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A Guide to Walking the Venice Canals in Los Angeles

Jun 18, 2009 by Lisa Newton

Yesterday, Mike commented on my article and asked where the last photo was taken.  Instead of just answering the question, I thought I’d go a step further and write about it.

Many people around the world have heard of Venice, California. But not everyone is as familiar with the waterways that lie within its inlets, better known as the Venice Canals.

The Early History of the Venice Canals

A man named Abbot Kinney originally built the canals. In 1905, our modern day equivalent of Venice was originally named Ocean Park; it was envisioned and designed to be a Southern California beach resort.

Welcome to our Feathered Friends

To help create his vision, Kinney modeled and named his dream town literally after the fabled Venice, Italy. His plan was to reproduce several miles of canals and gondolas that help to navigate that famous Italian city. Kinney– in furtherance of his beach resort idea–built a 1200-foot-long pleasure pier complete with an auditorium, ship restaurant, and dance hall.

To keep the amusements coming, by 1910 the Kinney Pier added a Venice Scenic Railway, Aquarium, Racing Derby and other smaller rides and game booths. About this time, the name of the town—Ocean Park–was changed to Venice. However, a fire in December 1920 destroyed the Kinney Pier.

Not willing to have his dream go up in smoke and be defeated, the Kinney family (Abbott Kinney died in November 1920) rebuilt the Pier even bigger and better than the original and by then there were thousands of visitors arriving every weekend.

I had company

Venice’s Decline Period

But the hard times which gripped the rest of the nation during the Depression along with Prohibition, also lead to the downfall of Venice. Los Angeles laid claim to it and in 1925 voted to annex it to Los Angeles.

In true political style, Los Angeles decided that Venice wasn’t road friendly enough, so by 1929, most of the canals were filled and paved. However, the residents didn’t go down without a three year legal battle.

The Rebirth and Redevelopment of Venice

Today’s canals are quiet, beautiful, and a favorite walking and jogging escape. In fact, while I was there many people were traversing and walking the trails alongside the canal and I saw an older woman going up and down one of the many walking bridges.

Multi-million Dollar Homes

Today, the Venice Canals are prime real estate with houses starting at $2,000,000. Along with the new Albert Kinney Boulevard with its hip eateries, design studios, film studios, and cross-world transplants, Venice has come full circle–from a no-go place to a must-be place. Indeed, Venice has come a long way over time.

I’m including a walking map of my route, but as you might notice, there are many more canal passages to walk. Each canal has a sidewalk bordering it.


View Venice Canals Walking Tour in a larger map

As I add more and more walks here—and elsewhere—during my Travelin’ Local sojourns, I’ll be sure to update them.

So in the meantime make every effort to visit our local Venice Canals instead of going to Europe, or do so by way of Travelin’ Local.

[UPDATE] If you like this article, be sure to take a look at our new Venice (Canals included) Walking Tour series.

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Beach Towns, Hiking/Walking, Maps, Recreation, Venice

29 Responses to “A Guide to Walking the Venice Canals in Los Angeles”

  1. A Guide to Walking the Venice Canals in Los Angeles | Travelin' Local says:

    [...] Read the rest here:  A Guide to Walking the Venice Canals in Los Angeles | Travelin' Local [...]

  2. Marc - WelshScribe says:

    I’m almost ashamed to say I’ve never heard of Venice, California let alone the Venice canals!

    Now thanks to your post I feel like I’ve all but been there.

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Marc – WelshScribe, Venice is famous via many movies and television series for its beach boardwalk. I’m glad I was able to introduce you to a different Venice than the famous one. :)

    [Reply]

  3. Betsy Wuebker says:

    I loved this! I knew some of this history, but certainly not all. The Venice vibe was going strong in the 80’s, as I recall. So cool to re-visit. Thanks, Lisa.

    Betsy Wuebker’s last blog post..ON BOB AND MARY’S 80TH BIRTHDAY IN GALENA

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Betsy Wuebker, This is one side of Venice, a much more relaxing side than the boardwalk. I’m glad you enjoyed it. :)

    [Reply]

  4. David says:

    Nice coverage of the history–past and present–of Venice, and gorgeous photographs.

    Great job.

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @David, Each time I write a post like this, I learn about the history, too. It’s a win/win situation. :)

    [Reply]

  5. Paisley says:

    It does look like a hip and trendy place.

    I’ve said it before – your water photos are lovely. I honestly never expected LA to have canals.

    Oh my word, the price of real estate is unbelievable. Is it expensive for LA?

    Paisley’s last blog post..Women

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Paisley, Well, I can’t say all the real estate is like this one, but the houses are expensive. Prices came down a little but many are still out of reach for the everyday person.

    I love taking water pictures, the reflection, the waves, maybe a duck or swan, and personally, I find it very relaxing.

    [Reply]

  6. FrugalNYC says:

    Didn’t know any of this existed in LA. Then again, I find surprising things in NYC all the time as well. Thanks for the great info and photos!

