A year ago, when I first started thinking about moving back to southern California, LA wasn’t really high on my list. I always thought I’d end up in San Diego. Then I started spending time in LA and quickly realized just how much it has to offer. Although I still adore San Diego, for me, LA is more. A recent day trip to explore the Venice Canals and Abbot Kinney confirmed my love for my new home.
My love affair with California started back in the mid-2000s. My sister’s in-laws all live in San Diego, so I was headed there for my nephew’s baptism. It was my very first time in San Diego, and I instantly fell in love. We explored all of the little beach towns, old town, Gas Lamp, and all of the other special neighborhoods in San Diego. That’s one thing I absolutely adore about San Diego – all the cool and unique areas.
Over the next decade, I took countless trips back to San Diego. In 2011, we were finally in a position to try to move to CA, so I started applying for jobs. I looked in LA, San Diego, and then one of my colleagues suggested I check out UC-Irvine. I ended up landing a job there, even though I had never even been to Orange County before. Given my strong desire to move to CA, and the fact that we have family in both LA and San Diego, I figured it was worth the risk.
We spent 3 years in Orange County and loved our time there. Both of my kids were actually born there. Although we never wanted to leave, job opportunities took me back to Phoenix, and then just recently, Boston. Although I am so grateful for the cool opportunities I had to advance in my career, my heart always stayed in CA.
Then last year, I had several opportunities to come to the LA area for work and play. What I quickly found was that LA was everything I always imagined San Diego to be. It has so many unique, special, and distinctive areas to explore. It has so much culture, if you take the time to find it.
A couple weeks ago, I spent the day in Venice. We explored the Venice Canals, and strolled down Abbott Kinney Boulevard. This wasn’t my first time in Venice. Actually, one of my favorite people brought me to the Venice canals at sunset last year. At the time, I remember how mesmerized I was by the beautiful homes, twinkling lights against the canals, and all the intricacies of the channels and houses lined along time.
On this recent trip, it was immediately clear why this is such a popular tourist attraction. There are so many great photo opps, not to mention, it’s just gorgeous. I was especially drawn to one of the bridges with the lattice details and the palm tree-lined sidewalks that flank the canals. There are also so many beautiful homes along the canals. It’s just a gorgeous place to stroll, people watch, capture photos, and enjoy the lovely California weather.
After we walked around the canals for awhile, we headed over to Abbot Kinney Blvd. I personally love it for all of it’s street art. There are also a lot of really cute shops and restaurants to check out. The interesting thing about shopping on Abbot Kinney is that you might find a cute little local shop, but then you’ll also find expensive designer stores too. Although I only spent about an hour walking up and down the street, and enjoying the street art, I did find several eateries I wanted to check out.
The last time I hung out on Abbot Kinney, I went to the Butcher’s Daughter for a happy hour. It’s a super cute space with yummy food. My friend also grabbed ice cream at Salt & Straw. She said it is the best. Although I didn’t go myself, a friend suggested I check out Intelligentsia Coffee shop. I also noticed Blue Bottle Coffee (which I love) has a location in Abbott Kinney. So there’s no shortage of great coffee shops and restaurants, for sure.
If you’re going to check out this area of LA, parking will be your biggest hurdle. Although we eventually found free street parking near the Canals, it took us awhile. Abbott Kinney is very close to the Canals, but not quite close enough that I’d personally choose to walk. We did find a metered lot on one of the streets adjacent to Abbott Kinney.
Overall, my little day trip to Venice Canals and Abbot Kinney was a lot of fun. It’s definitely an area of the city I’m excited to explore even more.