Exploring Venice, California – One of LA’s Hip Beach Neighborhoods

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I’m dodging a winter storm in Calgary and feel lucky to have landed in Venice, California, one of LA’s hip beach neighborhoods.

Before my arrival here I’d only heard of Venice in a vague sort of way. For the life of me I wouldn’t have been able to give you any specifics.

Now I can.

And my first impressions are very positive – even if I feel like I’ve been dropped on another planet. Although Venice is only 2 ½ hours by air from Calgary, and then a mere 20 minutes from LAX - it’s got a hip, youthful, edgy type of vibe that makes Calgary feel staid and conservative.

What have I learned about Venice in a few short hours?

For the record I am not a shopper but I could be in Venice. Seven blocks of shopping nirvana – with nary a chain store in sight – is what you’ll find on Abbott Kinney Blvd. There’s an incredible mix of stores and restaurants – offering things we won’t be seeing in Canada for another five years. The latest in design is right here. And it’s actually refreshing to see such original stores. Really I could lose myself here for days. Of course there are trendy restaurants and cafes – many with a vegan and vegetarian angle that I hope to dine in over the next couple of days.

"Abbot Kinney Blvd - an uber cool street for shopping & eating"

Abbot Kinney Blvd – an uber cool street for shopping & eating

"The Juicy Leaf store"

I could be the ultimate consumer in The Juicy Leaf – there was nothing I saw that I didn’t want

"Colourful buildings and street art"

Colourful buildings and street art

"Racing to catch the sunset"

Racing to catch the sunset

"Looking down Venice Beach"

Looking down Venice Beach

"On Venice Beach"

On Venice Beach

"People congregating to catch the sunset"

People congregating to catch the sunset

"Spectacular sunset on Venice Beach"

Spectacular sunset on Venice Beach

"Venice Beach is  a happening spot on a Sunday night"

Venice Beach is a happening spot on a Sunday night

"Along the Venice Beach boardwalk"

Along the Venice Beach boardwalk

" Eateries to appeal to every taste"

Eateries to appeal to every taste

"Someone in need of attention"

Someone in need of attention

Where to Stay

I’ve landed at the edgy, hip and urban Hotel Erwin. It’s exceptionally well located – just steps from Venice Beach and the boardwalk and walking distance to all the great shopping on Abbott Kinney Blvd. Rooms are huge and some have balcony views of the action on Venice Beach. There’s a restaurant on site offering breakfast and dinner and a 7th floor open air rooftop bar – perfect for taking in sunsets.

"You know you're in southern California when you get a surf theme happening in the lobby"

You know you’re in southern California when you get a surf theme happening in the lobby

"A kitchen/living room area"

A kitchen/living room area

"The bed is in a separate room"

The bed is in a separate room

After a hurried breakfast on my first morning here I rushed to the beach to see what it looked like in daylight. I’ll be back for more this afternoon – when I rent a bike to cycle the whole boardwalk. I’ll also take the time to check-out the Venice canals – a place one of my readers says I must visit.

"surfers on Venice Beach"

The surfers are out on Venice Beach on a December morning

"Morning on Venice Beach"

Morning on Venice Beach

So far Venice has exceeded my expectations by a long shot. Stay tuned as I explore some of LA’s finest museums, hike in canyons, visit Catalina Island and then make my way back into winter with a four night stay in Yosemite National Park.

Have you ever been to Venice, California? What are your favourite activities, places to eat, shops to check out?

Thank you to  Visit California for sponsoring my trip. But all thoughts, opinions and everything else are strictly my own.

Leigh McAdam

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