Venice Beach, hands down, is one of my favorite places on the planet. The beach, the pier, the boardwalk – they’re all beautiful. The beach is rarely a tight sea of bodies like other popular beaches to the north; the pier can tell a story all its own between the fishermen, tourists and fitness fanatics; and the boardwalk, made famous in countless movies and pop culture postcards, has the Peter Pan spirit of a forever 20-something.
If you want to buy decorative sugar skulls (think: Dia de los Muertos), fried Oreos, bathing suits, or – of course – medical marijuana, you can find all of those things in triplicate along the boardwalk. If you walk the two-mile (round trip) or so stretch of boardwalk between Washington Boulevard and Venice Boulevard, you’ll pass a million faces that (in some crazy way) stop looking like strangers after a while: European tourists, chiseled men (on their way to “the” Muscle Beach), wild-haired teenagers with knee-high socks (heading to the basketball courts frequented by famous NBA players), skateboarders who are more agile on four small wheels than some humans are on two feet, pet strollers (yes, like actual baby strollers) brimming over with multiple small dogs (often of the same breed)… Venice’s people now feel like my own; in some small way, I like to think I’m now one of its colorful characters (having been a regular for four years).
Dancing crews, guitarists, painters, caricature artists, Mardi-Gras type characters and, a long-time local favorite, playing his electric guitar while on inline skates Harry Perry – they’re all iconic and key puzzle pieces in Venice Beach’s mosaic identity. I suspect there’s some symbiosis at work as I can’t imagine any one of these things without all the others. Walking just a few feet in any direction can bring you to a new and totally different Venice experience or personality.
Above and beyond the colors of the boardwalk, the colors of the sunset on any given day are also something unique to Venice Beach. People flock to the pier on a nightly basis specifically to watch the sunset (as well as play music and pen their thoughts on life in tattered journals). There’s something magical about the mountains of Malibu in the distance and the typical waning of the sun as the backdrop while surfers bob along the breaking point. In many ways, for all of its otherwise well-worn appearance, Venice looks “new” every time I visit (which is often) based solely on the way the sun decides to interact with the sky and terrain.
Don’t take my word for it. It’s all too grand in scale to appreciate by a few words or pictures. VIsit Venice. Now: Venice Beach