The tic-tac-toe layout of the perplexingly jam-packed mostly gentrified with still a dash of old hippie Venice Beach covers a wide array of professions, cuisines, hidden gems, and attitude. Just like the overly protective nature of East Village patrons and citizens, the Venice Beach population adores the nature of mish-mosh and yearns to keep that vibe going. We aren't really fans of the "east side" of Los Angeles (Silverlake, Los Feliz, Eagle Rock) and definitely not of the Beverly Hills crowd.
The vertical lines of the dirty boardwalk parallels the high-end boutiques of Abbot Kinney and then goes to Lincoln Boulevard. Anywhere east of Lincoln is frowned down upon, even if you can live in double the space for the same amount of money. Horizontal, starting from the north we have Rose Ave, to Venice Boulevard, and ending at Washington Boulevard, creating more of a matrix than tic-tac-toe board.
When I first moved to LA in 2002, back when I was 19 years old, my Israeli friend Guy and I would just walk up and down the boardwalk, go to the Sunday evening drum circles, and lived mainly off frozen White Castle burgers. I guess you could say we fit in well with the boardwalk folks.
While the rest of LA can be grueling, Venice is a place where you only need a beach cruiser, preferably with a basket, and can check out from the stereotypical world of Hollywood. Hey, there's stereotypes for a reason, right? After spending a year in NYC when I was 29 years old, I found myself a little apprehensive about the the slim cultural experience and inspiration of LA in comparison to the city.
While the burbs of Pasadena and the South Bay are some of the best areas to live once you have a family, the eccentric energy of Venice Beach and those that you meet in neighborhood cafes, is the perfect place to live in your late twenties or early thirties. There's not many other places that are filled with professionals, who must have some sort of good income to live here, and don't mind seeing the homeless dotted around the city. They seem pretty happy to be living the beach life, that's for sure.
So where should you go if you come to visit?
Best Places to do Work:
- Cow's End:
Best Hidden Gems:
- Townhouse (downstairs):
- Venice Art Crawl:
- Salt Air:
The Tasting Kitchen:
My first time here, I was like eh, it's okay. But then I went with girlfriends, and for $150 split 3 ways we had: cheese plate (3 kinds), raddichio salad, hanger steak with bone marrow, fresh pasta with shrimp, bread pudding, and a bottle of Rose. I may be jaded from big city prices, but that felt like a bargain at a fine dining restaurant like this. This is also a great place to have a date, get a date, go on a date with friends, or just sit at the bar and make friends with the bartender. Strong cocktails, good energy, and beautiful people.
- Cafe Gratitude:
Venice Family Clinic isn't just in Venice, but their headquarters are. They have numerous events to support the clinics, including the renowned Venice Home and Garden Tour, which is worth checking out. You can volunteer as a docent and then get free admission.
Other Notable Places:
- James Beach:
- Canal Club:
- 26 Beach:
- Windward Circle:
- Hotel Erwin:
Sure, I'm a little biased, seeing how I'm a Venice Beach baby, but what's not to love about people creating, living, working, and loving life. Nearly everyone here is doing something, which you won't necessarily find in other areas of LA. So while rent may be soaring higher and higher, the price of living an inspired life is worth cutting corners for in other areas. Take advantage of the years of freedom, and lead a life you'd like to live.