There are so many colorful neighborhoods in Los Angeles, but we knew we wanted to start our “My Best LA Day” adventure in Venice Beach. Venice encapsulates everything wonderful about LA: a little gritty and a lot trendy, where you’ll see a skinny mustached hipster sipping coffee on a bench next to a white-haired homeless man with an overflowing shopping cart. There’s the iconic boardwalk, with its freak show and muscle beach gym, as well as the truly hip Abbot Kinney Boulevard, and the up-and-coming Rose Avenue. We set out to see it all…

Stop 1: Rose Cafe

We fueled up at Rose Cafe, a seriously cute market and cafe with both a sit-down dining room (head right) and counter service (head left). The building is unique – it used to be an old Gas Company dispatch office – but the space is bright and warm. We ordered up at the deli counter and then enjoyed our breakfast on the quiet (and pooch-friendly!) patio in the back. Perfect spot for brunch/lunch.

(220 Rose Avenue, Venice)

Stop 2: Venice Beach Boardwalk

If you live in LA, chances are you don’t visit the Venice Boardwalk too often – it’s home to lots of souvenir t-shirt stands, marijuana dispensaries, and drum circles. But it’s a fun place to explore, especially on a gloriously sunny day, and we loved watching the skateboarders at the Venice Skate Park, trying on silly hats and sunglasses, and doing some hilarious people-watching.

Stop 3: Menotti's Coffee Stop

Oh to the Em to the Gee! This place serves up a seriously good cup of coffee. And it’s no wonder: the lovely gentleman running the place (Christopher Abel Alameda) received his training at our favorite coffeeshop OF ALL TIME – Espresso Vivace in Seattle. Vinyl records, a community vibe, and perfectly pulled shots? Worth every penny.

(56 Windward Avenue, Venice)

Stop 4: The Venice Canals

Yes, many people do know that Venice is named after the famous city in Italy, but most don’t realize that the entire look and feel of Venice was re-created with the construction of the Venice Canal Historic District in the early 1900s. Although much smaller than it once was, the area is still a simply adorable place to enjoy an afternoon walk along the sidewalks, where you’ll often catch a glimpse of residents paddling along in their boats.

Stop 5: Gjelina Take Away

There is an abundance of all-out delicious places lining Abbot Kinney Boulevard, but there’s just something special about Gjelina Take Away. Its sister restaurant (and reason for the spin-off) is a Venice staple, and ALWAYS packed. If you’re not in the mood for an hour wait for a table, just travel a few feet to GTA, where you can order tasty seasonal food “to go” straight from the counter.

They’re best-known for their breakfast sandwiches and pizza, but we asked for the “most popular” lunch sandwich – the brisket bahn mi. And holy moly, was it YUMMY. The perfect amount of cilantro, juicy brisket, jalapeno vinaigrette, all between a baguette that wasn’t too crunchy. We arrived during the mid-afternoon lull, so we managed to snag a spot on the shaded bench around the corner (although the milk crates looked feasible for a quick bite, too).

(1427 Abbot Kinney, Venice)

Stop 6: Shopping on Abbot Kinney

You won’t find any big-box stores or chain restaurants on Abbot Kinney. You WILL find mystic bookstores, small art galleries, Thai spas, artisan-made furniture shops, and speciality coffee houses. This stretch of indie retailers isn’t necessarily cheap, but it’s definitely uniquely Venice.

Some of our favorites include:

Ecookie – for big statement jewelry, cute clutches, and sweet dresses for under $100.

Firefly – for handmade soaps and candles (goji berry was a favorite), a unique and large selection of cards, and coffee table books on Venice.

Ananda – for cozy sweaters, Frida Kahlo kitsch, astrology books, and anything Buddha.

Tumbleweed and Dandelion – for home decor perfectly suited to any beach cottage.

Stop 7: High Rooftop Lounge at Hotel Erwin

There is not a better spot to enjoy a sunset cocktail than at High Rooftop Lounge (atop Hotel Erwin). The views of the beach and surrounding Venice are magnificent, offering something to see on all sides. We ordered a watermelon margarita and a glass of sparkling Rosé and sat back in our cushioned seats to watch the sun sink from the sky and listen to the rapid-fire clicking of dozens of cameras (everyone on that rooftop wanted to capture the perfect sunset, it seems). The absolute best way to end our first best LA day.

(1697 Pacific Avenue, Venice)

The Details:

We used our own bicycles, but you can find trust-worthy, won’t-break-the-bank places to rent bikes here and here.

A map of our day looks something like this:

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Showing 5 comments
  • Birdy

    Rose Cafe is one of my favorite brunch spots on the Westside. You've got to try the Eggs Scandia or the Huevos Ranceros from the restaurant side!!!

  • marion2013birdsall

    Makes me miss LA!

  • BlondeWarrior

    What a great day! I love that you included a map and the proper mode of transportation. I can't wait to try it!

  • WorldofBigMike

    Great Blog! Looking forward to reading more!

  • Teresa

    Oh man you are making me want to come visit soon! Mylo wants to see his Auntie Jenn Jenn!