You find yourself in Venice on a beautiful morning with the whole day ahead of you. Maybe you’re just exploring, or maybe you’ve just moved into the Starcity Venice community. Either way, the lull of crashing waves is calling you. But little do you know, there’s more to Venice than sand and salt water.
That’s why I’m about to throw a curveball by sending you inland BEFORE we tour the coast. Hold onto your horses, cowboy. We’re going off the rails here! Anything could happen!
Honestly though, you could easily fill a whole day with Venice Beach activities. (If that’s what you’re looking for right now, check out our Venice Beach Guide.)
Named after its founder, this quaint street in the heart of Venice offers a vibrant walk filled with fun architecture, delicious restaurants, stylish bars, bustling shops, food trucks, and more. In fact, Robert Downey Jr. owns a house right in the midst of it all, so you know this place has to be cool.
It’s a beautiful walk over, but it’s not the 30-second stroll to the beach you might have become accustomed to. If you’re in a hurry (or don’t feel like walking), download the Bird app: an electric scooter service that has devices scattered pretty much everywhere – just scan one and ride. You’ll see plenty of people doing it: hair whipping in the wind, sunglasses on. It’s kind of a thing. Prefer a bike? Check out Limebike. It’s the same, but you know… a bike.
Photo: The Butcher's Daughter
For brunch, The Butcher’s Daughter is a succulent-filled, vegan/vegetarian sanctuary that everyone should try. If you’re a meat-eater, brunch is the best time to go because there will be plenty of hearty meals with eggs and avocados to fill you up. If you like breakfast burritos, get the Surfer’s Breakfast and try not to inhale it in one bite. And for all you wheat-haters, they have gluten-free tortillas too. Need to caffeinate? I know that feeling and trust me, this place can help. Want more food options? Check out our best breakfasts and brunches in Venice.
Once you step back outside, you’ll notice that there are quite a few vintage clothing stores on Abbot Kinney, as well as some flea markets and art festivals that run on various days of the month; so if you’re trying to blend in with the more stylish contingent of the local crowd, this is the place to thread up.
Whether or not you alter your aesthetic, Mystic Journey can help you get in touch with the mindset of Venice culture. Peruse their book collection while recharging yourself with their assortment of healing crystals. Each has unique powers and properties, so try not to buy them all--we don’t want an Infinity Gauntlet situation on our hands, do we? Besides, we have to keep moving: there’s a hypothetical itinerary to complete here.
Photo: Salt & Straw
Since you’re having such an active day, why don’t you send that blood sugar soaring with a trip to Salt and Straw for some handmade ice cream? They don’t exactly state this at the shop, but there’s a chance you might have a spiritual awakening with the first bite. If you don’t want one, stay away. Not a lot you can do to resist, though. The enrapturing smell will hit you three shops down and draw you to its creamy center.
If you don’t want dessert, but you think you’ll need a snack before your next adventure, Kreation Juice Bar is a healthy hub of juices, smoothies, and stomach-soothing eats. And there are even bottled cold-pressed juices ready to go if you need to be in, out, and on your way.
Is that the sound of a conch shell? It must be the ocean calling you. But alas, there’s more to see inland. So, before you heed Poseidon’s summoning, do you want to dive deeper into the arts or take an idyllic walk?
A. Get Artsy
There’s a lot of unique urban art in Los Angeles. While you’ll want to check out pop-up events such as the Venice Art Walk, don’t sleep on the fixed galleries like C.A.V.E. – or for pure pop art and street vibes, Dunkees.
Venice is a colorful place, but perhaps your eyes have had enough iridescent stimulation. You feel like something a little more text-based. Go ahead and bury yourself in arcane literature and never surface again; we won’t judge.
Established in 1968, Beyond Baroque is, according to their website, “one of the United States’ leading independent Literary | Arts Centers and public spaces dedicated to expanding the public’s knowledge of poetry, literature, and art through cultural events and community interaction.” So get in there, smarty-pants! This is your chance to soak up some knowledge (subsequent pretentiousness is optional, but follow your heart).
