“Let’s take a trip to Venice Beach, California,” I said to my daughter A. I love California and wanted to visit my BFF R out there. I boarded the plane in Philadelphia early morning November 9th and was glad to be heading to a warm and sunny place to drown out my post-election blues. My daughter A met me from NYC and the two of us embarked on a six day escape for sun and fun.
We rented a lovely guest house in Venice Beach on Airbnb. It was within walking distance of the town center on Abbot Kinney Blvd, about a mile or so from the beach and a few miles from Santa Monica. We rented a car and parking was available on site and on the street. You just have to move your car some days for the street sweepers.
So why should you plan a vacation to Venice Beach, California this year? Besides the spectacular sunny weather and relaxed vibes, here are more reasons to book your trip now:
Sun Bathing On Beautiful Beaches
The sunrise and sunsets over the ocean are magnificent. We took long walks on the expansive beaches in the morning and early evening. I even found my little sandpipers from Brigantine, New Jersey skipping along the sand. They’re smart birdies. They know where to go for the winter.
We visited Muscle Beach where you’ll find some handsome hunks working out. The atmosphere on Venice Beach Boardwalk will take you back to the 60s with tattoo parlors, outdoor bars, and homeless hippies who hang out and sell their artwork. One day we walked all the way to Santa Monica along the ocean path. You can also rent bicycles.
Dining At Fantastic Restaurants and Shopping On Abbot Kinney Blvd
This street is the hub of Venice Beach. There’s lots to explore with trendy California clothing shops, coffee bars, and restaurants. Being a yogini I enjoyed shopping for activewear at Avocado and Junk Food Clothing and browsing among the books and gems at the Mystic Journey Bookstore.
If you’re a foodie during your life after 50 like me, you’ll be in heaven with all the good restaurants on the boulevard including:
* Kreation Kale: A juicery and cafe where the greens are organic and the menu is on an iPad. I had a hummus bowl salad and A had a breakfast bowl with egg whites, quinoa, and chicken.
* Gjelina: This restaurant is very popular. We enjoyed a delicious dinner of escarole salad with preserved lemons, smoky almonds and Parmesan and a light dressing; eggplant caponata with burrata; roasted beets and greens with horseradish sauce; and a mushroom goat cheese pizza. Ooh, ooh, ooh, the pizza crust was so light and crispy. (I bought the Gjelina cookbook when I arrived home).
* The Butcher’s Daughter: A perfect spot for lunch. We sipped a flight of fresh juices — each juice filled with fruits, veggies and herbs and spices to cure every ailment. Juicing is all the rage in Cali! Lunch featured a Mediterranean Vegetable Bowl with arugula, burrata, farro, tomatoes, nuts, and currants. Bowls and burrata cheese are favored in Cali too!
* Lemonade: A casual eat-in or take-out cafeteria style restaurant. A and I brought dinner back to our apartment one night. We chose two yummy salads – one with shaved brussels sprouts with dates and another heart of palm salad with fennel and pomegranate seeds and a main dish chicken stew. We bought a lemonade to sample on our walk home. Ooh, ooh, ooh, everything was so good!
* Salt & Straw: You absolutely must, must, must save room for a scoop or two of the homemade ice cream from this shop. Be sure to ask the servers for samples before you decide which flavor you want. If you’re a fan of chocolate you can’t go wrong with Freckled Woodblock Chocolate. Its so, so, so good!
A Short Drive To Malibu
The picturesque Pacific Coast Highway 1 is also close by. It’s a short distance from Venice Beach and once you’re on the highway you can drive along the coast. We drove to Malibu to meet a friend for lunch at Dukes, a Hawaiian inspired restaurant overlooking the Pacific and all the surfers.
We loved the area so much that we went back another day to Malibu Farm Pier Cafe. OMG, you have to go there! The views and the food are fabulous. It’s the best for brunch or lunch. I told A the Malibu Farm Restaurant (at the beginning of the pier) would make a perfect spot for a destination wedding or perhaps my 60th birthday party!
After our meals we stopped along the HWY 1 to just sit, breathe, and be. It’s a great place to meditate.
Walking or Biking to Santa Monica
Santa Monica beaches and pier are within walking distance and you can drive or Uber to other parts of the town too. There’s lots of neat restaurants and shops on the Main Street. We had a very veggie dinner at True Food Kitchen restaurant in the 3rd St Mall. The best brunch and lunch can be found a short ride away at the Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe. OMG, we had amazing falafel and crusty homemade breads.
A Day Trip to Santa Barbara
On Sunday, we ventured out for a day trip to Santa Barbara. The ride was about 90 minutes. It was our first time visiting SB. It is a very pretty city on the water. We enjoyed the Arts and Crafts Show, which takes place along the harbor every Sunday, and took a long walk down State Street where there are many shops and restaurants. We found another ice cream spot for dessert called McConnell’s. Our ride back to Venice Beach was much longer than expected due to the LA traffic. Yes, even on a Sunday evening the highway is packed with cars like the opening scene of La La Land.
Hiking Runyon Canyon
We tried to hike Runyon Canyon in Hollywood. Unfortunately, we could not find parking up top or down below. A and I were disappointed but decided we would add it to our list for another time.
After our six days away, we were relaxed and rested. Our time in Venice Beach had come to an end.
“Let’s take a mother daughter trip every year,” said A. “Same time and same place next year. Count me in,” I replied. “I can’t wait to go back to sunny California.” As some have said, “Nothing Comes Close to the Golden Coast.”
P.S. – I couldn’t stay away from warm weather for too long. Coming up next I’ll be sharing more travel adventures from my recent trip to St. Pete, Florida Inn on the Beach in Pass-a-Grille. A perfect winter getaway for the beginning of my countdown to 60.