, a borough
of Los Angeles
. Venice is known less for its beach (which is pretty standard
, as California beaches go) than for its boardwalk
, which is really more of a concrete path
than something made out of boards.
On the land side of the path, you find regular storefronts and , selling sarongs, incense, sunglasses, laser pointers, knockoff perfume, knockoff clothing, bikinis and novelty T-shirts. And a lot of stores sell big slices of pizza for 99 cents. There's also a lot of good ethnic take-out along the walk, from german sausages to indian curry to mexican food.
On the sea side of the path, you'll find makeshift stands and blankets upon which people try to get you to buy incense, stoner art, stoner sculpture, african art, photo opportunities with exotic animals, theraputic massage, psychic assistance, and henna tattoos. There are also street artists and people promoting weird religions. One man is a chess genius (I don't know his rating), and will play up to six people at one time, for $5 a game.
Space on both sides is in great demand, and there is somewhat of a rivalry between the two. The stores feel that the street peddlers attract a criminal element. The street peddlers argue that they provide the spirit of Venice Beach. Both sides are correct, to a certain extent.
Parking can be done in one of three ways:
- You can park in the beach parking lots, which will set you back about $10. These are run by the city, and they are the way to go if you have a big cooler or a lot of gear that you need to offload to the beach. You will usually have to wait in a long line of other cars in order to do this.
- You can drive along speedway road, which is the closest road that runs parallel to the beach. Be warned, it only runs north to south, but you can find independant lots that will charge you from $6 to $8.50 for parking.
- You can do what I do and park for free along venice boulevard, about 1/4 mile away from the beach. I go down to the beach to go biking, so I don't really care about the distance. True, there are 'no parking' signs set up everywhere, but if you read the fine print, you'll see that it's just talking about parking on wednesday morning, when the street cleaning is done. I usually find an open spot just next to Samy's Camera. I was even successful with this strategy today, on Memorial Day Weekend.
Venice beach turns into Santa Monica beach if you go north enough, and Marina del Rey if you go south enough. Neither place is as much fun.