Stuff To Do, Venice, California Sights

The Haley Hotel (Historic)

The Haley Hotel (Historic)

Circa 1906

The former Haley Hotel (which I know precious little about) is now home to a youth hostel, skateboard shop and various other small businesses.

1516 Pacific Ave
Venice, California

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Thornton Towers (Historic)

Thornton Towers (Historic)

Circa 1913

Thornton Towers is frequently referred to as the Isadora Duncan building: There are those who say Thornton Towers were built by the Duncan sisters, Isadora Duncan, the mother of modern dance, is said to have lived in the penthouse and danced on the roof.

However, author Jeffrey Stanton insists at his Venice History site that Duncan lived in San Francisco and owned no Venice property.

16 Thornton Ave
Venice, California

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University of the Arts (Historic Site)

University of the Arts (Historic Site)

1905 by Marsh & Russell

One of the original buildings constructed by Abbot Kinney, the University of Arts was meant to be part of his cultural institution. Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence can be seen in the building’s design.

1304 Riviera
Venice, California

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public art walls

Venice Art Walls

You have to be over 18 and get a permit to get up at the Venice Art Walls. The world famous Venice Beach pits used to feature the fastest griffiti walls in the west, with writers going over other writers all day long, often before the paint even dried. These days, you can only write on weekends. If you and a crew have a production sketched out, you’re on for a large wall. Otherwise, smaller spots are available.

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Venice Beach Canals

Venice Beach Canals

“The canals” as the area is referred to by locals is a lovely little theme park of a neighborhood built around the only canals still remaining in Venice. Though quaint, these are not the broader canals of yore.

The humble beach bungalows that once dominated the canals are rapidly giving way to battleship-style McMansions, few of which are architecturally pleasing. Still, the canals make for a lovely stroll. Watch out for duck poopk, Snowy Egrets, old hippies and publicity-shy Hollywood types.

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drum circle

Venice Beach Drum Circle

Less drum “circle” than inspired cluster-f#%!, this popular, long-running, public Venice happening usually gets its groove on by late afternoon Saturdays, coalescing on the beach at about Brooks Ave. Come, drum, dance, spin, flail, inhale the exotic bouquet.

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Venice Beach House (B & B)

Venice Beach House (B & B)

An historic bed & breakfast in the grand summer home of Abbot Kinney, the guy who built Venice out of a swamp. The quaint B & B resides in a beautiful setting within steps of Venice Beach, the canals, Venice Pier and Washington Blvd bars and restaurants. Old prints and pictures of Venice, CA and Venice, Italy adorn the homey interior. The mellow staff keeps the coffee fresh, the baked goods coming and the atmosphere relaxed and comfortable.

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skate dance area

Venice Beach Skate Dance Area

Not the scene these days that Central Park’s roller disco spot is, the skate dance area at Venice Beach (near the Public Art Walls) hosts plenty of dedicated roller boogie-oogiers, particularly on weekends. Some dance on blades, some on old school four-on-the-floor skates. Are you phreak enough to disappear down this hip-hop roller-disco rabbit hole? Un-huh, un-huh…

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Venice Boardwalk

Venice Boardwalk

When most people think of Venice, nowadays, it’s Ocean Front Walk — the boardwalk — they picture. A couple of miles of insanity, vanity and humanity with souvenir shops and tattoo parlors galore, street vendors and palm readers, more crazies than can shake sticks at you, sleaze, ocean breeze, street performers, nut jobs, tourists, posers…it’s all here, particularly on beautiful weekend days. Come prepared for a full immersion in life’s rich pageant. If you’re bringing a pygmy anaconda, please bring its sunblock. Actually, best to leave the pets at home unless you want to traumatize them for life.

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freak show

Venice Boardwalk Freak Show

The barker barks half-heartedly about all the s**t they have inside that has two heads. For my money, I’m sticking with the Museum of Jurassic Technology a few miles up Venice Blvd.

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