Trendsetting in Venice Beach

A sunset view of central Venice Beach.
A sunset view of central Venice Beach. Photo credit to @stephenleo1982 on Unsplash.

We’re fond of beachy destinations here at M345URED, but even by our standards there’s something special about Venice Beach, California. Maybe it’s the laid-back, bohemian vibe, or the endless stretches of sand and surf. The city of Venice Beach is a desired destination for people from all around the world, unlike any other place on Earth, renowned for its artists and street performers. With free admission all year round, it’s a carnival that never ends. But it hasn’t always been that way.

Venice Beach, originally called “Venice of America,” was founded in 1905 by tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney as a seaside resort town. He modeled it after the Italian city of Venice, complete with canals, gondolas, and even an amphitheater.

Unfortunately, by 1925, this resort town was in disarray and unable to govern itself. As a result, the city of Los Angeles began efforts to incorporate it into its territory. Oil was discovered on the Venice Peninsula in 1930, further complicating the town’s affairs. Within a year, 148 oil wells were pumping out over 40,000 barrels per day.

In 1932, the Great Depression struck. Several banks in Venice closed due to bankruptcy, and the Venice Pier entered receivership to repay its debts to creditors. However, when alcohol was legalized again and bingo games were changed to a game of skill, the economy benefited.

(Businesses line a park in Venice Beach, California. Photo credit to M345URED LLC.)

The Second World War had a deep influence on Venice and its seaside amusement facilities. Access to the pier was restricted to the daytime only. National Guardsmen guarded the beaches in search of enemy submarines and ships. Venice became a major attraction for sailors and troops with downtime.

The Los Angeles Parks and Recreation Department denied renewal of the lease for Venice Beach’s Kinney Pier in 1946, marking the end of an era, when the city began removing all piers and expanding beaches. Efforts were made to extend the lease for another year, but the Parks department rejected them.

As the 1950’s got going, bodybuilding became all the rage in Venice. The original Muscle Beach in nearby Santa Monica inspired a culture of outdoor fitness, weightlifting, physique contests, and gymnastics.

The Beatniks, followed by the hippies, moved to Venice in the 1960s. Rent was cheap, and a sense of individuality pervaded the community of artists, musicians, and poets. The Doors were formed in Venice in the late 60’s and became a fixture in the area.

The sport of skateboarding also arrived during this time. Venice is widely regarded as the birthplace of modern skateboarding (originally known as “sidewalk surfing”). It was home to the Zephyr Skate Team, also known as the Z-Boys, who went on to become one of the most successful skate teams in history.

(Skateboarders practice at Venice Skatepark. Photo credit to M345URED LLC.)

The punk rock scene in Venice, founded in the late 1970s, continued into the 1980s. Suicidal Tendencies, a local band that rose to worldwide acclaim, is the most prominent example. The intensity of Venice’s skate and surf culture was a nice fit for the punk rock movement, and both scenes flourished together.

In 2000, the city rebuilt the boardwalk. The Pavilion, which had been a makeshift skatepark for years, was demolished as part of this endeavor. Even with the changes throughout the decades, Venice Beach still maintains its cultural roots and offers plenty of things to do.

Here are our recommendations for a day of sight-seeing around this historic destination:

For the ideal Venice excursion, get up early and grab a coffee or a bite to eat at a local hangout in Historic Washington Square. From there, go boogie boarding on the Venice Pier, fish from the pier with a line, or simply relax in the sun on one of Venice’s beautiful sandy beaches. Rentals and lessons are also available, and the fishing pier is open to the public and doesn’t requires a license. On clear days, you can see as far as Santa Monica or the Palos Verdes Peninsula from the pier. You can also watch surfers attempting to catch a wave or two.

Spending the afternoon strolling along the Venice Beach Boardwalk is one of the most iconic things to do in Venice Beach. You’ll discover a diverse range of street performers and unique merchants selling everything from clothing to local handcrafted art to exotic imports as you go from Windward Plaza to Rose.

Muscle Beach, located on the shore of Venice Beach, is a world-renowned outdoor weightlifting and bodybuilding gym. It’s a top attraction that you can’t miss while strolling along the beach. Today, you’ll see people of all shapes and sizes working out at this location. However, the most common body type is the heavily muscled behemoth. The ideal time to visit is during normal operating hours – all the serious weightlifters will be in attendance.

The canals of Venice are a lovely reminder of what life in this seaside resort was like more than a century ago. The picturesque setting is reminiscent of Venice, Italy, which was what the creator had in mind when he created it. So, for a few moments, you’ll feel as if you’re transported back to Europe. The canals of Venice were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. It’s a historical landmark and one of Venice Beach’s most popular activities.

There are murals and graffiti everywhere you look in Venice Beach. Art is a huge part of Venice Beach culture, and there is plenty of beautiful street art to get lost in while walking around. If you can, get a reservation for a Saturday afternoon tour of the Mosaic Tile House in Venice Beach. This unique house is owned by artists Cheri Pan and Gonzalo Duran. They’ve transformed their home into an amazing piece of artwork.

(A mural of famous scientists along Venice Beach in California. Photo credit to M345URED LLC.)

Before calling it a day (or night), head towards the seaside Venice Skatepark (see related photo above), located near the Venice Boardwalk along Ocean Front Walk, west of Market Street. This is one of California’s most iconic skateboarding locations, and it’s busy with talented skateboarders at almost every hour.

Written by Editorial Team

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