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13 Best Things to Do in Venice, California

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Venice, California, is part of the Westside Region of Los Angeles County. Since its founding in 1905, Venice has been known as an eccentric, entertaining, and unique part of the Southern California landscape.

This beachfront resort town has welcomed artistic expression and diverse cultures for over a century while providing amusement, education, and ocean-centered activities for the surrounding communities. Despite the city’s origins as a marshy wetland, its founder, Abbot Kinney, named it Venice after the famous city in Italy.

The addition of canals to drain the marsh soon made the new city more closely resemble its namesake. The original early 1900s buildings and storefronts were designed to mimic Venetian architecture.

Venice is still a hub of diversity and a haven for artists. With its self-guided walking tour, access to the Pacific Ocean, delicious food, and prolific street art, the city continues to beckon locals and tourists alike to partake in all it has to offer.

The city’s proximity to other Southern California destinations, such as Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, and Manhattan Beach, makes Venice a perfect spot for a sunny getaway!

TL;DR

Below is a list of some of the best places to visit in Venice, California!

  • Most significant landmark – Muscle Beach
  • Best park – Ballona Wetlands
  • Free activity – Venice Boardwalk
  • Activity for kids – Venice Beach
  • Activity for adults – Abbot Kinney Boulevard
  • Place to eat – Tocaya
  • Nightlife – High Rooftop Lounge
  • Place to stayHotel ERWIN

Things to Do in Venice, California

1. Venice Beach

Venice Beach Aerial View

Address: 1701 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291, United States

Venice Beach is a name given to the oceanfront area of the city of Venice, though the names are often used interchangeably. The beach part of Venice offers countless ocean activities including swimming, body boarding, paddle boarding, surfing, and kayaking.

Miles of sandy shoreline provide hours of fun for playing beach volleyball or frisbee, picnicking, sunbathing, collecting shells, and building sand castles. Visitors can also enjoy surfing lessons or watch the waves that roll in along the exposed beach of the Venice Breakwater.

According to the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, Venice Beach is the second most visited location in Southern California and the busiest of the many facilities they oversee.

The department estimates that Venice Beach receives more than 10 million visitors each year, making it one of the most popular Venice, California, tourist attractions as well as one of the most visited locations in the region.

If you’re looking for a great place to enjoy authentic Southern California Mexican food after a day at the beach, try Tocaya! Both locals and tourists love its fresh and tasty cuisine!

Among the best things you can do on the beach is to book a segway tour, 2-hour Group Surfing Lesson, and Santa Monica and Venice Beach Tour. The beach section of Venice also features a paved bike path, an oceanfront walk, and the Venice fishing pier.

See Related: Road Trip Ideas in California

2. Muscle Beach

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

Address: 1817 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291, USA

Often called the “Home of Bodybuilding,” Muscle Beach Venice is a unique outdoor gym that helped launch bodybuilder, actor, and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and bodybuilder and actor Lou Ferrigno to fame. Other notable names to train at Muscle Beach include Frank Zane, Franco Columbu, Vic Tanny, and Gold’s Gym founder Joe Gold.

Though the fitness craze and bodybuilding era began in the mid-1930s, it grew in popularity with fitness buffs and “average Joes” over the next several decades.

Muscle Beach’s location in the warm Southern California sun and alongside the beautiful Pacific Ocean made it a popular place to exercise and display feats of fitness.

Today, Muscle Beach Venice continues to be a popular place for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts to work out and become part of the gym’s iconic legacy. Visitors wishing to experience the gym can purchase a day or week-long pass. For more information, please follow this link.

3. Venice Beach Boardwalk

Skaters in Venice Beach

Address: 1800 Ocean Front Walk. Venice, CA 9029, USA

Start here if you’re wondering what to do in Venice, California! Located along the Ocean Front Walk of Venice Beach, the Venice Beach Boardwalk offers a mile of food, souvenir shops, street performers, bars, and the famous Venice public art walls, structures where artists can legally display their street art.

Though the Venice Beach Boardwalk runs about a mile along the paved Ocean Front Walk, the busiest part is between North Venice Boulevard and Park Avenue. Here, you will find countless beach-goers biking, rollerblading, skateboarding, or just taking a casual stroll.

