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15 Best Things to Do in Venice Beach, California

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When visiting Los Angeles, checking out the coastal community of Venice Beach is a must for any travel itinerary.

Known for its laid-back bohemian energy, lively boardwalk, sandy shoreline, and Venetian-style canals, Venice Beach, California, offers many awesome things to do for all travelers.

Kids love the famous beach, backpackers thrive off the outdoorsy atmosphere, and the abundance of beachside cafes enthralls foodies. And, of course, wandering the Venice boardwalk is one of the best free things to do in Venice Beach, California, for all visitors! 

Despite being just 17 miles west of downtown LA (and often just regarded as a part of LA itself), Venice Beach offers an entirely different perspective on the huge SoCal city.

Easily accessible via driving or public transportation, you can explore the area as a day trip or as part of a longer stay. After all, this is one of the coolest and prettiest beaches in the state! Soak up the rays and take some time getting to know the community.

If you want to immerse yourself in the iconic SoCal way of life, pair your visit to Venice Beach with nearby Santa Monica. But what exactly are the best things to do in Venice, California? What to do in this famous beachfront resort town, indeed!

TL;DR

Let’s break down the basics for folks looking for an at-a-glance overview! If you want more details, continue reading for more detailed advice on these places and activities. 

Things to Do in Venice Beach, California

Now, let’s dive into the top activities and Venice Beach attractions to visit.

1.  Venice Beach and Boardwalk

Venice Beach Aerial View

Address: Ocean Front Walk, Los Angeles, CA 90291

In Venice Beach, California, the number-one item on the agenda should be to dig your toes in the sand and at least wade into the Pacific Ocean. Venice Beach is a clean beach with varying soft and coarse sand and occasional banks of broken seashells underneath.

The mild waves at Venice Beach make it safe to swim and surf. Lifeguards are stationed on the beach. When visiting Los Angeles, checking out the coastal community of Venice Beach is a must for any travel itinerary.

It is one of the most popular coastal attractions in the Los Angeles area and extremely popular with families, dogwalkers, mountain bikers, volleyball players, swimmers, sunbathers, beach bums, and surfer dudes alike. It’s also one of the best places to enjoy glorious views of South Bay.

Venice Beach Boardwalk is one of the most instantly recognizable California locations, immortalized in countless postcards, magazines, TV shows, movies, and even video games.

Enjoy a Venice Beach Walking Tour

You can explore the major sights on foot. Start your self-guided walking tour at the neon Venice sign above Pacific Avenue and Windward Avenue. Then, wander down to Windward Plaza and enter the main beach and Venice Beach boardwalk area.

Venice Beach Skatepark & Venice Public Art Walls

Skaters at Venice Beach Skatepark

Pay attention to the Venice murals that decorate the beach entrance. Professional graffiti artists painted these street art pieces, which are a joy to photograph. At the same time, you can spend hours watching skaters hone their technique at the Venice Beach Skate Park.  

Also, check out the Venice Pride Flag Lifeguard Tower near the Venice Skatepark. This original shack received its rainbow makeover during Pride 2017 and represents diversity in the area while supporting local and wider LGBTQ+ communities.  

Muscle Beach

Muscle Beach
image by La Citta Vita is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Muscle Beach is another Venice Beach icon. Celebrating physical health, the recreation zone contains a weightlifting area and basketball court for public use.

You can use the Muscle Beach facilities or grab a seat and people-watch. There are typically lots of street performers in this area as well!

Visiting the beach and walking along the boardwalk are classic free things in Venice Beach. However, if you feel inspired to brush up on your knowledge about the local area, consider booking a ticket for the Ultimate Venice Beach Experience.

This guided walking tour is led by a local who explains the significance of Venice’s main sights. You’ll also have the opportunity to lift weights at iconic Muscle Beach!

The tour is perfect for families, couples, and solo travelers alike – especially those who might feel self-conscious working out at the outdoor gym at Muscle Beach unsupervised!

