Venice Beach, California

Let's begin by making one thing perfectly clear. No beach in the world is like Venice Beach.
By: David Neiman
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Let's begin by making one thing perfectly clear. No beach in the world is like Venice Beach. Sure, other beaches have sand, surf and sunshine. But they do not have a 3-ring urban street circus, complete with philosophizing artists, trash-talking hoopsters, preening weightlifters, barefoot sand sculptors and unclassifiable scores of freaks.

I don't use the word "freak" lightly. I grew up in Southern California and have seen my fair share of weirdness. But never have I seen a wilder, more vibrant assortment of creativity and craziness congregated as densely in one place as I have seen at Venice Beach. All of this frenetic activity happens on Ocean Front Walk, a three-quarter-mile concrete boardwalk with stores, fast food spots, flea markets and artists. (What exactly constitutes "artistry" - sword swallowing, playing electric guitar while rollerblading, spontaneous screaming - is something for you to decide for yourself.)

Whether you pump iron and tan at the open-air Muscle Beach weight pen, watch (or if you dare, play) hoops on the blacktop courts that inspired "White Men Can't Jump"or simply stroll the boardwalk, Venice Beach promises an experience you will never forget ... or repeat elsewhere.


3 of 5
Kids will find plenty to do, but this is an urban environment. Parents should accompany younger kids.
4 of 5
The water is cold but clean. Riptides can be dangerous, especially for children.
4 of 5
The clean sand offers lots of space for sunning and gaming.
5 of 5
With this much atmosphere, you might think you are on another planet.
Non-Beach Activities
5 of 5
Restaurants are nearby; the rest of Los Angeles is only a short drive away.

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