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Field Trip: LA's Venice Canals

(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

If you live in Southern California, you've probably been to Venice, with its eclectic mix of Bohemian beach dwellers and multi-million dollar homes.  But have you been to the Venice Canals? -- Kim Kuhteubl

Venice Canals Bridge
(credit: Robyn Beck/Getty Images)

Venice Of America

Between Washington Avenue and Venice Boulevard, just two blocks east of Pacific, lies an enclave of homes built around six slim streams where ducks and their ducklings paddle by.  Facing the water, the houses are a collection of architectural styles; everything from mid-century modern to storybook cottage, to Roman-inspired villa.  Some are built across two lots and many have a boat tethered out front next to a private dock.  Arched foot bridges, for walkers only, connect both sides of the shore with car access by footpath in the rear.  It's easy to forget that the mayhem of Muscle Beach and the Venice Beach Freak Show are just a couple of blocks away.

The original seaside resort, Venice of America was founded by tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney and opened on July 4, 1905.  Built to resemble its namesake in Italy, originally there were several miles of canals.  In 1929, after a three-year court battle led by canal residents, most were paved over and today, six canals remain.  In the 60s, the area was home to beatniks and artists, like Jim Morrison. More recently, the film Valentine's Day used it as a location.

You can spend up to an hour – longer if you like taking pictures – enjoying the scene. Residents seemed to used to being gawked at and will happily ignore you.

Primitivo Wine Bar
(credit: Primitivo Restaurant)

Wine & Tapas

Primitivo Wine Bistro

1025 Abbot Kinney
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 396-5353
More Info

After that grab a glass of wine and tapas at Primitivo Wine Bistro, where the bar, dining room and back patio will be packed.  Chef Eddy Shin – mostly recently the Executive Chef at Chapter 8 – prepares an amazing selection of hot and cold tapas including everything from tuna tartar with chipotle aioli, basil syrup, yuzu gelee toasted pinenuts and homemade potato gauffrettes to paella or tiger shrimp, sautéed simply in garlic, lemon, white wine and chili flakes.  Choose from a selection of 85 wines by the glass and at least 250 overall if you include, ½ litres, bottle, dessert wines etc.

Abbot Kinney
(credit: Michael Buckner)

First Fridays

Save your visit for the first Friday of the month and you can hang on Abbot Kinney – the street named for the aforementioned tobacco millionaire – during First Fridays.

This neighborhood event is a popular place to eat, shop and see art. Local merchants keep their doors open a little later than usual, until about 10:00. Some even play music and offer wine to shoppers.

The Map


Between South Venice Blvd. & West Washington Blvd.
Includes: Carroll Canal, Linnie Canal, Howland Canal, Court B, Howland Canal


The Parking lot is located next to the Venice Boardwalk where Rose Ave. crosses Ocean Front Walk. Prices are $5.00 on weekdays and $6.50 on weekends.

If you can find street parking, your best bet is to find a spot on Ocean Street, Dell or Washington a couple of blocks over. If you've got more time, park at the paid public lot on Rose Ave. at Ocean Front and then make your way along the boardwalk until you reach South Venice Boulevard. Dell Avenue will take you into the canals.

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