Things to Do in Venice, California

The Top Attractions in Venice Beach, CA

Venice, CA is a district of the City of Los Angeles between Santa Monica and Marina del Rey. Although Venice is more than its beach, the terms Venice and Venice Beach are often used interchangeably. Named for its series of canals, Venice is known as a haven for creative types. It is famous for its bohemian boardwalk and for the eclectic shops and restaurants on Abbot Kinney Blvd.

Years of neglect led to high crime in the area, but recent gentrification has moved some gang activity elsewhere, although it's not completely gone. This does not usually impact tourist areas, however, general safety precautions for travelers should be observed.

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    Venice Beach Boardwalk in Los Angeles
    Venice Beach Boardwalk in Los Angeles. Photo © 2016 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Other than the Pacific Ocean itself, the Venice Beach Boardwalk is #2 on the list of Top Los Angeles Attractions with 16 million visitors a year. It's also one of the top free things to do in LA. Ocean Front Walk is a stretch of pavement along the 3-mile length of Venice Beach. Over a mile of it is lined with funky shops, cafes and vendor booths. Colorful street performers and artists entertain visitors. The Muscle Beach outdoor gym, gymnastics playground, handball courts, paddle tennis courts, beach volleyball courts, paved skateboard park and skate dancing plaza attract hard-bodied exhibitionists to a public workout. You can't beat the people watching.

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    Venice Beach, Los Angeles, CA
    Venice Beach, Los Angeles, CA. Photo © 2016 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    The boardwalk isn't the only reason people go to the beach in Venice. They also go to enjoy the Pacific Ocean and the afternoon sunshine on the sand. Where else can you sunbathe to the sound of a drum circle?

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    Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach, CA
    Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach, CA. Photo © 2015 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Abbot Kinney Blvd has an eclectic mix of independent boutiques, restaurants, and night spots. This short stretch of shopping is one of LA's trendiest spots for less-traditional clothes and gifts. Although Abbott Kinney gets the most attention, the downtown area of Venice continues on Grand Blvd and Main Street. Each year the street is closed off for a weekend in September for the Abbott Kinney Festival.

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    Venice Canals
    Venice Canals, Venice, CA. Photo: Altug Karakoc/Getty Images

    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 Blvd about a block and a half inland from the beach. Although many of the homes around the canals were getting run down, they've now mostly been restored, creating a cute area to walk or paddle around. The canals do get a bit dry in summer.

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    Venice Beach Bike Path, Los Angeles, CA
    Venice Beach Bike Path, Los Angeles, CA. Photo © 2016 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Venice Beach Bike Path is a concrete bike path that runs between the boardwalk and the sand and continues up the coast through Santa Monica making this a popular place for biking and roller skating. With a detour around Marina del Rey, you can also continue biking south to the Redondo Beach. Bike or skate rentals are available at a few Venice Beach bike rental locations.

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    Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary

    Monarch Butterfly
    Monarch Butterfly. Photo © 2014 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    A small lot at Pacific Avenue and 29th Street has been converted into a Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary to offer the fluttery creatures a hospitable stop on their journey between Mexico and Northern California.

     

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    The Binoculars Building

    The Binoculars Building in Venice, Los Angeles, CA
    The Binoculars Building in Venice, Los Angeles, CA. Photo © 2015 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    The Binoculars Building on Main Street was designed by architect Frank Gehry and constructed between 1985and 1991 for ad agency Chiat/Day. It now houses some of Google's offices. There are several other architectural landmarks in LA that are worth checking out as well. 

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