Exploring Los Angeles: The Best of Venice Beach

Where to go, shop, and people watch in Venice Beach.

Ah, legendary Venice Beach – known for its boardwalk, beaches, shops, and artistic locals. It’s a place full of independent individuals, existential ideas, and creative outlets. One feels a total sense of freedom in Venice. You can purchase a fresh vegan meal and pressed green juice on Abbot Kinney Blvd and – ten minutes later – find yourself paying a dollar to get your name written on a piece of rice on the boardwalk. Surf rules, Muscle Beach attracts, and the skatepark mesmerizes. The canals, somewhat hidden among unassuming neighborhoods, and quiet walking streets overgrown with magenta bougainvillea add a calm and natural element among the chaos. Venice Beach is a world all on its own, and if you’re not careful, you will find yourself completely immersed in it.

Venice was founded as a seaside resort town in 1905 but was not merged with the city of Los Angeles for another twenty years. The beach city was originally founded by tobacco millionaire, Abbot Kinney (yes, the infamous Venice street name) as a vacation town. However, due to neglect by the city of LA, the “Venice of America” became the “Slum by the city” by the 1950s. When the county had more readily available resources, the city was given a paved trolley way (now Pacific Ave.) which drove poets, artists, immigrants, and young counter-cultural people to the area. Now, post-Dogtown Z-boys and their skateboarding movement that changed the world, Venice is home to an eclectic mix of people – young, old, professional, artistic, locals, the affluent, and transplants. So next time you are there, allow us to help you navigate. Check out a few of our favorite things in Venice Beach.

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Best place to get coffee: Abbot’s Habit. Located on a busy corner on Abbot Kinney, Abbot’s Habit still radiates the “Venice vibe” of the 1960s. Cheap coffee, great people, and good eats – it’s all you need.

Best place to get your movement on: Love Yoga. Newly opened in Venice, this east coast original is a great place to get your yoga, sound bath and meditation on.

Best record store: Time Warp Records. This is one of my favorite record stores in LA. Time Warp isn’t about being fancy – they are about providing music fans with their favorite vintage albums while also giving them something new to explore.

Where to people watch: Venice Beach Boardwalk, of course.

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Best vintage: Animal House. This men and women’s vintage shop has stood the test of time and has the lifelong admirers to prove it. The shop is located on Windward and has new shipments every Tuesday (hint, hint.)

Best new kid in town: The Butcher’s Daughter. Unlike the name might suggest, The Butcher’s Daughter boasts some of the healthiest eats in town. Self-proclaiming, “At The Butcher’s Daughter, we treat fruits and vegetables as a butcher would meat: we chop, fillet and carve fresh produce into healthy vegetarian dishes and press them into pretty juices.”

Best healthy eats: Gjelina. From the moment I had my first bite at Gjelina years ago, to my most recent indulgence a few weeks back, Gjelina has yet to disappoint. Fresh ingredients, cooked to perfection, and presented in beauty: it is a must. If you don’t have time to sit down at Gjelina, check out their bakery/deli/cafe-to-go called Gjusta.

Best handmade: Nick Fouquet Hats. You may know Nick from his features on our blog or from a recent catalog, but what you may not know is that Nick is a talented designer who is bringing back the beauty of handmade goods and slow fashion. His one-of-a-kind hats are crafted with sustainable elements and designed in a way that would make the first generation of hat makers proud.

Where to find the best cocktail: Ok, ok, who can pick just one? For the low-key beach goers, go to Hinano Cafe. Get a beer and a burger. For a first date, head to The Otheroom.  For those refusing to shower and ride out that salty beach hair and sandy feet, go to the top deck at The Whaler (established 1944!). And for the cleaned up crew, check out The Tasting Kitchen.

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+What would you add to this list?

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Comments

  1. Cafe Gratitude is probably my favorite stop in Venice! But I would love to visit The Butcher’s Daughter and Gjelina next time I visit! Also, the street musicians and the view of the beach are ultimate highlights of Venice!

  2. Was just there! Gjelina is amazing, and I loved Another Kind of Sunrise for bulletproof coffee and healthy breakfast bowls. We have the original Butcher’s Daughter in NYC, but Venice’s is much spacier and it’s so gorgeously decorated!

  3. VISIT the best jewelry shop around for handmade african treasures!
    GONZO AFRICA
    1501 OCEAN FRONT WALK
    VENICE BEACH, CA 90291

    FRED is awesome!

    his mother and friends back home
    makes all the jewelry he sells….
    and his sales support his village.
    how cool is that?

  4. James Beach is my favorite place for lunch, brunch, happy hour…
    I lived there for years, and miss it, and the darling owners, James and Daniel
    Very much! Great spot!

  5. Just returned from Venice. Agreed – Gjelina is a wonderful place to eat; I got a beautiful fragrance oil (Abbey Rose) at Coutula on Abbott Kinney and also found good yoga at the Yoga Collective next to Gratitude Cafe. Bike rentals from Javier on the boardwalk, for daily cruising on the Strand.

  6. Good recommendations, but as a Venice local I have to say there are several Venice joints with better coffee than Abbot’s habit (though it does have that old school Venice vibe, I agree). Intelligentsia, Menotti’s, Deus Ex Machina are all amazing coffee places (some of the baristas compete in national competitions, to give you an idea of how seriously they take it).

    Second tier, behind those, would be Groundwork Coffee on Rose, and also on Main.

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