The First Timer’s Weekend Guide to Venice Beach, California

Ready for an awesome weekend getaway? I know I am…so strap on your seatbelts, we’re headed to Venice Beach, California! Just outside of Los Angeles, Venice is the city’s grungy, eclectic younger cousin. The area has an iconic, funky vibe, attracting everyone from surfers to artists to families soaking in the California sun. Spend some time in Venice Beach and neighboring city Santa Monica, and you may never want to go home. Before you go off and book your ticket, here are some of my favorite Venice Beach attractions.

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1 | Venice Beach Boardwalk

The boardwalk is so over the top, I found the best way to approach this is with a game I call Boardwalk Bingo. Check off the following items to get Bingo, and reward yourself with one of the many food trucks (or drinks, if that floats your boat more than a fresh taco).

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  • Incredibly buff person leading a sweaty workout in full display?
  • Marijuana doctor offering checkups to anyone with $40?
  • Tacky souvenir shopped stuffed with ridiculous booty shorts and tanks?
  • Man showing off an epic tattoo collection and impressively long beard?
  • Street artist showcasing a surprisingly awesome talent? (I loved the sand art!)
  • Fortune teller promising some poor guy riches in the near future?

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In short, this promenade is more of a circus than a boardwalk, and one of the most thoroughly entertaining places I’ve ever experienced. My biggest issue was trying to not stare too much. In any case, this was definitely one of the top Venice Beach attractions.

2 | Venice Beach

Whether you want to surf, throw a Frisbee, or snooze in the sun, Venice Beach beckons young and old alike with its eternal sunshine and sparkling blue water. If you’re up for it, try the Segway tour around Santa Monica and Venice Beach. You get to see a little bit of everything, from Muscle Beach to the Pier.

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3 | Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier is the perfect place to cap off your day. Hop on the Ferris wheel for views over the Pacific, take your chance with Wac-a-Mole, or enjoy a (free) summer evening concert. This is super touristy, but I was a tourist, so seize the day and own up to your touristy status! A fun way to explore the Santa Monica area down to Venice Beach is via electric bike. Check out the beaches, under the pier, and even the canals.

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4 | Skate Park

For me, the skate park was one of the coolest things I experienced when I was in Venice. Skaters ranging from pre-teens all the way up to grandpa status gathered at the park along the Boardwalk to show off their skills. It had such a cool community feel, and it was great to just chill and take in the local life.

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5 | Abbot Kinney

Labelled “the coolest block in America,” Venice’s bustling shopping district offers an eclectic set of shops, ranging from traditionally recognized stores to hip, local boutiques. First Friday features live music, drinks, local promotions, and one of the most vibrant street parties in LA. Honestly, this street felt way to cool for me…

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6 | Local Art

Venice is an incredibly artistic city, and you don’t even need to visit a high-end gallery to enjoy it. I found some of my favorite art just strolling around the city. The perk of this approach is exploring more of Venice on foot and enjoying a constant stream of colorful characters the city is renowned for. (Also, you can gets lots of steps on your Fitbit this way.) Another option is to do a street art bike tour, which would let you see an even larger area!

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7 | Local Food

Venice Beach has everything you could hope for in the food category, from beach shacks and casual spots to upscale dining. I’m more of a beach food girl myself, but to get a taste of the area, try doing a progressive food tour, and go behind the scenes of the Venice Beach culinary scene.

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8 | Venice Canal Historic District

Yes, this is exactly how it sounds…transport yourself to Venice, Italy from the middle of southern California. They were created in the early 1900s by a millionaire so that he could bring a taste of Venice to the USA.

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For other California weekend options, check out 3 days in San Francisco and road tripping through Big Sur!

Logistics:

Flights to Venice Beach: I’d recommend checking out Momondo. They scan tons of different travel discount sites and let you filter by cheapest, best, and shortest. Fly into Los Angeles, and Venice Beach is an easy ride from there!

Where to Stay in Venice Beach – Budget Stay:  I personally opted to stay at an Airbnb. (Use my link for savings on your first stay!) The house was a shared space, and right of the Venice Boardwalk…awesome location and the host was super friendly!

Where to Stay in Venice Beach – Mid-Range Stay: A top recommendation for a reasonably priced stay in Venice is Venice Breeze Suites. The hotel is nothing special, but the location is AMAZING. It’s right on the beach and boardwalk, so you’re right in the middle of the action. It’s very clean boutique style hotel, and one of the best values in the area!

Where to Stay in Venice Beach – Luxury Stay: You can’t go wrong with the Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Ray. It’s only a couple miles from Venice beach and 5 miles from Los Angeles Airport. Plus, private balconies and a eucalyptus steam room…I won’t say no to that!

What else do you like to do in the Venice Beach/ Santa Monica area? Share in the comments below! 

P.S. This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I might make a little extra spending money, at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own. 

top Venice Beach, California attractions; things to do in Venice Beach, California; weekend in Venice Beach, California; what to do in Venice Beach

top Venice Beach, California attractions; things to do in Venice Beach, California; weekend in Venice Beach, California; what to do in Venice Beach

top Venice Beach, California attractions; things to do in Venice Beach, California; weekend in Venice Beach, California; what to do in Venice Beach

18 thoughts on “The First Timer’s Weekend Guide to Venice Beach, California

  1. This is the perfect post as we are headed here next month! Not my first time to Venice Beach (however it is my hubby’s first time), but it’s been ages since I’ve been here. Looking forward to our visit even more after reading your post!

  2. I absolutely loved my day at Santa Monica and Venice Beach – it was an incredible experience and I really want to go back, I even got to work out at Muscle Beach! Great guide and thanks for sharing

  3. Russian Voyages says:

    I’ve always wanted to visit the sunny state of California! This first timer’s guide has nearly every major sightseeing that you just have to visit If you’re going to Venice Beach, California! It was of great help to me!

  4. Like California globetrotter I never made it to Venice beach, instead spending our time at Santa Monica Pier. We have been twice now, but next time I will have to wander down to Venice Beach.

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