Many of the locations you know from television and movies are actually their own cities. Each of these cities has their own unique vibe. Venice Beach is one of the most intriguing places in the L.A. area, and many tourists end up spending a lot of time there. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most rewarding destinations to visit in Venice while you’re in town.
Take a Walking Tour
Venice is an interesting place, so it’s no surprise that a walking tour of the area is interesting, too. There are a bunch of walking tours available. One of the most highly rated is the Real To Reel Vintage Walking tour. The guide knows their way around, of course, but that’s only half the fun. At each stop on the tour, you can see movie and TV show snippets that feature the site over the years. If you’re only familiar with Venice from seeing it on the silver screen the tour is a great way to match up your memories with the actual places.
Walk Along the Venice Canals
Venice California really does have canals! Of course, they’re not as elaborate as the canals in Venice, Italy, but as Venice has become more upscale, residents and businesses have taken better care of their waterways. The canals wend their way through a residential neighborhood, so it’s important to respect people’s privacy. However, there are well maintained sidewalks on both side of the canal, and footbridges here and there to get from one side to the other. Here’s an aerial view:
Hit the Boardwalk
If Venice Beach is famous for one thing, it’s got to be the Boardwalk. Like everything else in Los Angeles, the Venice Boardwalk is paved, but that doesn’t detract from its charm. It’s a broad walking boulevard that runs along a strip of interesting shops of all kinds, restaurants, and other attractions. It’s a great place to see and be seen. You’ll always see lots of street entertainers, and a constant assortment of interesting people. There’s a winding path along the beach that’s popular with skaters, too.
If you’ve taken advantage of cheap rental cars at LAX, you can usually find on-street parking within a few blocks of the beach.
Which Way To Muscle Beach?
Technically, there’s more than one Muscle Beach in the Los Angeles area. Hardcore lifters prefer the Venice Beach version of Muscle Beach. Towards the southern end of the Venice Boardwalk, there’s a big outdoor gym that’s a favorite for exhibitionists of all kinds. If you’ve got the nerve to work out in front of hundreds of spectators, and next to guys that look like Aahnold, the Venice Muscle Beach is for you.
Shop on Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Abbot Kinney Boulevard has become one of the most famous shopping destinations in the world. It’s palm-tree-lined sidewalks are bustling with shoppers all year round. There are also yearly festivals that turn the street into a full-time bazaar. There are many great eateries along the boulevard. If you’re feeling informal, there’s always a ton of food trucks parked there, too.
Photo of the Venice Canals courtesy of the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.