Venice Beach is one of the most magical places in California (and we think one of the greatest in the U.S.!). There’s just something so pleasant about strolling along the canal’s tree-lined paths, akin to stepping back in time or being transported to the charming streets of Italy. Venice Beach’s laid-back boho vibes give life to an abundance of great shops, unique art, scrumptious eateries, and a ton of fun events going on year-round. It was definitely a challenge coming up with this list because of the sheer amount of stellar spots that Venice Beach has to offer, but here are a few of our favorites that you should definitely check out next time you’re in town!
Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Abbot Kinney Boulevard is our little home within a home in Venice Beach. If you take a stroll along our street, you’re sure to fall in love with the sophisticated, laid-back charm of the palm tree-lined, mile stretch of unique shops, restaurants, galleries, and an eclectic mix of quirky and cutting-edge architecture. Check out our post Where to Eat on Abbot Kinney Blvd for our list of the best eats in town.
Abbot Kinney Blvd also offers plenty of opportunities for shopping. Some of the coolest stores to check out are Huset, Linus, Bazar, Burro, and Tumbleweed & Dandelion. For the full list of shops, check out the AK Blvd Directory.
We also highly recommend checking out First Friday!
This is one of the busiest, most popular tourist spots in L.A., so be prepared for big crowds. But it’s definitely a spot you want to check out at least once while you’re in the area! The long stretch of concrete (yes, concrete, don’t expect wood planks on this boardwalk!) houses tons of talented artists, craftspeople, musicians, performers, and so much more by way of shopping and entertainment.
The wide concrete sidewalk is excellent for walking, jogging, biking, rollerblading, or whatever you’re into. If you walk down far enough, you’ll pass Muscle Beach, the iconic oceanside “gym”. The boardwalk is also a great site for good old-fashioned people-watching.
Venice Skatepark is truly a wonder. It’s a 16,000 square foot concrete paradise with two bowls, a snake run, and a street area with stairs, rails, and boxes galore. Oh, and did we mention there’s a gorgeous view of the ocean?! This is one of the only beachside skateparks in the world, and it’s packed with talented skaters. So even if you don’t skate yourself, it’s still a treat to sit back and watch people shred until the sun goes down.
Tour the street art and murals
Street art is a staple of Venice Beach. You’d be hard-pressed to walk more than a couple of streets down without encountering one of the city’s stunning, vibrant murals. And, most of Venice Beach’s most famous murals are actually located right here on Abbot Kinney Boulevard! Each mural has a story and history attached, and you can make a whole day out of walking around town, scoping out all of the gorgeous artwork. The images and styles are diverse, just like the artists who created them. Los Angeles and Venice Beach attract artists from all over the world come to paint these gigantic masterpieces on once-empty walls across the city. In fact, L.A. has been considered the “Mural Capital of the World” since 1976! For a guide on must-see Venice Beach murals, check out our blog post: Venice Beach’s Best Street Art.
High Rooftop Lounge
The High Rooftop Lounge is located atop Hotel Erwin, and was voted “Best Ambiance,” “Best Hot Spot” AND “Best Scenic View” in Venice at the OpenTable Diners’ Choice Awards. This open-air deck features stunning views of the boardwalk and ocean, DJs day and night, specialty cocktails, and yummy small bites. All in all, this is a super chill spot to enjoy a drink, nibble on appetizers, and watch the sunset.
Aloha Brothers Surf Lessons
Anyone from beginners to surfing pros looking to take their skills to the next level will find quality instruction at Aloha Brothers. They dub themselves an international group of surf fanatics sharing their love for surfing worldwide. They offer lessons, coaching, training, and guided surf-camping trips. Definitely check them out if you’re feeling like doing something sporty and adventurous!
Small World Books
It might sound a little lame to put a book store on a “must-see” list, but trust us, this place is worth it. They describe themselves as “an unusual purveyor of literature dedicated to the principle that the book you want is the book you should have.” Small World Books is like a peaceful hideaway from the hustle and bustle, like stepping into a quiet sacred space when you wander in off the boardwalk.
The beach (duh!)
Well, there’s nothing like the beach folks. No matter what you do in Southern California, you need to pencil in a beach trip for at least one of the days you’re here. And in our (very biased) opinion, Venice Beach should be top of your list. Whether you prefer to be out in the water splashing in the waves, soaking up the sun onshore, or hiding under an umbrella with a good book, the beach has something for everyone. Venice Beach just has that oceanside charm and character, and quirky easygoing vibes that we feel have been lost in many parts of SoCal.
To wrap it up…
While there are some specific cool spots to look out for, never underestimate the magic of strolling along the boardwalk and letting the experiences come to you. Venice Beach is one of those places where you don’t even need a plan. All you have to do is show up, and you’re bound to find plenty that catches your eye.