You’ve probably heard the name and probably know it’s in the USA – not actually Venice – but that might be as far as it goes. Venice Beach is an iconic part of Los Angeles, in all its weird and wonderful glory. Bodybuilders, graffiti, skateboarders and – believe it or not – beach, make up this 2 mile stretch of the city. If it all needs a bit more explaining, read our guide to Venice Beach.
Looking at Venice Beach’s slightly crude appearance today, it might surprise you to know it was genuinely intended to imitate Venice. Abbot Kinney (way back in 1905) was an American billionaire who wanted to replicate Venice and place it in Los Angeles as a resort style location. From there on the area went on a (metaphorical) rollercoaster ride of character and appearance. In the 1950s, the area’s Muscle Beach really started to become a defining attraction in the area. What started off as a relatively refined area became a favoured hangout for hippies in the 1960s, bringing with them whacky art. In the 1970s, drained swimming pools on the Beach became favoured skateboarding spots. By the 1980s, parallels to the high culture and delicate city of Venice were long gone. Although for a few decades the area became a little run-down, it’s now emerged, completely redefined in its truly unique nature. It might not be what Kinney intended, but it’s an absolute must-visit in LA.
One the most famous sights of Venice Beach is the ripped bodybuilders, flexing their muscles as they work out. Known as Muscle Beach, there are bodybuilders working out as you pass by. Like much of the area you can get involved yourself, though for many of us that’s not our thing. You can pay around $10 to use equipment for the day. Personally, on our American Adventure Tour we prefer to just watch, as do a lot of those visiting the area.
Art on Venice Beach is everywhere: although some might consider the graffiti a little ugly, it’s part of the Beach’s identity and some of it is fantastic. The area’s ‘art walls’ came in with the hippies in the 1960s and are free and legal to paint on. That means you can do it too. Art also doesn’t stop with the graffiti. Denizen Design Gallery and Sculpture Gardens are both worth a visit. If you fancy the full experience, take an art tour along the strip.
If you want to really delve in to how this one started we can’t recommend the film Dogtown and Z-boys enough. When we visit Venice Beach on The Coyote Trip we like to do inline skating as it’s a little easier but, as you go up the strip, you’ll see some incredibly talented skateboarders. What was once a sport taking place in abandoned swimming pools now has a $3.5 million dollar skate park built in its honour. If watching the talent isn’t enough for you then there are lots of places offering lessons and the chance to do a bit of skating yourself.