Venice Beach stands out as the trendiest neighborhood along Los Angeles’ coastline, exuding a bohemian atmosphere enriched by street performers, charming canals, and lively skate parks. Not to be overlooked is its iconic boardwalk, offering a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and serving as a perpetual hub of activity.
For anyone exploring Los Angeles, a sojourn or visit to Venice Beach is indispensable. It ranks among the top experiences in the city. Visitors are drawn to its inviting waters and sun-kissed sands, while the neighborhood pulsates with creative energy and a carefree spirit that is simply irresistible.
Venice Beach epitomizes an ‘outdoor’ haven. Whether you’re reveling in vibrant street art, engaging in a game of tennis, lounging on the beach, or strolling along the bustling boardwalk, the sunlit streets are adorned with street vendors and performers, sending a clear message: embrace the outdoors and savor the fun. It stands in stark contrast to the slightly gritty streets of inner Los Angeles, offering a refreshing and delightful escape.
Within this guide, we will explore the myriad of top activities in Venice Beach. Brace yourself for a wealth of inspiration as we craft the ultimate itinerary for your visit.
In terms of location, Venice Beach is situated approximately 25 minutes west of downtown Los Angeles. Nestled between Topanga State Park and Los Angeles International Airport, it encompasses 238 acres of shoreline.
Visitors can relish in amenities such as handball courts, diverse restaurants, the renowned boardwalk, and sun-kissed beaches all within the oversight of the lifeguard headquarters. With its vast offerings, Venice, California provides a plethora of activities, and the mentioned ones are just a glimpse of what the area has to offer.
Best Things To Do In Venice Beach
Anticipating the unforgettable bohemian subculture of Venice Beach? From a captivating oceanfront stroll along Venice Pier to the iconic Boardwalk, every aspect is exceptionally scenic. The neighborhood’s layout was crafted to encourage outdoor living, and its vibrant, carefree atmosphere truly accentuates this.
Eager to delve into the best that this iconic neighborhood has to offer? Let’s embark on the adventure. Here are the 21 top activities to experience in Venice Beach.
Venice Canals Walkway
The Venice Canals stand as one of the most historic landmarks and attractions in Venice Beach. This intricate network of six waterways was once a more favored mode of transportation than cars before the 1920s.
Situated at the southern end of Venice Beach, the canals remain flanked by residential houses, preserving a bygone era of transportation and lifestyle. Visitors can partake in tours of the Venice Canal Historic District, enjoying rides on gondolas and water buses.
For those who prefer a leisurely stroll, the Venice Canals Walkway provides a charming path connecting the shores through a series of picturesque bridges. This family-friendly route offers beautiful views, making it an ideal way to experience the canals on foot.
Muscle Beach Venice Gym
The Muscle Beach Venice Gym stands out as one of the world’s most renowned outdoor fitness centers. Whether or not you’re a fitness enthusiast, experiencing the use of the iconic gymnastics apparatus and weights at this historic location is a must. This outdoor gym has seen fitness legends like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jack Lalanne breaking a sweat.
In contrast to outdoor gyms that often resemble children’s play areas, Muscle Beach offers a more advanced and well-equipped setting. Here, you can enjoy top-notch fitness equipment, combining a rigorous workout with sunbathing. Often referred to as the ‘Home of Bodybuilding,’ Muscle Beach has been a fitness hub since its establishment in 1963. Drop by for a quick workout; you can simply purchase a day pass for access.
Santa Monica Pier
For a dose of fun, Santa Monica Pier is the go-to destination. This renowned spot boasts an amusement pier adorned with a towering Ferris wheel and an array of exciting rides. Not only is it a Hollywood film backdrop, featured in TV shows like The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and reality programs like Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Entry to Santa Monica Pier is entirely free, with charges only applicable for the rides. If you’re content to soak up the vibrant atmosphere, we highly recommend a visit to the Pier, making it one of the best cost-free activities in Venice Beach.
Santa Monica Pier exudes a lively and somewhat whimsical ambiance, offering splendid views of the Pacific Ocean and stunning beaches.
Beyond Baroque stands as a highly regarded arts center, making it a haven for art and literary enthusiasts. This cultural hub hosts a variety of events, including poetry readings, theater performances, workshops, and art sales. To make the most of your visit, it’s advisable to check Beyond Baroque’s schedule and stay updated on its upcoming activities.
It’s important to note that Beyond Baroque operates regularly only on Fridays and Saturdays. As a result, you may need to adjust your itinerary accordingly. On these days, the center is open from midday until 6 pm.
Conveniently accessible on foot, Beyond Baroque is situated off South Venice Blvd, approximately a 30-minute walk from the center of Venice Beach.
Renowned as one of the world’s most iconic skate park destinations, the Venice Beach Skatepark is an inclusive and freely accessible haven for enthusiasts.
Located right alongside the beach, offering scenic views of the ocean, this skate park is uniquely sunken into the ground and features street-inspired designs, including elements like stairs and railings. Whether you’re passionate about skateboarding and aiming to refine your skills or simply enjoy people-watching, this skatepark is the ideal spot.
