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With two miles of priceless Pacific coastline boardwalk, Venice Beach is a Mecca of surf and skate culture, as well as a haven for artists and entrepreneurs who have imparted Venice with a funky, eclectic vibe all of its own.

Its Italianate name derives from developer Abbot Kinney, who wanted to build the “Venice of California” along the shores of the Pacific. Leaning into the namesake, Kinney and his team dug several miles of canals inland from the river. Today, the Venice Canal Historic District features Venetian canal bridges and Gondola rides, playing the role of water feature for some of the most elite homes in the city.

Venice remained colorful throughout the decades, serving as the scene of tumultuous political fights and even gang violence before artists gentrified the region in the early 2000s. Psychedelic rock band The Doors formed in Venice in 1965. Today, Venice residents enjoy large, modern homes amid the ocean breeze. Prices tend to be a little lower than surrounding beach villages, with median home prices north of $2 million.

The local hub of surf and skate culture is Venice Beach, featuring some of the best breaks in the region, as well as Ocean Front Walk, a hip boardwalk lined with stores, surf shops, beach cafes, and food trucks. There’s also “Muscle Beach” and the unique Venice Beach Recreation Center, featuring handball courts, tennis courts, and a skate dancing plaza.

Abbot Kinney Boulevard was revitalized in the 1980s to be a thriving hub of high-end dining and shopping. The Venice Post Office, established by FDR’s Works Progress Initiative in 1939, is a time capsule of New Deal-era art and architecture. All of Venice is festooned with public art, for that matter, contributing to the cultural flavor of this classic California beach community.

Venice is a welcome break from the norm, a hotbed for creativity and easy living.

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