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Things to Do in Venice Beach, CA

Updated: January 3, 2024
 By Mel

Just 18 miles from Los Angeles, the small beachside city of Venice has much to see besides the beautiful beach.

Stroll the famous boardwalk, see the canals, and soak in the relaxed bohemian vibe.

Here are the top things to do in Venice Beach, as well as directions to get there by car and public transportation, and other helpful information.

We'll also include a few suggestions from locals and travelers who frequent our Los Angeles Travel Tips group on Facebook!

Is Venice Beach Worth Visiting?

Venice Beach is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the greater Los Angeles area, and it's a popular spot for both locals and travelers.

Way back in 1905, Abbot Kinney decided to develop the community after taking a walking tour of Venice in Italy.

Who knows, perhaps one of our walking tours will inspire you to create your own community!

You can see Kinney's inspiration all over the place in Venice Beach, particularly in the 16 miles of canals that are designed entirely to mimic the look and feel of the historic Italian city.

We have our own opinions about whether or not to visit this part of town, but you can also check our Los Angeles Travel Tips group on Facebook to see whether or not they recommend visiting!

How to Get Here

There are several ways to get to Venice Beach, but it all depends on where you're starting the journey.

The further out you are, the more likely it'll be easier to drive, but chances are that you'll be able to use public transportation just as easily.

While Los Angeles does have a metro system, you won't be able to simply take a train here, and the cheapest option is actually the public bus service.

NOTE: The map above reveals how to get here from Pershing Square in Downtown LA, but you can click on the map and change the starting point to get specific directions from wherever you might be located.

By Car

Venice Beach is 18 miles from Los Angeles. Without traffic, the drive is about 25 minutes, but when there is traffic, you may be looking at a ride of an hour.

Use this Google Maps link for exact driving directions from your point of departure.

There are three public lots in Venice Beach. They are open from 6 am to 12 am. The cost is between $9 to $15 in the summer months and $5 to $9 in the winter months.

There is also on-street parking along Abbot Kinney Blvd. and Pacific Avenue which fills up fast.

You can opt to park in a private parking lot near the beach near Windward Avenue at a cost between $5 - $30 per day.

Find out more about parking in Venice Beach.

Public Transportation

The Big Blue Bus has several routes that will take you from Los Angeles to Venice Beach.

It only costs $1.25 in cash for each ride. Check the website for all routes and timetables.

You can also take the Rapid Bus Line 733 which stops at the Abbot Kinney Memorial Branch Library on the corner of Abbot Kinney & Venice Boulevards.

Another alternative is to go to Santa Monica on the Metro Expo Line and take the Big Blue Bus Route 1 to Abbot Kinney and Venice or Main Street.

Depending on where you start, chances are this journey will take around 1 hour.

Plan your trip with the LA Metro.

Can I walk from Venice Beach to Santa Monica?

Yes. It is roughly a 45-minute walk (just over two miles or three and a half kilometers).

So, if it’s a nice day and you enjoy walking, go for it!

Another option is to hop on the Big Blue Bus Route 1 which travels from Venice Beach to Santa Monica.

Things to do in Santa Monica

Why not rent a bike to there? Ride the Marvin Braude trail (locals call it The Strand) 22 miles north along the beach.

You can enter the bike path from several access points in Venice Beach.

Look into rentals from Venice Boardwalk Bike Rental or use LA Metro Bike Share or Santa Monica Bike Share.

How Much Time to Spend Here

Depending on what you want to see or do while you're here, you could easily spend an entire day wandering around Venice Beach.

Most people are only going to spend about 2-3 hours walking down the boardwalk, exploring the canals, and doing a little shopping.

That said, if you're looking to do even more than the average visitor, it's not a bad idea to set aside at least half a day or more.

When is the best time to visit Venice Beach?

The best time to visit Venice Beach is between September and November.

You’ll avoid the summer beach crowds, enjoy some of the warmest weather of the year and find better prices for accommodations and airfare.


Stroll the Venice Beach Boardwalk

The iconic Venice Boardwalk is the second most-visited tourist attraction in Southern California!

Visitors flock here to see the eccentric, eclectic mix of people that make Southern California so unique.

There are always performers out and about entertaining crowds for small tips.

Along the boardwalk, you’ll find pubs, souvenir shops, arts & crafts vendors, tattoo parlors, and yes, medical marijuana clinics - this is California where such things are legal!

The boardwalk is especially crowded on the weekends. Weekday mornings are the best time to visit Venice Beach and the boardwalk if your schedule permits.

Relax on Venice Beach

Feel like lounging on a beach chair on the soft sand and soaking in the rays? Venice Beach is for you. Have the kids with you? Build sand castles with them and frolic in the surf.

Or maybe you feel like playing some sand volleyball, basketball, or handball? There are courts right next to the beach.

If you’d rather watch the action, stop by the famous Venice Beach Skatepark where skateboarding is much more than fun. It’s serious business! 

Venice Beach is free to visit and is open from 6 am to 10 pm. Use this Venice Beach map to see the layout of activities and facilities.

Check out Muscle Beach

While walking the boardwalk, don’t miss Muscle Beach Venice Outdoor Gym. This is where bodybuilders come to see and be seen.

Originally, Muscle Beach was next to the Santa Monica pier and became a hot spot where gymnasts and weightlifters came to show off their athletic skills.

In 1959, the beach was shut down, so the athletes migrated two miles south to Venice.

Jack LaLanne and Arnold Schwarzenegger got their start here.

Explore the Venice canals

A far cry from the brawn of the scene at Muscle Beach, the Venice canals are a peaceful residential neighborhood a few blocks inland from the beach.

Abbot Kinney, a  real estate developer, built these canals in 1905 to emulate his favorite city in Italy. He even brought in gondolas with actual gondoliers from Italy!

