Day 4: Beaches and Boardwalks
Join me as I visit the LA beach scene in Santa Monica and Venice Beach.
Venice Canal district
Abbot Kinney designed the canals in 1905 by an ambitious developer to bring the feel and appearance of Venice Italy to California. While you won’t find any gondolas you will however find a beautiful and peaceful neighborhood to take an afternoon stroll. If you start at the intersection of Pacific Ave and Washington Blvd. you can walk a zig zag pattern down the canals and and bridges.
Labeled as ‘a cultural hub known for its eccentricities’ Venice Beach receives millions of visitors per year. Take a self-guided tour of the murals that contribute to LA’s moniker of ‘Mural Capital of the World.’
The Venice Beach Boardwalk is the best place in Los Angles to people watch. While you’re here watch pro skateboarders shred it up at the Venice Skate Park, say hi to the bearded woman and world’s smallest man at the Venice Beach Freakshow and get your “Greencard” at one of the many dispenseries.
It’s about 3 mile walk between Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier. Use this opportunity for a lovely stroll along the beach or rent a bike at one of the many rental companies.
Don’t forget to stop by the Binoculars Building by Frank Gehry located at 340 Main Street. Frank designed the building just before the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The building has been the home of Google since 2011.
End of the trail. Santa Monica is the official ending point of historic U.S. Route 66. It served as a major highway to bring immigrants to California during the dust bowl. Whether you’re finishing your sightseeing journey from Chicago or just came here for the day, Santa Monica has tons to offer.
Visit the Santa Monica Pier in the evening for some stunning sunset pictures over the Pacific Ocean. Take a spin on the world’s only solar power Ferris wheel and visit the 1916 era Hippodrome and carousel. In addition to the pier don’t miss the rest Santa Monica has to offer.
Must see attractions:
- Route 66 End of the Trail sign
- Muscle Beach
- Santa Monica Pier
- 3rd Street Promenade
- Tongva Park
The famous weight lifting gym where Arnold Schwarzenegger trained in the 1960’s is located in Venice Beach. The original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica is now home to a large array of gymnastics equipment. Come on a weekend to watch some world class acrobats, slackliners, or join an AcroYoga class.
Don’t miss the aluminum artwork at Tongva Park. Located just east of the boardwalk entrance Tongva Park is named after the native people of the LA basin. The Tongva were a hunter gatherer society inhabiting the Los Angeles basin for over 1,500 years. They were integrated by missionaries during California’s European colonization. Only about 1,700 Tongva ancestors remain to this day. The Tongva people are a recognized tribe by the state of California but unfortunately not by the federal government. Because of this they do not own any reservations or tribal land.
3rd street promenade
For the people watcher and shopaholic the pedestrian-only promenade on 3rd street contains over 200 shops and eateries.
Tip: Learn to surf or stand up paddle at GO Surf LA www.gosurfla.com. For the more adventurous take a flying trapeze or trampoline class at the Trapeze School https://losangeles.trapezeschool.com/
While you’re in the area stop by Randy’s Donuts for an afternoon snack. Are they known for particularly delicious donuts? No. Do they have a culturally iconic giant donut that was part of the Novelty Architecture movement prevalent in the United States starting in the 1930’s? Yes.