Down By the Boardwalk: A Guide to Venice Beach
Venice… where you can take a vacation from LA without… uhh, leaving LA. You know the canals, you know the boardwalk… but there’s way more to this hippie-turned-haute enclave on the Pacific. Amazing shopping, food, coffee, things to do… you name it, Venice has it. Here’s how to spend the ultimate weekend down by the boardwalk (without actually having to go to the boardwalk).
Start your day the way any Venice local would… in the water. Whether you’re hanging ten for the first time or a bonafide surfer brah, Kapowui Surf Club will teach you a thing or two about gnarin up some waves. They’ll supply the equipment and surf-obsessed staff, so all you need to bring is your readiness to shred.
Just off the boardwalk is Menotti’s, which serves up some of the best coffee in all of LA (yes, it even competes with the hip cafes of the East). You can’t go wrong with any of the standard espresso drinks on the menu, but be sure to ask about any off-the-menu specials, which change every month. Whatever you order, enjoy it in the old school space, which has a pretty extensive record collection playing in the background.
You’ll probably want to fuel up after a morning of catching waves, and the perfect place to do it is at Great White. Rub elbows with fellow surfers (you’re a surfer now, own it!), local families, and bloggers (ugh) at this new but already beloved Venice spot, serving up everything from light plates like the instagram icon blue smoothie bowl, to heartier post-surf options like the dope breakfast burrito or open face brekkie sandwich.
Now it’s time to get to know the hood. Take a stroll up and down Venice’s “walk streets”, pedestrian-only streets between Pacific Ave and the beach, full of charming original Venice homes.
After some walking, head over to the heart of Venice’s shopping scene, Abbott Kinney, which is lined with independent boutiques and stellar restaurants. Places not to miss are Bazar (a tiny shop packed with antique furniture, textiles, and racks of hard-to-find Japanese brands for both men and women), Heist and Satine (expertly curated multi brand boutiques), Tortoise General (beautiful Japanese products for the home), Garrett Leight (for classic Venice Beach sunglasses from the original shop), Burro (for gifts, cards, books, souvenirs, and stocking stuffers), and The Piece Collective (a beachy white washed bungalow with bohemian beachwear and jewelry as well as goods for the home).
Hungry from all the shopping? Good! Gjusta is the place you’ll want to go - order anything on the menu (highly recommend the mushroom bowl!), but be sure not to skip out on the incredible baked goods for dessert. And while you’re at it, grab some cookies to take home (i.e. eat in about 25 minutes) and thank me later.
Walk off lunch by checking out the canals which lend Venice its name. The man-made canals were built in 1905 in an effort to recreate the feeling of Venice and are now a historic district, lined with both colorful original houses and modern new constructions. Once you’ve checked out the canals… it’s time to get off your feet, and travel the Venice way… by bike or bird! Not a literal bird… Venice’s most recent addition is a slew of bikeshare-like electric scooters, or “Birds”, scattered around the neighborhood. (You’ve probably seen them by now). All you need to do is download the “Bird” app, scan the barcode on one of the scooters, and you’re ready to go. It’s the ultimate way to cruise along the beach, while enjoying the chaos of the boardwalk from afar and taking in the salty ocean breeze. If scooters aren’t your thing… pick up a bike from one of the many rental shops along the boardwalk. Either way, the beach is where you’ll want to be at this hour of the day to take in the pinky hues of the west coast sunset.
Finish off your night by heading back to Abbott Kinney and enjoying pizza and seasonal veg at Gjelina, Japanese-inspired small plates at MTN, or homemade pasta at Felix. Cap off the night with a drink at Del Monte, an actual prohibition era speakeasy that opened in 1915, located in the basement of Townhouse restaurant. If you’d rather be above ground (quite high off the ground), head to High Rooftop Lounge, the rooftop bar at the top of Hotel Erwin for drinks and a view.