The iconic Venice sign hangs at the entrance to the boardwalk at Windward Avenue, a great place to start your Venice Beach adventures. The “Venice” sign is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in Venice, California, as visitors flock to Windward Avenue to take pictures beneath it.

See Related: Things to Do in Palm Desert, California

4. Hotel ERWIN and the High Rooftop Lounge

Hotel ERWIN Building
image by Booking.com

Address: 1697 Pacific Ave, Venice, CA 90291, USA

The Hotel ERWIN is a boutique Venice hotel that first opened in the 1970s. Its location right on Venice Beach, along with its eclectic theme, has made this popular hotel a favorite among tourists and locals alike.

One of the most stunning features of The Hotel ERWIN is the High Rooftop Lounge. This rooftop bar gives guests an amazing view of Venice Beach, the Pacific Ocean, the neighboring Los Angeles communities, and the Southern California sunset.

In addition to evening cocktails and dinner, the High Rooftop Lounge also offers brunch on Saturdays and Sundays and Happy Hour specials during the week.

The hotel’s proximity to beach activities and the Venice Beach Boardwalk also make this location one of the best places to stay along Venice Beach. For more information on staying at The Hotel ERWIN, follow this link!

5. Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 1320 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291, USA

Named after the city’s original developer, Abbot Kinney Boulevard features some of Southern California’s most unique stores and restaurants.

Though the street runs from Washington Boulevard in Venice to Main Street in nearby Santa Monica, the majority of the popular places to visit are between Venice Boulevard and Pacific Avenue. Its proximity to the beach makes it ideal for shopping, dining, and enjoying the ocean breeze.

Shopping along Abbot Kinney Blvd. is a truly Venice, California experience. The Boho chic style of the neighborhood spills over into the many stores that line the busy street.

The many restaurants also located along this stretch of the boulevard mean shoppers can spend an entire day at this popular Venice locale without ever having to leave the area. Visit their website to learn more about shopping and dining along Abbot Kinney Boulevard.

See Related: Beaches in the US to Visit

6. Guided Bike Tour

Venice Beach Boardwalk Biking

If you’re still wondering what to do in Venice, California, consider renting a bike and enjoying a tour of the Santa Monica and Venice beach areas. This guided tour utilizes electric bicycles to help you stay comfortable and energetic as you view some of the popular scenic points of Santa Monica and Venice Beach. Non-electric or pedal bicycles can be rented instead if guests prefer.

This bike adventure will take guests along the famous Venice Beach Canals. Though they were originally built to drain the marshy water from the surrounding land, they were quickly turned into a Venice Beach attraction as they were known to be the California version of the Venice canals in Italy.

Guests will also enjoy the cycling trails of the Santa Monica Beach area and the nearby Santa Monica Pier. For more information on this guided bike tour and all it has to offer, book through Viator to secure your spot.

7. Venice Beach Skate Park

Skaters at Venice Beach Skatepark

Address: 1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291, USA

For skateboarders and skateboard enthusiasts, Venice Beach features the 16,000-square-foot Venice Beach Skate Park. Completed in 2009, the park was the final result of a 20-year campaign led by a famous skateboarder, Jesse Martinez. For $3.5 million, it is the most expensive skate park ever constructed.

The Venice Skate Park is located directly across the Venice Beach Boardwalk and easily accessed from its closest cross-streets, Market Street or Speedway. Visitors can either watch from the side or hop on a skateboard and try it for themselves.

The park features ramps, steps, platforms, and snake runs and is considered a very challenging course. It is one of the ideal places to enjoy the Ultimate Venice Beach Experience. For more information or to check out live footage of the skate park, check out their website.

See Related: Best Waterfalls in California

8. Venice Canal Historic District

Venice Canal Historic District
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: Venice, CA 90292, USA

The Venice Canal Historic District is a great place to enjoy a walking tour or bike ride while you explore one of the most famous attractions in Venice Beach.

Though the first developer, Abbot Kinney, originally constructed multiple canals throughout the area, many were paved over in 1929 to create roads. With the rise in popularity of the automobile, the beautiful canals were considered obsolete; today, only a few remain.

By 1940, the Venice Beach canals had fallen so disrepair that the city condemned parts of the area. It wasn’t until more than 50 years later that the canals finally received much-needed renovations to restore them to their early 1900s glory.

