Originally founded in 1905 as a beachfront resort, Venice Beach has since blossomed into a hip, cultural mecca just a short drive from Central LA. Its manmade canals, strewn about with imported gondolas straight from Italy, evoke the classy yet laid-back vibe of the town.
Venice is the ultimate place to chill with the “in-crowd,” whether you’re sunbathing, shopping, or sightseeing- and you’ll find everything from an amusement pier, miniature steam railroad, boutiques, coffee bars, art galleries and more.
Here is my guide to Venice Beach in a weekend!
Book a couple of unforgettable nights at the lovely Hotel Erwin, just a block away from the beach. Each one of its 119 hotel rooms are unique, offering private balconies with views of the ocean or town! All rooms feature flat-screen TVs, free Wifi, work desks, honor bar, and hypoallergenic linens available on request. Some even have sofa sleepers in case you bring your girlfriends.
Explore the Venice Canals
Not far from the hotel and the bustling beachside are the canals, Venice Beach’s nod to its European namesake. These beautiful canals and walkways are perfect for a tranquil stroll, pretty in the morning or the evening. Meander across footbridges, admire charming houses and picturesque gardens.
Walk the Venice Boardwalk
The Venice Boardwalk stretches the coastline to meet Santa Monica – so don’t miss an afternoon of fun on the pier! The boardwalk is one of the best in the world: chock-full of restaurants, spas, specialty shops, creative residences, gyms and cocktail bars. Rain or shine, this is the place to be down in Venice. Whether you’re a street entertainer, celebrity, skateboarder, artist- you’re sure to end up on the boardwalk!
Take a Yoga Class
You’ll never be hard-pressed to find a yoga studio in the LA area. Be sure to take a class with my friend Caley Alyssa at one of the many amazing studios in the area: Power Yoga East, Love Yoga Venice, Yoga Works!
There’s nothing like stretching with some Kundalini or Hatha Yoga to make you feel refreshed and revitalized on your vacation.
Shop on Abbott Kinney
Abbot Kinney Boulevard is a vibrant strip of boutiques, salons, restaurants and bars, dubbed “the coolest block in America” by no other than GQ Magazine.
Make sure to stop by Lemonade for a delicious lunch, and of course, lemonade!
If you’re a shopaholic, this is the place to pick up your vintage dress, your designer t-shirt and eclectic art. Surfing addicts will love the vintage longboards at Surfing Cowboys, Art Deco fans will rave at the rustic-chic apparel in Bazar, and Japanophiles should flock to Waraku, featuring the best in Japanese imports.
Time your visit with First Friday of the month, when all the merchants of Abbot Kinney come together to show off their latest artists, merchandise, drinks and music.
Coffee at Tom’s or Intelligentsia
Grab a latte at TOMS flagship store, an offbeat shop that sells everything from footwear to glasses to coffee. The atmosphere is laid-back and rustic, more like a friend’s backyard than a retailer. Be sure to lounge out on one of the chairs on the deck in the back.
Right across the street is Intelligentsia, roasters who pride themselves on their unique cafe system. It’s more like a “cafe bar” than coffeeshop—there’s no front counter and no cash registers. You sit down at a table and your own personal barista will come to take your order—and this is where you can go really crazy.
Doubleshot, dash of cinnamon, hint of vanilla, what have you. You can even specify brewing method: vacuum pot, French press, Chemex, Eva Solo, manual drip—or opt for a coffee flight to sample different beans!
Vegan Brunch at Cafe Gratitude
Whether you’re vegan or not, Cafe Gratitude is a Venice Beach icon and a must on any visit. Their organic, locally-sourced menu includes tasty choices like portobello tostada, autumn bruschetta, asian kale and sea vegetable salad.
Stop by during brunch to indulge in their French toast, housemate granola, sprouted oatmeal, or any one of their gluten-free breakfast options.
The High Rooftop Lounge is the only rooftop bar in all of Venice Beach and is the perfect place to soak up the sunset. The bartenders hand-pick each cocktail and brew, so whether you’re craving a Blood Orange Julep or an ice-cold blonde ale, you’re sure to be delighted.
With nightly drink specials, sweeping views of the ocean and live DJs, it’s easy to see why this is one of the best bars in all of the greater L.A. area!
Social Dinner at Wurstkuche
If you’re with the girlfriends, the best place to satisfy your late-night cravings is Wurstkuche, a tasty German and Belgian beer hall where their menu is all gourmet sausages, double-fried Belgian fries and twenty-four imported beers.
The sausages feature classics like Brats and Bocks, and more wild ones like mango jalapeño, duck and bacon, and even rattlesnake and rabbit. Don’t forget the fries—Belgian fries are thick, crispy and come with distinct housemate sauces like pesto mayo, chipotle aioli and five different kinds of mustard!
Romantic Dinner at Gjelina
For a more romantic dinner, try Gjelina which serves a marvelous menu right on fashionable Abbot Kinney Blvd. With its low lighting and chic vibe, it’s a perfect place to take a date.
Dishes are stylish and modern: mushroom pizza, pork belly, duck confit, pumpkin gnocchi, sashimi, veggie tapas and pizza. And what is a date without dessert? Don’t miss the sweet-tooth butterscotch pot de creme and chocolate pistachio tart.