Best Things to Do in Venice Beach, California

One of the most iconic places to visit in Southern California, Venice Beach charms visitors with its unique urban seaside vibes. But with so much to choose from, picking the best things to do in Venice Beach can be difficult.

Located within the Greater Los Angeles area, the bustling SoCal beach town brims with activity. Besides the beach itself, some of the top tourist attractions in Venice, CA, include the Ocean Front Walk, its popular skatepark, a fishing pier, and its neighborhood of canals.

Ready to decide what to do in Venice Beach? Plan your Venice, CA, adventure with this guide to the best places to visit in Venice Beach, California.

Best places to visit in Venice Beach, CA

Venice Beach

You can’t go wrong with visiting Venice Beach. The Venice seaside is the hub of the town’s activity, attracting visitors and locals, day and night.

Venice Beach

If you’d like to do more than laze on the sand, plan your trip to Venice Beach around one of its various festivals. In July, you’ll find the Venice Beach Festival; in August, the Festival of Chariots; and in September, the Abbot Kinney Festival.

But no matter when you visit, Venice Beach always feels like a festival. The beach is always full of activity. You’ll find tennis courts and volleyball courts galore. The water is great for swimming and surfing too!

You can fish off the Venice Pier or just watch the sunset. From here, you can see the surfers, swimmers, and volleyball players enjoying themselves along the three miles of sandy beach.

Venice Beach is popular with locals and tourists and is one of the hippest places to see around Los Angeles. You’ll never have a dull moment here!

Muscle Beach

Want to get your exercise on? Go pump some iron over at Muscle Beach. At this iconic fitness spot, there are day passes available—and they’re half price if you’re over 60!

Muscle Beach

Muscle Beach Santa Monica, or the “original,” is where it all started with gymnastics. Muscle Beach Venice is more focused on bodybuilding. At the Venice location, celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, and Lou Ferrigno all built their bulk.

Don’t want to work out while on vacation? You can still appreciate the hot bodies and learn about the history of the original Muscle Beach Outdoor Gym at the museum nearby. If you’re lucky, you may visit during one of the frequent fitness competitions.

Ocean Front Walk

Ocean Front Walk, Venice Beach Boardwalk, or “The Boardwalk” are all names for this top tourist attraction in Venice Beach. Whatever you want to call it, Ocean Front Walk is one of the best things to do in Venice, California.

Ocean Front Walk

Ocean Front Walk presents over two miles of some of the best people-watching on the planet. The Venice Boardwalk stretches from North Venice Boulevard at the south end and runs all the way up to Rose Avenue.

Along the way, you’ll find all manner of quirky and bohemian shops to explore. Look on as entertainers of all varieties vie for your attention along the famous boardwalk.

Feeling hungry? Check out one of the numerous food stands and restaurants along the Ocean Front Walk for a chance to rest and refuel.

Venice Canals

Yearning for a break from the frenetic energy of Venice Beach sightseeing? Take a breather at the Venice Canals. Don’t worry, they don’t smell like their Italian counterparts, so you’ll truly enjoy strolling the sidewalks and bridges.

Venice Canals

Dreamed into existence by Abbot Kinney in 1905, these artificial canals were hand-built to mimic those in Italy. Over the year, an affluent neighborhood grew around the beautiful canals. It’s relaxing not only to walk the canals but also to enjoy the immaculately manicured properties and mansions surrounding them.

You won’t find singing gondoliers, but you can bring your own boat. It’s worthing noting that no motors are allowed in order to maintain the tranquility of the neighborhood. Paddle or walk your way around the beautiful Venice of America.

Venice Sign

The current Venice Sign might not be the original, but that doesn’t mean it’s not one of the top Venice Beach attractions.

Venice Sign

If you’re a fan of the holiday lights that illuminate small and large towns across the U.S.A., then you’ll want to check out the Venice Sign.