Unfortunately, this “Venice of America” never came fully to fruition but the canals are here with small pedestrian footbridges. 

Make time on your trip to Venice Beach to stroll along the canals. They are lovely. See a map here.

Shop and dine on Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Be sure to do some window shopping - or actual shopping - on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, named for the creator of the canals.

The Abbot Kinney business district is a mile long, running from Venice Boulevard to Main Street.

Here you’ll find an abundance of independently-owned boutiques, some chain stores, skincare stores, accessories shops, and several restaurants.

If you are in Venice on a Friday, check out the First Fridays food truck event starting at 5 pm.

Discover the Venice Murals

Some of the best street art in the greater-LA area can be found here in Venice Beach, many along Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Murals are made by street artists from all over the world. 

Some capture the legends of Venice Beach, like Arnold Schwarzenneger, Jim Morrison, and the founder of Venice Beach, Abbot Kinney!

Use this guide to the Venice Beach Murals for a self-guided walking tour.

You can watch murals being made at the Venice Public Art Walls where, every weekend, graffiti artists are invited to create public works of art. 

It's located on Ocean Front Walk between Muscle Beach and Venice Skatepark.

See the Mosaic Tile House

The Mosaic Tile House is both a home and a beautiful work of art. Couple Cheri Pann and Gonzalo Duran live here and the addition of new tiles never stops.

For over 20 years, Cheryl has been making the tiles, then her husband Gonzalo breaks them and scatters them throughout the house. Nearly every inch of the surface is covered. 

This creative approach to home decor must be seen to be believed. Cheryl gives tours arranged by appointment only. 

It is located at 1116 Palms Blvd. The house is open Saturdays from 12 pm to 3 pm. 
Tours are $20 per person.

Reservations are required. Email to inquire.

Go on a Venice Beach food tour

Let a local, experienced guide show you the culinary scene in Venice Beach.

Visit the beach, the canals and more while you sample the area’s best foods on a 3 to 3.5-hour guided food tour.

Try crostini, tacos, churronuts (churro donuts), tuna poke, and a ‘secret bite’.

This is the best way to get an insider’s take on both Venice Beach and its yummy eats!

Find out more about the tour and purchase tickets.

Watch the sun set at the Venice Fishing Pier

This concrete pier juts 700 feet into the Pacific Ocean. From the end of the pier, on a clear day, you can see as far as Santa Monica.

Speaking of Santa Monica, this pier isn't anything like the Santa Monica Pier,  but if you want to see what locals are up to, check out the fishing pier. 

People gather here for spectacular sunsets. If you want to see amazing surfers up close, you'll find some on either side of the pier.

The pier is open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and no fishing license is required to fish here.

Find out more here.

Learn to surf

Given the surfing culture of Venice Beach, this is one of the best places to take a surfing lesson!

You can join a group lesson or book a private lesson, both of which provide you with a surfboard. Either way, you’ll get to live like a local!

No matter what time of year you visit, lessons are offered since the use of a wetsuit means that water temperatures aren’t a factor.

Book a group surfing lesson or if you prefer more one-on-one attention, book a private lesson here.

Chill out at the High Rooftop Lounge

At the only rooftop bar in town, this lounge atop the Hotel Erwin is a popular spot for amazing views of Venice Beach and the Pacific Ocean.

The vibe is casual and fun, with a live DJ occasionally spinning vinyl. It's also a great place to watch the sun set.

Specialty cocktails and California beers are on the menu as well as bar snacks.

On chilly nights, let the heat lamps keep you warm.

Try a beer from Venice Duck Brewery

This local company brews beers inspired by the city itself and the name is as quirky as Venice Beach is!

Legend has it that a local man who went to a party near the canals, drank too much, and woke up on the sidewalk the following day covered in ducks. 

The Venice Duck Brewery's beers have quirky names such as Stoner Duck Hemp Brown Ale, Ducks in a Row, and Lucky Duck Agave Blonde.

You can try these beers at Beach & Brew, Venice Beach’s first self-pour taproom two blocks from the beach.

Tips From Locals and Travelers

While we always do our best to remain impartial, the reality is that we might have biases without even knowing it.

As such, we've included a selection of helpful advice from locals and travelers who frequent our Los Angeles Travel Tips group on Facebook.

It seems that no matter what, whenever someone asks about things to do in Los Angeles, there's always at least one person in our group who mentions Venice Beach and Santa Monica.

When it comes to which location to visit, opinions are varied, but most people suggest Venice Beach is the better option of the two neighborhoods.

That said, it's worth noting that the Santa Monica Pier is just a 45 minute walk from Venice Beach, and there are a lot of bike rental services in the area that you can use to make it easier and quicker to get between these beachfront communities.

A lot of our users recommend avoiding public transport if possible. While it is true that public transport in Los Angeles isn't the most effective way to get around town, it's also one of the cheapest options in the city.

Thankfully, Uber and Lyft are also an option, and many travelers swear by this method. Given that there are a lot of drivers providing this service in the Los Angeles area, it's usually pretty easy to get a ride wherever and whenever you want.

If you're planning to spend time on the beach itself, remember to bring your own towel and anything else you might need, because there aren't really any towel rentals in the area.

That said, there are plenty of small shops along the boardwalk, so it should be pretty easy to grab a bite to eat while you're in Venice Beach.

For more helpful suggestions, make sure to read our Los Angeles Travel Tips group on Facebook.

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About The Author


Mel loves to be a tourist in her own city. With a background in performing arts, tourism, and photography, giving tours and being a story-teller comes naturally to her. She loves traveling, food, and theatre. Mel splits her time between Chicago and Los Angeles (#theatrelife) and leads tours and manages both cities!
Updated: January 3rd, 2024
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