California Dreaming

Venice Beach offers a low-key, fun alternative to star-studded L.A.

Is there anywhere as iconic as a summer in California? It’s even better when your plans include less boardroom banter and more fresh air and fish tacos. Plan a long weekend in LA but consider venturing beyond star-studded Hollywood for a more low-key, but equally fun, LA experience in Venice Beach.

> Where to stay: Go four-star comfort at The Rose, a boutique hotel steps from Venice Beach. Prefer something funkier? The brightly muralled walls and hallway hammocks at The Kinney put you in between the busier parts of the neighbourhood, which makes getting to shopping, dining and beach easy on foot or by car. Prefer a serviced apartment? You can book that, too.;;

> Where to Eat: Breakfast eaten later and lingered over seems to be the meal of choice here. Stop by the Rose Café, where the onsite bakery and two patios offer options such as the chai-spiced beignet or chorizo scrambled eggs. Closer to the beach, you can grab and go, or sit and sip at Great White, which offers quality coffee and simple meal offerings. For dinner, pop into the Tasting Kitchen for the daily changing menu, slide into Salt Air for fresh seafood or wander over to Italian favourite Gjelina, where Beyoncé and Jay-Z have been known to dine.,;;

> Where to Shop: Stroll Abbot Kinney Blvd., named after the developer and conservationist who created the “Venice of America” idea that led to this canaled community. The street is choc-a-bloc with kitschy shops and was rated one of the best shopping blocks in America.

> What to Do: As much or as little as you’re up for. The bright lights of Downtown LA and West Hollywood are an easy Uber away. Preferring the boardwalk strolls, Santa Monica is right next door. Explore it all with Bikes and Hikes LA, which offers private tours along with preset offerings throughout the LA area.

Heather Greenwood Davis is a lawyer, a contributing editor to National Geographic Traveler, and a columnist for The Globe and Mail. Reach her at [email protected]