The Venice Sign hangs across Windward Avenue at Pacific Avenue and is all lit up come nightfall. As it’s in the middle of the road, be patient and wait for the ‘walk’ sign before jetting out for your Instagram photo. You’ve got about 30 seconds before the light changes; use your time wisely!

Venice Beach Skatepark

The Venice Beach Skatepark is a fairly new addition to the Ocean Front Boardwalk. It was finished in 2009 after a 20-year campaign to build it. 

Venice Beach Skatepark

The Venice Skatepark sprawls a whopping 16,000 square feet, so there’s room for everyone, from beginners to pros. Drop by on your board and shred up a storm on the ramps. Or stand back and watch all sorts of skaters as they practice and perfect their tricks on the tracks.

If you’re a skateboarder, skateboarding fan, or just a Venice Beach history buff, you’ll want to watch Made in Venice. It’s a documentary about the long and difficult campaign to get the most expensive skate park in the world built right on the boardwalk of Venice Beach.

Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Want to shop ’till you drop? Well, there’s no need to drop because Abbot Kinney Boulevard has plenty of delicatessens, food trucks, and restaurants to rest up in. 

Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Take your time and shop the latest fashion, check out the unique boutique stores, and visit the happening art galleries. Abbot Kinney Boulevard is a mile-long retail escape from the beach and sand. 

In September, join in on the Abbot Kinney Festival. Celebrated on Abbot Kinney Blvd, this fantastic festival features food trucks, children’s entertainment, and four stages for music concerts.

Staying in December? Your wish for real snow in Southern California might just be answered! During the street’s annual Snow Day, Abbot Kinney Blvd turns white with snow. Bring the kids along and take a sleigh ride down the Abbot Kinney and Santa Clara.

Mosaic Tile House

A perfect example of the eclectic nature of Venice Beach is the Mosaic Tile House. The husband and wife team, Gonzalo Duran and Cheri Pann, live here and continuously add to their uniquely decorated home. 

The Mosaic Tile House has become such a fascination that Cheri now provides guided tours through the house. There’s even a gift shop. (And it’s probably safe to assume: They sell mosaic tiles here.)

Cheri hand-makes the tiles herself and Gonzalo destroys them. Yes, you heard that right.

Instead of complete tiles decorating the home, it’s more a tiled version of stained glass. Tiles are arranged in larger patterns to form small and larger designs. They cover every imaginable surface from the floor to the ceiling and literally everywhere in between.

The Rose Venice

Built up an appetite while wandering around town? The Rose Venice serves food as beautiful as its name. It’s beloved by the locals and the tourists alike.

Opening in the heart of Venice before the 1980s, the popular restaurant has done right by local producers and the public for many years. Serving seasonal food with local ingredients, The Rose offers everything from classic American dishes to globally-influenced cuisine.

There’s indoor and outdoor seating, a coffee bar, and a massive 40-foot craft cocktail bar. The restaurant also features a full market and bakery for some tasty takeaway items.

The Rose is so popular that reservations are typically required and recommended, but they do try to account for walk-ins. It’s always worth the trip to try.

Venice Public Art Walls

Love public art and creating graffiti? Every weekend from 10 am to 5 pm, the Venice Public Art Walls are open to the public for free, on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Venice Public Art Walls

You’ll find the Venice Public Art Walls right on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, tucked between the skatepark and basketball courts. 

The walls feature all types of artists and invite all artistic mediums. You can also reserve them for special events such as advertising, photoshoots, movie shoots, and even corporate events.

The STP Foundation sponsors the wall and supports the freedom of art. They also host annual nonprofit events to spread awareness for various causes. Be sure to check if any events are scheduled during your trip to the Venice Public Art Walls.

Venice Fishing Pier

Have a hankering to cast a line or take in the smell of fresh-caught fish? It’s free to fish off the Venice Fishing Pier.

Venice Fishing Pier

The Venice Pier is home to more than just fishing. There’s a bait shop, coffee shop, souvenir shops, and other small stands to tempt you to spend a few coins. The Venice Fishing Pier is considerably focused on fishing and doesn’t permit dogs, bicycles, skateboards, alcohol, or tobacco products.

