After a few trips to L.A., I finally made it down to Venice Beach, the famous community south of Santa Monica known for its boardwalk and eccentric characters. The first hour there was great, but ultimately visiting Venice Beach was a bust.
That was partly our fault. We showed up late in the afternoon and had to leave early the next morning. I would like to give Venice another chance, when we have more time to explore the beaches, cafes, and businesses.
Our Venice Beach Experience
We arrived late in the afternoon, just in time to catch street performers on the boardwalk and watch the skaters as the sun set behind them. This part was very cool. There were lots of tourists around taking photos and the sky was all sorts of brilliant colors.
But then it got chilly, the sun set, and everybody disappeared. It was bizarre. In less than an hour, Venice went from bustling ‘hood to ghost town.
After checking in to our hostel, my friend and I wandered around looking for someplace to eat, and there weren’t many options. The places that were open on this Sunday night were all upscale restaurants. Not even so much as a burger joint or diner – except for the budget Mexican restaurant across from the hostel that was so empty that we didn’t trust the food.
We headed over to the Abbot Kinney Blvd. area, one of the busiest districts in Venice, and still couldn’t find much at that hour. So we ended up grabbing sandwiches at Subway. Meh!
The nightlife was a disappointing aspect of Venice. Again, aside from some upscale bars, we didn’t have many options. The Abbot Kinney area has a ton of art galleries and retail shops, but very few bars. We wandered around again, landed in a couple bars, had a few drinks, and went back to the hostel.
Maybe Sunday is just a bad night to visit Venice. Or maybe there’s simply not a lot of nightlife to be found here.
At least the photos were cool…
Visiting Venice Beach: Things To Do When You Have More Time
If we’d had more time, we could have gone standup paddleboarding, explored the canal districts (patterned after Venice, Italy), and dined at some of the award-winning restaurants in the area. We should’ve checked out the weekend drum circles and basketball games.
Have a drink on the rooftop lounge at Hotel Erwin. Check out the Mosiac Tile House. And spend a whole day on the beach and at the boardwalk.
This part of L.A. isn’t really known for its nightlife or its “sightseeing.” It’s known more for the vibe, the culture, and the character. If you go in with that expectation, you can have a better experience.
For more, take a look at our list of songs about LA, the street art of the city, how to visit LA without a car, and a guide for road tripping from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas.
Do you have any suggestions for activities while visiting Venice Beach?