Venice Beach, California
I was surprised to find out that California had its own Venice with canals and alleyways, but with a totally different vibe.
Venice was established as a resort town in 1905 by tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney, but it was annexed by the city of Los Angeles in 1925.
Street performers are everywhere trying to attract the attention of the troves of people walking by. On the weekend and holidays, you can barely squeeze in between the masses.
All along the promenade, you will find shops, snack bars and restaurants. There are also dedicated areas for skaters, boarders, a bike lane and an outdoor gym.
If you go inland a few blocks you are transferred into a serene atmosphere with canals, bridges, boats and ducks.
It is an eerie transformation between the hustle and bustle of the waterfront and the tranquility of the canals.
Up in the distance – looking north – you can see the Santa Monica Pier with popular carnival rides. You can actually walk or bike from Venice Beach to Santa Monica and enjoy the rides or go shopping.
The south end connects to Marina Del Rey, another popular beach area in Los Angeles. In Marina Del Rey you can find Mothers Beach, a secluded inland beach away from the high surf. A favorite destination for families with small children.
When you get hungry, you have a large selection of restaurants and snack shacks. My favorite for a sit-down meal is “The Sidewalk Café” – an open-air café with views of the sidewalk and beach. The food is very good and reasonably priced.
For light meals or snacks, you can try “Funnel Cakes”, “Cold Stone Creamery” or “Rey’s Pizza”.