Los Angeles offers many different seaside neighborhoods, but none quite like free-spirited Venice. An entirely different zest from family-friendly Santa Monica, the more bohemian beachfront community of Venice has always had an artistic zeal and inherent grittiness. That’s part of the edgy charm. Plus, it’s stocked with great food, hip bars, indie shops, colorful murals, and a legendary skate culture that speaks to its palpable cool factor.
Where to Stay:
Diverse, chill, and beachy like the place it calls home, Venice V Hotel is on the short list of lodgings that sit right on the boardwalk. The building itself has a pretty eclectic history. At one point the Z-Boys skateboard team holed up here. That creative, counterculture heritage mixes with bursts of modern style to create an unmistakably local aesthetic.
Falling squarely in the affordable and adorable category, The Kinney Venice Beach favors fun, color, and conviviality at every turn. The whole property feels like a party. Rooms are bright and cheerful with contemporary artwork. The courtyard with larger-than-life murals, ping pong tables, and fire pits is a social hub for kicking back before or after the beach.
Where to Eat:
While Great White now has outposts in West Hollywood and Larchmont, the original is on Pacific Ave in Venice. And if you want to see—and taste—what made this all-day cafe popular enough to expand in the first place, it’s essential to eat at the OG location, where sun-kissed beachgoers swing by for breakfast burritos, ricotta hotcakes, pizza, and smoothies.
On weekends you’re likely to see a line wrapped around Gjusta, a hybrid deli/bakery/café/market rooted in all things California (the vast majority of ingredients come directly from the local purveyors) and a long-time staple of the community. Join the queue, order an egg sandwich or a banh mi Americano, grab a spot on the leafy back patio, and soak in the off-duty ambiance.
It’s hard—though certainly not impossible—to snag a table at Felix. Whether you’re able to secure a seat in the impeccably decorated indoor dining room or on the plant-studded terrace, incredible Italian food awaits. The menu is mapped out by region, with scratch-made pasta and pillowy focaccia as highlights. The curated wine list and cocktails also impress.
Where to Drink:
A cool, cozy bar for cocktails, wine, and tunes, The Lincoln strikes a balance that’s often hard to find in a neighborhood drinking den. It’s vibe-y and has thrumming energy yet you can actually have a conversation (most of the time)—making it an ideal spot for a fun date or hanging out with friends.
Rooftop bars overlooking the ocean are surprisingly hard to find in Venice. High Rooftop Lounge at Hotel Erwin fills that void with drinks, sunset views, and an always-buzzy atmosphere. (Pro tip: if you don’t want to wait, be sure to make a reservation.)
What to Do:
Abbot Kinney Boulevard shows off a more polished side of Venice without losing its free-wheeling soul. The walkable, mile-long strip is full of fashionable boutiques, galleries, and eateries like Butcher’s Daughter to grab a bite or a beverage in between shopping.
Venice Beach Boardwalk
The Venice Beach Boardwalk is iconic. Yes, it’s sometimes sensory overload with all the entertainment, tattoo parlors, food, bicycles, and people, but it’s also such a vibrant, quirky reflection of its environs. Don’t forget to swing by the famous skate park, a requisite stop in a place credited with giving rise to SoCal board culture.
The Mosaic Tile House Venice is an off-beat and eye-catching 1940s home that’s completely covered in colorful glass mosaics. Entry requires a reservation, though you can easily just pass by and admire it from the outside while walking around town.
For a scenic walk through history, head to the Venice Canals. An homage to the city of the same name in Italy, the man-made waterways were dug by Abbot Kinney way back in 1905 to help with drainage and introduce some Europe-meets-SoCal flair into the new seaside community.
Animal House also invites visitors, err shoppers, to go back in time but in a very different way. The long-standing boutique curates a selection of vintage clothes—notably covetable concert tees from past Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd shows—and stocks some new stuff that fits the Venice vibe, too.
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