Favorite L.A. Area Spots: Venice Canals

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Just a few hundred yards away from the pandemonium that is Venice Beach on a sunny summer Sunday, the Venice Canals are a sea of tranquility.  Aside from the obvious stunning visuals, what strikes me is the sound.  It’s quiet.  Instead of city traffic noise, you hear gurgling water, wind chimes, birds, some animals, a few muffled human voices.  You rarely encounter more than a dozen people even if you wind your way through the entire canal system.

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And about those obvious striking visuals.  They really are striking.  Modern homes, miniature castles, and even villas coexist peacefully with cottages that are truly from a century past. 

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Bright colors are everywhere. 

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Many of the homes have dinghies, row boats, or canoes out front, so residents can get some exercise while paddling over to their neighbors to shoot the ample breeze.

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Even the celebrity residents are currently of the low-profile variety; I’m told that the white-haired gent who often sits outside this charming cottage reading the paper is 1970s game show icon Orson Bean.

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The other local celebrities you will encounter on your walk are ducks, although they can be a bit shy. 

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A pirate flag flying over a basketball backboard?  It doesn’t cause an eye to bat in the Venice Canals. 

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It’s hard to fathom that the Venice Canals, built by Abbott Kinney, once extended all the way North to Santa Monica and East to Sepulveda, or so I’m told by one local resident.  At least the enclave that remains is large enough almost immediately to create a sense of peace and wonder when one strolls among the footpaths and across the numerous arched bridges.

And that’s why the Venice Canals are one of my favorite Los Angeles area spots.

4 Replies to “Favorite L.A. Area Spots: Venice Canals”

  1. Is nice, in fact it’s VE(ry)NICE, but contrary to what the local told you the canals did not extend that far. There was, however a whole northern set of canals north of Venice Blvd that was filled in in the ’30s. That large traffic circle in Venice was once a lagoon.

  2. I love the canals and but haven’t been by for a while since I haven’t had a chance to get to LA in a while. Nice photos. It’s rare to find shy ducks there, though; I’ve been chased by some really aggressive ducks there, especially at night when they’re way more sure of their footing than I am of mine.

  3. M.A. — I was skeptical about the size of the canal network as reported to me, but have no plans to research this further unless (a) somebody pays me; or (b) burning curiosity gets the best of me. Either way, it was an ambitious project, and it’s still big enough to disappear into.

    Zee — maybe I’m just scary to ducks.

  4. Addison Mizner wanted the look of Venice (Italy) when he designed Palm Beach’s Worth Avenue here in the Southeast. He built pretty replicas of the canal bridges over the alleyway “vias”, but no canals. A little south, in Ft. Lauderdale, we have the canals, but they’re a lot wider, have glitzy homes bordering them, and much (noisy) powerboat traffic. Venice CA is certainly unique, and your photos are lovely.

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