This restoration also made the property surrounding the canals both very popular and very expensive. Today, many of the homes in the historic canal district are just as beautiful as the idyllic scene around them. Visit the Venice website for more information on the Venice Canal Historic District.

9. Venice Art and Public Art Walls

Venice Art Walls

Address: Venice, CA 90291

Venice Beach, California, has always been known for its eccentricity and unique art scene. From public sculptures to building-size Venice murals, the city still features one-of-a-kind works of art and public art walls for locals and tourists to enjoy.

The Venice public art walls are part of what makes this famous beach such a popular attraction for artists from around the world. Every weekend, street artists, graffiti artists, and other creatives are welcome to turn one of the public art walls into their masterpieces. The experience is free, and the art space is first come, first served.

Whether you’re an artist or just want to view some of the amazing Venice murals, you won’t want to miss the unique opportunity to experience this legal street art first-hand! For more information, visit this page.

See Related: Museums in the US You Need to Visit

10. Venice Pier

Venice Pier

Address: 2700 to 3100 Ocean Front Walk Venice CA 90291, USA

The Venice Pier is a 1,300-foot path that extends into the Pacific Ocean. Originally built in 1963, the pier quickly fell into disrepair and was scheduled for demolition only 20 years later. However, due to the efforts of the Venice Beach community, the pier was saved and restored, reopening in 1997.

The Venice Pier is a refreshing place for a sunny walk. It offers stunning views of the ocean and the waves crashing just below. It also offers views of the Venice Beach Boardwalk, Muscle Beach, and the Santa Monica Pier. The pier is fully accessible and provides cut-outs along the rail for wheelchair viewing. The railing height is also lowered in these locations to allow for an unobstructed view.

In addition to being a beautiful place to walk, the Venice Pier is an excellent location for fishing. It features benches, good lighting, and fish-cleaning stations for a safe, pleasant, and convenient experience. Cutouts in the rail are also present for easier fishing access.

11. The Mosaic Tile House

Mosaic Tile House
image by gezentiinsan/Tripadvisor

Address: 1116 Palms Blvd, Venice, CA 90291, United States

The Mosaic Tile House is one of the most recognizable buildings in all Los Angeles. Its bold colors, eccentric design, and eclectic collection of tiles and decorations make it a stand-out, must-see attraction.

The house serves as a private residence and an art studio for the husband and wife artists who created it. Though it began as a weekend remodel project, it quickly became a passion that the couple shares and is a continuing work in progress.

While the outside of the home is stunning with its mosaic tiles and designs, the inside is equally as eye-catching. In addition to the colorful murals, visitors can view the personal artwork created by owners Cheri Pann and Gonzalo Duran while also catching a glimpse of some of their current Mosaic Tile House projects.

The house is only open on Saturdays, and visiting hours are limited. For more information on this amazing home or to schedule a tour reservation, please visit their website.

See Related: Things to Do in Roseville, California

12. 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, United States

The Pacific Resident Theatre (PRT) is an award-winning venue that offers live play productions. It provides the opportunity to experience plays by new artists, discover little-known works, and enjoy famous classics. The PRT has been the recipient of more than 30 Los Angeles Drama Critic’s Circle Awards and the Margaret Harford Award for Continuous Achievement in Theater.

The Pacific Resident Theatre is unique in that it offers three different stages, each with its specific type of production. The Main Stage has seating for a larger group with up to 99 seats, while the smaller Black Box Stage provides a more intimate experience for up to 40 guests.

Finally, the Co-Op is a truly unique space that allows PRT actors to write, direct, and act in their plays without the restrictions of critical reviews or requirements. Please visit their website to view one of the PRT’s plays or learn more about ticket costs.

13. The Ballona Wetlands

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

Address: Ballona Wetlands, Los Angeles, CA 90293, USA

The Ballona Wetlands are just a few minutes from Venice and the Venice Canals. Used as grazing land for cattle herds and agricultural development in the early 1800s, the area eventually became part of the larger plan for the development of Los Angeles County.

Though many acres of the wetlands were built up during the early to mid-1900s as part of this plan, a massive conservation effort in the 1990s saved much of the remaining area and hundreds of native plant and animal species.

