By: Serita Stevens 

When visiting Southern California, you absolutely have to go to the beach.  Not just any beach, but Venice Beach.  Along the breaking waves of the coastline, you’ll discover the mystique that lured Jim Morrison to find “The Doors” and a culture that gave birth to modern skateboarding. Venice Beach is a unique destination unto itself and you will want to spend the whole day there. You’ll find shopping, dining, sports, recreation, entertainment and one of the best, people watching. All sorts of characters find Venice Beach. Bring plenty of cash because there are little shops and stalls abound many with items unique only to them.  Many places take cash only but a few places will accept cards. The skate park is unique to Venice – 16,000 square feet and it’s the only one in the world located on a beach. It features two bowls, a snake run and a street section with steps, platforms and rails.  Only steps from the beach, itself, is Muscle Beach Gym where some of the most beautiful bodies in the world work out. It’s the only outdoor weight room around.

With everything your taste buds could ask for from casual family eateries, to walk-up beach-side snacks to elegant world-class seafood, you’ll never run out new places to enjoy food in Venice. One of my favorites is Figtree Café, a Traditional American restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is family friendly. It’s located at 429 Ocean Front Walk. You’ll find Asian, Health Food, Thai, Italian, Indian, French, and almost any other cuisine you might.

In the evening, the High Rooftop Lounge atop the Hotel Erwin overlooks the Pacific. It offers one of the best views of the spectacular sunset. Once you’re done there, you’ll want to stroll down Main street in Santa Monica, just a few steps from the end of Venice Beach where you’ll find many quaint shops and other cafes, coffee shops and a wide variety of restaurants.

Parking you will find is a little pricey there as they have a captive audience and street parking is at a minimum. Expect to pay from $15-$25 for parking.