Lately, I have been practicing one of the mottos I repeat over and over in this website: “You don’t have to travel far or spend a lot of money to have a great adventure”.
To act according to the saying, I have been exploring several places close to home. A few weeks ago, I set foot along the famous canals Venice Beach Canals.
After experiencing the madness of the Venice Beach Boardwalk, I was surprised to discover this oasis in the middle of this busy area. I felt like I escaped to a rural area!
Follow along for an enchanting tour of this area!
The history of the place goes back to the beginning of the last century. Venice of America was founded in 1905 by millionaire Abbot Kinney (today, the hippiest boulevard in the area, bears his name). He and his partner bought two miles of property to create a beach resort. When Kinney’s original partner died, the partnership with other investors was dissolved. Therefore, Kinney built on the marshy land on the south end of the property, intending to create a seaside resort like its namesake in Italy.
When Venice of America opened, Kinney had dug several miles of canals to drain the marshes for his residential area. Tourists arrived from Los Angeles and Santa Monica. With time the town grew and the city of Los Angeles annexed the area. This is a short summary of why there are canals on the south side.
For many years, I thought Venice was an incorporated city. Well, my thinking was flawed because this is actually a borough of Los Angeles. So, while in Venice Beach, you are technically in Los Angeles.
How to Access the Venice Beach Canals
You can access the canals through Venice Boulevard. You will find pathways at Venice and Dell or close to Venice and Pacific.
The canals can also be accessed from the beach through 25th Avenue.
It is possible to enter the canals if you are coming from Washington Avenue. However, the walk is longer from that side. If for some reason, you are approaching the area from that side, it is easier to find the canals through Sanborn Avenue (small street).
Venice Canals Parking
For parking you can do the following:
- Use the beachfront lot at the end of Venice Boulevard
- Use one of the lots in Venice Boulevard (between Ocean Avenue and Pacific Avenue). Public lots are cheaper than private lots.
- Parallel parking on Venice Beach. (between Ocean and Pacific). This is usually a free option. Avoid parking on red and green areas.
Today, only six of the original canals remain (the area used to be three to four times larger). There are four east-west canals (Carroll Canal, Linnie Canal, Howland Canal, and Sherman Canal) and two north-south canals (Eastern Canal and Grand Canal).
There is no right or wrong way to see the canals. When you enter the area, you can walk as much or as little as possible. Move from one canal to another using the different bridges.
Visitors tend to walk each of the east-west canals. If you have the time, I suggest doing that. Each canal is unique in the sense that the aesthetics of each property or lane is different. You are going to observe different architectural styles, different elements used to adorn the properties and different landscaping designs.
Expect to spend 1 to 1.5 hours in the canals.
If you are short on time but want to get a feeling of the area, stroll along the Grand Canal (parallel to Pacific Avenue or the Ocean Front Walk).
The bridges are one of the most exceptional features in the Venice Beach Canals area. Plus, they are the only way to move within the walkways.
There are concrete bridges used for vehicular traffic. The cuteness factor on these is low but some provide great vantage points for photography.
Setting those apart, a visitor would prefer to concentrate on the metal and wood variations that seemed like they came out from a storybook. See how many of those you can find.
Let me add a fun fact (or dorky fact, for real): there is no bridge crossing the Grand Canal in Venice Beach (like in Venice, Italy).
The houses along the canals are gorgeous! They are probably my favorite feature of the area.
Styles range from beach bungalow to modern masterpieces from all white to fluorescent colors. A lot of the houses have a small open-air terrace or front yard, a terrace over the water and a small dock for boats, kayaks or canoes. It is just a relaxed way of living.
In addition, the area is full of trees and colorful flowers. It is a pleasure to walk around and see so much beauty. It is understood that the community is proud of where they live and take care of even the little details.
Now, the houses in the canals go on the market for 1 to 4 million dollars. Not a shabby price if you ask me.
Linnie Canal Park
This small park among the canals has playgrounds and a bit of open space to move around. This is the perfect spot to rest if you are visiting with kids and they need to release a bit of stress.
The canals are very charming but let’s not forget this is still Venice Beach. So, there has to be some quirkiness around.
You never know what you are going to find in the area. For example, I spotted a house with a flamingo fence.
And, since we are talking about flamingos, it was a little bit surprising to see a flamingo pedal boat. I would like to see people moving around on that one.
Plus, you may be able to spot some wall paintings and murals.
I have seen people paddleboarding along the canals many times. If you have your equipment, make sure to bring it. If not, you will need to find a nearby business renting gear (there are some nearby in Marina del Rey).
Other Attractions in the Area
You can spend an entire day in Venice Beach. Before or after the canals, make sure to stop by Abbot Kinney Boulevard, The Boardwalk or the beach. In addition, you can go on a mural and wall art tour. Check out my detailed post on this topic.
Santa Monica (and all its attractions) are located only a few miles away.
Nearby Eating Options
If during your sightseeing time you start to feel a little bit hungry, you are in the right place since Venice has some of the most highly regarded restaurants in Los Angeles.
If you are into trendy, check out the following:
- Gjelina (Abbot Kinney Boulevard)
- Superba Food + Bread (Lincoln Boulevard)
- The Butcher’s Daughter (Abbot Kinney Boulevard)
- Rose Café (Rose Avenue)
- Barrique (Main Street)
Just remember trendy does not equal budget friendly (most of the time).
For wallet-friendly options, try the following:
- Venice Ale House (The Boardwalk and Rose Avenue)
- Greenleaf Gourmet Food (Abbot Kinney Boulevard)
- Abbot’s Pizza Company (Abbot Kinney Boulevard)
- La Tostaderia (Abbot Kinney Boulevard)
- Baby Blues BBQ (Lincoln Boulevard)
After taking a good look at this oasis of colorful houses, fairytale bridges, and peaceful waters, I affirm there are treasures to discover close to where we are. Even untamed Venice Beach has a softer side that many do not know.
More of Los Angeles
- Find out how to spend one fun-filled day in Los Angeles
- Get inspiration by reading my Los Angeles Ultimate Bucket List
- 20 Reasons to Love Los Angeles
- Redondo Beach Pier: What to Do, See and Eat
- Palos Verdes Hikes and Trails
- Things to do in Hermosa Beach
More of Southern California
Have you visited the Venice Beach Canals? What did you like the most about them?
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