Today, the Ballona Wetlands have a freshwater marsh, a saltwater marsh, and a hands-on Discovery Park. The freshwater marsh features a trail open daily from dawn to dusk and is home to some of the best birding in all of Los Angeles.

Bird watchers come from great distances to catch a glimpse of some of the more than 250 birds that are either native to the area, or that pass through on their yearly migrations. Though the beautiful saltwater marsh is closed to the public, guided tours may be scheduled upon request.

How to Get Around Venice, California

By Car

Aerial view of two roads in Venice, California
Adam / Adobe Stock

Driving or renting a car in Southern California is always the most reliable way to get from one place to another. However, Venice is a city that makes getting around without a car quite easy.

Depending on your plans while in the area, traveling without a car could be less expensive. Venice Beach parking can be crowded, difficult, and expensive. Most places offer metered parking or pay-by-the-day parking lots. If you plan to stay local only, you may be better off without a car.

By Bus

There are a number of buses that run through Venice as well as to other cities in the Los Angeles area. The Big Blue Bus has several stops within Venice and travels to nearby areas such as Santa Monica and Brentwood.

The Culver City Bus, like the Metro, also has a few stops in Venice. Though you will avoid the fees associated with Venice Beach parking, you must pay to use any bus services. You must purchase a bus pass or have the exact change ready to ride.

By Bike

Woman biking along the boardwalk in Venice, California Biking
Jason Busa / Adobe Stock

Venice is a great city to enjoy by bicycle! The city’s temperate weather, ocean breezes, and bike path along the beach make getting around by bike simple and fun. Many locations in Venice offer bike rentals, both electric and non-electric.

The proximity of the beach and the Venice Boardwalk to nearby Abbot Kinney Boulevard with its shops and restaurants means all the best places to see are just a bike ride away!

Walking

Establishments and palm trees at Venice Beach Boardwalk in Venice, California
Douglas – stock.adobe.com

If you’re staying mostly along the beach, boardwalk, and Abbot Kinney Boulevard, you shouldn’t have trouble walking around Venice, California. Many of the best things to do are all within walking distance from one another. If you want to move beyond the area immediately around the beach, however, you’ll want to look into one of the buses that run through the city, a ride-share app, or a car.

Tours in Venice

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

Looking for a unique way to see the sights of Santa Monica and Venice Beach? Then look no further than this electric bike tour! You'll get to see all the famous landmarks like the Venice canals and Santa Monica Pier while cruising along on an electric bicycle. And if you get tired, you can simply switch to pedal power and take it easy. So come and join this one-of-a-kind tour today!

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

Take your Santa Monica and Venice Beach experience to a whole new level on this 2-hour Segway tour. You'll glide along the waterfront and beach, taking in the locals relaxing and the impressive street performers. You'll travel through Venice Beach to see its canals and unique homes, visit famous Muscle Beach, and ride past the Santa Monica Pier and California Heritage Museum. This is a great way to see all that these iconic Southern California beaches have to offer.

3. Venice Beach: 2-hour Group Surfing Lesson

Do you want to learn how to surf at one of the most world-famous beaches in California? Then join this 2-hour group surfing lesson at Venice Beach! Professional instructors will teach you everything you need to know to enjoy this fun and challenging sport. And don't worry if you've never tried surfing before or if you're not a strong swimmer. lessons are suitable for beginners or intermediate surfers.

Is Venice, California, Worth Visiting?

Establishments such as stores, shops, and restaurants in Venice, California
Marcus Jones – stock.adobe.com

Yes! Venice, California, is an amazing place to visit and one of the more unique locations in Los Angeles. From creating your art on a public wall to shopping at the Boho chic stores along Abbot Kinney Boulevard, there is enough to occupy your day, weekend, or even an entire week!

FAQ

What is Venice, California is known for?

Venice is known for its beach, boardwalk, skate park, shopping on Abbot Kinney Blvd., public art walls, and amazing food. It’s also famous for being the birthplace of bodybuilding at Muscle Beach and its scenic canals.

What makes Venice, California, so unique?

The bright colors, eccentric building structures (like the Mosaic Tile House), individuality of the public art walls, mix of street performers, and selection of delicious restaurants (like Tocaya) make this city unlike any other! The beautiful Venice Canal Historic District, lined with huge homes, the crash of the waves along the shore, and the diversity of the people who visit and live there make Venice truly unique!

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