Venice, CA is very different from Venice, Italy, but exploring its unusual environs makes for a nice hometown adventure. I ventured out for an Omicron distraction, and discovered a cache of nice, new-to-me shops along Lincoln Boulevard, where I parked to explore the Walk Streets.
Explore the Venice Canals
Most Angelenos have heard of the Venice Canals and some lucky ones have visited friends who live in this magical corner of LA. The canals were constructed by Abbott Kinney in 1905 and quickly became a popular tourist destination. Located south of Venice Boulevard a few blocks from the beach, they fell into disrepair over time and eventually approximately half of the waterways were filled in to make room for auto traffic. Considered a slum for years, they were finally revived In the 1990s, and are now a very desirable place to live, especially as Venice itself becomes more gentrified.
Plan to spend about an hour wandering – you’ll quickly fall into a relaxed rhythm as you peek into yards and wonder what it would be like to live in such an intimate neighborhood. Each bridge is different from the next, and kayaks and paddle boards are parked outside homes. Some of the old bungalows remain but many fancier, two and three story homes are being built.Though still an oasis from the rest of the city, the neighborhood is definitely taking on a more modern vibe. I enjoyed this charming version of the history of the area from KCET, including old postcards showing tourists being taken through the canals by gondola, and Kinney’s original, much-larger grid of by-ways.
The Venice Walk Streets
The “walk streets” – Marco Place, Ambroso Place and Nowita Place – are west of Lincoln Boulevard and east of Shell Avenue. They were also designed by Abbott Kinney, as part of his vision of a more connected community. The homes face each other across narrow, pedestrian-only paths. Garages are at the back of these homes, in similarly narrow alleys. Tree-lined and intimate, this area must have been a very friendly place to live — you could definitely see into your neighbor’s kitchen. Given today’s world and the uptick in desirability of these homes, the fencing and garden elements have probably necessary for privacy but are creatively installed, in most cases. I explored once during the week and once on a weekend, and definitely saw more residents in their yards on the weekend.
Even more than along the canals, you’ll be aware of walking through people’s lives, so while being discreetly curious is fine, a quiet and discreet exploration is recommended. I didn’t take a lot of photographs for fear of intruding. Besides, I was too busy admiring the lovely gardens and intriguing buildings. That being said, here’s one to whet your appetite.
The map shows how close these two adventures are. Plan to park in the middle if you want to do both. But because it’s fun to explore the adjacent shops and restaurants as well, I’d do one at a time. For the Walk Streets, park up on Lincoln near the shops listed below, all of which are within blocks of each other. Explore them after your adventure. For the Canals, park on either side and either explore the main streets on either side (West Washington or Venice Boulevard) for refreshment after your walk.
1. Superba Cafe and Bakery (1900 S Lincoln Blvd Venice) the original location of this yummy spot
2. General Store (1801 S Lincoln, Venice) well-curated home goods and clothing – vintage bandanas and great baskets and pottery, as well as clothing
3. Salt – a definite favorite for high-end, hard to find clothing which has moved from Abbott Kinney to this temporary location. (1817 Lincoln Blvd Venice)
4. Linus Bikes – you’ve seen them on social media, gorgeous old-school wheels (1901 Lincoln Blvd Venice)
5. A newish nightclub, Venice West (1717 LINCOLN BLVD Venice)
6. Simon’s Market and Provisions – lovely selection of wine, spirits and snacks ( 1700 Lincoln, Venice)