Venice Beach is a subversive gem in the west Los Angeles area. Once home to many Beat poets of the 1950s and '60s, the district has retained its artsy atmosphere and provides an assortment of aesthetically stimulating sights ranging from street performers to graffiti art to one of the last surviving freak shows — yes, a genuine freak show complete with two-headed animals and sword-swallowing acts. The beach is teeming with fascinating people and interesting sights.
One of the best (free) activities is checking out the public art walls and watching the graffiti artists at work, which occurs every weekend during daylight hours right on the beach. A surfing hotspot and rollerblading destination, these quintessential beach activities retain the flair and panache intrinsic in Venice Beach. Lining the sidewalk is an array of bargain shops and markets where you can get your fortune told, buy handmade jewelry, and even browse an assortment of smoke paraphernalia. Keep an eye out for the man who walks on glass and a number of other unusual routines, including drum circles every Sunday. This captivating outdoor subculture should not be missed during your visit.
- Pacific Avenue and North Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles CA
- Venice Beach: www.watchthewater.org
- LA County Department of Public Health, Water Quality: www.lapublichealth.org
- LA County of Beaches & Harbors: www.beaches.co.la.ca.us
- A Wheelchair Riders Guide to LA Beaches: www.coastalconservancy.ca.gov