Sam Bentley. Travel + Social Media Entrepreneur Forbes 30 Under 30 / Co-Founder of UNILAD

Things To Do In Venice Beach, Los Angeles

Over the past 12 months i’ve spent a good portion of time living in Venice, (whilst obviously making sure I don’t outstay my VISA period!) and in that time I’ve managed to discover some of the coolest things to do there.

Let's start with places to grab breakfast. Firstly we have Great White.

Great White

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We are open from 7am..

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Located across from the Venice sign, Great White serves some of the best coffee in Venice. There's also a wide selection of Lattes such as Matcha, Golden Tumeric, Charcoal, Strength and Chai, and when combined with their delicious Blue Smoothie Bowl, it makes for a pretty colourful breakfast. It’s usually pretty busy so if you struggle to get a table you can head on down to Cow’s End.

Cow's End Cafe

Cow’s End is a little more low key and they’ll probably be more locals hanging out here than at Great White. As a heads up it’s cash only, however there’s a cash point inside and down the road you can use. There’s a massive range of things to choose from here and the prices are pretty reasonable for LA. I usually get the Energizer Açai bowl, take it down to the beach which is just a few steps away and sit there and eat it. Just beware of the seagulls who'll be scouting your food out.

Venice Canals

When you’ve satisfied your hunger, you can now head down to see the Venice Canals. The Venice Canals were built by a guy called Abbot Kinney who wanted to recreate the look and feel of Venice in Italy. There used to be a lot more canals, but when the popularity of cars started to rise in LA, a lot of them were filled to make roads. The area actually used to be really run down, however now it’s one of the most expensive places to live in LA. It's a cool place to escape the madness of Venice Beach and get some peace, and also see some insane houses.

Ride an e-scooter (responsibly)

Now, even if you haven’t been to Venice yet, you’ve probably seen or heard of the electric scooters that are really popular here (South Park even made an episode about them). There are a few apps you can download to ride these scooters, including Bird, Lime or Jump. You need a driving license to use the app to unlock scooters placed around Venice. It’s a great way to get around but obviously be conscious of pedestrians and other traffic on the road. You used to be able to ride on the beach cycle path with them but think they've been banned now. There’s been a bit of a backlash against them due to people who ride them recklessly or place them in really inconvenient places and block the sidewalks etc, so just don’t be an idiot basically.  

Venice Skatepark

You can ride down Venice Beach on a scooter and check out the famous Venice Skatepark. Here you’ll be able to watch some of most talented local skateboarders pull off some insane tricks, just keep your eye out for flying skateboards. If you want to have a go yourself, the skatepark is free to go on and is open 24 hours so it may be best to come pretty early in the morning before the crowds start building.

Venice Basketball Courts

Around this area you’ll also find the Venice Basketball Courts, they’re free too and you can either spectate, jump on with your friends or ask to join a game.  

Muscle Beach Venice

Opposite the courts is Muscle Beach Gym, which was once the home of fitness legends like Arnold Schwarzenegger. A day pass is $10 if you want to pump some iron in the sun, or if you ask politely most people working out will happily grab a photo with you if you want a reminder of how out of shape you are (that isn't me above fyi). The Original Muscle Beach is actually in Santa Monica, but we can cover that in another article.

The Venice Boardwalk

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Shopping by the beach 🛍🏝

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One of the most unique things about Venice is the boardwalk, so i’d definitely recommend walking down here and taking in all the weird and wonderful things you see. You'll find hundreds of street performers, musicians, fortune tellers, and people selling all kinds of madness. In an hour of walking on the boardwalk, you could have three piercings, two tattoos, and know when you’re going to die. Bit dark that at the end.

Go Surfing

Moving onto something more positive, the surfing culture is massive on the west coast so why not grab a surfboard and hit the waves. The sea here isn’t super warm so it’s probably worth getting a wet suit too and there are a bunch of local places where you can grab one from and get lessons if you’re a beginner, Jay's Rentals is a good shout. If you’re serious about surfing it’s probably better to take a drive up to Malibu, but again we can cover that in another article.

Venice Drum Circle

The last beach activity i’m going to throw in here is the drum circle. Every Saturday and Sunday, people from all over the world gather on Venice Beach and dance, drum together and just create a positive environment where you can let yourself go and feel part of an awesome community of people. If you're around on the weekend it's definitely worth checking out.

Abbot Kinney Boulevard

From the beach, a short walk will take you to one of the trendiest streets in LA; that is Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Abbot Kinney is lined with amazing restaurants, cool boutique shops and awesome street art. I remember I had to cross the road here once because a lady was having a full blown insta photo shoot with her dog on the sidewalk. That’s not uncommon to see in Venice. 99% of walking through Venice is just avoiding ruining people’s insta photos.  

First Fridays

On the first Friday of every month, Abbot Kinney is packed with the best foodtrucks from all over LA, so if you’re here during that time, definitely go stuff your face with some amazing food at First Fridays. Also keep your eye out for celebrities as it’s likely you’ll spot a few, last time Usher walked past me and another time some friends and I saw Big Sean shopping on Abbot Kinney with Jhené Aiko which was pretty cool.

Gjelina Takeaway

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Pomodoro burrata & basil

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My favourite place to eat on Abbot Kinney is the Gjelina Takeaway. Gjelina serves some of the best pizza in LA, but it’s usually pretty booked up. Next door is a takeaway where you can get the same pizzas but to-go. There are a couple of tables inside but I like just sitting on the bench outside and people watching whilst devouring a stupidly tasty pizza.  

Salt and Straw

If you’re open to forgetting calories exist for one evening, head down to Salt & Straw next. They have a wide range of delicious handmade ice cream, and staff will come and ask you if you want to sample any whilst you’re waiting in line (try them allllll). Some of the most popular flavours are the Sea Salt and Caramel and the Chocolate Gooey Brownie, but they also create different flavours for certain times of the year. For example, at Halloween they have the Creepy Crawly Critters flavour which is made up of creamy matcha ice cream mixed with chocolate-covered crickets and coconut toffee-brittle covered mealworms. Yum.  

Watch the sunset from Hotel Erwin

If you're a fan of sunsets, you can get one of the best sunset views of LA from Hotel Erwin. This hotel, which is right next to Venice Beach, has a rooftop bar that’s open to the public. The seating areas are usually all reserved so if you haven’t made a reservation you may just have to try your luck or stand. But there are worse places to be in the world than standing up on a rooftop bar in Venice Beach right?  

Townhouse & The Del Monte

When the sun sets, head on down to Townhouse. This is the oldest bar in Venice at over 100 years old, and it used to be a speakeasy during Prohibition which you could only access by walking through a grocery story above and going down a secret elevator. Today, they have a number of live music nights on in the basement where the speakeasy used to be, and the upstairs is a bar with pretty good happy hour prices if you manage to catch it at the right time (5-8pm Monday to Friday). It’s definitely the perfect place to end your day in Venice.

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