Venice Beach has an eclectic charm unlike any other part of Los Angeles. Snuggled just south of Santa Monica, which is famous for shopping, copious restaurant choices and stunning waterfront hotels, Venice is a cultural explosion that couldn’t be more different to its posh sister.
Santa Monica is still popular with Aussies visiting LA and the waterfront hotels are a great base if you’re after something away from the action of Venice Beach. I rented a bike from the 100-year old Santa Monica Pier and cycled two kilometres down the sealed bike and running track embedded in the soft Pacific Coast sand. Following the snaking track past Muscle Beach with all its clichéd activity of tough looking, nuggetty men in striking muscle-popping poses, I’m joined by rollerbladers and families enjoying the Californian sunshine.
At first glance Venice Beach can be overwhelming. The sea is about 300 metres across the endless sand on my right, lush green grass and soaring palm trees punctuate the shoreline on my left, and in between I’m suddenly swept up into a carnival.
It’s as if a Director shouts ‘Action!’ and all the colourful folk who hang out down here start performing. Only they’re for real.
Don’t get run over by the guy on a bike with a taxi sign he’s taken off a car and strapped to his head. Skating past him is a man in a turban with an electric guitar selling T-shirts. Look out for groups of tattooed girls who are hula-hooping on the grass under the palm trees.