I recently got back from visiting my family in Los Angeles, where I grew up, and for the first time I stayed in Venice.
When I go back to visit Los Angeles, which is pretty much once a year, I tend to stay around Pasadena because I love it there. Pasadena's Old Town and Colorado Blvd are great for strolls and shopping and I can highly recommend a visit!
I grew up around West Covina/Baldwin Park, which is an area located 19 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles. Neither Pasadena or West Covina are anywhere near the coast, so this vacation I wanted to be near the beach and experience the laid-back and boho atmosphere of Venice. And I'm glad I did! It was a different kind of vacation this time because of that choice and I can definitely recommend staying around the Venice and Santa Monica area when you visit Los Angeles - especially if you want a good combo of city & beach holiday and if you love to go for walks, bike rides and runs.
The area I stayed wasn't the only difference this time. Usually I stay at the hotel, like the majority of visitors and tourists - however this time my fiancé and I decided to rent an apartment for our 2 week stay.
If you're staying in LA for over a week, then DEFINITELY consider renting an apartment and I'll tell you why:
You feel much more at home and you have much more space
It was actually cheaper than staying at a hotel (unless you are looking at hotels under 3 stars and prices vary depending on the season)
You can prepare your own food
You usually have your own parking space
At most places it's also possible to do your laundry
We used a site called http://www.homeaway.co.uk/ to search for the various options in the area and check for availability of the property. It was a very user-friendly website and it was easy to make a favorites list in order to start narrowing down and ultimately make our decision.
In the end we chose this apartment in Venice, just a 5 -8 minute bike ride away from the beach and just a stone's throw from the trendy Abbot Kinney Road. And we LOVED it!
Click here to see this apartment's profile on Homeaway's website and see more pictures and prices.
The apartment was a one bedroom with an open plan kitchen and comfortable living space. The kitchen was well-equipped so we enjoyed preparing home-cooked meals some of the days there. There was even a little dishwasher so we didn't have to bother hand-washing - which was great! There was a landing right outside our front door with 2 garden chairs were we could enjoy our lunch or coffees in the sun. We also had a parking spot and the owners made their laundry room available for us.
The owners of this apartment are very pleasant and discrete people that are always willing to help and offer great suggestions on places and events in the area. They have 2 cute dogs that came up to greet us in the morning and we loved that.
However it's worth mentioning that the owners were very considerate and asked us several times if this was ok with us or if the dogs were bothering us. We have 2 dogs of our own, so it wasn't a bother in the slightest.
I mean just look at these cuties! Who could be bothered by those cute little faces? :-)
What to do in the area
1. Rent a beach cruiser
Enjoy biking up and down Venice Beach and up to Santa Monica. There are many places along the beach that rent out bikes, so go for it!
2. Santa Monica Pier.
Grab a coffee at The Coffee Bean on the Pier, enjoy the view and don't forget to take a ride on the ferris wheel.
3. Fish Tacos!
Definitely try the fish tacos either at "Back on the Beach" café about a 2 km bike ride further up the bike path passed the Pier or one of the various "Perry's" beach cafés along the bike path between Venice and Santa Monica. At all these beach cafés you can enjoy an assortment of delicious dishes with your toes in the sand.
4. The Venice Canals.
A wonderful little oasis in the heart of Venice. People live there so remember to be respectful, but it definitely is worth taking a stroll and day-dreaming about how awesome it would be to live in one of the cool houses along the canals.
5. Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Take a stroll and check out the cute boutiques on the very trendy Abbot Kinney. If you happen to be in Venice on the first Friday of the month, Abbot Kinney has a very cool food truck event where all the popular food trucks in the city line up to offer their creative, fusion cuisines. We went and we absolutely loved it and the food! Read more about this food event here.
Hope you guys have found this helpful, friends! In any case, I hope it inspires you to visit my hometown LA :-)