Having just completed our super interesting outing aboard the Queen Mary ocean liner/museum ship (out in Long Beach), Johann and Carl next decided that an impromptu drive out to Venice Beach (before we return to Anaheim) would definitely be a good idea.
Founded in 1905 and established as a seaside resort town, Venice stood as an independent city until 1926, when it and its man-made canals (hence the city’s name) was absorbed into the greater city of Los Angeles.
These days this residential and recreational neighbourhood is known for its bohemian style and sensibilities, long being home to a countless number of artists, poets, and musicians from all walks of life.
Labelled as “a cultural hub known for its eccentricities”, Venice’s biggest tourist attraction (if not Southern California’s number one visitor attraction) is without a doubt Venice Beach, which attracts literally millions of visitors each year.
The actual beach itself is wide, flat, long and covered in soft sand, making it one of those good beaches that people really can enjoy. Other than all the normal beach sports prevalent on its sands, there is also plenty of surfing (and other water sports) to be had in the sea, and a seemingly good lifeguard system in place.
There’s even a long bicycle track that runs parallel to the beach, which, given the number of bicycles cruising up and down on it (not to mention all the bicycle rental spots along the promenade), seems to be a very popular distraction indeed!
But a beach is just a beach, and in reality the real draw of Venice Beach is of course its world famous Venice Beach Boardwalk (sometimes called the “Ocean Front Walk”), a promenade/beach road that stretches for about 2,5 kilometers along the beachfront.
The promenade is vibrant, packed with art murals, buskers, hustlers and little grungy shops of all shapes and form. From clothing stores, marijuana dispensaries, bars, eateries, and curio stops, the Venice Beach Boardwalk is an eccentric mix of people from all races, colours and creeds, trying to simply make a living by selling pretty much anything to anyone.
There is also all the outdoor sports courts to glace over, play areas that include spaces like skateboard parks, paddle ball arenas, and of course all the well known basketball courts from which many a legendary NBA player has been plucked!
That said, honestly, I’m not really the type of person who likes this kind of place (I’m not overly fond of seemingly rundown spots full of hustle and bustle), but it would be a straight out lie to say that I didn’t find the Venice Beach Boardwalk a super interesting and intriguing spot. So many strange (and often eccentric) people to take in, from the hustlers in front of the freakshow attraction, to the preaching gangsters on a podium, to the guy selling insults on the side of the street!
Enjoy the sun on this warm Summer’s day, the three of us slowly ambled down the strip, taking in the sights and sounds, stopping for some frozen yoghurt (and some or other slightly less identifiable snack at a different hole in the wall eatery), before finally turning around once we had hit the famous Muscle Beach section of the boardwalk – which in itself is a very entertaining stop as you get to watch all the musclebound men and women do their strength exercises out in front of all the people walking along the promenade (i.e. showing off), with the guys quite often stepping out of their routine in order to flex a muscle or two while posing for some photo hungry visitor.
So while I didn’t necessarily LOVE the vibe of the Venice Beach Boardwalk, I did very much like the art and appreciate the experience – after all, who hasn’t seen this famous strip of land on American TV before? :)