For my inaugural blog, I thought it would be fun to share with you some of my favorite things from the town I live and work in: Venice Beach, CA. An East Coast girl, I came to Venice 12 years ago and rented a townhouse near the beach. Before I signed the lease, the owner asked me to come check out the neighborhood at night to make sure I felt comfortable, a rather odd and ominous request! That night, I drove around a mostly desolate neighborhood with some homeless roaming the streets pushing old shopping carts. I signed the lease and my new landlord advised, “Never take a right turn out of the front gate. Only go left.” I took him at his word.
During the first week in my new digs, a relaxing bath was interrupted by the sound of gunshots. I ran to the roof to see what was happening, and my boyfriend quickly pulled me inside. I’m sure he must have been wondering what this twinset-clad girl from Palm Beach was doing residing in the same neighborhood as Crips gang members.
Twelve years have passed, and I love the Venice that was and the Venice that is today. The gunshots are now few and far between, and Abbot Kinney has gone from a two restaurant street to the hottest address in Los Angeles. Venice is still home to the homeless, artists, and now to multiple Marmol Radziner-designed homes. There is a woman that still pushes a stroller through our streets selling homemade tortillas and tamales, and the boardwalk is home to plenty of folks offering fresh cut mango, cucumber, and watermelon in a clear wrap. Yummy.
A once-a -year holiday treat that I almost never miss! Venice Canals and BOAT PARADE, Venicians make their own homemade rafts and float them down the canals. I’ve seen everything from Santa in a rowboat, to a band dressed as superheroes playing electric guitars, to a sinking and re-surfacing Titanic reenactment. http://venicecanalsassociation.org/
The VENICE ART WALK http://theveniceartwalk.org has become a bit of a destination event over the past few years. For one weekend in May, local artists open their homes and studios to the public. With proceeds going to the Venice Family Clinic, you can take a walking tour of Venice’s best art and scope out some seriously cool Venice real estate in the process.
Don’t miss FIRST FRIDAYS on Abbot Kinney on the first Friday of the month. Shops stay open late and offer hors d’oeuvres and play music. My favorite draw are the 25+ food trucks that line the street offering every food and sweet treat imaginable. I still haven’t had a gourmet grilled cheese from the grilled cheese truck because lines wrap the block. Try Cool Haus for pistachio-truffle ice cream instead. http://www.abbotkinney1stfridays.com | Twitter: @coolhaus)
Stroll along VENICE BEACH! and enjoy the newly-erected skate park, or dance on roller skates. Local vendors line the boardwalk with art, jewelry, and henna tattoos. Bike rentals are another fun option. I walk the beach all the way to Santa Monica and back each morning before the action starts.
Venice is a casual beach town so no sky high heels needed! Havaianas, jeans, a cute top, and either a colorful cardi or hoodie will just about do it. It’s cooler here than most expect so don’t forget your sweater. I tend toward slim cargos and a tank top paired with a cashmere hoodie.
For more must-pack items, check out my Destination Venice Beach collection on ThisNext.com! http://bit.ly/eSb8Uf