Yes, Venice Beach, California does actually have canals! Surprisingly this unique little corner of Los Angeles is often overlooked or forgotten by tourists but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit. This 200 meter x 200 meter square of paradise usually gets over shadowed by the chaos of the Venice Beach Boardwalk and the beauty of the palm tree studded sand. Regardless, the Venice Beach Canal area is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles…and it’s only walking distance from the sand.
The Venice Beach Canal Area is located at the southern edge of Venice Beach between S Venice Blvd and W Washington Blvd. It’s three blocks inland from the ocean but there are only a few ways to enter the area from it’s western side, as most of it is cut off by it’s western most canal. To enter the Canal area from the sand, you can take the following streets:
- Go East on S Venice Blvd, then south on Dell Ave
- Go East on 25th Ave directly into the canal area
- Go East on 27th Ave directly into the canal area
- Go East on W Washington Blvd, then north on Sanborn Ave
How To See It:
Unless you know someone who has a house along the canals, you won’t be able to boat through them. For the most part, only residents get the great pleasure of canoeing or kayaking through the Venice Beach Canals. Most people just choose to walk but bikes, cars, skateboards and scooters are all possibilities.
Originally a marshy area unsuitable for construction, present day Venice Beach was won by land developer Abbot Kinney in a coin toss. To drain the marshy land, Kinney dug canals and built a residential area to accompany his newly created sea side resort. Venice was built to be a tourist attraction and in it’s hay-day featured restaurants, dance halls and shopping. For a period of time it was a Disneyland by the sea.
However as the years past, Venice became run down and in desperate need of repair. It was so bad that eventually it was annexed by Los Angeles. Under LA governance it was neglected and slowly paved over leaving only the small section of canals we see today.
Venice Beach Today:
Though Venice Beach has slowly cleaned up over the years, it still holds on to a lot of character (perhaps remnants from its amusement park days). Most people know Venice Beach for it’s lively beach boardwalk packed with tourists and weirdos, but even away from the boardwalk the diversity doesn’t end. Today Venice is a microcosm of greater Los Angeles. You can find yuppies hanging out on Abbot Kinney Blvd, hippies and gutter punks getting high on the sand, gang violence near the projects, beach bums riding the waves and tourists with cameras in awe of it all.
I lived there myself for 4 months in a hippie commune…and still, I never get board of the place!