Situated adjacent to the Venice Breakwater, it can be found off the Ocean Front Walk, a well-known promenade that gracefully follows the seafront.
Venice Art Walls
When making a pit stop at the skate park, make sure to explore the Venice Art Walls. These sizable industrial-style walls and structures are embellished with vibrant local street art, embodying the cool and skater-chic vibe of Venice Beach.
Admiring the Venice Art Walls is a cost-free experience; just be sure to bring along a decent camera and be prepared for plenty of photo opportunities. This enticing attraction is conveniently situated just off the Ocean Front Walk, making it easily incorporable into even the most hectic itineraries.
Drive The Pacific Coast Highway To Santa Barbara
Embarking on the Pacific Coast Highway is an iconic California road trip that spans the picturesque coastline for a remarkable 9 hours, extending from just above San Francisco to just below Los Angeles. The journey is dotted with stunning state parks, such as Pfeiffer Big Sur and Point Mugu. For a shorter day trip, we recommend driving to Santa Barbara.
As you traverse the highway, you’ll pass through Malibu, renowned for its tranquil beach town ambiance, and encounter secluded gems like Zuma Beach and Paradise Cove. En route, notable spots include Leo Carillo State Park and Point Mugu State Park, culminating in the charming city of Santa Barbara. This destination offers a delightful experience steeped in Spanish colonial heritage.
The entire round trip is achievable within 4-5 hours of driving, making it a perfectly feasible and adventurous day trip, showcasing one of the most captivating activities in the region.
Spend A Day In Los Angeles City Center
While Venice Beach is undeniably amazing, it’s worthwhile to immerse yourself in the broader Los Angeles experience. Set aside at least half a day to explore the best parts of the city center.
Embark on a tour of the Paramount Pictures Studio, stroll along the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame, and delve into the enchanting world of Universal Studios. Los Angeles is synonymous with movie magic and celebrity culture, so don’t miss out on these quintessential experiences. Consider booking a highly-rated Los Angeles tour that encompasses Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Griffin Park, and Santa Monica Pier.
To reach Los Angeles, you can conveniently take a taxi, completing the journey in just 20 minutes. Alternatively, opt for public transport, which will get you to the city center in approximately 1.5 hours.
Named for its tranquil, surf-free conditions, this beach is nestled in the Marina Del Rey area, offering an ideal setting for a peaceful beach day.
Mothers Beach boasts amenities such as a children’s playground and picnic tables. With its shallow waters and serene atmosphere, it provides a perfect spot for a leisurely swim. It’s no wonder this beach is considered one of the top family-friendly activities in Venice Beach.
Certainly, Venice Beach wouldn’t be complete without mentioning its eponymous shoreline. This beach serves as a picturesque destination for a relaxing afternoon by the sea. Enjoy the serene ambiance as you sit on the sandy shores, taking in the rhythmic crash of the waves and indulging in some sunbathing.
What makes this beach particularly appealing is its remarkable accessibility. Within just minutes, you can stroll directly from the heart of the neighborhood to the inviting expanse of the beach.
Surfing is inseparable from the California experience. Whether you’re a beginner or looking to enhance your skills, options abound. Join a group lesson, rent a board, or book a private lesson for rapid improvement.
Venture out along the Venice Beach strip, extending to Santa Monica on the northern end, for an exhilarating surfing experience. Certain companies even provide the added perk of capturing photos and videos of your surfing session.
A brief yet iconic experience on this guide, the Venice sign stands out as one of the must-do activities in Venice Beach.
Suspended above Pacific Avenue, this illuminated string of letters transforms into a captivating sight, especially at night, with its soft, magical glow. Tourists are drawn to the sign, eager to capture a quick selfie against its iconic backdrop.
Bergamot Station Arts Center
The Bergamot Station Arts Center is a captivating and vibrant art hub, featuring a rotating collection of diverse galleries. With approximately 30 galleries and art businesses housed within the center, it offers an abundance of artistic diversity and a myriad of things to explore.
From fine art to contemporary masterpieces, the center caters to various artistic tastes. If you have a passion for art and creative spaces, this is a destination you definitely don’t want to exclude from your itinerary.
Small World Books
While exploring Venice Beach, make sure to visit Small World Books, an exceptional independent bookshop offering a delightful browsing and buying experience. Explore their diverse collection, ranging from second-hand paperbacks to poetry volumes, and stay updated on their schedule for organized literary events.
For literature enthusiasts, Small World Books is a haven that can’t be surpassed. Conveniently situated just off the Ocean Front Walk, it’s an easily incorporated addition to your itinerary.
The Getty is a bustling center of American and European art, nestled within a striking contemporary building surrounded by meticulously landscaped gardens. Its expansive nature, coupled with the fact that admission is free, positions it as one of the top complimentary attractions in Venice Beach.
Wandering through the Getty can easily occupy hours, making it a highly recommended destination for enthusiasts and those seeking a captivating rainy day
Established in 1975, L.A. Louver stands as a remarkable art gallery exclusively dedicated to contemporary art. This elegant venue offers a beautiful setting to immerse yourself in artistic expressions for a few hours, providing an ideal option for those seeking art-related activities in Venice Beach. In contrast to the more informal street art experiences, L.A. Louver presents a more formal and curated environment.