See Related: Beaches in the US to Visit

2. Marina Del Rey

Marina Del Rey Aerial View

Address: Beach Ave, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

Marina Del Rey is a seaside community and recreation area just behind Venice Beach. The neighborhood bustles with waterfront eateries, lodging for residents and tourists, and over 5,000 boats bobbing along as the waves break.

Burton Chace Park sits on the east side of the docks and provides beautiful views across the water and marina. During the summer months, you can expect to find free concerts and events taking place, while festive installations bring cheer leading up to the holidays in the fall and winter.

Across the park on the west side, you’ll find Mothers Beach and Marina Beach. This is a no-surfing-allowed zone where smaller children can paddle and exhaust themselves in the beachside playground. 

Besides taking a casual stroll around the green spaces and grabbing delicious food in the restaurants, the best way to experience Marina Del Rey is by getting out on the calm water.

This Kayak and Paddleboard Tour with Sea Lions lets you choose between a boat or a SUP. It’s led by a knowledgeable local guide who provides the lowdown on the local environment and resident marine wildlife. Starting at Mother’s Bay, you’ll paddle toward the channel that leads to the Pacific Ocean. Single and double kayaks are available.

See Related: Best Vacations for a Group of Friends

3. Surfing Lessons

Surf Board in Venice Beach

Address: Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90292

Did you ever visit Southern California if you didn’t catch at least one wave? Surfing is the quintessential Californian pastime, and Venice Beach is no different.

If you’ve never surfed, then surf lessons are one of the most popular things to do in Venice Beach, California. There’s no better way to immerse yourself in the SoCal lifestyle! Besides, Venice Breakwater enjoys mellow waves that offer optimum conditions even for surf newbies. 

Venice Beach surfing lessons

This 2-hour Group Surfing Lesson is designed for total beginners and intermediates looking to improve their technique. Before diving in (literally!), your certified instructor will explain the basics of the sport from the beach.

Afterward, you’ll have around 40 minutes of coaching in the water while your coach keeps you safe. Surfboards and wetsuits are included in the booking fee, so you can show up!

Alternatively, for a more immersive experience, you can book a Private Surfing Lesson in Venice Beach. Again, the class is geared toward first-time surfers as well as those with previous experience. This private surf class permits children as young as 7 to participate and is an epic activity for families to share. 

Surfing is available year-round at Venice Beach. Even if you skip it, observe the pros at work and cheer on those attempting to catch their first wave.

See Related: Tropical Vacation Ideas in the World

4. Venice Beach Sunset 

Sunset in Venice Beach

Address: Venice Fishing Pier Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

You might wonder if Venice Beach, California, is worth visiting for the sunset. Well, the answer is a big YES! Venice Beach experiences some of the most magical sunsets in the state, and it’s worth going purely for the golden hour. 

If you’re lucky enough to spend a few nights at Venice Beach, you can pick a different sunset destination for each evening of your stay.  

Where to watch the sunset in Venice Beach

The Venice Fishing Pier is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Venice Beach. This 700-foot-long pier stretches over the Pacific Ocean and provides panoramas out to sea and back toward town.

You can fish from the Venice Beach Pier without a license, and rentals are readily available as you stroll along the pier—there’s no reason not to try it!

Other coveted sunset spots include Venice Beach, Marina Del Rey, and the Venice Canals. Seize the moment to return to your favorite place in Venice Beach and experience it at this special time of day. 

We all know that sunsets are best when shared with other travelers. Whether you’re traveling solo or with relatives or buddies, the Venice Beach Sunset Walking Tour is a great way to make new friends while in town.

The tour guides you to the iconic sights of Venice Beach before concluding with a refreshing mocktail on the sand as the sun sinks into the water, creating an idyllic scene. Looking for rentals in Venice Beach? VRBO is one of the best sites on which to find cheap rentals.