B. Go Scenic
Okay, let’s get tranquil. Head southwest to the Venice Canals to see truly native architecture built around calm, relaxing channels. You might even see some residents float by in a small boat or two. Developer Abbot Kinney actually designed these to recreate the appearance and feel of Venice, Italy. Over time, the intended structure has remained while the environment itself has taken on a distinct look of its own.
Photo: Marina del Rey
If you have the time and/or energy, head further south until you hit the Marina. There’s usually a nice breeze, as well as an array of sailboats and paddle boarders making their way to and from the ocean. Further inland, you can gaze upon the boating docks, and if you haven’t a care for your wallet, there are plenty of fancy seafood restaurants for some elevated dining.
All right, I can feel the tension. You want to get some beach time in before the day ends. I get it. It doesn’t matter if it’s your 27th day in a row there. When you live that close, the beach is life. Now for a tough decision: Do you want to confront the craziness that is the Venice Boardwalk, or do some bodysurfing by the Pier while you prepare for the ultimate sunset?
A. Confront the Craziness
Photo: Venice Skate Park
Walk up and down the Boardwalk for endless surf and skate shops, restaurants, marijuana dispensaries, street-artists, and a unique cast of characters. Plan ahead and bring some one-dollar bills because, if you watch a performance, it’s nice to tip. After you pass enough dreadlocks, skateboards, and live performances (improvised paintings, break-dancing, etc.), be sure to stop by the Venice Skate Park – a great place to watch teenagers (and some adults) absolutely shred while coming inches from breaking bones again and again.
Further south, there’s the famous Muscle Beach, where bodybuilders with muscles popping out of their ears lift heavy things to get even stronger. Even if you don’t work out much, consider getting in there and try to show them up; they love a good challenge. But don’t forget to first say a prayer to their patron saint of swole: Arnold Schwarzenegger. After all, this is where his career began. See Pumping Iron.
B. Prepare for Sunset
The Venice Pier is arguably the most popular and glamorized spot in Venice to watch the sunset. Let the sound of seagulls and crashing water caress your ears as you contemplate the variegated horizon. Fun fact: you don’t need a license to fish off the Venice Pier, so… maybe this is where you catch your dinner?
Embrace the Night
*Sigh* All good things must come to an end. But cheer up! The night is long, and this is just one extremely hypothetical day!
If you chose the canals, and then the pier (for proximity), you can easily continue the Italian experience with dinner at C&O Trattoria. WARNING: their famous garlic rolls are HIGHLY addictive.
If you went north, back toward your new home is CHAYA Venice. It’s part of a tradition of restaurants owned by the Tsunoda family going back hundreds of years. The French-Japanese menu will transform your palette into a veritable utopia of taste… or so I’ve heard.
For a less expensive option where the drinks flow and the fun never stops, hit up The Whaler. It’s a local hangout right on the sand. No matter what time of day, you’ll be able to find lively crowds enjoying beers, burgers, and well-priced cocktails. This is the “bro-ier” side of Venice, but if you’re in the mood, it can definitely be a good time.
Depending on how late you stay there, you can easily bar hop your way back home. But regardless, make sure to go by the Venice Sign on Pacific & Windward to see it lit up.
When you get home, take stock of your situation, realize you made an epic life choice, and then collapse happily into bed.
But wait! I almost forgot. What if it’s the first Friday of the month? If that’s the case, forget pretty much everything I said in the last section and get back to Abbot Kinney for dinner to experience LA’s ultimate food truck extravaganza. Like the flocking of migratory birds, the trucks settle on this street for First Fridays, crafting meals with the honed dedication of a king’s blacksmith. Of course, LA natives can’t help but gather and revel at all the fun and fusion. Once you’re done trying twenty different mobile cuisines, there are a few choice bars nearby, as well as some nighttime art galleries that frequently pop up, especially during FF.
And if you hear of anything else going that sounds great but I forgot to mention, try it. Venice is an ever-evolving landscape of interesting people and events. Get outside, and you’ll get invited to things. Don’t be shy. This is one of the best places in LA to find your crowd.
Don’t live in Venice yet? Check out our Venice coliving community today and you’ll never be far from an epic adventure.