Venice Beach is one of the most interesting places to stay in Los Angeles. A sleepy beach town that’s anything but boring, there are so many amazing things to see and do in this enchanting California neighbourhood. I spent a day in this bohemian wonderland, enjoying everything Venice had to offer - from boutique hopping on Abbot Kinney Boulevard to working out alongside the bodybuilders at Muscle Beach, and strolling along the beautiful canals the city is famous for. Here’s my dream itinerary for a day at Venice Beach:
Take an early morning stroll along the aptly-named Hollywood Reservoir to catch a glimpse of locals jogging before they start their day, then grab a coffee and a bagel at popular haunt Cow’s End Café. What looks like an unassuming café (albeit one adorned with a giant cow statue mounted on the shop front) is an amazing breakfast spot that locals have loved for decades. It’s the ideal place to do a spot of people and dog-watching while you tuck into the most important meal of the day.
A visit to Venice isn’t complete without taking a ride along the popular bike path to Santa Monica and back. Hire a cruiser from any one of dozens of bike rental spots along the waterfront, or for a cheaper alternative, pick up a Metro bike for as little as $1.50 an hour, and slowly make your way along the winding pathway, taking in views of the pier – but watch out for people on electric scooters whizzing past as you go!
Muscle Beach is one of the most famous spots in Venice. Stop for a photo op at the bodybuilder hangout and if you’re brave enough, try out some of the fitness equipment – from rings to balance beams. There’s also a merchandise shop where you can buy a souvenir t-shirt too.
After all that activity, you’ll no doubt have built up a pretty big appetite. Stop for a spot of lunch at Sidewalk Café for hearty burgers or caesar salads the size of your face. This is a popular place with tourists as it boasts an outdoor terrace, which also happens to be one of the best spots for people-watching in the area. After your lunch, have a nosy in the adjacent bookstore to find some hidden literary gems and pick up a postcard to send back home.
Head to the Venice canals and spend hours lost in the maze of hidden waterways. Originally built as a replica of the canals in Venice, Italy, the California copycats are often missed due to their secret location, but if you know what you’re looking for, they are really easy to find. Tucked away just a five-minute walk from the main boardwalk, you’ll find dozens of canals glistening in the sunlight, all flanked by beautiful houses. Golden hour is a great time to visit as you’ll get some stunning pictures as the sun sets.
Ice cream is always a good idea and that’s definitely the case when it comes from handmade speciality store Salt & Straw, situated on trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Whatever time you visit, chances are there will be a queue out of the door, but trust me it is totally worth it. I tried the autumn special pumpkin flavour, but there are so many delicious flavour combinations to choose from including bestseller almond brittle with salted ganache.
Burn off that sweet treat with a spot of shopping, and where better than the trendiest street in Venice? Abbot Kinney Boulevard is made up of an eclectic mix of designer boutiques, craft coffee outposts and one-of-a-kind stores selling everything from loungewear to jewellery. There are also a number of bars including trendy juice bar and café The Butcher’s Daughter or no-thrills bar The Brig which boasts a signature cocktail menu and nightly entertainment.
Venice has a thriving food scene with so many amazing restaurants offering a whole host of different cuisines, so you’re sure to find something you’re in the mood for. We enjoyed a romantic meal at Rose Café, a truly beautiful restaurant with attentive and friendly staff and a menu full of delicious dishes. Sit under twinkling fairy lights in the stunning patio area and order mouth-watering small plates to share, including the most amazing carbonara I have ever tasted.
If a quick bite is more your thing, you won’t find better burgers than at grab burgers at Hinano Café – a dive bar with a reputation for good eats. A pint and a huge cheeseburger set up back a mere $8 – cheap, cheerful and crazily delicious.
Finish your day with a drink at the High Rooftop Lounge at the Hotel Erwin. The rooftop bar is the only one of its kind in Venice so it’s pretty much always busy but definitely worth a visit. DJ’s play popular tunes as bartenders pour inventive cocktails and with a backdrop of some of the best views in the city; it’s an experience you won’t want to miss!
Chat to a Travel Experts about our range of California holidays, or about tailor making your own adventure to Venice Beach.