Venice Beach California - Los Angeles County, California


Venice, California may bear the name of an Italian city but comparing it to that European location is like comparing apples and oranges.  Though the California beach community located in the Santa Monica Bay between Marina del Rey and Santa Monica has canals and  was created as the Venice-of-America in 1905, it is Southern California to the core. Best known throughout the world as a setting for films such as SPEED with Sandra Bullock,  BREATHLESS with Richard Gere and the popular BAYWATCH television series, this Venice has a long tradition and romance with the movie industry.  Venice Pier, Muscle Beach and artwork are some things that locals enjoy.

Location, location - with several film studios located in the city and numerous others nearby, Venice streets, beaches, canals and people have been used in hundreds of films during the past century..  Mary Pickford rowed down a canal, Our Gang of little rascals played around the pier and for a time, filming nearly brought commerce to a halt.  In a land where film production is commerce, however, local sentiment to move the crews out of town did not  last and today, it's business as usual and on location in Venice. Through the years, films and popular TV series such as THE FUGITIVE, GET SMART, SIMON & SIMON, CHIPS and the A-TEAM have done location work in Venice.

For regular folks who just want to see what all the fuss is about, weekends draw all sorts of unique talent to the 1.5 mile beach and boardwalk. Artists, acrobats and actor wannabees co-mingle and strut their stuff in the spot recently named by one magazine as "Funky Town". For those who prefer less crowds and a leisurely pace, the photos above were taken on a week day. There were only a handful of people on the beach,  bicyclists and skaters passed  by the pier at regular intervals and the outdoor cafes quickly accommodated luncheon guests.

Though Muscle Beach was once synonymous with Venice, the smell of sweat has been subdued as coconut suntan oil and sea breezes titillate the senses now. There is still a workout pit, but the words we've heard repeated time after time are, "They've cleaned it up."  Venice appears as friendly and family oriented as any beach along several hundred miles of Southern California coast. 

Traffic and parking can become a bit intense on busy weekends.  There is pay parking at the Venice Pier lot at the end of Washington Street, limited street parking and also shuttles that travel regularly from remote lots to the beach. Though houses line the streets along the beach, they are compacted along narrow alleys with garages used for residents' needs. It is possible to park for free on city streets but you should be prepared to walk a few blocks, at least. 

 

Like most Southern California beaches, expect mild climate and cool, evening breezes (lightweight jacket recommended). You'll hardly feel a sunburn because the weather is so nice, but be forewarned that the sand and water act as reflectors and can cause burning within minutes, especially on babies' skin and fair skinned children and adults. The water temperature generally ranges between the 50's in the winter and high 60's in the warmer months of July to November. 

 

Declared the "Skating Capitol of the World" in past years, activities at Venice Beach include roller blading and skating, bicycling, surfing, swimming, sunbathing, shopping, dining and sailing from Marina del Rey. If you happen to be in Venice in December, there's an old fashioned boat parade along the canals. 

 

Located just 15 minutes from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and 30 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, Venice Beach is a great place to stay if you are seeking a location close to the airport within reach of many attractions.  While there are only 6 or 7 hotel properties in Venice, you can also stay in Marina del Rey or choose from over 25 hotels and resorts in Santa Monica.

 

Venice Beach got its name from developer Abbot Kinney, who hoped to create an American version of Venice, Italy. Shedding its past and former title of Rancho la Ballona in 1905, the new community had guidelines for building which included an architectural style inspired by the Venetian Renaissance.

 

Over 16 miles of canals, complete with singing gondoliers steering beautifully, crafted gondolas and an amusement called Ocean Park helped put Venice on the map as "Playland of the Pacific." The park burned down but was rebuilt and eventually went bankrupt.  The 16 miles of canals also disappeared and were pared down to only four remaining blocks to make way for roads necessary for the increasingly popular automobile. One resident of Venice said recently that he looks at the few canals remaining and imagines how wonderful they must have appeared in the glory days. If you visit Venice in December, the canals come to life with a boat parade that lights up the waterways in a festive holiday event celebrated by the community.

VENICE BEACH, CALIFORNIA

COPYRIGHT D.STOCK
COPYRIGHT D.STOCK
COPYRIGHT D.STOCK


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