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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > United States of America > California > Los Angeles > Venice Beach

About Venice Beach

Venice Beach and its desirable canalside bungalows are seen as backdrops in TV shows, movies and even video games. Famous residents include Dennis Hopper, Nicolas Cage and Julia Roberts.

Beach:

Venice Beach is 3.2km (2 miles) long, and while the sand is not powdery soft, it’s comfortable enough for sun worshippers to throw down a towel and bake. The ocean waves and a breakwater make the area popular with surfers. The city added amenities to broaden the attraction of the beach: there is a plaza, paddleball courts, volleyball courts, the biking bath close to the water’s edge, and an area where the bodybuilders work out (hence the nickname, Muscle Beach). There are public bathrooms and showers on the beach, and lifeguards on duty.

Beyond the beach:

The paved Ocean Front Walk is called the Boardwalk. About half a dozen blocks long is where the vendors and street performers are located. Passers by are entertained by fire breathers, musicians and jugglers, one of whom hurls three operating chain saws in the air. Across from the beach are shops selling temporary tattoos, toe rings and tarot-card readings. New Age merchants nearby offer "guided meditations," "devotional dancing" and paths to your inner peace. There are also lots of bars and casual restaurants to satisfy more basic needs.

Family fun:

The Muscle Beach area includes jungle gyms and a padded area for young gymnasts. All sizes of bikes, skates and blades can be rented. Or catch the public bus or a taxi up to Santa Monica and book the 90-minute bicycle tour; the guide recounts the history and architecture of both beach towns.

Exploring further:

Rent a car and head into eastern Los Angeles for the acclaimed Getty Museum at the Getty Center. This US$1-billion structure is futuristic and, set above the busy 110 Freeway, offers panoramic views of the city and ocean. The permanent collection of art is priceless. To study a different set of masterpieces, drive to the Petersen Automotive Museum, where visitors can see period cars in beautiful condition. Or drive south to Long Beach and step aboard one of the boats offering fishing trips or dinner cruises.