Growing up in Los Angeles, I am surprised that I haven’t gone out that often to explore the sights and sounds of this massive, sprawling city. I attribute it to the fact that I live in a suburb of the city, which is quite far from the main sights that visitors usually frequent whenever they’re in town. That said, it wasn’t until I was in college (and beyond) that I started to venture out and be a “tourist” in my own city.
I have actually written about some of my adventures in Los Angeles before, but that was merely dedicated to food, as the city serves some of the most multi-cultural cuisines I’ve ever experienced (you’re free to read the posts starting here). For the sake of this post and others following, I will focus on the sights and attractions, so as to offer a more-comprehensive look into what this metropolitan area has to show, both for locals and visitors.
I will be starting off with Venice Beach. A small, beach-side neighborhood on the west side of LA, this area is a bohemian blend of visitors and locals who flock for the good weather, good waves, and the good vibes. It is also well-known for being weed-friendly, as there are several dispensaries along the boardwalk; you can also smell it in the air as you stroll the path.
Just a few blocks away are the Venice Canals. Considering that the area is named after a famous Italian water-city, there needs to be of course some body of water in honor of that. The canals are tiny, as it is only a single main channel with perhaps a dozen or less smaller ones that split off from it. The walking path is extremely narrow, as people need to step aside for others to pass through. Villas and fancy bungalows dot the canals, and one can dream of owning one of the houses along the waterfront. Peppered with palm trees and blue skies, the canals are truly the “Venice of California.”
…but back to Venice Beach. Of course, one could spend an entire day just strolling the boardwalk, playing volleyball, checking out the art scene (even smoking some weed). But for first-timers, an afternoon is enough to get an idea of what it has to offer. After all, it is catered to tourists with the souvenir shops and overpriced restaurants/bars– some might even find it too commercialized, rather than hippy-like. Perhaps a decade ago, it was more local, but nowadays, it is very-much a thriving tourist spot.
I visited Venice Beach for the first time back in January, and I found it just-okay. I enjoyed the good weather that day, but the overall vibe of crowds and weed was not my cup of tea. Parking, as it is in Los Angeles, was a pain, and aside from the artsy vibe, it was just your standard beach neighborhood. For me, I grew up near a *more local* beach area, so I was not necessarily blown away by Venice Beach. In general, though, I would say that it is a fun place for first-timers to check out, before heading to the equally-touristy Santa Monica not too far away.
What do you think of Venice Beach, if you have been? Let me know! More of my adventures in Los Angeles to come soon!
— The Finicky Cynic
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