I will give full credit to Amie for finding this amazing spot. I had never even heard about it till we checked it out last weekend and I have already added it to my Best of California list because it was such a unique experience. The Venice Canals are located right off 25th street in Venice Beach and if you didn’t know they were there you would easily walk right by. It is essentially a neighborhood of houses that line five canals about a quarter mile long each. Along these canals are sidewalks and bridges and you can easily browse and take in the views of this unique area. Check out the pictures, history and my review below.
Venice of America was founded by tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney in 1905 as a beach resort town. When Venice of America opened on July 4, 1905, Kinney had dug several miles of canals to drain the marshes for his residential area and bring a taste of Venice to America. He also built a 1,200-foot long pleasure pier with an auditorium, ship restaurant, and dance hall, constructed a hot salt-water plunge, and built a block-long arcaded business street with Venetian architecture. The pier burned a decade later but the canals became a neighborhood that people both lived in and took gondola rides down. It was Kinney’s attempt to bring the beauty of Venice to Southern California.
In 1924 the city decided it needed more roads and most of canals were filled in in order to pave them. After lots of court hearings from the residents about whether or not it was legal to fill them in, the Supreme Court ruled it was in 1928. By the end of the year almost all of the canals were gone, save the ones that are still here to this day.
It was said that the remaining canals were saved by the Depression and the contractor’s bankruptcy. But in truth, the area, which was only half developed, wouldn’t have supported much housing, and the lack of need for more roads saved the remaining canals.
How To Get There
This Google Maps image shows where the canals are located in Venice Beach, you can see them in blue below.
I found it easier to simply park in the lot at the end of Venice Blvd and walk south on the boardwalk to 25th Avenue, then cut into the canals. At 25th street you can see a sign for the canals as well as a walkway that leads you directly into the area.
The canals themselves go for about as long as you would like to walk. We walked for about 45 minutes and there was still a lot to see. It is just a nice place to take a leisurely stroll and take in the beautiful and serene area that seems almost out of place in the chaos of Venice Beach.
Almost every house on the canals has a dock and a good half of them have some form of boat that they can take on the water. It seems like it would be a pretty cool life to simply walk outside your door, get in your gondola and travel down the waterway to the neighbors house.
Each canal seems to have at least two or three bridges that connect the two sides. While walking the area you will not have a hard time cutting across to adjacent sides, as there are enough bridges to make walking easy, but not enough to detract from the view.
Another cool thing about the bridges is that no two bridges seem to be the same. They have similar appearances, but they seem to be unique (I have not walked the whole area, so I am not 100% this is true).
The bridges provide excellent vantage points of the waterways for photography as well. The below picture was taken from a bridge.
The other standout for this area is the lavish houses that line the canals, and before you ask, they start at around a million dollars. So unfortunately they are about $900,000 out of my price range. Oh well, it was still a lot of fun to just walk along and check them all out.
As you would expect, most of the houses have been extensively kept up, with all of the plants never coming onto the walking path. Through the time I was there, I only saw one house that was run down and for sale, everything else looked like it had exceptional attention to detail in keeping the house in tip top shape.
I would highly suggest you add the Venice Canals to your list and go experience them for yourself. If you are not able to, at least browse the rest of my pictures below for a tour of this unique area. It is a great place for a stroll with your significant other, or a great free excursion if you are spending a family day at the beach. Get directions below and don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS so you can stay updated with my posts.