While we love to travel, it is also wonderful to live someplace that people love to travel to. Travelers come from all over to visit Venice Beach but many never get past the jumble of street performers on the boardwalk. However, our favorite day in Venice starts at the Venice canals.
There you can put in a small boat to row through the shallow canals that are lined by million dollar mansions, intermixed with the canals original 1920’s bungalows. You will be joined by the thriving duck population and the many visiting herons and other species of birds that come from the nearby Ballona wetlands. When you are ready for a break from rowing, moor your boat at Washington Blvd., then walk a couple of blocks towards the beach for breakfast at Hinanos.
Hinanos is one of the last old school bars left in Venice. A small, dark bar filled with tiki decorations that have been there for over twenty years with sawdust on the floor. It is busy serving beers and flipping “the best burgers in LA” to the locals from the moment the doors open at 6am. There are other items on the chalkboard menu but get the burger.
Hinanos can be hard to leave but eventually you might want to wander out in to the bright sunlight to the beach. You will be at the south end of the boardwalk at Venice pier. From here, you can walk down the pier, rent bicycles, rollerblades or various other modes of transportation to cruise the boardwalk. Or you can just go by foot to stroll along the strip of shops, unique street performances and street vendors. Old and new street artists line the boardwalk daily but if you like something, buy it then. The boardwalk spots operate on a lottery system so there is no guarantee the same artist will be back another day. Take time to walk down to the ocean, build a sand sculpture, join in a volleyball game, try a little surfing, watch the skateboarders practice in the new skateboard park, or just enjoy the rhythm of the waves.
At the opposite end of the boardwalk there are a variety of cafes, wine bars and a couple of old beach bars. Stop at the Waterfront at the very end. You can enjoy local musicians playing in front of the oceanfront patio or enjoy the beer garden in the back if you want to get off the strip for a beat. The Waterfront has a large European clientele so you can order up German lagers and foods like Andalusian style gazpacho and Swiss fondues that you won’t find at the other beach places for a reasonable price.
If you are like me, by now the sun is already getting low. If it’s a weekend, listen for the sound of drumming and follow it to the drum circle. There you can join in this sunset celebration that has been going on for over twenty years. Find something to drum, even a water bottle will work, or just dance, sharing the joy, until the sun disappears below the horizon.
The walk as you head back to Washington will be quieter,
stiller. The stretches of umbrellas and blankets are gone with only casual strollers enjoying the sunset to disturb the sand. When you arrive back up to Washington the previously overflowing restaurants will now have seats where you can get a drink to watch and enjoy the sound of the waves.
Don't forget your boat!