We stayed in Marina del Rey and walked through
However, after the sun set we didn't feel safe and witnessed quite a few fights and confrontations going on. Beware!
I would not recommend going and keep your kids away! Just a short drive up the coast to Santa Monica Pier or south to
We had a bad/scary adventure with parking but that's probably our fault for not researching ahead of time and obviously having a big tourist stamp on our heads! Luckily our rental car wasn't destroyed and none of our belongings were stolen. Just beware of leaving your keys with someone who will park/squeeze your car into a little lot. I'm still amazed that none of the homeless people have figured out that the guys who park the cars leave the driver's windows down and the keys over the visor. That's really safe! Yikes!
The boardwalk is filled with souvenir shops, restaurants, artists, and street performers. It is a very busy atmosphere with all different types of people.
Warning: the locals set up stands and sell homemade crafts but they do NOT want you to take pictures. They will become confrontational if you do and they have signs saying how much they charge to take pictures. So be careful!
Another warning: I knew the boardwalk would be filled with street performers and I knew they'd probably have buckets for tips. But what I didn't know is this....if you stand there and watch a performance, they will throw out a specific dollar amount that you owe when the show is finished ($20 PER PERSON). One show we watched even went as far as to say that having no cash isn't an excuse cause you can use your credit card and get cash out of the ATM right behind them. Also, there wasn't a tip bucket. Instead, they literally walked from one person to the next collecting money. Not a good or safe atmosphere!
There was a freak show on the boardwalk that you could go into for an admission fee. No joke. They had midgets and a bearded lady sitting outside trying to attract tourists to pay to come inside. We didn't take the bait.
We looked at several of the little boardwalk food places and even the biggest restaurants, but none really grabbed our attention (at least not both of us were craving the same type of food).
Overall, we spent several hours here walking the boardwalk and while I'm glad we can mark it off the bucket list, it will NOT be on the list of places I'd like to ever visit again.
Use the boardwalk to walk to the piers and look at the junk that's being sold by the vendors. Lots of eateries selling fast food. What's good about it is there's a path for bikes and a path for walkers so there's no clashing however some bikes come into the walkers' path. The sunset is gorgeous from here though.
The water is so far away from the hotel strip as the sandy area is so wide. Heaps of physical activities like cycling, body building equipment, volleyball nets on sand, skate park etc to people watch. So many weirdos.
I have to say that
There's a big fascination for
So if you've got a family and don't want to hear the swearing or see obscene merchandise, avoid Venice Beach and head up to Santa Monica Beach instead.
However, this place is just not for me. Although I appreciate the uniqueness and diversity, the entire experience just left me feeling sad. Within 5 minutes, my husband and I stopped for a quick hot dog at one of the boardwalk stands. I noticed a little boy crying nearby - probably about 4 years old. Luckily, a LA fireman on a bike was at the same hot dog stand. We went to get him to help the little boy. Turns out, this little boy was lost. The fireman put the boy on his shoulders to see if he could find his dad. We watched this for about 15 minutes, to no avail, the boy didn't find who he was looking for and was still crying. We walked around for about an hour. On our way out, on the south side of the boardwalk area, the same boy was now with 2 female officers, who were trying to keep him happy. He had a balloon sword he was playing with at this time. Still, no parent anywhere around, and an hour had gone by. I felt so, so, so sorry for him. I wish I knew the resolution of his situation.
Also, I was also deeply saddened by the sight of grown adults bringing their young kids to wait with them into the "medical" places. I am aware that these situations can happen anywhere, but having too much of this in such a short amount of time, all in the same place, gave me the feeling that I needed to get out of there, quick.
The only thing I enjoyed about
I know a lot of people will think VB is really cool, it just isn't for me. I would never bring my kids there either.
As someone from
This is a good place to stop and see, but I wouldn't spend a beach day there.
Must see attractions: outdoor weight lifters (be warned: if your significant other likes muscle guys, you might have a hard time getting your significant other to leave!); skate park; and the beach itself (it's huge!).
The original "Pumping Iron" documentary (technically, a "docu-drama") with Arnold inspired me to get fit, so seeing Venice Beach and Muscle Beach was a "bucket list" item for sure.
There are lots of hippies and homeless people in
There are several medical marijuana "clinics" in
Lots of shops, local artists, t-shirt shops, etc.
There are also several street performers. Do not photograph them without tipping them. That's a fast way to start an argument or a scene.
A police officer warned me not to carry my camera equipment to
The good side: there's a different group of street performers every 10 ft and a lot of them are really good. there's a skate park right next to it, so if you wanna see some good skateboard action you can go there. we actually saw "the illusion" (youtube-guy who was on Tosh.0) skate around a little. And the restaurants have decent prices and long happy hours. But overall it's a place that you go to once and then you're done with it.
Most worryingly, today I cycled past a guy without shoes who out of nowhere started threatening these guys on their bikes at the top of his voice, with kids and women about "i'm going to f****** cut your head off!!" - after he asked for a ride and they cycled on.
Please be aware this place is dangerous.
Take away the hobos, and you have an excellent beach, excellent bike paths and skate parks and not a bad vibe, also great for people watching. However the stalls and shops are all the same cheap tatt, and again with all the tramps and hobos you won't believe you are in supposedly a civilized, developed country.
No wonder there are no 4/5* hotels here on the beachfront.
lots of shops and food spots around. check out muscle beach and the skate park if you can. parking isn’t too expensive. bathrooms are not the best. watch out for the bikers and skaters zooming by.
Visited March 2013
Great place if you are a people watcher (wouldn’t go there after dark) and if you are in need of a medicinal use licence for Pot smoking.... Lots of crazy looking and strange people and not what I excepted for sure!
With people hanging around the public toilets and signs saying "no public toilets available" inside restaurants I would make sure you are prepared if you want to make a visit. Vagrants abound in this area, maybe I'm just a concerned parent.
If you are going to
My biggest complaint are the homeless. There is a lot of crime and drug use, mostly after dark, but even during the day, it's very apparent that groups of people are literally living on the beach with piles of stuff and sometimes even tents. I am all for supporting these people with city services but I have seen time and time again, the homeless littering or urinating in public. This is prime ocean front property and as a resident I want to feel that I can use it. I want it to be clean and inviting when a visitor comes to see it. Overall it just comes across a little seedy and like you need to keep a close eye on your wallet.