After a wonderful stay last year we couldn’t resist a return to Venice Beach. It’s such a fun and vibrant part of Los Angeles, and we love that it’s even walk-able (though some Angelinos may disagree).
This year we returned to Venice as surfers, which made it even more appealing. In his past life (more than 13 years ago before I met him!) Michael did surf a bit — enough to invest in some boards that he stored (“temporarily”) in his sister’s garage in Pasadena. We stopped through to dig them out, and after wiping away a decade’s worth of dust and removing the rat-gnawed travel cases, one of them was still surprisingly good for him. The other, a 1980’s classic, we swapped at local surf shop, The Rider’s Shack, for a speedy little short board for Easton.
For a week we enjoyed California’s abundant sunshine, wide beaches and good food. It was a time to catch up with family, see old friends and visit favourite haunts from our lives before kids. Below are some of our recommendations for the area.
EAT & DRINK:
- Café Gratitude – We loved the delicious food at this ‘plant-based’ restaurant so much, we made sure to stop in for lunch twice
- Superba Food & Bread – The best croissants, breakfast pastries, coffees… and good lunch too.
- Gjelina – great take-away pizza and a cosy restaurant on Abbot Kinney.
- Salt & Straw ice cream – The famous Portland ice cream shop recently arrived in LA, and we stood in line for a good 20 minutes one night just to get a taste. It was worth it
- Gjusta – Tasty take-away food with a small but relaxed garden seating area
- Flowerboy– cute shop and café
- Groundwork on Rose Avenue – another excellent coffee shop
- Cholada Thai Restaurant (on PCH opposite Topanga Beach) – We stopped in here with friends after an afternoon on the beach and the food was good, and the garden seating area in the back made for a nice, relaxed dinner with the kids
- Surfing – Michael and Easton made it their mission to surf every day we were in Venice. The waves weren’t very big the week we were there, but they still had fun surfing on Venice Beach, Topanga Beach and in Malibu (Malibu Surfrider Beach).
- La Brea Tar Pits – We ventured into town to pay a visit to the Tar Pits museum, which the kids really enjoyed. It’s a small but impressive museum, so the kids stayed interested the entire visit.
- We drove downtown to The California Science Center and Space Shuttle Endeavour. We also watched a 3D film in the IMAX theatre about life in space which the kids are still talking about. A very educational day out!
- Picnic on the beach — we picked up food and drinks from Whole Foods in Venice and enjoyed a picnic on Topanga Beach. (We found this beach to be the easiest to find parking, to have the cleanest public toilets and to be a great, family-friendly spot.)
- Playground in Rustic Canyon – Marlow kept asking for a playground, so we looked up where we could find a nice, shaded one and ended up in Rustic Canyon. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon and Marlow was super happy we made the drive over.
- Skateboard Park in Venice – For spectating and also a bit of skating & scootering outside of the bowls and ramps reserved for the experts.
- Temescal Gateway Park (just off Sunset Blvd.) — a pretty park with lots of paths and areas to explore.