See Related: Northern California vs Southern California: What’s the Difference?

5. Cycle to Santa Monica

Santa Monica Scenery

Address:  (for cycling the South Bay communities): 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Santa Monica, another must-visit California city, is conveniently located just 2.5 miles north of Venice Beach. Here, you’ll find the legendary Santa Monica Pier, jutting out into the Pacific with its giant Ferris wheel towering 55 feet above the beach.

Fun fact: the Santa Monica Pier was the first on the West Coast. Built in 1909, the concrete pier was a massive feat of engineering and architecture, and it’s still just as iconic today as it was over a century ago!

Because of their proximity, visiting the two towns in tandem makes perfect sense. And the journey between the two beach resorts is where the fun begins!

Walking or cycling to Santa Monica from Venice Beach is a great way to soak up the sights while getting a mild workout, the SoCal way.

The beach bike path, known as The Strand, connects the two towns and runs parallel to the ocean, highlighting a completely different aspect of Los Angeles County.

The flat, easy bike path makes this one of the most adventurous things to do in Venice Beach with kids, as a couple, or solo. You can even do this with your wheels if you have them! Otherwise, the Santa Monica and Venice Beach Bike Adventure provides bike rentals and a guided service for small groups. 

On the other hand, the Private Electric Bike Tour of Santa Monica and Venice Beaches is a more accessible option that provides the luxury of a private tour exclusive to your family or group.

Once in Santa Monica, you can explore the local attractions and even visit the site marking the end of Historic Route 66. This lesser-known Los Angeles attraction shouldn’t be missed!

See Related: Things to Do in California

6. Venice Canals

Boat in Venice Canal Historic District Venice Beach

 Address: Venice Canal Historic District Venice Beach, CA 90292

The Venice Beach canals truly put the “Venice” into Venice Beach! Inspired by the original canals in Venice, Italy, the Venice Canal Historic District is a network of artificial waterways constructed in 1905.

The canals are centrally located off Pacific Avenue and South Venice Boulevard and open to the public. A series of bridges and pedestrian sidewalks connect the waterways, making it easy to navigate on foot.

Strolling around the Venice Canals district is one of the most romantic things in Venice Beach. The canals are beautiful to encounter at any time of day, with mornings offering a peaceful experience and evenings bringing remarkable sunsets. 

If you want to elevate your experience, you can explore the waterways by canoe as part of a Private Tour on Historic Venice Canals. This takes place in the evening to coincide with sunset and offers a unique way to immerse yourself in the Venice Beach Canals. 

With no waves, the activity suits guests of all experience levels, abilities, and ages. Generally speaking, the beach attracts the lion’s share of the crowds at golden hour. That means you’ll get the rare and unique opportunity to paddle the waters in (near) solitude!

A small playground is situated within the Venice Canal Historic District complex, which will appease the kids (or kids at heart!).

See Related: Things to Do in Barstow

7. Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve

Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve Scenery
image by Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve/TripAdvisor

Address: Playa Del Rey, CA 90293

Now, it’s time for something entirely different! The Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve is a natural green space south of the Venice Beach Boardwalk and Marina Del Rey. It encompasses 600 acres of wetlands, uplands, shrubland, sand dunes, and salt marshes and overlooks the Pacific Ocean. 

The wetlands are subject to seasonal flooding and provide a safe sanctuary for such wildlife as American kestrels, peregrine falcons, desert cottontails, coyotes, and California king snakes. Plant life is equally diverse, with scatterings of wild sage, beach evening primrose, and pampas grass. It’s the perfect environment for getting some clean air into the lungs! 

You can explore the reserve independently or book a guided tour led by one of the volunteer guides who tend to the park.

Ballona schedules frequent tours and immersive events throughout the year to educate and kindle an interest in conservation. They also host clean-ups and appreciate the support of volunteers from the general public.  

Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve is one of the best outdoor activities in Venice Beach. This is especially true for kids who want to learn about the natural world!

