Venice Beach

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Walking in Venice Beach, Los Angeles
The canals of Venice Beach (courtesy, Wilderness Press)
Venice of America Amusement Park
The area now known as Venice was originally founded as "Venice of America" by real estate magnate Abbot Kinney in the fledgling years of the 20th century. This idealistic beach community was built on reclaimed marshland and featured an amusement park, a heated indoor saltwater "plunge," a miniature railroad, and over 16 miles of canals, complete with Venetian gondolas and gondoliers.

Unfortunately, expensive upkeep and the rise of the automobile meant that most of the canals were paved over by 1929, and the remaining six eventually fell into disrepair. Fortunately, those six were restored in the early '90s, and today the neighborhood built around the canals is affluent and idyllic. Come to think of it, we suppose this sidebar might have more appropriately been named "Backwater."
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Boundaries: Abbot Kinney Blvd., Pacific Ave., Washington Blvd.
Thomas Guide Coordinates: Map 671; H6
Distance: Approx. 2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Parking: Free street parking is available on Ocean Ave.

Venice Beach is probably the most distinctive beach town in all of Southern California, made all the more unique by its charming canals, which were built by Abbot Kinney in 1904 as an homage to the city's forebear in Italy. Here you'll find none of the snootiness that you might encounter in Malibu or Palos Verdes; Venice is undoubtedly more funky than fussy. That's not to say that the people who live there, particularly in the neighborhoods that line the canals and the oceanfront, aren't affluent. But Venice is still more affordable than next-door Santa Monica, and one might argue that it has a good deal more personality, as well.

Note: This walk can be particularly fun for both you and your pooch, provided he doesn't get overexcited at the sight of ducks. If you do bring him along, resist the temptation to remove his leash during the canal portion of the walk. Toward the end of the route, you'll come to the Westminster off-leash dog park, where Rover can get footloose and fancy-free with his canine pals.


Published: 17 Jan 2008 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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