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Nestled between Santa Monica and Marina del Rey, the artsy neighborhood of Venice Beach offers more than just great waves and avid surfers. With a colorful boardwalk, abundance of street art, charming galleries, and countless unique shops and restaurants, Venice will provide you with a day filled with culture and adventure. Here’s how to make the most of your time in Venice and experience the neighborhood like a local.

Coffee at TOMS Flagship Store
Coffee at TOMS Flagship Store

Begin your day with a cup of coffee. If you’re from the San Francisco area, you’ll want to visit Blue Bottle Coffee, which opened here in 2014. Located on the trendy and upbeat Abbot Kinney Blvd, you might find that the line for Blue Bottle goes out the door early in the morning. If you don’t want to wait, head up the street for TOMS Roasting Co., which also sells TOMS shoes. I also recommend Intelligentsia Coffee—bring your laptop or paperback along and join the hipsters sitting outside the warehouse-style shop.

While you’re on Abbot Kinney, make sure to browse some of the art galleries and eclectic shops. G2 Gallery displays nature and wildlife photography while also supporting environmental issues. Gebert Contemporary features abstract paintings and sculpture, and C.A.V.E. Gallery is filled with photos and audio installations.

If you’re hoping to shop, check out the home décor, poster, and stationary store Burro, or even try the Piece Collective, a clothing boutique with a cheery yellow exterior. Other favorites include The Juicy Leaf, a plant and succulent store, and Alternative, which sells eco-conscious clothing.

After doing some exploring, you might be ready to relax and eat some lunch. For acai bowls, egg dishes, salads, and other healthy options, head to Kreation Juice. If you’re looking for pizza, small plates, and sandwiches, try Gjelina—be sure to check out the murals outside the restaurant. Looking for a quick meal? Lemonade offers affordable cafeteria-style dining with menu options that include moroccan cous cous, white truffle mac n’ cheese, and avocado salmon louie.

Art outside Gjelina
Art outside Gjelina

Although you might hesitate to abandon your parking spot on Abbot Kinney, you’ll want to move on to visit the Venice Beach Boardwalk. Here, you’ll find countless street performers and artists. You’ll also find vendors selling jewelry, flower crowns, paintings and other trinkets. Check out the Venice Skate Board to see some talented boarders show off some tricks, or even watch some pickup basketball at the courts nearby. Feeling overwhelmed? Grab a towel and sit on the beach for a bit to watch the talented surfers or rent a bike from Jay’s Rentals and ride along the coast for $6 an hour.

Make sure to watch the sun set along the beach, but be sure to bring a sweatshirt as the temperature will absolutely drop. Afterwards, head to Rose Ave to see the up-and-coming area of Venice. Once a seedy part of the neighborhood, various businesses have completely transformed it. Visit Golden State, a design shop that sells local products such as sunglasses, jewelry and pottery. Have dinner at Suberba Snackbar, which offers al dente pasta and plates for sharing. Vegans and vegetarians will appreciate Café Gratitude, which offers a menu including veggie versions of a double cheeseburger, lasagna, and a BLT wrap. Lastly, stop at N’Ice Cream Homemade Gelato & Sorbet to enjoy something sweet on the ride back to Claremont.