But the reserve deserves to be included on any Venice Beach itinerary—especially if you’re passionate about conservation and The Great Outdoors.  

See Related: Best Holiday Destination Spots for Couples

8. Luxury Boat Cruise with Wine and Cheese

Couple on a Venice Beach Boat Cruise
image by GetYourGuide

Address: 13524 Bali Way, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

Venice Beach is associated with surfing, skating, and boho vibes. But that’s not to say there aren’t many luxurious things to do in Venice Beach when you feel like indulging in something glamorous!

Specialty boat cruises invite you to get out on the water and indulge in rest. One of the best cruises in Venice Beach is this Luxury Boat Cruise with Wine and Cheese

You will hop aboard an electric Duffy boat in Marina Del Rey and settle back as your captain glides you through the water, past hidden gems and the sea lions and birds who dwell in the docks.

The experience takes you close to seeing the mega yachts docked in the marina and allows you to connect with the community and nature.

This romantic activity includes a serving of charcuterie, fruits, and white or red wine of your choosing (two glasses per participant). It’s perfect for date night during your Venice Beach getaway.   

The tour is available as a group, with daily sailings commencing at 5:00 p.m.. Otherwise, you can surprise your other half and book a private cruise for an additional luxury touch. These are available at various times throughout the day.

9. Shopping in Venice Beach  

Venice Beach Sign and Sunset

Address: Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

This eclectic beach town is the perfect place to pick up unique souvenirs to commemorate your time in Los Angeles. Independent stores, boutiques, and souvenir shops in Venice Beach sell all items, including jewelry, surf and skatewear, arts, books, and trinkets. 

We recommend checking out Burro Venice on Abbot Kinney Boulevard for high-quality apparel, accessories, stationery items, and gifts. The friendly staff even offers a gift wrap service. 

Principessa, also on Abbot Kinney Blvd, and Boardwalk Vintage specialize in stylish retro and contemporary clothing, swimwear, and accessories. The latter offers a vinyl record selection. 

You can visit the weekly farmers market if you’re fortunate enough to be in Venice Beach on a Friday. It takes place on Venice Blvd. between 7 and 11:00 a.m.

You can pick up farm-fresh produce, artisanal pantry items, locally-made arts and crafts, and a seemingly infinite assortment of goodies. Even if you aren’t looking to shop, this is one of the best places to visit in Venice Beach for the atmosphere alone. 

Come Saturday, Marina Del Rey will hold a farmers market at Mothers Beach between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. The Items on sale will be similar to those at the Venice Boulevard market, offering fun things.

That said, the Marina Del Rey market is primarily known for its exemplary vegan street food and products and for some of the best coffee in town. 

See Related: Cheapest Shopping Destinations in the World

10. Seaside dining and drinking

Food Stall in Venice Beach

Address: Venice Whaler, 10 Washington Blvd, Venice, CA 90292

All these activities will make you rather hungry, so let’s run through where to eat in Venice Beach. In terms of dining and drinking, Venice Beach has two essential places to visit.  

Rose Venice

First, the Rose Venice icon attracts Venice Beach residents and tourists equally. The space consists of indoor and outdoor seating, making it the perfect choice if rain threatens your outing (which is fortunately rare in SoCal!).

The menu spans comfort food such as pizza, pasta, all-day breakfast, raw seafood, health-conscious meat, fish, and veggie dishes. Drinks include tea, coffee, smoothies, and cocktails. 

Venice Whaler

Offering ocean views, no-frills grub, and happy hour drinks, the Venice Whaler on Washington Blvd is a community pillar.

Try the clam chowder or snap up the catch of the day. The joint opens from brunch until 2:00 a.m. and is the perfect spot to start or end a night out in Venice Beach, California.  

Committed foodies will appreciate taking a Secret Food Tour of Venice Beach, Los Angeles. The package is available as a group or private option, making it a solid choice for solo travelers and groups.

