Local’s Guide to Venice Beach

When I lived in LA for two years, Venice Beach became one of my favorite places on the planet. I may have had a traditional, midwestern upbringing, but I possess an inner hippie spirit, and Venice embraces that. It’s a glorious amalgam of the free-spirited beach life and the urbane weirdness of the city’s hippies, hipsters and artists. 
Venice is a bustling, sometimes overwhelming tourist hot spot, so I thought I would help impart some wisdom based on my two years of visiting this beautiful place. Avoid looking like a tourist, wasting money or getting taken advantage of with my local’s guide below.

1. Parking
Put up with the walking and park a few blocks away from the beach on side streets. I’ll usually park a few blocks east of Main Street near Rose Avenue on the far north side of the boardwalk. You’ll easily save yourself $15 or more in the summer months.

2. Grub
The more culinary hot spot flavors of the month like Gjelina and Willie Jane are along Abott Kinney and further inland, but if you are going to stay on the Boardwalk there are some nommy cheap gems, sure to satisfy your appetite. For a snack, grab fresh fruit from one of the stalls and add cayenne if you dare, or enjoy some island tastes with fresh ahi poke. If you want a sit down meal, the Venice Ale House is delicious and hip, as in beer flights served on a skateboard, hip.

3. Go south my friend!
If you want to spend time on the actual beach and lay out, you should head as far south as possible. The further south you go, the cleaner and less crowded it gets. I love the hustle and bustle of Venice, but it can be too overwhelming or grimy for a relaxing day at the beach. My favorite spot is right where Washington Blvd meets the ocean, closer to Marina del Rey. If you can see the Venice Whaler, you are in the right place. There’s peaceful quiet, a nice pier if you want to fish and pictaresque lifeguard stands that make me feel like Marissa Cooper.

4. Rent a bike!
 Expansive bike trails line the coast from Marina del Rey and up to Malibu. Rentals are cheap, and there’s no better way to enjoy the California weather and coastal beauty than by bike ride. Plus, you won’t want to walk or sit in traffic to travel to Santa Moncia or give up your precious parking spot.

Venice is full of oddities and weirdness. Enjoy it, but don’t forget your street smarts.

5. Do not accept the “free” CDs!
You will be asked to give money and do not want to deal with the awkwardness or aggression from some of the sellers. Have your wits about you and keep to yourself. Venice is fun, but it’s known for being weird for a reason.

And if you must get the required instagram of the Venice sign, it hangs on Windward Avenue just west of Pacific. Happy to help you get that photographic memento.