Showcasing the creations of both international and local artists, the gallery encompasses a diverse range of artworks, including sculptures and canvas pieces. It’s a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts looking to appreciate contemporary artistic expressions.
High Rooftop Lounge
Situated in Hotel Erwin, this rooftop lounge offers the most spectacular views of Venice Beach. If the idea of D.J. sessions, both day and night, accompanied by ocean vistas and specialty cocktails appeals to you, then the High Rooftop Lounge is the place to be.
As the lounge is entirely open-air, it’s advisable to check the weather during your stay. Making a reservation is also recommended to avoid any potential queues.
The High Rooftop Lounge stands out as one of the most charming spots to appreciate the beauty of the neighborhood from an elevated perspective. Here, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the boardwalk, ocean, and the vibrant street life below.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Abbot Kinney Boulevard stands as a prominent thoroughfare, earning the title of the ‘coolest block in America.’ Spanning a mile in length, this vibrant street is adorned with colorful shops, art galleries, and enticing restaurants, making it an essential destination during your visit.
For the most authentic and immersive experience, we recommend strolling along Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Named after the influential developer Abbot Kinney, who played a role in shaping the Venetian canal system, the street offers a unique blend of history and modern-day charm.
You can traverse the stretch in approximately 20 to 30 minutes, but be sure to allocate extra time to indulge in shopping and savoring the diverse culinary offerings along the way.
FAQs: Things To Do In Venice Beach
Venice Beach is brimming with an abundance of fantastic activities. Before immersing yourself in the myriad of experiences it has to offer, take a moment to explore these top FAQs. These snippets of information provide valuable insights worth considering as you plan your Venice Beach adventure.
Is Venice Beach, LA, worth visiting?
A visit to Venice Beach is truly worthwhile. The captivating bohemian ambiance paired with waterfront living creates a beautiful blend, especially enjoyable in good weather with a plethora of outdoor activities to explore.
What’s so special about Venice Beach?
Venice Beach holds a distinct allure, providing a laidback community experience right alongside the beach, merely a 25-minute drive from the bustling city center of Los Angeles. Immerse yourself in the charm of its canal district, relax on its pristine beaches, and soak in the vibrant street culture that makes this destination truly special.
Is Venice Beach or Santa Monica better?
Venice Beach holds a special place in our hearts – smaller yet exuberantly vibrant during the day. On the other hand, Santa Monica takes center stage in the evening, transforming with its array of bars and upscale restaurants. Santa Monica, being larger, exudes a more sophisticated atmosphere, distinct from the bohemian vibe that characterizes Venice Beach.
Can you swim in the ocean at Venice Beach?
Absolutely, Venice Beach offers numerous beaches for swimming. However, it’s crucial to note that swimming in the Venice Beach canals is strongly discouraged – not only can it lead to arrest, but it also poses serious hygiene concerns.
The Best time to visit
The optimal time to explore Venice Beach is undoubtedly during the warmer months, making it ideal to plan a visit between May and September. During this period, temperatures typically hover around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, providing a perfect setting to enjoy the ocean, stroll along Venice Beach, and bask under the sunniest skies.
To further narrow down your decision, consider the following details. July through August stands out as the peak season in Venice Beach, drawing crowds as everyone flocks to California for summer. If you don’t mind the hustle and bustle, these months offer a lively atmosphere. However, for those seeking a more relaxed experience with fewer crowds, the shoulder months of May, June, or September would be preferable.
The most convenient ways to reach Venice Beach are either by flying into Los Angeles International Airport or traveling from Los Angeles’s city center.
If you’re arriving at Los Angeles International Airport, you can take a bus or opt for a quick 20-minute taxi ride, which typically costs around $20. This option is particularly suitable for international travelers or those coming from distant states in the U.S. For travelers coming from Los Angeles to Venice Beach, the fastest route is to take a taxi, with fares ranging from $30 to $40. Alternatively, you can utilize public transportation, which takes approximately 1.5 hours.
Another option is embarking on a road trip to Venice Beach. The journey takes around 2.5 hours from San Diego and approximately 6.5 hours from San Francisco.
Navigating Venice Beach is most convenient on foot or by bike, with numerous bike paths available in the city center. Water transport is also a popular option, featuring public transportation choices such as water buses, water taxis, gondola rides, and traghettis. Additionally, a public bus line offers a more traditional mode of transport. For those who prefer, renting a car or using taxis is also feasible when necessary.
How much time do you need?
For an ideal Venice Beach experience, plan to spend 2-3 days, allowing ample time to immerse yourself in the laid-back “lifestyle” of the area. This duration provides the opportunity to enjoy activities like volleyball games, explore street art, and savor the scenic views along the boardwalk. If you wish to include day trips and explore inner-city Los Angeles, a 7-day itinerary is recommended to ensure a more comprehensive exploration of the surrounding areas.