Venice Hotels Articles

April 1, 2010

Venice Beach The People Watching Capital Of Southern California

The beach experience isnt always just about sun and sand. One of the most enjoyable parts of any time spent at the beach is checking out everything and everyone around you. At most beaches, that means skimpy bikinis and the odd kite-flying youngster. At Venice Beach in Los Angeles, its a different story entirely. On any given day, juggling street performers delight the crowd, caricaturists draw unflattering works of art, and straining weightlifters glisten in the heat. All of this makes Venice unlike any other beach in the world, certain to thrill every visitor.

Venice of America was created as a beach resort in 1905. The initial grounds came complete with an aquarium, bathhouses, and an amusement park. Developers dug several canals to drain marshes, establishing the parallel with the Italian city of the same name. Few of the original canals remain, but the houses running alongside them have been renovated and restored to their original grandeur.

From its initial development until the 1950s, the Los Angeles municipal government maintained a hands-off policy towards Venice Beach. As infrastructure crumbled in the latter half of the 20th century, the city stepped in and ordered the demolition of over 550 buildings. This rebirth infused Venice with a new energy, and as the 1960s opened, characters from across the board began pouring in. In many ways, Venice Beach was the Haight-Ashbury of southern California. The liberal, free environment gave rise to acts like The Doors.

This atmosphere still prevails today, with the population of Venice a veritable melting pot of different races, cultures, and attitudes. All of these people come together to make Venice one of the funkiest spots in America.

While the three mile long beach is available for swimming, thats not what most people envision when they think of Venice. The most famous icon of Venice Beach is the Golds Gym, once home to now-Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger. Today, an enormous weight pen supplies wannabe Terminators with the equipment they require, all while spectators gawk from bleachers.

Running along the boardwalk are a number of shops and eateries that cater to the eclectic tastes of Venice Beach residents and visitors. You can purchase anything from t-shirts to tattoos. Thats not the only art in Venice. Most buildings are adorned with grafittied murals depicting a variety of subjects. Formerly a free for all, artists must now obtain permits before starting their work.

Even though the majority of the action takes place on the boardwalk and streets, the beach itself certainly deserves some mention. Venice has one of the better surf breaks in Los Angeles. Volleyball and handball courts abound, inviting you to work up a sweat. There are also a ton of picnic benches and tables, so takeout from any of the great restaurants on the promenade can make for an inexpensive, fun meal.

Venice is a great spot to check out while youre in LA. Dont be intimidated by the brawny weightlifters and tattooed outcasts: everyone can enjoy the madness that makes up this incredibly unique beach.

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