Explore quirky Venice Beach, from Muscle Beach to Abbot Kinney shopping and Tito’s Tacos
This unique Los Angeles County beach town has sand, surf and a lot of local colour. No doubt, many consider Venice Beach to be the nerve centre for Los Angeles’ quirky, out-there personality. Check out our tips below on where to find the hotspots from the video and how to explore Venice Beach in five unique ways.
Stay in the Heart of Venice
To stay at the centre of Venice Beach culture, book a room at Hotel Erwin, a retro-meets-surf-style boutique hotel with plenty of ocean-view rooms, its own rooftop lounge, and a lobby decorated with surfboards. Or stay at the historic Venice Beach Suites & Hotel, with its exposed brick walls, a cool antique elevator named “Betsy” and a 360-degree-view rooftop deck.
People-Watch at Muscle Beach
Venice is most famous, perhaps, for Muscle Beach, a stretch of sand accented with an outdoor gym, which is a magnet for both serious body-builders, cheerful exhibitionists and plenty of gawkers. The surrounding area of beach also has play areas for kids, a skate park, a boxing ring and of course, a ‘regular’ beach, where you can relax in the sand and watch everyone else work up a sweat.
Get a Scenic Workout
Get a day pass for the gym at Muscle Beach for just $10, or rent a bike and pedal along Venice’s long, beachside bike path (Hotel Erwin guests can just borrow a bike).
Eat Like a Local
Venice has attracted plenty of top-shelf places to eat, drink or just nosh. Grab a table at restaurant and bar James’ Beach—located a mere half block from the sand—known for its Angus burgers, movie-star mahi-mahi tacos (they were featured in the 2009 film I Love You, Man) and colourful people-watching.
Gourmands also flock to two related restaurants launched by chef Travis Lett, and which both start with a silent G: Gjusta is an acclaimed bakery and deli known for its decadent sandwiches while Gjelina draws consistent crowds for its inventive vegetable dishes, pizzas and surprises like rabbit stroganoff. Nearby Zinqué, meanwhile, takes its inspiration from the French for its charcuterie plates, quiches and chocolate croissants.
Another bucket-list stop for foodies is Tito’s Tacos, an old-school taqueria located at the eastern edge of Venice. Founded in 1959 and still sporting an old sign out front, Tito’s regularly makes national best-of lists for its unapologetically traditional tacos and burritos. The tacos are topped with shredded iceberg and grated cheddar, and the beef burritos are filled with chili con carne and best served with a Mexico-bottled, cane-sugar-fuelled Pepsi.
Shop for Quirky Treasures
Between meals and workouts, wander Abbot Kinney Boulevard, named for the eccentric real estate investor who built Venice in the early 20th century to reflect his favourite Italian city. Come on the first Friday of the month for food trucks and live music but any day offers a mix of art galleries, clothing boutiques and intriguing gift shops, from the low-key elegance at Cuyana, the British-made activewear at Sweaty Betty, and the scents at Strange Invisible Perfumes. Abbot Kinney also features some transplants that make for excellent snacks, from Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee to Portland’s Salt & Straw Ice Cream and Blue Star Donuts.
See a film star. Sip a cocktail on a rooftop bar at sunset. Slip on a pair of designer shoes in an ultra-luxurious boutique in Beverly Hills. At Universal Studios Hollywood theme park explore world class museums or dance the night away in a starlet-filled club. Welcome to California’s liveliest city, America’s entertainment capital, with mega star wattage and non-stop things to do.
“You know, you’re really a nobody in L.A. unless you have a really big door.” --comedian Steve Martin
The main hub is the city of Los Angeles, with legendary Hollywood north-west of downtown, the San Fernando Valley to the east and the inviting beaches of Santa Monica and Malibu to the west.
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