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, CA, can be difficult. From its Ocean Front Walk and famed skatepark to its fishing pier and canals, dig into this bustling SoCal beach town on your LA vacation with this complete attractions guide!
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Not sure where to start your adventure? You can’t go wrong with kickin’ things off at Venice Beach. The Pacific Ocean seaside is the hub of the beach town’s activity, attracting visitors and locals, day and night.
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 as its shoreline 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 to relax. From here, you can see the surfers, swimmers, and volleyball players enjoying themselves along the three-mile 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!
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 Santa Monica, or the “original,” is where it all started with gymnastics. Muscle Beach Venice is more focused on bodybuilding. Celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, and Lou Ferrigno all built their bulk here.
Don’t want to work out while on vacation? You can still 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 famed tourist attraction. Whatever you want to call it, this oceanfront promenade is a must-see while exploring Venice, California.
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.
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.
Dreamed into existence by Abbot Kinney in 1905, these artificial canals were hand-built to mimic those in Italy. Over the years, 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 worth noting that no motors are allowed to maintain the neighborhood’s tranquility. Paddle or walk your way around the beautiful Venice of America.
Although the current Venice Sign isn’t the original, you can’t leave this SoCal beach town without taking a requisite snapshot of this iconic landmark. The sign hangs across Windward Avenue at Pacific Avenue.
The best time to check out the Venice Sign is after nightfall when it’s illuminated with bright colors and frames the shadows of palm trees behind it. As the sign strings across 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.
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 California 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.
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.
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
The Mosaic Tile House is a perfect example of Venice Beach’s eclectic nature. Gonzalo Duran and Cheri Pann, a husband-and-wife team, 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. (Selling mosaic tiles, of course!)
Cheri hand-makes the tiles herself, and Gonzalo destroys them. (Yes, you heard that right.) Instead of complete tiles decorating the home, the broken tiles are arranged much like stained glass. The 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? Satisfy your food craving at The Rose Venice, a restaurant that’s beloved by locals and tourists alike.
Opened in the heart of Venice before the 1980s, The Rose serves seasonal food with fresh, local ingredients. The popular restaurant 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 tasty takeaway items.
The Rose is a popular spot, so reservations are recommended.
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. You’ll find the walls on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, tucked between the skatepark and basketball courts.
The Venice Public Art 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.
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.
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 a fantastic spot to let off some steam. Just a block off the beach on Pacific Avenue and a couple of blocks from the Venice Sign, this popular bar is in the heart of the action.
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 time. 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.
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
Although its name may not imply it, drop by the Venice Ale House for fantastic Greek-American cuisine and craft beer. Started in 2018 by a couple of veteran friends, this popular Venice restaurant and bar makes it a priority to thank all who serve or have served our country in the military or as first responders.
The Venice Ale House 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.
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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 on foot for some sand-free fun.
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 is located in the town of Marina Del Rey, at the end of Basin D in the Marina harbor. Also known as “Mother’s Beach,” Marina Beach is family-friendly and features a playground, volleyball courts, and picnic tables. The water is calm and safe for swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company
All the sightseeing got you thirsty? Quench it with a visit to the Firestone Walker Brewing Company. Located less than a mile and a half from the pier on Washington Boulevard, this local craft brewery and gastropub offers a wide selection of craft beer and pub grub to help you fuel up for your adventure.
Choose between the fan-favorite Mind Haze IPA or Venice-only brews like Dabbling in Decoction American Pilsner, Gen-6 Double IPA, or Foggy on the Details DDH Pale Ale. Soak it all up with pub food favs like mac-n-cheese, burgers, tacos, and nachos.