Venice Beach picture1 of 4
Venice Beach2 of 4
Xavier Arnau/Getty Images

Key Info

1800 Ocean Front Walk

Price & Hours

Free
24/7 daily

Details

Beaches, Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.0scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 3.0Food Scene
  • 3.5Atmosphere

Developed in the early 20th century, Venice Beach is modeled – canals and all – after its namesake city in Italy. Admittedly, the experiment didn't live up to its Italian inspiration, but the neighborhood has become distinctly Californian, embodying the spirit of the wealthy, the alternative and the just plain bizarre. Rather than towering churches and intimate pizzerias, you'll find canalside mansions near funky boutiques and restaurants.

Venice Beach's claim to fame is its boardwalk. Hosting a daily procession of eclectic characters and scantily clad beachgoers, the boardwalk never fails to impress out-of-towners. Past visitors loved checking out the area's unique scene (including the open-air Muscle Beach and the Hotel Erwin's High Rooftop Lounge), although some cautioned that the parts away from the pier were not appropriate for younger children. Also, remember that Venice Beach can get crowded on sunny days and is better suited for sunbathing, not swimming.

Venice Beach, which is free to visit 24 hours a day, is situated approximately 18 miles southwest of central LA. Street parking and parking lots are available around the neighborhood, though finding a spot can be a hassle at certain times of the day; read all street signs carefully to avoid a ticket or towing. Bus Nos. 1, 33 and 733 also have stops nearby. Additional information can be found on the neighborhood's website.

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Griffith Observatory and Griffith Park1 of 21
The Getty Center2 of 21
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Griffith Observatory and Griffith Park

Griffith Observatory sits on the south face of Mount Hollywood and overlooks the Los Angeles basin. Its location gives visitors impressive views of the surrounding area. But there's more than just a pretty photo-op here. The observatory hosts fascinating exhibitions and features a top-notch planetarium.

Most recent visitors cited the beautiful setting as Griffith Observatory's main draw, though the free entry was certainly a bonus. However, you will have to pay between $3 and $7 to see the planetarium shows. Griffith Observatory is open from noon to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, with extended hours on weekends. Free but limited parking is available along the winding roads leading up to the property, or visitors can park in the small lot by the observatory for $4 per hour. A gift shop and cafe can be found on-site as well. For more information, check out Griffith Observatory's website.

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