This year I wasn’t able to travel to Europe for vacation, but I was still able to go to Italy! Okay, not really, but we took a day trip to the beaches near Los Angeles, including Venice Beach. We love unique and fun places, so it was definitely on our list. Since Venice Beach is just 8 miles from Santa Monica, I decided to do them both in one day. Before our trip, I looked up more things to do in Venice and it turns out that developer Abbot Kinney had a Venice in America plan and recreated 16 miles of the Italian canals in 1905.
Unfortunately, 75% of the canals have since been covered up, because the sidewalks and houses surrounding them fell into disrepair in the 30s and 40s. The city was salvaged and the remaining canals are lined by million-dollar homes and looked amazing online, so Eric and I wanted to see them for ourselves. We parked at the beach and walked down to Washington Boulevard on the advice of a local walking his dog. Although I was bummed that I couldn’t rent a gondola to float down the water, I still wanted to experience the neighborhood.
The houses aren’t large, though they are fantastic “beachfront” houses with small yards and large mortgages/rents. They have the advantage of being steps from the beach, having a great walking neighborhood and being on a manmade river that they can cruise down. The banks of the canals are lined with small boats owned by the residents. Maybe they row down the river to their friends’ houses when the weather is nice. Whatever the case, I’m sure it’s a beautiful view from their tiny balconies.
We visited the beaches on a weekday on the off-season, so we didn’t get the whole experience of Venice, but I love that the beach is clean and there are two sidewalks. One is specifically for bicycles and the other is for walkers. It’s a great way to keep traffic separate and minimize accidents. I did get to see an old guy rollerblading in a pair of jean cut-offs, but mostly we enjoyed the quiet day and watching bicyclists roll by.
Venice is a great way to enjoy both the beach and a recreation of the European canals on a budget. Both are free, there are usually unique street performers and there are plenty of fun shops and restaurants to choose from, too.
Have you been to Venice Beach? If so, what was your favorite part?