Venice, Los Angeles
The original Venice might be sinking, but Venice, 90291 is rising to the top of every traveller’s list. Once your flights to L.A. are booked, you can start planning when you’ll take a trip to Los Angeles’ most bohemian neighbourhood.
History of Venice
It’s not a coincidence that Venice California shares a name with Italy’s own city of canals. Founded in 1905 by developer Abbot Kinney and originally known as “Venice of America,” it was intended to become a beachfront town and cultural mecca. Eventually these plans were set aside and instead it became the “Coney Island of the Pacific”, designed to entertain with a boardwalk, amusement park and public beach access.
Venice today has kept much of that spirit, becoming a bohemian hub of activity. Attracting performers, artists, nomads and spectators from across the world, visitors to Venice can spend the day discovering the art, beauty and character of Los Angeles’ diverse crowd.
What to do in Venice
As part of his "Venice of America" plan, Kinney built in the Venice Canal Historic District, a collection of man-made canals directly replicating the canals of the original Venice, complete with gondola rides. The Venice Beach canals originally covered the entire area between Abbot Kinney, Pacific Avenue and Venice Boulevard. A lot of the canals were turned into streets in the 20s to accommodate the rising demand for cars, but there’s still plenty of idyllic canal-lined blocks for you to amble along on a warm, wistful day, taking in some California calm.
Venice Beach and Boardwalk
It’s almost impossible to talk about visiting L.A. without referencing the iconic Venice beach and its boardwalk. Stretching about one and a half miles along the soft sands of the Pacific Ocean, the boardwalk is integral in giving Venice its character. Take in the hundreds of street vendors and performers, with everything from break-dancing to bongo-drums, mimes to musicians, jugglers, fortune tellers, painters and every other shade of humanity that adds to our colourful tapestry.
There are world-class tattoo artists willing to give you a souvenir you won’t forget in a hurry, restaurants, juice cars, clothes shops, unique arts and crafts stores… Basically, Venice fits an entire world into its corner of California. And it’s a world you will want to get lost in.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Named after the area’s founder, this boulevard is a brilliant way to get introduced to the flair of Venice. With a smorgasbord of dining hot spots, independent boutiques, fitness classes, and coffee bars, you’ll get lost exploring the quirks and quality of Venice’s originals.
Dance to the beat of your own drum…
…. Or the Venice Beach Drum Circle’s drums. On weekends, they lead an improv jam session that takes place on the sand near Ocean Front Walk. Hundreds of people gather to make some noise and get themselves heard - beating their drums, shaking their shakers, dancing the conga and more. The drum circle kicks off around noon and plays right through until sunset. You don’t have to join in, but you’ll most likely want to once the dancing and drumming kicks in.
Though this is a genuine working gym for the pumped-up pectoral gods and goddesses, for the gym laymen this is more of a people-watching pedestal. Look for the iconic dumbbell-shaped building and peer into the open gym space as future Arnies sculpt themselves.
In a city rich in art like Los Angeles there’s no limit to where you’ll see something that can make you stop, pause and reflect (or Instagram, the 21st century equivalent). If you love street art, graffiti and other guerrilla forms of expression, Venice provides a rich tapestry. Take a self-guided tour to see some of the most famous – and share-worthy – pieces including the 102x50-foot homage to Hollywood legend Orson Welles' 1958 film "Touch of Evil."