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Venice Canals: Venice Beach’s Charming Hidden Gem

Looking for something unique to do in Los Angeles? Do you know of the Los Angeles Venice Canals?

Probably when you hear Venice Canals, the first destination that pops in your head is the one in Italy. I can’t really blame you for that as it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. While the Los Angeles Venice Canals was inspired by “the City of Canals” it’s not exactly it, at least not what it is in the present day.

What are the Venice Canals in Los Angeles? Venice Beach Canals is a small suburb in Venice, Los Angeles, California, now known as the Venice Canal Historic District. Originally laid out as a Venice-style (yes, that Venice in Italy) suburb of Los Angeles in 1905, the area was developed by Abbot Kinney as a commercial district and amusement park.

The Venice Canals is a charming hidden gem in the heart of Venice Beach, Los Angeles. It is a sight to see and walk around this peaceful, picturesque part of LA.

The moment you step into it, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported into a European town with its beautiful houses and manicured flowered gardens. Delightful arched bridges, small boats, and dinghies tied up along the waterways.

It’s literally a fresh of breath air.

The canals of Venice Beach are one of the top places to visit in Los Angeles. This idyllic historic Venice Beach landmark is not only a tourist destination but also loved by locals and the community.

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When visiting Venice Beach, the Venice Canals are the perfect little escape from the crowds and the hustle and bustle of the Venice Boardwalk. It’s one of our top favorite spots in Los Angeles and we tend to forget we are in the city for a short stroll around the canals.

You’ll want to plan your visit here when visiting Los Angeles in Southern California. If you’re nearby Santa Monica, Marina del Rey, or especially when exploring Venice beach, make a short stop to see the Venice Beach Canals and what makes them so special.

They are also only a 30-minute ride (on a good traffic day) from Downtown Los Angeles.

Venice Canal Historic District

There are a total of 9 pedestrian bridges throughout the canals.

History of Venice Canals in Los Angeles

Abbot Kinney, the founder of Venice, California, was a world traveler and a dreamer. He was charmed and influenced by Venice, Italy, and had the idea of developing his own “Venice of America”. The Venice Canals were first constructed in 1905 – they were manmade canals.

The Venice Canals were originally built as a means of transportation for the residents and businesses in the area. Imagine the area filled with gondoliers transporting you through canals.

home at the venice canals
The homes at the Venice Canals today are a mix of beach homes, European-inspired and California Craftsman.

You have to dig into the history of Venice, California to picture the whole thing. Venice was once an independent city until 1926 when it became part of Los Angeles.

Abbot Kinney sought to turn Venice into a sophisticated beachside resort town with art and culture, like Venice, Italy. The Venice Canals were part of his larger plans. He built a seaside hotel that looked like a ship, a dance hall, and a casino, amongst a few other things.

While the Venice Canals was a success for a short time, his plans for his “Venice of America” sort of failed. He gave in and turned it into an amusement park with rides and commercial businesses in 1909. It seems that’s what people were attracted to more than the vision he originally had.

What happened to Amusement Pier and all the rides? It eventually closed down in 1946 when the city didn’t want to renew its lease.

What do you think Abbot Kinney would say about the Venice Beach of today?

Things to do in Venice Beach, California

Looking for things to do in Venice Beach, California? There’s no shortage of activities and attractions to enjoy when visiting Venice Beach. From exploring the lively Venice Beach boardwalk to seeing the historic Venice canals, these are some of the top exciting things you won’t want to miss.

How many canals are in Venice California?

grand canal of venice beach

Back in the early 1900s, there were a total of 13 canals, making the area 3 times larger than it is today. Only six canals remain today while the other seven canals were covered and are now street names you’ll find yourself walking through as you explore Venice.

Remaining Canals:

Four East-West Canals

  • Carroll Canal
  • Linnie Canal
  • Howland Canal
  • Sherman Canal

Two North-South Canal

  • Eastern Canal
  • Grand Canal

Current street names of the paved canals:

  • Main Street
  • Canal Street
  • Cabrillo Avenue
  • San Juan Avenue
  • Windward Avenue
  • Altair Street
  • Market Street
  • Grand Boulevard

With vehicles becoming a popular form of transportation, the canals were actually filled in 1929 and turned into paved roads. The remaining canals fell into disrepair throughout the years causing even closures to the area.

In 1993, the canals were finally renovated and re-opened. Making the Venice Beach Canals a popular spot for people to visit once again… minus the gondoliers.

The Venice Canals Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 9, 2009.

How to get to the Venice Beach Canals?

