Strolling the Canals of Venice Beach

I love to stroll neighborhoods admiring houses. If it wasn’t frowned upon, I’d go to open houses on a regular basis, not because I’m looking to buy a new home, but because I love to see their designs, their décor, and their landscaping. And maybe I’m just a little bit nosy too. Thus, when my sister and I were in Los Angeles recently, I insisted that we check out the Venice Canals Walkways. Not because I am super interested in the waterways of Southern California, but rather I am intrigued by interesting architecture and landscaping, and the Venice Canals have both in spades.

If you didn’t know anything about the Venice Canals, you’re not alone. I only learned of their existence when I read an article in a travel magazine. They’re not hiding by any means, but you can easily overlook them when you visit Venice Beach and its surrounding area. Built in the early 1900s, the “Venice of America” was founded by a tobacco millionaire who wanted to bring a little bit of Venice, Italy to the United States. Today, more than 350 homes border one of the six inland canals, which are tucked in to the otherwise traditional residential neighborhood of Venice Beach. Each home is unique, ranging from small beach-like cottages, to large, modern glass structures, and massive Italian and Spanish inspired homes. Their backyards border the canal walkways, so there’s ample opportunity for nosy curious people like myself to casually glance into the yards of these homes, and if there’s a large picture window or sliding glass doors opening into the backyard, even better.

The canals themselves are quite picturesque. There are several pedestrian bridges that afford terrific views of the neighborhood and there are walkways on either side of each canal. My head hurt from swiveling to look at the homes across the canal along with the homes right next to the walkway on my side of the canal. I feel like you have to walk both sides of every canal to get a complete picture of the homes, both up close and from a distance. Lots on the canal are apparently zoned for single family homes only. And there were many homes being remodeled.

Water enters the canals through sea gates, which are opened at low tide to drain the water, and closed at high tide to trap the water for a few days. We must have been there when the sea gates were open, because the water was extremely low. Many homes have docks in the canal, with a range of little boats tied up. We saw all sizes of canoe, paddle boats, and kayaks waiting for the high tide to come back in. The landscaping was delightful as well. I might feel pressured to have a fancy yard if I lived in such a sought after neighborhood, with so many lookie-loo’s like myself checking out the spaces. The gardens did not disappoint. There was everything from cactus and succulent designed yards to bonsai gardens and extravagantly colorful flower beds.

The walkways of the Venice Canals, now on the National Registry of Historic Places, do not allow bicycling, and on the Monday morning that we visited, there were very few other walkers. It’s a delightful place to take a stroll when visiting Los Angeles. And it’s quite different from most other walks I’ve taken in Southern California. The beach is just a handful of blocks away, but you’d have no idea by looking at the Venice Canals. The area is simply charming. I’ll happily go back again when I have the opportunity.

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5 thoughts on “Strolling the Canals of Venice Beach

  1. Janie Burcart says:

    Lovely…I, too, am nosy/curious, love to go on garden tours & would go to open houses if I could!

  2. Trudy Bhaerman says:

    There is a festival of lights at Christmas time , where they doubly reflect from the canals that is just magical…the bridges are festooned and the homes are aglow.

  3. Debbie Gudger says:

    Ages ago, we took a gondola ride through the Venice Beach canals for Ken’s birthday-wine, bread & cheese, friends and a serenade by the gondolier-it was hard to believe we were still in CA! Thanks for the reminder of this special place!

  4. Karen says:

    You know- I love Venice Beach too- BUT- the truth of is- you have to live down there (Southern California – LA) in order to live in Venice.

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