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9 Underrated Things to Do in Venice, California

9 Underrated Things to Do in Venice, California

If you manage to look past the entertaining but cheesy facade, you’ll discover a new side of Venice Beach.


5 min read

March 10, 2021

Venice Beach, Los Angeles is often seen as a quirky beachfront playground made for people-watching. To some extent, that’s exactly what it is. With unique architecture, kitschy shops, and a carnivalesque atmosphere, most things to do in Venice Beach are emblematic to its care-free character.

If you manage to look past the entertaining but cheesy facade, you’ll discover a new side of Venice Beach. The free-spirited destination has always attracted artists, performers, and hippie Angelenos—Venice is rich in artistic ingenuity. 

Grab your travel buddy, get your energy up at one of L.A.’s top brunch spots, and don’t forget to bring your camera—these are the best things to do in Venice, CA. 

The best things to do near Venice Beach, Los Angeles

Spend the afternoon biking with a friend to see the best of Venice Beach.

Go on the legends beach bike tour

This guided sightseeing tour is a great way to spend half a day exploring Venice Beach attractions. Starting on the Santa Monica Pier, you’ll spend two hours biking along Venice’s most interesting landmarks. You’ll cruise along the boardwalk, stop at Muscle Beach, pass by the Venice Canals, and see homes of Hollywood stars like Charlie Chaplin.  

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Your guide will share tips about things to do near Venice Beach and you’ll have an extra hour to roam freely on your bike after the tour. If you’re an avid photographer, use this time to capture pictures of the best places to take photos in L.A.

If you’re looking for some fun in the sun, head over to Venice Beach ASAP.

Relax at the beach

This goes without saying, but one of the best things to do in Venice Beach, California is to actually hit the beach. The popular stretch of sand attracts millions of visitors every year and boasts amenities that’ll keep you entertained for hours. Whether you relax on the sand or stroll along the boardwalk, you can’t go wrong with this quintessential SoCal activity. 

As one of the best free things to do in L.A., the possibilities to enjoy different Venice Beach activities are endless. If you’re spending the weekend here, dedicating a day to the beach is definitely worthwhile.

Surf culture is an undeniable part of the Venice Beach lifestyle.

Sign up for a surf lesson

While you’re at the beach, take advantage of the waves to pick up a quintessential SoCal skill—surfing. Skating and surfing have been a huge part of this L.A. neighborhood’s culture since the 70s. So what better way to feel closer to the community than trying a popular local activity? 

There are plenty of surfing schools and coaches who are more than willing to help out an eager student. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced surfer, this thing to do in Venice, CA is a no-brainer if you’re up for a good time.

Venice Beach attractions only the locals know

Memoirs, self-help books, sci-fi novels—stock up on new reading material whenever you're in the area.

Pick up your next read at small world books

Perhaps not the go-to activity for beachgoers, but definitely a worthwhile one—this thing to do in Venice, Los Angeles is a must. Founded by Mildred Gates and Mary Goodfader in the 1960s, Small World Books is a great spot to escape the crowds on Venice Beach Boardwalk.

Take your time browsing through the large selection of books in every genre. Don’t hesitate to consult the well-read staff for help when you can’t seem to pick out a book (we’ve all been there). Looking for an awesome souvenir to take home? Pick up a title from the local author’s selection right at the front of the store. 

Looking for unique finds and exciting experiences? Abbot Kinney Boulevard is the place for you.

Window SHop Along Abbot Kinney Boulevard

The laidback sophistication of Abbot Kinney Boulevard is unmatched. The mile-long strip features the latest fashion, coolest art galleries, and delicious eateries. Escape the beach crowds, indulge in retail therapy, and hunt for the best breakfast in town right here. This Venice Beach attraction is one you won’t regret checking out.

Try visiting Abbot Kinney Boulevard on the first Friday of every month to take part in its Food Truck event (temporarily unavailable). This treasured event features local favorites, as well as an ongoing rotation of innovative cuisines on the Boulevard. Cheat day, anyone?

Learn About Venice's Creative History at Beyond Baroque

Visiting the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center is the best introduction to Venice Beach’s history—it’s essentially the creative epicenter of the area. The center was founded in 1968 as an experimental literary magazine. Today, it boasts a diverse array of literary and arts programs such as readings and workshops. 

This Venice Beach attraction is home to the largest collection of new poetry books for sale. The center also has an archive that houses over 40,000 books. These include limited-edition publications chronicling the history of poetry movements in Los Angeles and beyond.

Venice Beach activities you have to try

Venice Beach explodes with kaleidoscopic murals.

Go on a self-guided mural tour

You’ll find public art scattered all over Venice Beach, Los Angeles—on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, along the boardwalk, and on Navy and Rose Avenues. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or have extra time to kill between other Venice Beach activities, consider going on a self-guided mural tour. Not only will you discover cool photo ops on your tour, you’ll also get to know the area from another perspective.

Check out the mosaic tile house

By venturing about a mile and a half off the shore, you’ll come across the eclectic Mosaic Tile House. The popular Venice Beach attraction is the brainchild of the artistic duo Cheri Pann and Gonzalo Duran. Since purchasing it in 1994, the couple set out on a mission to transform every inch of their home into a colorful and whimsical oasis.

The Mosaic Tile House perfectly captures the cooky and beautiful nature of Venice.  Sign up for a guided tour of the work-in-progress by the artist Cheri herself. 

A sunset stroll at the Venice Canals is all you need.

Stroll Along the Venice Canals Walkway

Is it even a complete visit to Venice Beach if you don’t check out the canals? Central to Venice’s founding, the artificial canals were designed in 1905 by conservationist Abbot Kinney. Modeled after the famed city in Italy, Kinney wanted to turn the area into a cultural center and make it an Italian-inspired “Venice of America.”

Arching bridges, charming Victorian houses, bunches of ducklings—the Venice Canals today are but a shadow of Kinney’s grandiose vision but a worthwhile spot to visit. Great for an afternoon stroll, this Venice Beach thing to do perfectly wraps up your quintessential SoCal trip.

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