01 of 09
Venice Beach Canals
Let's take a walk in Venice Beach. This gallery takes you full circle, from Venice's beginnings when it was trying to be like that other Venice in Italy, past today's beachfront scene and back to the hottest part of downtown Venice Beach - named after the guy who started it all.
Along the way, you'll see some kooky people, some pretty views and a couple of interesting-looking houses. Find out how the lifeguards get their trucks and who trained at Muscle Beach back in the day.
The Venice Beach Canals
Just like its namesake in Italy, California’s Venice has its own canals. They were built in 1905 as part of local land developer Abbot Kinney’s plan to create an second Venice in America. The canals, spanned by arched bridges and set off by romantic lighting created lots of publicity that helped sell land in the new development.
By the late 1920s, those same canals were considered out of date and most of them were filled in. The residential district surrounding the remaining... ones was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Despite that, the canals stayed in a state of disrepair for several more years. In the 1990s, they were cleaned up and new sidewalks were built. Today, the neighborhood is one of the area’s most popular.
The remaining canals are located in the area bounded by S. Venice Blvd., 28th Ave., Court A and Court E. They’re a good place to start your tour of Venice Beach. Street parking time is limited in this area and you may spend more time there than you expect. The public parking lot between N. and S. Venice Blvd is a convenient and doesn’t have a time limit.Continue to 2 of 9 below.
02 of 09
Venice Beach Scene
After you leave the canal area, walk toward the waterfront on Washington Blvd. When you reach the beach, the fishing pier will be straight ahead. The “boardwalk” is a short distance away to the right (north) and this photo was actually taken a little bit north of that.
The sand is always kept nicely at Venice Beach, with frequent groomings by the parks department. It’s nice to spend a little time by the ocean, checking out the beach at Venice.
Along the entire length of the beach, you’ll find nice paths for walking, skating and bicycling. In fact, those paths go all the way up to Santa Monica and down to Redondo Beach, 22 miles in total.Continue to 3 of 9 below.
03 of 09
Venice Beach Graffiti Walls
This may be the only place in Los Angeles where graffiti art is actually legal. The walls in the area called “The Pit” or the “Graffiti Pit” are all that remains of the Venice Pavilion, built in 1961.
By the time the pavilion was town down, it was covered with some great street art, but according to the Venice Art Walls “a portion of the walls were preserved as a living memorial to the high quality artwork that had been painted on the walls for over twenty-five years."
Since the year 2000, painting on these walls - and these walls only - is legal, but by permit only. Their official name is now the Venice Public Art Walls. Anyone can get a permit, but you have to submit a picture ID and a sketch if you want to paint the larger walls.
The project is sponsored by the Setting the Pace Foundation, who took it over in 2012.
If you’d like to see more of the art work that has been done on the walls, check out the Venice Beach Graffiti Wall Flickr group.
They are located between Skate Park &... Police Station, near where Windward Avenue intersects Ocean Front Walk.Continue to 4 of 9 below.
04 of 09
Venice Beach Boardwalk
The section of the coastal walk that runs through Venice Beach is often called the “boardwalk,” even though it isn’t made out of boards. On maps, it Ocean Front Walk. Whatever its name, the section in Venice is about 1.5 miles long.
It’s hard not to get amused by all the things that happen along the beachfront in Venice. This picture shows a typical crowd, but you might see nearly anything: a large group of chanting Hare Krishnas, a man on stilts, a dog searing sunglasses, a mimes, juggler or jester. You can get your name written on a grain of rice or have your fortune told.
You’ll may even encounter a few local characters who are almost always there. They may include a rollerskating guy wearing a patriotic speedo, a guy with dreads rocking the guitar. You might even come across the Venice Beach Snake Man, unless he’s over on Hollywood Boulevard instead (his snakes are plastic).
It’s chaotic and crazy and sometimes it smells funny. You’ll probably either love it or hate it, but for me... it's that odd mix of tourists, locals, local characters and everyone else that makes the place so much fun.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Venice Beach Street Performer
Venice Beach attracts a wide variety of innovative street performers. You might find a juggler, a break dancer or a musician performing, a half-naked man playing a bongo drum - or even a comedian or someone walking over broken glass.
You’ll also find people playing music beside the sidewalk and there’s usually a guy busy creating temporary art works out of sand.
Website LAist.com lists Goldman (paints himself gold and poses like a statue), Harry Perry (wearing a turban and playing a guitar), barefoot glasswalker Perry Hernandez among LA’s best street performers.
Bring plenty of $1 dollar bills with you for the street performers and others. These hard-working folks earn their living on the beach and they make it more fun for everyone. If you watch a performer’s entire show, please leave them a tip.Continue to 6 of 9 below.
06 of 09
The original "Muscle Beach" was a few miles up the way near the Santa Monica Pier. Eventually, the hub of bodybuilding moved down to Venice Beach and this current facility was put up in the 1990s.
Lots of famous bodybuilders trained at Muscle Beach in the 1960s, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chet Yorton, who defeated him to win the 1966 NABBA Mr. Universe contest. In an episode of the television series Baywatch, you can also see Hulk Hogan training on Muscle Beach Venice.
It’s still a popular place for getting buffed up and several contests happen nearby every year.
The training facility is owned and operated by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation & Parks. It’s part of the Venice Beach Recreation Center. If you want to join them - just to say you did it - you can get a day pass.Continue to 7 of 9 below.
07 of 09
Venice Beach Street Artist
You’ll also find a lot of local artists along the Venice Beach waterfront. In fact, there are no less than 205 spaces designated for artists, vendors, performers and persons engaging in free speech. All the items sold there have to be hand made. In an attempt to separate mere handicrafts from real art, vendors can’t sell jewelry or anything that seems too utilitarian, like a handmade bowl.
Some of the artists - as you might expect - are better than others, but you might just find something to take home that will be a more enjoyable souvenir than that coffee mug or keychain you were thinking about getting.
I think this guy is an artist because his sand creations are so beautiful, but you might also think of him as a performer as you watch him working. And clearly, you’re not going to buy his sand sculpture and take it home with you.
Bring some $1 dollar bills with you and if you take a photo of something someone made or just appreciate an artist’s work, please leave them a tip.Continue to 8 of 9 below.
08 of 09
Venice Beach Lifeguard Truck
Many scenes for the iconic television series Baywatch were filmed at Venice Beach, according to IMDB. During that time, automobile manufacturers provided lifeguard vehicles to generate brand exposure on photogenic Southern California beaches.
Nissan, Ford and Chevrolet have struck deals with various SoCal beach towns since Nissan started the trend in 1995. This truck was photographed in 2003. As of 2008, the service was using Ford Escape Hybrids.
LA County Lifeguards cover 31 miles of beach and 72 total miles of Santa Monica Bay coastline, from San Pedro to Malibu. It is the world's largest professional lifeguard service, employing over 800 lifeguards. It’s also the one that Baywatch was modeled after.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Named for the real estate developer who created the canals at the beginning of this tour, Abbot Kinney Blvd is one of the most enjoyable spots in Venice Beach. The street is lined with cute little shops, edgy art galleries and places to eat - and few if any big-name businesses. You can find more about all the businesses there at the Abbot Kinney Boulevard website
If you leave the waterfront walk on Brooks Avenue and cross Speedway, Pacific Avenue and Main Street, you’ll be on the north end of Abbot Kinney. From there, you can walk its 8 blocks, then turn right on Venice Blvd. to get back to where you started.