To enjoy any of the things prohibited on the pier, you’ll find picnic areas nearby along with some volleyball courts.

High Rooftop Lounge

Whether you come for the music, the drinks, or the view, High Rooftop Lounge is at the top of the list of where to go in Venice Beach, California. Just a block off the beach on Pacific Avenue and a couple of blocks from the Venice Sign, High Rooftop Lounge is in the heart of the action in Venice Beach.

High Rooftop Lounge is the only rooftop bar on Venice Beach. If you want a panoramic view of the ocean and/or a cityscape skyline view, you have no choice but to visit this local hotspot. 

And it’s well worth your visit. There are DJs jamming day and night as well as tasty treats and stylish cocktails. You can also rent out the venue for private parties or business events.

Penmar Park

Brought the family to Venice, CA, and want a bit more solace together? Penmar Park offers an expansive green space to run, play, or just spread out and relax. The Penmar Recreation Center also hosts events in the park’s gymnasium.

There are various sports courts including basketball, tennis, football, and baseball. Not into team sports? There’s also a playground for the younger ones and a track for runners. Feel free to stay at Penmar Park for the day and enjoy a cookout at the picnic grounds.

If you cross Rose Avenue and walk to the end of the golf course, you’ll stumble upon Marine Park. It features even more athletic fields, playgrounds, picnic areas, and an auditorium.

Penmar Golf Course

Looking to add a little more activity to your Southern California itinerary? Jaunt across Rose Avenue from Penmar Park to Penmar Golf Course.

If you haven’t bought your clubs with you, you can rent some here and even practice on the putting greens before you hit the main course. Or, if you’d like to learn how to golf or improve your game, the Penmar Golf Course also offers lessons.

After a round of golf, grab a bite to eat at The Penmar. The restaurant features outdoor heated patio dining, candlelight dinners, and TVs for game viewing. 

Penmar Golf Course was also rated the “Best Nine Hole Golf Course” by its hometown magazine of Los Angeles. Go ahead and give it a swing to hone your golf game.

Venice Ale House

The name may not imply it but drop by the Venice Ale House for some fantastic Greek American cuisine and craft beer.

Started in 2018 by a couple of veteran friends, Venice Ale House makes it a priority to say thank you to all those who serve or have served our country in the military or as first responders. 

The restaurant offers exceptional locally-sourced cuisine and a rotating selection of craft beers. Family and friends are the sauce that holds the restaurant and its clientele together. Whether you say “Opa” or “Cheers,” there’s a place for you at Venice Ale House.

Ocean View Park

On the northern end of Venice Beach in Santa Monica lies Ocean View Park. With its grassy knolls, this quintessential beachfront park invites you to stop for a while and add some chill to your Venice Beach trip. The 6.5-acre park has space to spread out and also features a bandstand for concerts.

Looking to rest and relax? Find a free bench or a comfortable patch of grass. You can also grab a game at one of the many basketball or tennis courts. Ocean View Park is even home to some paddle tennis courts. If you haven’t played paddle tennis yet, this is your chance to try out this fast-paced sport.

RELATED: Where to Go in Santa Monica

If you want to drive to Ocean View Park, you’ll find a parking lot wedged between the park and the beach. You can also walk from Venice Beach, crossing the parking lot and into the park by foot for some sand-free fun.

Marina Beach

Enjoy the ocean waves but want some calmer waters? Marina Beach is less than a mile walking distance from Venice Fishing Pier. The man-made beach is a half-mile of soft sand, where you can play and lounge to your heart’s content.

Marina Beach

Marina Beach is technically located in the town of Marina Del Rey, at the end of Basin D in the Marina harbor.

Also called “Mother’s Beach”, Marina Beach is a family-friendly beach with a playground, volleyball courts, and picnic tables. The water is calm and safe for swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.

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