Venice Beach, United States

Don’t expect gondolas or much Renaissance art in this version of Venice: here, it’s all about surfboards, swaying palms and hippy-punk style. A seaside stretch of LA famous for its bustling Boardwalk, Venice Beach has earned an anything-goes reputation for its vibrant social scene and clutch of out-there shops; you’ll come across marijuana dispensaries next to tie-dye fashion boutiques, and heavily tattooed street artists rubbing shoulders with glossy Hollywood-types. Check out Muscle Beach (the 1930s birthplace of the pumped-up workout generation), test your credit limit at the mad-as-a-hatter stores on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, and take a stroll along the canals – this eccentric neighbourhood’s one nod to its Italian namesake.

When to go

Typical of the Sunshine State, temperatures are roasting in July and August. Visit in early spring or just before Christmas for balmy weather in the mid-teens, ideal for sightseeing.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    Most international and local airlines (including British Airways; www.britishairways.com) operate direct flights to LAX, a 15-minute drive from Venice Beach’s bustling Boardwalk.
  • Trains

    Downtown Santa Monica light rail station on Colorado Avenue is a few minutes’ walk from the famous Santa Monica Pier. Expo Line trams arrive here frequently from LA, Long Beach and Pasadena.
  • Automobiles

    A car will be useful if you plan on exploring the surrounding area – hire a vintage Mustang (or something more quotidian) from a booth at the airport and follow Lincoln Boulevard north to Venice Beach.