The Canals of Venice Beach are located in a quadrant between the streets of S Venice Blvd, Pacific Avenue, Ocean Blvd, and W Washington Blvd.

stepping stones, path to canals
27th Ave access

1. You can access the Venice Beach canals by foot just steps away from Oceanfront Walk and Pacific Avenue or by Ocean Avenue and Eastern Ct.

paved path, public access to canals
25th Ave access
wooden steps, path to canals
29th Ave access
  • From Ocean Front Walk and Pacific Avenue, where you’ll find public access to the canals from 25th Ave, 27th Ave, and 29th Ave. here are paths that lead down into the Canals of Venice Beach.

    The 25th Ave and 27th Ave access is the most direct into the heart of the canals. If you take the access from 29th Ave, you’ll be farther south on Grand Canal, just head north on the Venice Canal Walkway towards the other canals.
  • From Ocean Ave and Eastern Court, here you’ll find public access from Howland Ave, Linnie Canal, and Court D.

2. You can do a quick drive through the center of the Venice Canals Historic District via Dell Avenue. Dell Ave is a one-way street that you can start and go north on from W Washington Blvd. 3. Riding a bike along Dell Ave to see canals is also another option.

Parking at the Canals

  1. Only visiting the area to see the Venice Canals? Find a parking spot along Pacific Ave or Ocean Ave near the public access entrances for free parking. Note, on a busy day this may be a difficult find.
  2. Alternatively, you can pay for parking at one of the Venice Beach parking lots located at the end of W Washington Boulevard (near Venice Pier) or S Venice Boulevard.

How to Spend One Day in Los Angeles, California

There are so many things to do in Los Angeles, that it can be tough to know where to start. This one day in Los Angeles itinerary will help you make the most of your time in Southern California’s biggest city. From tourist traps to local spots, these are the best places to go in Los Angeles in a day.

What’s the best way to see Venice Canals walkway?

venice canal walkway

The best way to explore the Venice Canals is on foot via the Venice Canals walkway. You’ll get the best experience if you take the time to walk around the canals. You can connect from one canal to another via 9 pedestrian bridges that lead you around the Venice Canal Walkway.

succulent
Beautiful succulents and manicured gardens can be found along the front of the residences and the walkways.
mosaic lamppost and artwork inside a garden
Some gardens are colorful and creative.

You can make it a short walk or a long one. That’s up to you. You can also bring your furry friend, leashed and ready with poop bags to pick up after them.

What days are Venice Canals open?

woman standing on arched bridge over a waterway
Admiring the beauty and peacefulness of the Venice Canals

The Venice Canals are open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. That said, please be mindful and respectful of the community. This is a residential area.

Do you need to book in advance to visit Venice Canals Walkway?

walking along the grand canal of venice beach

No. You do not need to book anything to visit and see the Venice Beach Canals as it is open to the public for FREE.

However, if you’d like to book a paid guided tour of the Venice Canals, here are a couple of options:

  • Venice Boardwalk & Canals Walking Tour [book tour]
  • Private Tour on Venice Canals (ride a boat) [book tour]

Are cars allowed in the Venice Canals?

The only street that allows a vehicle inside of the Venice Beach Canals is Dell Ave, which is a one-way street. Otherwise, it is all foot traffic or by boat via the waterways, which is mostly used by residents.

Can you swim in the Venice Canals in LA?

No, you can’t swim in the Venice Canals. It is not allowed. Also, you have Venice beach a walk away. Better off saving your energy for the Pacific Ocean.

And, while the area is pretty to look at, the muddy water in the canals does not look pretty to swim in.

There it is, all you need to know about the canals of Venice Beach. The Venice Beach Canals are one of the most charming hidden gems in Los Angeles. It’s a unique part of LA that should definitely be part of your LA itinerary.

Have you visited Venice Canals in Los Angeles? What did you think?

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Lauren Elena

Sunday 13th of February 2022

I didn’t know about this spot either! I’d love to see the Venice of California. Well, the canals part since I have been to Venice. I don’t remember going to this spot. One day I will have to get back to Cali! Loved learning about this spot, the history and seeing all the pics. Maybe now it’s how Abbot Kinney intended it to be? Although with less canals but I’m sure he’d be happy to know it’s not an amusement park anymore. Funny what our different tastes are through the years. Although google tells me that soon after this one closed Disneyland was starting to get designed. We do still love our amusement parks!

Kathy

Sunday 13th of February 2022

I didn't know that about Disneyland. Interesting. Well, I think the amusement park in Venice was more like Santa Monica Pier and Coney Island than Disneyland.