Discovering Venice, California by Cruiser Bike

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Venice, California is the perfect Los Angeles neighbourhood to discover and explore by cruiser bike. Do you remember those beach bikes with the big comfy seats, high handlebars and a big basket? The ones that come in a rainbow of colours?

"Cruiser bikes can be matched to your outfit"

Cruiser bikes can be matched to your outfit

There are stores a plenty all over Venice offering bike rentals (and usually surfboard rentals too). You can find them every few blocks near Venice Beach. They all seem to rent them by the hour; $6 per hour is what I paid with a lock and a basket thrown in. Then with map in hand I proceeded to cycle where the proverbial wind blew me. I had some ideas of what I wanted to see – including the Venice canals and the pier but I was happy to follow whatever road or trail looked quiet and safe.

I first made a beeline for the Venice canals. They were built by Abbot Kinney in 1905. He wanted to recreate the feel of Venice, Italy in southern California. But by 1940 the canals had either been filled or had fallen into disrepair with much haggling over who should pay the costs of clean-up. Somewhere along the way there was a break-through because in 1992 they were fully renovated, complete with new sidewalks and walls. Now the homes along the canal are highly desirable and needless to say, very expensive. The residential area surrounding the Venice Canals is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It’s well worth parking (and locking) your bike to explore the canals extensively on foot. Residents have done a terrific job with their gardens so it’s a real delight to walk along the canals.

"Colourful house along the Venice canal"

Colourful house along the Venice canal

"biking along the canals of Venice, California"

You actually aren’t supposed to bike along the canals – that’s why you need a bike lock

"Bridges are located roughly every block or so"

Bridges are located roughly every block or so

From the canal area I headed back towards the beach as I wanted to catch some decent lighting at the Venice pier. Again I locked up my bike up once I reached the pier and proceeded on foot to the end. It’s a popular spot for fishing and very well designed. Cut-outs at various locations along the pier allow handicapped people in wheelchairs better views and access. And although I hadn’t noticed it there is a double railing at the end of the pier so the bottom railing can be used for cutting bait and the top one, the one you lean on, stays free of guts and blood.

"Walking the Venice Pier"

Walking the 1,310 foot Venice Pier

"No shortage of gulls with all the fish around"

No shortage of gulls with all the fish around

"It was fun watching the photo shoot from above on the pier"

I felt like a voyeur watching the photo shoot from above

"Quite a different view under the Venice pier"

Quite a different view under the Venice pier

"There are miles and miles of beach to walk"

There are miles and miles of beach to walk

Starting at the Venice Pier you can pick up a bike path that parallels the beach heading north. It goes for miles – past the Santa Monica Pier, the Annenberg Community Beach House and beyond. Unfortunately I was running out of time to make it to Santa Monica because of all my side trips.

I couldn’t help but stop at a skateboard park and watch the local talent.

"Local skateboarding talent"

Local skateboarding talent

"These guys made it look so easy"

These guys made it look so easy

After some time watching the skateboarders I figured it was time to return the bike before it got dark. The bike ride was a total delight – super easy, flat and not exactly physically taxing, but a great way to explore Venice.

Just after I gave up my bike I saw this dog across from the bike rental spot – the epitome of California cool – at least in my mind and a sight that gave made me a good chuckle.

"Even the dogs are cool in California"

Even the dogs are cool in California

Have you ever tried out a cruiser bike? You’re never too old to ride one of them!

Leigh McAdam

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Thank you to Visit California for making my trip to Venice, California possible. All ideas – as always are my own.

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