Life’s a Show at Venice Beach


Life’s a Show at Venice Beach

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.

Stall holders sell T-shirts and graffiti art, tattoo parlours have Harley Davidson’s parked out front, people walk dogs the size of guinea pigs and a husky with wolf’s eyes waits patiently for his owner to finish busking just opposite the Sidewalk Café, which is the perfect spot for people-watching.

My tip for the best bar in the area is located on the rooftop of the Hotel Erwin, appropriately called High. The incredible sunset views make this the spot for a drink, even if you’re not staying here. Inside, rooms are furnished with a Californian beach vibe, bright colours and quirky artwork, while Barlo, the restaurant on the ground floor, serves killer truffle fries.

A couple of blocks back from the beach is Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Here you’ll find cool boutiques, tapas bars, cafes, bespoke jewellery stores, art galleries and my favourite store of all, Bountiful, a beautiful antique and reconditioned homeware boutique with a window display that lures me from miles away.

Venice Beach has a vibe all of its own and is one of the best places to stay in LA for stopover. Most Expedia Travellers stay in LA for 2 to 3 days and that’s plenty of time to head to the beach. If you’re after ideas for fly and stay visits, see Los Angeles Holidays.

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Megan Singleton

About the Author Megan Singleton

Megan Singleton is an award-winning travel writer with 14 years experience travelling the world – and calling it work. She is editor and founder of  Blogger at Large, one of New Zealand’s biggest travel blogs, where she shares inside tips on places to go – and not to go – and uploads plenty of pictures because she’s also a wannabe National Geographic photographer. Her suitcase is only ever ten minutes away from being ready. But when she’s not gallivanting around the world, Megan is in Auckland with her husband pretending to be Master Chef and planning her next trip.   3  travel must haves? iPhone, a good camera, and my laptop so I’m always connected.   What’s on your travel Bucket List? Staring at the phenomenon that is the Northern Lights, Christmas markets in Germany – preferably by river cruise