Just next door to Santa Monica, Venice Beach California provides a diverse beach experience, whether you like to people watch or shop for artistic wares.
There is an extremely wide sandy beach to play or lay on, without the crowds of neighboring Santa Monica. At the southern end of Venice Beach is Marina del Rey.
Surfers swim out beyond the Venice Breakwater to catch waves breaking across both directions around this short rocky barrier. The street performers, tattooed bodies, and self-proclaimed “freaks” who demand attention along the Ocean Front Walk are probably the biggest draw here (aka the Venice Beach Boardwalk). Along the boardwalk, vendors sell it all from cheap sunglasses to T-shirts. There are numerous other restaurants and shops nearby to enjoy.
Venice Beach Boardwalk
Some of the old canals and homes around them have been rehabilitated and restored. Inland Venice is full of cute cottages along with some rougher neighborhoods, but the infamous Venice Beach boardwalk is where it’s at.
Venice Beach is the primary beach in Los Angeles’ Venice District. It extends from the Venice Pier to the northern end of the Venice District, near the city’s border with Santa Monica. The central hub of Venice Beach is at Muscle Beach, so named because of the outdoor workout amenities and muscle display platform. This area includes a grass park as well as sport courts for different activities. Bystanders will line the perimeter of a large skatepark constructed right on the beach.
Ocean Front Walk
Santa Monica, like most famous beach towns, has a lengthy boardwalk-style path to bike, skate, jog, or simply walk down. However, what distinguishes the Santa Monica boardwalk (also known as the Ocean Front Walk) is that it is lined with brilliant lush greenery and towering palm trees whose branches provide shade over the path, similar to a hiking trail. You’ll get in a good workout while admiring the breathtaking views from every perspective – stunning ocean tides to the west and the metropolitan beach ambience of Santa Monica to the east.
This broad, paved walkway runs south from the Pier and is lined with restaurants and shops. The kids will enjoy the stone-walled sandbox, which includes a concrete Viking ship. This children’s attraction is rounded out by an interactive dragon’s head lurking in the grass nearby. On a first-come, first-served basis, a row of volleyball courts is available.
The bike path is popular with those on any kind of wheels, but the walking side can get quite crowded on the weekends. Vendors display artwork for sale and other unique items.
Several casual restaurants with outdoor seating provide beachfront views and plenty of people watching. You can also find shops selling southern California beach wear.
A couple blocks inland on Rose Ave. is a favorite place to get a bite to eat: the Rose Cafe. There’s a small restaurant section, a cafe section and a small shop. They also have free validated parking, which is a very good thing.
At the southern end of Venice Beach is the fishing pier, more restaurants, and other places to rent bikes and such.