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
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