The local guide will steer you toward secret treasures and share intel on the Venice Beach foodie scene while you nibble on tasters.

11. Enjoy a Bumper Beach Day!

Surfers in Manhattan Beach

Venice Beach is undeniably fabulous, but out of all the beaches in South Bay, it is the one people flock to the most – you can hardly blame them! But there are other great beaches in the area that are worth checking out if you’re looking for something with a different flavor or a little less crowded.

It’s worth noting that aesthetically, these beaches are largely similar, but the level of crowds and neighborhoods add a different je ne sais quoi to each of these lovely beaches.

If you’re looking for a little bit of glitz and glam and some exclusivity, pay a visit to Manhattan Beach and enjoy a food tour. This beach is great for romantic dates due to its stunning viewpoint and fine dining.

Hermosa Beach is great for beach days, ideal for swimming and sunbathing, and home to several great seafood restaurants. Redondo Beach is arguably the most popular beach in the LA area after Venice Beach and enjoys a friendly, laid-back vibe.

12. Mosaic Tile House

Mosaic Tile House
image by gezentiinsan/Tripadvisor

Address: 1116 Palms Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

Of all the stunning and unique landmarks in the Los Angeles area, the Mosaic Tile House in Venice is among the most awe-inspiring.

What started as a DIY project for artist Cheri Pann and her husband Gonzalo Duran quickly became a marvelous passion project that transformed their home into an ever-evolving art exhibit.

As well as being one of the coolest art spots in the LA area, the house isn’t just a sparkling and constantly growing gallery; this colorful marvel is also their home!

It isn’t just good looks on the outside either, no sir! Once you get into the property proper, you’ll see colorful murals made from an eclectic array of materials used to build the various works. There are also a number of named prize pieces dotted through the Mosaic Tile House.

The Mosaic Tile House is open only on Saturdays, and visits are reservations only. Still, it’s well worth stopping by for a once-in-a-lifetime artistic experience.

13. The Pacific Resident Theatre

Pacific Resident Theatre
image by DocFreeman24 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Address: 703 Venice Blvd., Venice, CA 90291

Are you a fan of the arts? Are you looking for more culture? Do you need something to do on the (very) off chance that it rains? Consider taking in a show at the Pacific Resident Theatre.

While a relatively new institution (as far as theatres are concerned), this small, local theatre has cemented its reputation and legacy as a serious hub for the performing arts.

This isn’t all talk either – in less than 40 years, the Pacific Resident Theatre and its companies have amassed more than 30 Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle Awards and the Margaret Harford Award for Continuous Achievement in Theater.

Not bad, considering it’s in the same neck of the woods as almost every one of America’s top production companies and movie studios, as well as a bevy of the West Coast’s most famous performance houses!

Running all manner of different performances on its three different stages, the Pacific Resident Theatre also offers opportunities for youth performers to tread the boards. If you’re interested in a show, check out their events page.

14. High Rooftop Lounge

High Rooftop Lounge Aerial View
image by Tone Fox/TripAdvisor

Address: 1697 Pacific Ave, Venice, CA 90291

You don’t have to tell us what thirsty work vacationing is! Grab a seat at the High Rooftop Lounge to relax and rejuvenate in style.

The jewel in the crown of Hotel ERWIN and the only rooftop bar in Venice Beach, the High Rooftop Lounge affords incredible views of the city and the seaside while offering a superb menu.

They serve a great host of Mexican and California classics, sharing platters, burgers, pizzas, salads, and some delectable cocktails to help you wind down after a hard day of shopping or surfing.

There’s also a live DJ pumping out the perfect choons to help liven up any night in Venice Beach! If that weren’t enough, the High Rooftop Lounge can also aid your hangover recovery with their weekend brunch!

