When you stay in West Hollywood, Venice Beach feels just as far away as the French Alps, and a visit requires careful planning both regarding traffic and weather.
If you’re hitting the road at the wrong time, you risk ending up in rush-hour hell, and the 12-miles trip can easily take much more than an hour. Also, don’t forget to check the weather forecast or you’ll risk finding out that what you thought was just a little morning haze is actually the dreaded June Gloom, which will stick around the entire day.
When trine and I drove down to Venice Beach, both weather gods and traffic gods were in a good mood, and we had a lovely day. Venice Beach is a really cool area to walk around in. It’s hard not to stop and stare at those huge biceps at Muscle Beach and the singers, dancers and performers you’ll encounter along the Venice Beach Boardwalk. As we were lying on the beach, we also heard a very angry guy spending almost half an hour and 5 phone calls to yell at someone. He was really furious, and I felt sorry for whoever he was talking to. A lot of people were swimming or surfing that day, but the Pacific is much too cold for me, so I kept myself busy eating ice cream and taking photos. Here is my guide to Venice Beach:
How to get to Venice Beach?
If you’re driving to Venice Beach from Hollywood, you have to plan carefully, so you don’t end up stuck in rush hour traffic. My experience is that during the week, it’s best to go around 10 in the morning and then return in the early afternoon, or stay in Venice for dinner. On weekends, traffic usually isn’t a problem, but it can be difficult to find parking.
In the summer, parking spots within walking distance of Venice Beach Boardwalk are typically $15-25 per day.
If you’re more persons going and you don’t want to deal with the trouble of finding a place to park, you can also consider taking an Uber car. Uber works really good in Los Angeles, while ordinary taxis can be sparse and difficult to find.
You can also take the bus to Venice Beach. I’ve never done it myself, but it should be easy enough. On Los Angeles Metro’s website (both busses and trains), you can search for the best route to get you to the beach.
What to see in Venice Beach?
In the 80s, Arnold Schwarzenegger used to work out at Muscle Beach, and today, the world famous outdoor gym is still the place to go and watch bodybuilders showing off their biceps.
Muscle Beach is open all days, and if you’re up for it, you can buy an annual membership for $200 or a day pass for $10.
The original Muscle Beach was actually located at Santa Monica Pier, but it is now closed, and when people talk about Muscle Beach today, they mean Muscle Beach at Venice Beach.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard
The hipster boulevard runs parallel with Venice Beach a few blocks from the beach. It’s the stretch between Venice Boulevard and Westminster Avenue, which is the most vibrant. This is where you find places such as Gjelina, which makes some of LA’s best pizzas, along with lots of other nice restaurants, bars and shops. During the day, there’s a relaxed, laid-back vibe down Abbot Kinney Blvd, and after dark, the street turns into a super trendy dining and drinking spot.
Venice Beach Boardwalk
Along Venice Beach Boardwalk all sorts of performances take place. Usually the artists are very talented and draws a big audience. If you stop to watch a performance or you want to take photos of the artists, it is customary to leave a dollar or two in tips, so remember to bring a lot of 1-dollar bills.
Marihuana for medical use is legal in California, and along Venice Beach Boardwalk, you’ll see a number of shops selling marihuana to people with a Medical Marihuana Card. Though smoking is not allowed at Venice Beach.
Of course you shouldn’t forget visiting the beach itself. Personally, I think the water is much too cold for swimming, but if you’re planning on hitting the waves, be aware of the rip currents and look for any warning flags before you go.