Just next door to Santa Monica, Venice Beach California provides a diverse beach experience, whether you like to people watch or shop for artistic wares.
There is an extremely wide sandy beach to play or lay on, without the crowds of neighboring Santa Monica. At the southern end of Venice Beach is Marina del Rey.
Some of the old canals and homes around them have been rehabilitated and restored. Inland Venice is full of cute cottages along with some rougher neighborhoods, but the infamous Venice Beach boardwalk is where it's at.
The bike path is popular with those on any kind of wheels, but the walking side can get quite crowded on the weekends. Vendors display artwork for sale and other unique items.
Several casual restaurants with outdoor seating provide beachfront views and plenty of people watching. You can also find shops selling southern california beach wear.
A couple blocks inland on Rose Ave. is a favorite place to get a bite to eat: the Rose Cafe. There's a small restaurant section, a cafe section and a small shop. They also have free validated parking, which is a very good thing.
At the southern end of Venice Beach is the fishing pier, more restaurants, and other places to rent bikes and such.