Venice Beach with Kids
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Some may look at the title of this post – Venice Beach with Kids – with speculation, but Venice was actually my girls’ self-proclaimed favorite part of our L.A. family vacation. They loved it. This post is all about things to do in Venice with kids, and why it should be on every family’s L.A. must-see list.
Venice, CA, bohemian in spirit, has always been the funkier side of town, filled with eclectic shops and people, restaurants, street entertainers, and, in general, an off-beat vibe all its own. It’s never really had a reputation as a family-oriented kind of hood. Yet it’s this colorfulness of Venice which is exactly why I wanted to take my kids – all the action and eye-candy, I knew, would entertain them for hours.
We decided to allot 1 day in Venice, out of our 5 days. How did we go about planning our 1 day in Venice itinerary? I knew just who I wanted to show us around – my blogging friend Hilary from the blog HilaryStyle. She is the eyes and ears of L.A. and would be the perfect person to show my kids everything that makes Venice, Venice.
Hilary was on board for our visit, and then some. We covered it all, and by the end of the day my girls were reeling from all the fun they had. Here’s all the fun things to do in Venice Beach with kids. (Tip: we went first thing in the morning around 9:30, which was a perfect time to start our day, as there were hardly any crowds and it was very manageable with the kids).
Things to do in Venice Beach with Kids
Walk along the Venice Boardwalk (AKA Ocean Front Walk)
The famous Venice Boardwalk spans about 1 ½ miles, with beautiful, white sand and the Pacific Ocean on one side, and funky storefronts and eateries on the other. Whatever bric-a-brac shops you can think of, the Ocean Front Walk has: souvenirs, sunglasses, surf and skate shops, t-shirts, tattoos, etc. My girls got their L.A. souvenirs here, in the form of sweatshirts, and have been wearing them ever since. Both say Venice Beach in different patterns, and they think they are the coolest girls in town when they wear them!
We walked for a while along the path, and Hilary pointed out all the other interesting things to see that make Venice the happening place it is. We saw people biking, rollerblading, playing paddle tennis, which are some of the activities you can do while you’re there (though we did not). And then there is of course Muscle Beach, an iconic part of the boardwalk where all the body builders work out. This is where Gold’s Gym got its start, begun by 70’s and 80’s superstar body builder, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Later in our walk the girls got henna tattoos, which was a big hit – there are tattoo shops, fortune tellers and other off-beat things like that scattered all over the boardwalk. As well as restaurants – we ate at Wee Chippy at the recommendation of Hilary as having the best fries anywhere, and I have to say, she was right! In general, the Venice Boardwalk has an energy that appeals to any age, and is just plain FUN.
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Watch the Skateboarders at Venice Skate Park
Venice Skate Park is truly an amazing skate park, and definitely worth a visit. If you’re like us then you will love watching all the skate boarders do their tricks. The boarders span all ages, and you can see older men as much as younger kids skate about. It’s a lot of fun for the kids, and it can take up as much or little time as you want it to.
Check out all the Street Art and Wall Murals
Venice is known for its abundance of street art, and seeing as Hilary is the street art expert, she showed us mural after mural, art piece after art piece, all throughout Venice. I’ll get to some of these places below, but we saw street art in many of the side streets off of the boardwalk, on our way over to the canals, and along Abbot Kinney Boulevard. There are wall murals everywhere, some I would have probably walked right by had it not been for them being pointed out – so make sure to keep your eyes open and on the look-out. They are colorful and whimsical and great fun for the kids to pose in front of for vaca pics.
One of the highlights of our day in Venice was making some street art/ graffiti of our own! Hilary brought cans of paint with her, which the kids sprayed out on the beach. There is a designated area called the Venice Art Walls where the public can spray paint themselves, and the kids went to town – a great, unique activity that they will always remember!
Watch the Street Performers
We’re from New York, and whenever there are street performers doing their thing (always) in the subway, on the streets, Union Square, Times Square, wherever, we like to check them out. The girls love watching their shows. Venice is no stranger to street performers so we of course had to see them too. They are a big part of the chemistry that makes up Venice, with a contagious energy that you can’t help but feel a part of. Until they want you to join the show! We watched one group do their break dance, gymnastic stunts, etc. until they started to head our way to get the kids to participate. We immediately high-tailed it, but up until then it was a lot of fun for the kids, with a huge crowd getting into it.
