L.A.’s Best Day Trip
Contributing editor Carolynn Carreño takes us on a low-key “daycation” of strolling canals, bohemian shops, and gourmet cafés in her favorite neighborhood, Venice Beach.
A quick bit of geography: I live 12 miles from Venice, in the Hollywood Hills, just a half-hour drive away. I make the trip to Venice so often that acquaintances, shopkeepers, and restaurant servers are astonished when I reveal that I actually live “in town,” which is code for L.A. But I like visiting Venice. And in fact, retreating to this seaside community from “town” is what first put it on the map.
Abbot Kinney, the mile-long stretch that runs diagonally through town, is one of the few streets in L.A. where outdoor cafes and galleries, antiques and design stores, clothing boutiques and restaurants turn strolling into a stimulating activity. “Meet me on AK!” is a typical text that I send to friends. People talk about a “staycation.” For me, getting away to this laid-back village is what I call a perfect “daycation.”
Left: A "walk-street" house
In addition to off-the-rack and made-to-measure denim (including indigo high-waisted “pin-up shorts” that I covet), you’ll find Bay Rum aftershave (a barbershop classic), vintage eyewear and timepieces, Filson coats and bags, Pendleton blankets, suspenders, vests, and boots. Everything you need for a new Old California life.
Left: One of the city’s Technicolor murals
The high-end antiques store Double Vision (1223 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; 310/314-2679) is what I call aspirational, in that I aspire to own just about everything within its four walls. The store’s collection of mostly European art and antiques is all the evidence necessary to prove that Venice has evolved. (Take a virtual tour of the merchandise at 1stdibs.com.)
You might have to wait to get in. You can count on it being too noisy for real conversation. Don’t go (or get) hungry, because they do not serve a speck of food. And no, there is no ocean view. Still, of all the bars on all of Abbot Kinney, The Other Room (1201 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; 310/396-6230 or theotherroom.com) is the place to wander into. End of story.
I consider walking to be a hybrid of recreation and exercise, and in Venice, I do as much as I can. The town has everything a walker wants: amusing people-watching and significant architecture. I love to stroll the “walk streets”―essentially sidewalks with houses on both sides, and no roads. (I know you’re wondering: Residents park in the alleys in the back.) One day, I’d like to have a daycation cottage here myself.
Left: Eco Cottage rentals are solar-powered retreats four blocks from the beach.