Nestled comfortably between Washington Avenue and Pacific Avenue, Abbot Kinney Boulevard cuts right through the boho-chic heart of Venice, California. While LA fashion havens such as Melrose Avenue, Rodeo Drive, and the Third Street Promenade offer stores for the more frivolous and designer-name conscious shoppers, Abbot Kinney Boulevard delivers a unique experience that can only happen in the eclectic cacophony that is Venice.
"The Street," as locals refer to it, was named after Abbot Kinney, the founder of Venice. Abbot Kinney Boulevard draws hundreds of thousands of people each year, a diverse mix of tourists and locals. Capturing the artistic nuances of the Venice Beach area, Abbot Kinney Boulevard jam packs boutique shops, art galleries, restaurants, and bars into one palm tree-lined artery of style and originality. It's the perfect place to eat, shop, or look at imaginative art before strolling past Muscle Beach and the endless barrage of tattoo parlors and souvenir shops along the Venice Beach Boardwalk.
Shopping on Abbot Kinney Boulevard will ignite the creative juices of people who like to ditch clone-like brand name clothing for a one-of-a-kind piece of LA flavor. Shops range from steeply priced luxury retreats to inexpensive treasures. The small, fashionable boutique shop Ananda, which means bliss in Hindi, creates an authentic Indian ambiance while selling trendy women's clothing all made in India. From traditional saris to toe rings and sexy skirts, everything in Ananda is fairly priced. Friendly employees and the sweet smell of incense soothe shoppers while they discover how an ancient culture can coexist with modern-day fashion. On the pricier side, The Stronghold sells authentic denim that can be customized to any body shape or size. All products are manufactured in the U.S., and the store provides lifetime alterations and free repairs for all customers. Besides shopping for apparel, bookworms can check out Equator Books, where first editions and out-of-print rarities are plentiful along with vinyl records and late night hours. Equator is a vintage lover's dream come true.
After shopping, visitors can grab a bite to eat or a drink at any of Abbot Kinney Boulevard's restaurants and bars. Hal's Bar and Grill has been a neighborhood fixture since 1987 and serves an array of American cuisine in a friendly atmosphere. Try one of Hal's signature cocktails, like the Key Lime Pie or the Sapphire Sunset, while enjoying the smooth sounds of live jazz every Sunday and Monday night. If your pallet desires something more exotic, Primitivo Wine Bistro is home to tasty Tapas delights, intricate entrees, and a variety of wines hailing from the finest wine-producing areas in the world. "The Street" lacks nothing when it comes to cuisine. From Wabi Sabi for Sushi, Abbot's Pizza Company for premium slices, and Lilly's for classic French food, even the most insatiable appetite can be satisfied.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard wouldn't be "The Street" without its well-known festivals. The annual Abbot Kinney Festival, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, attracts an impressive 150,000 people from all over the Southern California region. Founded by the Abbot Kinney Festival Association in 1984, the festival aims to help expose local Venice businesses to their community and improve the quality of the cultural and artistic life of Venice. The festival is run by almost all volunteers, who organize musical performances, a green living expo, artists lounge, and gourmet green food court, which began last year. But, impatient festival lovers don't have to wait a whole year. First Fridays started a few years ago and acts as a monthly community event. Local merchants keep their stores open late on every first Friday of the month. From 6 to 10 pm clothing stores, art galleries, and other shops stay open and serve wine to customers. Taking advantage of the late night clientele, art galleries showcase their best artists during the festivities. The Abbot Kinney Art Gallery, Ten Women, and Altered Space are just a few galleries where art buffs can view local artists' sculptures, paintings, ceramics, and hand-made jewelry.
For LA newcomers, Abbot Kinney Boulevard is a great way to get to know the city on a more intimate level, mixing with longtime residents and ultra-hip trendsetters. Abbot Kinney Boulevard is the best place to start exploring the carnival-like charm of Venice, a funky slice of heaven in the City of Angels.