The last time I was in Los Angeles, I was a young preteen and my biggest goal for the trip was mouse-spotting at Disneyland and window shopping on Rodeo Drive. At the time, I was under the (false) impression that Beverly Hills was the be all and end all of “LA culture”. My adolescent impressions of the city came from my favourite movies, such as the ditzy yet goodhearted Clueless.
Thankfully, my idea of what Los Angeles is all about has changed a great deal since then.
Patrick and I headed down to the ‘Golden State’ in May, which we discovered to be a truly great time to visit. A good friend of ours had recently relocated from Vancouver to Marina Del Rey and we were keen to be able to spend time with him and soak up some much needed sun. The weather proved perfectly temperate for exploring on foot and on bicycle, as we hoped to avoid infamous LA traffic as much as possible.
\\ SLEEP //
We opted to spend the weekend in an Airbnb in Venice, near an an up-and-coming area of Venice centred on Rose Avenue. This was the perfect choice for our short stay and by the time Monday morning rolled around, we were certainly sad to leave. The small guesthouse, tucked away behind a classic Southern California bungalow with a front yard full of succulents, felt like home and had given us the opportunity to explore Venice like a true local.
\\ SEE + DO //
- Bicycling along the Marvin Braude Bike Path
We hopped on the cruiser bikes (kindly provided by our Airbnb host) and cycled from Venice Beach up to Santa Monica, down to Marina Del Rey and finally back to Venice. We found this to be a fairly similar experience to cycling the Seawall in Vancouver, albeit with more palm trees and sand.
The bike path is accessible for any level of cycling experience, as it is smooth and flat and clearly marked. There are numerous bike rental shops along the Venice Boardwalk if you don’t have a bike already, and they offered reasonable hourly and daily rates. It did take us a few minutes to get accustomed to the true cruiser style, as there are no brakes on the handlebars and are only a single speed. Keep this in mind, as most of the bike shops tend to primarily rent this style out.
We opted to take a break at a beachside ‘cafe’ in Santa Monica, where we were lured in by bright yellow umbrellas and beach chairs. Don’t make our mistake. While we had a pleasant enough experience, we were price gouged for the proximity to ocean. The quality of our guacamole was predictability mediocre, but the beers were refreshing and cold.
- Venice Canals
Begin this walk near the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Pacific Avenue, at the corner of Washington and Strongs Drive. There, under a small sign that says “Venice Canals Walkway,” turn in and begin exploring. Within minutes, you’ll lose the roar of Venice traffic and begin to experience the charm of canal life. Note the rowboats, kayaks and canoes moored in front of the houses. Take the first pedestrian walkway crossing the canal to your right. On the other side, walk left to the corner, then turn right onto the next canal walkway and continue all the way to the end. Here you begin to feel real canal life — the lovely landscaped gardens, rich with the scent of lavender, rosemary and, because it’s Venice, incense — fronting a variety of architectural styles. Follow the walkway until the canal turns hard left, and continue walking. Turn left again at the walkway’s end, and follow this canal path until it meets Dell Avenue. Then turn left, over the bridge, and walk a short block on Dell to Linnie Canal Park, where you’ll find a children’s play area and a duck pond. Continue past the park, just before the next bridge, then turn right onto the canal walkway and follow it almost to the end. Turn left and cross the canal on a pedestrian walkway. On the other side, turn right, walk to the canal’s end, and turn left. Just ahead, to your right, you’ll see another pedestrian walkway crossing the canal. Take this and turn left, onto the canal path where you began this walk, to return to your starting point. Or skip this bridge and continue straight ahead to explore Venice’s other islands.
Distance: 2 miles
Difficulty: 1, on a scale of 1 to 5
Duration: 1 hour
Details: Dogs on leash are OK. No bikes, boards or blades allowed on canal walkway. Metro bus 108, 358 stops at Pacific Avenue and Washington Boulevard, and Culver City bus 1 stops at Washington and Strongs Drive.
via LA TIMES
District is noteworthy for its man-made canals built in 1905 by developer Abbot Kinney as part of his Venice of America plan. Kinney sought to recreate the appearance and feel of Venice, Italy, in Southern California. The residential district surrounding the remaining canals was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. However, in recent years, there has been extensive renovation work on many of the old houses, and many large, modern houses have been built. Before 1929, the area covered by canals was approximately three to four times as large as today. The entire area between Abbot Kinney, Pacific, and Venice Blvd. were canals. via WIKIPEDIA
- Abbot Kinney Boulevard
\\ EAT + DRINK //
After a day exploring the Venice canals and doing some shopping, I knew we had to check out Gjelina on Abbot Kinney Blvd. This was hands down the best meal of the trip – if not of my entire life! While this restaurant is currently at the top of every hipster’s LA hitlist, the trendiness of it is backed up with astounding food, personable service and a great atmosphere. It was challenging to stick to a budget when there were so many incredible menu options, including roasted thumbelina carrots with spiced yogurt and cilantro (!), pomodoro pizza with burrata (!!), and beet, citrus and avocado salad (!!!).