See Related: Best Beaches in Minnesota to Visit

15. Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier Aerial View

We couldn’t finish this guide to the best things to do in Venice Beach without dedicating a whole section to the iconic Santa Monica Pier. While it’s technically not in Venice, the pier is walkable, just a couple of miles north (you can easily spot it from its Ferris wheel!), and borders Venice Beach.

When built in 1909, the 1,600-foot-long Santa Monica Pier had a strictly functional, very non-glamorous purpose: to carry sewage pipes.

However, the pier became an instant entertainment attraction, drawing locals and visitors alike who spent hours walking and fishing from it. 

It wasn’t long before the “amusement pier” with rides and games, Coney Island-style, was built adjacent to the original pier. Today, many still stand, including the famous Looff Hippodrome Carousel, celebrating its 100th birthday in 2022.

Families, friends, couples, and solo adventurers have plenty to do at the Santa Monica Pier. Enjoy the amusement park rides, spend time simply people-watching, sample some of the delicious foods, and try your luck fishing right off the pier. You don’t even need a fishing license here!

Take a Santa Monica and Venice Beach Tour from Los Angeles and see the beauty of the pier.

No matter how you spend your time at the Santa Monica Pier, don’t leave before taking a selfie with the neon Santa Monica Yacht Harbor sign — it’s one of those California tourist attractions you just can’t skip!

Are you looking for hotels near the pier? Find cheap hotels at Booking.com or Hotels.com to get the best deals.

See Related: Most Famous Landmarks in California to Visit

Getting around Venice Beach, California

Venice Beach

Now that you know about the best things to do in Venice Beach, let’s address how to actually navigate to and around the destination.  

Venice Beach by foot

The great news is that Venice Beach is extremely walkable. Many of the activities outlined above are accessible on foot or by bicycle, and it is extremely bike-friendly, so you can feel safe on a two-wheeler.

While bikes aren’t permitted on the Venice Beach boardwalk or Venice Pier, the city has several dedicated bike lanes. You can bring your bike or rent one from one of the many rental stores on Venice Boulevard or near the boardwalk. 

Public transportation in Venice Beach

There is no subway service in Venice Beach. However, local buses connect several neighborhoods if you need to travel further than the city center. Metro and Big Blue Bus operate buses in town, with regular connections to the Santa Monica Pier and Los Angeles. 

To get to Venice Beach from Los Angeles, you can drive the 17 miles with your rental car in about 30 minutes when traffic is at its best. Alternatively, you can take bus number 33 from Patsaouras Bus Plaza in downtown Los Angeles. The ride is operated by Metro and takes around an hour.

If you do wish to rent a car to get around Venice Beach and Los Angeles County, we recommend using Rentalcars.com or Kayak. Venice Beach parking is widely available in town, but spaces fill up fast during peak hours. If possible, we recommend booking accommodation that includes parking.

Tours in Venice Beach

1. Small Group Electric Bicycle Tour of Santa Monica and Venice Beach Top Recommendation

This is a pedal-powered, electric bike tour of the famous Venice and Santa Monica area beaches. Cycle along the canals in Venice Beach and experience the historic boardwalk of Santa Monica. Get a taste of California beach life as you ride your way through iconic locations on this electric bike tour.

2. The Ultimate Venice Beach Experience

The Ultimate Venice Beach Experience is a walking tour that provides a comprehensive overview of the history, culture and architecture of Venice, California. It's an opportunity to explore its famous boardwalk, Muscle Beach and skate park as well as visit its famous canals while learning about the history of this most remarkable community.

3. Los Angeles: Santa Monica and Venice Beach Segway Tour

Santa Monica and Venice Beach Segway Tour. Get ready to glide along the waterfront and beach to see the locals relaxing and the impressive street performers, as you travel through Venice Beach to take in its canals and unique homes. Take a tour of famous Muscle Beach, talked about in movies and jokes from all over the world. As you make your way down by the Santa Monica Pier, get a glimpse of beautiful views that most people never experience on this breathtaking Segway excursion.

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