From its world famous boardwalk and beach to the beautiful canals and chic shopping scene, Venice (California, NOT Italy) is a kooky and cool place unlike any other. With no shortage of creativity or character, Venice boasts a bevy of eclectic restaurants, bars, shops, and art galleries.
Where to crash and get some R&R
If you’re looking for a cool, low key, stylish boutique hotel right on the beach this is your place. Hotel Erwin has bright, airy rooms and a rooftop bar that is not to be missed.
Venice isn’t a town ripe with fancy spas (go to Santa Monica or Beverly Hills for that!), but there are some amazing, no frills spots to get a great super relaxing massage and Lamai is the first place that comes to mind for that. Very easy to book an appointment and walk-ins are welcome.
Who doesn’t want to look sun-kissed when hanging in a beach town? Lavish Tan is at the top of their game, offering perfectly bronzed airbrush tans made with organic ingredients.
Where to chow down and then unbutton the top button
This cheerful, casual breakfast/brunch/lunch spot offers a cereal and coffee bar along with awesome egg sandwiches, breakfast burritos, and (my favorite) acai bowls. Located on increasingly popular Rose Ave, Flake is an order at the counter and choose your own seat kind of joint, with a super friendly staff and ridiculously good looking clientele (everyone looks like they just came from shooting a Volcom ad).
Relatively new to the scene, Scopa is a welcome addition to somewhat stodgy (but getting cooler) Washington Blvd. The space itself is large and open with an impressive bar where the super accommodating bartenders seem to have studied mixology since birth. The menu offers thoughtful Italian dishes with a fresh, modern twist – their creamy house-made ricotta and crostini is off the hook. Gets crowded, reservations recommended.
Located on uber-hip Abbot Kinney Blvd, Gjelina is arguably the crown jewel of eateries in Venice. Chef Travis Lett has curated a menu for the foodie-est of foodies centered on seasonal small plates, salads, pizzas, and charcuterie. A celebrity favorite with patrons like Beyonce and Prince Harry, Gjelina also serves up a fantastic brunch. Reservations almost mandatory.
Another establishment on Rose Ave. well worth checking out is Oscar’s. The vibe is cozy, laid-back, and cool with a clientele to match. Boasting a pretty lengthy beer selection, Oscar’s feels like a 24-7 neighborhood fiesta with high quality dishes with a Mexican slant. Menu highlights include the 5 Spice Pulled Pork Sandwich, Picados Mexican Pizza, and Chicano Cheese Pots.
A local staple for over a decade, this spot is my personal favorite because of its dreamy back courtyard, extensive wine list, sangria and tasty tapas menu. Always busy, the vibe at Primitivo is low-key, but chic. Try the bacon wrapped dates.
This modern rustic spot on Abbott Kinney has quickly become a foodie institution, helping to put LA on the map as a culinary haven. Tasting Kitchen is low-key, but elegant with tasty and inventive dishes and a creative cocktail menu and brunch.
Where to drink up and get down
This is a German beer garden on the boardwalk that is killer for people watching and throwing back pitchers of beer and giant soft pretzels. It is far from upscale, but it is well worth a visit on a sunny day.
This bar/restaurant is a Venice institution, located just a few steps from the sand with a beach party vibe. Famous for their fish tacos, which were featured in the Judd Apatow movie, “I Love You Man,” James Beach is a great place to go for a boozy adventure.
Located on Abbot Kinney, this beer and wine bar has a great atmosphere and stylish crowd. Much like its sister property in NYC’s West Village, it is dark and loud and fills up fast.
The Anchor is a gritty, sexy (tiny!) wine bar in the heart of Venice. Known for their superb lobster roll, this casual restaurant boasts a great patio that the locals love.
Ants in your Pants
where to go when you can’t sit still
The Venice Canals are a big part of what makes Venice special. Developer Abbot Kinney built these in 1905 to recreate the look and feel of Venice, Italy.
If you’re looking to get your workout in while visiting Venice, there’s no place better than this body building mecca- the original Gold’s Gym. Arnold, Hulk Hogan, and The Rock work out there, so you’ll feel especially motivated to push your limits.
Venice is perhaps most famous for its boardwalk, which is home to Muscle Beach (the famous outdoor gym on the sand), the kooky Venice Beach Freakshow, and a world-class skate park. Take a stroll or rent a bike down this stretch for some of the best people watching you’ll ever do.
I Just Bought These Pants
Where to nab the best threads
Burro has two posts on Abbot Kinney and both are happy places for me. One shop specializes in eclectic house wares, books, jewelry and beachy clothes. The other has toys, books, and threads for stylish kids and babies. If you’re looking for a unique gift, or memento from your trip to Venice, Burro has you covered.
This skate and surf brand, founded in the mid-90’s in Venice, has become a global force known for their fine craftsmanship and performance. Their uber cool shop on Washington is worth a visit as it features a “build your board bar.”
This shop epitomizes the effortlessly cool, bohemian style that you see on the streets of Venice. Offering a vast selection of swimwear, jewelry and clothing from designers such as Mara Hoffman, For Love & Lemons, and Rachel Pally.