10 Best Things to Do in Venice, California

Venice in Los Angeles, California

Izzet Keribar / Getty Images

An icon of Los Angeles, Venice is located between Santa Monica and Marina del Ray. The neighborhood is named after the famous Italian city because of its canals, which were originally built in 1905 by the developer Abbot Kinney. However today it is mostly known for its countercultural spirit and creativity. From Arnold Schwarzenegger's muscles to the sport of skateboarding, many of California's cultural exports can trace their roots back to Venice.

Venice is known as a haven for creative types and is famous for its bohemian boardwalk, diverse culture, and eclectic shops and restaurants along Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
Although it is much safer than it used to be, you should still take general safety precautions to avoid falling victim to petty theft. You will find plenty of things to do year-round, especially along Venice Beach, but there are some places you shouldn't miss.

01 of 10

Marvel at Mosaics

Close up of colorful mosaic fence at Venice Beachs Mosaic Tile House

Vikram Jam / Flickr / CC By 2.0

1116 Palms Blvd, Venice, CA 90291, USA

The Mosaic Tile House is one of Los Angeles' best-kept secrets. This stunning live-in art project is the private home of artists Cheri Pann and Gonzalo Duran, however, it is open to the public every Saturday between 12 and 3 p.m. You will have to reserve your visit by e-mail first.

The home is completely covered in colorful tiles and mosaics, inside and out. A project that has lasted over 25 years, this couple has used everyday objects like mugs, bottles, and spoons to fill every last inch of their home with something interesting to look at.

02 of 10

Drop-In at the Venice Skate Park

A skateboarder flies high over the Venice Beach Skatepark at sunset

Mgs/ Getty Images

1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291, USA
Phone +1 310-399-2775

Built in 2009, the Venice Beach Skate Park symbolizes the important role of this iconic location in the history of skateboarding culture. The beach has always been a magnet for skateboarders who have been rolling around Venice since the 1970s. The 16,000-square-foot park is always full of bold and creative skaters showing off their tricks. Skating here is on the bucket list of many thrashers, but even if you've never skated in your life, it's worth a visit to watch.

03 of 10

Get Up Close to Sea Life

California Grunion on a Southern California Beach

Steve Howard / Getty Images

Instead of an official brick-and-mortar location, this "museum without walls" educates visitors from the actual beach. Through a series of programs that incorporate art, literature, and music with science, children are welcome to learn more about the ocean through marine science pop-up labs on the Venice Pier and at the local tide pool. Despite the hubbub of activity, the beach is still a living ecosystem and tide pools are teeming with sea life.

The roster of programming includes everything from specimen displays, beachcombing walks, Moby Dick readings, and the ever-popular Grunion Run Party. During this event, families are invited out at night to observe schools of grunion fish slither out of the ocean and onto the sand to do their breeding.

04 of 10

Walk Along the Venice Canals

Venice Canals

Altug Karakoc / Getty Images

Venice, CA 90292, USA

When Abbot Kinney created his Venice of America development in 1905, he had 16 miles of canals dug to drain the marshland for residential construction. The majority of the canals were paved over in the 1920s to create roads for the new horseless carriages, but a few blocks of canals remain south of Venice Boulevard about a block and a half inland from the beach.

Although many of the homes around the canals were getting run down, they've mostly been restored, creating a cute area to walk or paddle around. The canals do get a bit dry in summer, so you may not be able to take a boat down them then. However, you can walk along the concrete edges of these old waterways at any time of year.

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05 of 10

Stroll Down the Venice Beach Boardwalk

Venice Beach boardwalk

Richard Cummins / Getty Images

Ocean Front Walk, Los Angeles, CA, USA

The Venice Beach Boardwalk, also known as Ocean Front Walk, is one of the most popular attractions in Los Angeles, welcoming over millions of visitors every year. Strolling along this famous three-mile stretch of pavement and taking in its many activities and attractions is also one of the top free things to do in the city.

More than a mile of it is lined with funky shops, cafes, and vendor booths, as well as dazzling street performers and artists. And you can either workout or just people-watch at the beachside outdoor gym, Muscle Beach where Arnold Schwarzenegger was discovered. It also includes handball courts, a gymnastics playground, beach volleyball courts, and a paved skateboard park.

06 of 10

Relax on the Beach

Summer on Venice Beach

Michael Rowe / Getty Images

Venice Beach, Los Angeles, CA, USA

The boardwalk isn't the only reason people go to the shoreline in Venice; they also go to dip their toes in the Pacific Ocean. Venice Beach is the busiest facility operated by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, welcoming over 10 million visitors a year, on average.

Sunbathe to the sound of a drum circle or watch a street performer while you relax and soak up some rays on this two-mile stretch of Southern California paradise. The beach is free to enjoy, but parking around this popular tourist spot is not easy, especially on weekends.

07 of 10

Ride the Venice Beach Bike Path

The bike path on Venice Beach

Christian Kober / Getty Images

517 Ocean Front Walk #1, Venice, CA 90291, USA
Phone +1 310-396-2453

If you're feeling adventurous, rent a bicycle or skates from the Venice Boardwalk Bike Rental services and take a ride down the bike path between the boardwalk and the beach. The Venice Beach Bike Path is popular for cyclists and skaters alike, as it has over nine miles of paved road dedicated to people on wheels. From Venice, you can continue up the coast through Santa Monica to the northern shores of Los Angeles, or you can travel all the way to Redondo Beach in the south by taking a detour around Marina del Rey.

08 of 10

Enjoy Local Art

The Art Walls at Venice Beach Boardwalk, Los Angeles, CA

TripSavvy / Kayte Deioma

Venice's diverse and eclectic population is home to many artists and creators, which has given rise to art galleries and public art pieces in the district. One of the most famous, the Venice Public Arts Walls, is located on the Venice Pavilion building. Sporting graffiti art from the 1960s to the early 2000s, this public art space, which has been dubbed "the graffiti pit," is a great place to see a visual representation of the artistic history of Venice.

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09 of 10

Shop and Dine on Abbott Kinney Boulevard

Abbott Kinney Boulevard in Venice, CA

TripSavvy / Christian Hundley

Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Stretching from Venice Boulevard in the northwest to Pacific Avenue in the southeast, Abbot Kinney Boulevard has an eclectic mix of independent boutiques, restaurants, and nightspots perfect for a night out on the town after a day of lounging on the beach. Additionally, each year the entire street is closed off for a weekend in September for the Abbott Kinney Festival.

This short stretch of shopping is one of Los Angeles' trendiest spots for less-traditional clothes and gifts, featuring both local brands like All Things Fabulous plus international staples. Although Abbott Kinney gets the most attention, the downtown area of Venice continues on Grand Boulevard and Main Street, where you'll find even more shops and trendy restaurants.

10 of 10

Snap a Picture of the Binoculars Building

The Binoculars Building in Venice

Kayte Deioma

340 Main St, Venice, CA 90291, USA

The Binoculars Building on Main Street was designed by architect Frank Gehry and constructed between 1985 and 1991 for ad agency Chiat/Day. The building gets its name from the accompanying sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen on its street-facing facade, and this architectural landmark now houses some of Google's offices. Since it's a private office space, you can't explore inside this peculiar building, but it makes a great photo-op if you're walking around Venice.

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10 Best Things to Do in Venice, California