    FrugalNYC’s last blog post..Go Wild

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @FrugalNYC, I think every city has hidden treasures. I’m trying to find these here in LA and let others know about them. It’s fun and exciting. What hidden treasures have you found in NYC?

    [Reply]

    FrugalNYC Reply:

    @LisaNewton, I’ve recently found a playground in Flushing meadows Corona Park called “Playground for all children”. It has things that I’ve not seen at other playgrounds anywhere else…so far. I actually mention it in my latest blog post http://frugalnyc.blogspot.com/2009/06/10-free-things-to-do-in-queens.html .

    There are a few other items in that post that I recently discovered :)

    FrugalNYC’s last blog post..10 Free Things To Do In Queens

    [Reply]

    FrugalNYC Reply:

    @FrugalNYC, Love the shot of the duck the best! :)

    FrugalNYC’s last blog post..10 Free Things To Do In Queens

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @FrugalNYC, Thanks for the heads up about Queens. I’ve visited NYC several times, and for me, people watching and window shopping were two of my favorite free activities. I’ll have to check your post.

    I almost didn’t include the duck shot. I wasn’t sure I really liked it, but as I looked at it more, I started to see my vision come to life.

  7. They drive among us — this is so wrong in so many ways « BikingInLA says:

    [...] Local walks the same Venice canals I rode through the other day, but her pictures are a lot mo’ betta than mine would be. Stephen [...]

  8. Barbara Swafford says:

    Hi Lisa,

    What a beautiful place. Although I’ve heard of Venice, Ca, I didn’t know they had the canals. Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos and history of how Venice became what it is today. I can see why it would be a favorite spot for people to take a stroll.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..When The Conversation Moves Off Of Your Blog

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Barbara Swafford, When I was walking there, it almost felt like I wasn’t in the city at all, so quiet and relaxing. Definitely a place I plan on returning to.

    [Reply]

  9. Lisa's Chaos says:

    Ok, when I come we have to go there!! Love the reflections! You had a perfect day!

    Lisa’s Chaos’s last blog post..Macro Monday – My son loves me (?)

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Lisa’s Chaos, You got it. I’d love to walk the canals with you.

    [Reply]

  10. carla says:

    We will be heading down the SoCal next week (mostly Santa Barbara and Santa Monica) and I will try to talk my guy into going to Venice too. I know about Venice Beach but didnt know about the canals!

    carla’s last blog post..Poll: What are you doing?

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @carla, It’s well worth a look, and it’s very close to Santa Monica, only about 15-20 down Ocean. It’s a great way to relax after a long day of tourist stuff.

    BTW, if we could work it out, I’d love to have a cup of coffee with you. :)

    [Reply]

    carla Reply:

    @LisaNewton, We had to change our plans for Santa Monica. We will be in Beverly hills for the remaining days. There are actually more reasonable (and nicer)hotels in that area!

    carla’s last blog post..Poll: What are you doing?

    [Reply]

  11. Kevin says:

    What an interesting looking place! It amazes me what you have found in Los Angeles in such a short time. I lived there for years and definitely didn’t explore enough.

    I love the colours of the buildings!

    Kevin’s last blog post..The Carmanah Valley – Twenty Years On

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Kevin, I think that’s true with many people. We often live right next door to something great, but never have a chance to go there. Or sometimes we think we need to get away in order to really relax.

    I totally disagree, which is one reason Travelin’ Local is here. :)

    I’ve only given a few examples of the colorful buildings, but there are many more where these came from.

    [Reply]

    FrugalNYC Reply:

    @LisaNewton, Totally agree with what you said about checking local areas to visit. Same reason I started doing FrugalNYC (well one of the reasons anyway ;)

    [Reply]

  12. Natalie says:

    I’ve lived in CA for nearly three years (but up in the Kern County mountains – not really close to any of the big cities), and as I yearn to move back east, closer to our aging families, I’ve been motivated to explore more of this state before we finally do leave. This looks like a lovely reason to leave the mountain. Is there an established place to park, or would you just park anywhere along the street? What else might be fun to do on a same-day trip? (I’d have three elementary school-aged children with me.)

    [Reply]

    Lisa Newton Reply:

    @Natalie, Thank you for your comment, Natalie. The only parking available is on street parking. The kids will love walking the Canals.

    Venice Beach has a paved walkway, playgrounds, and of course the beach.

    Also close is Santa Monica where the Pier, with it’s solar powered Ferris Wheel, and of course, the Aquarium.

    It’s great for kids.

    [Reply]

  13. Paul says:

    The first picture is featured in the new movie valentine’s day, i love this area!

    [Reply]

  14. Linn says:

    Although I haven’t been there since my early high school years I truly miss being there. I love the area and wish I could buy a home there. If anyone plans on visiting Southern CA you should put this on your “THINGS TO DO” list. One day I will come back to visit.

    [Reply]

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