Walk along the Venice Canals
It is no coincidence that the “Venice of America” has the same name as its Italian counterpart. Venice was founded by millionaire developer Abbot Kinney and modeled after his favorite European city, Venice. In the early 1900’s the canals that we see today used to be wetlands, and the perfect spot to build canals. Today (especially after a major renovation project completed in the 90’s), they are one of L.A.’s most unique neighborhoods and so much fun to walk around. I really enjoy walking along the canals and over the bridges, and so did my kids.
With the renovation came many newly built, modern homes, and looking at the houses is just as much a part of the appeal. So many of the city’s beautiful homes are located in the Venice Canals. We particularly liked looking at all the different boats home owners had, from canoes to kayaks to unicorn rafts!
Stroll Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Perhaps the chicest part of L.A., Abbot Kinney Blvd. is filled with Boho fashion stores, home design shops, fabulous restaurants and an overall trendy vibe. You can’t go to Venice without hitting Abbot Kinney. What’s in it for the kids? Good question – it’s mostly for adults. But for the adults who are visiting with their kids and don’t want to miss out, there are some gems to take the kids. We went to Salt n Straw ice cream, which has amazing, unique flavors and which the kids loved. We found plenty of street art to take pics of them with, and we found fun stores to take them in too – one of them being Avatar Nation. The kids played ping pong in the back, it’s full of bright colors, and they loved it. It was a welcome respite for us adults too to take a break and let the kids play.
And those are my top places to take the kids in Venice Beach! If you would like to add any, please leave in the comments below.
Fabulous post!! And I love your photos! It’s so great to see favorite places from other points of view! I do hope you’ll come back again soon and we plan to come and see you in NY soon! Xx
Thanks for showing us all there is to see in Venice! It’s really true – my girls said it was their favorite day. I’m sure Elliot had something to do with it too!!
what fun to see the girls in Venice, CA. Have not been there since 1968, but it was always a fun place to go when we were in LA. Loved your pictures
Thanks so much Jean. Calling you soon, had to let the dust settle. x
So glad you had such a great time visiting with Hilary! Couldn’t have asked for a better tour guide! Would still love to visit Venice Beach one day as sadly, I’ve yet to go! Shame on me!
Loved reading about your day in Venice Beach, Corey. It was my favourite place in LA when I visited in my early 20s and I know my boys would have so much fun there. I really fancy creating some beach art of my own!
Venice in your 20’s is a great place to be. I used to visit a friend then and cruise around in her vintage baby blue Volvo..those were the days!
What a fun trip. I’m sure you and your girls will remember it for years to come. I have never visited venice beach, but I can see why it has such appeal. Your pictures are great. #FarawayFiles
This post brought back so many memories for me! I’m a native Californian, but I’ve only been to Venice Beach a handful of times – but I’ve loved every moment of it! Most recently, I introduced my husband to the area (he’s from Spain) and he also fell in love. It was one of his favorite destinations on our entire California road trip! This is a great guide to the zone, and fun for kids and adults alike! Thanks so much for sharing your experience 🙂 #farawayfiles
What a cool place to visit – I had no idea Venice, CA had canals! I love the street art as well! #FarawayFiles
That looks like a super cool area to enjoy! The sandy beach looks vast!! It all looks so neat and tidy for a grungy area. My son would have loved this area in his teens! xx
I think I would love all the street performers. I enjoy watching them, as well. Some are so talented and bring so much happiness to people. #farawayfiles
Now I wish I’d gone to Venice Beach as well when we were last in LA! It looks like heaps of fun. And it’s always good to have a blogger friend in tow who knows the area. I think the boardwalk and a henna tattoo would be first stop for me, then the skatepark for my fiance, and then all of the food! #FarawayFiles
Venice beach has a great vibe. I like the skate park and people watching.
I loved your photos and insights into Venice Beach! It brought back so many memories from a trip I made down the west coast with my family when I was 15. We spent a day meandering around the boardwalk and I even got a henna tattoo! Great ideas, makes me want to go back for sure! #Farawayfiles
Looks like a great place for kids big and small – think its so cool that they got to do their own graffiti – bet they’ll never forget that! #FarawayFiles
Ages since I’ve been here – memories 🙂 Only regret, I didn’t go for a walk along the canals. Next time! #farawayfiles
This looks like great fun, even if you don’t have children. I love the look of the canals & anywhere that has street art is a winner for me. #farawayfiles
You know I love this post for so many reasons! I was just down at the walls the other day and tell my friend how much your girls loved their experience there! #farawayfiles
Hey Corey, nice to see you and Hilary together in the pic! I reckon i would love Venice too especially for the street art and mural – they look amazing! I didn’t realise that Venice Canal actually exists – I saw it in the movie Valentine’s Day and thought it was a fictional neighbourhood haha…it looks very pretty! #FarawayFiles