Venice Canals (and I only had to travel 30 miles to “Italy”!)
Last weekend my friend Hillary and I met our friend Caroline in Venice for lunch (at my favorite restaurant, Lemonade) and decided to finally seek out the Venice canals. Since moving to LA, I’ve wanted to see the canals, but I don’t come to Venice very often and thus it’s taken me 2 1/2 years to finally visit the canals.
Our first stop, or course, was food! We dined at one of my favorite restaurants, Lemonade. There are several locations throughout Southern California, but we ate at the one on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice. Lemonade is set-up buffet style, in a way, in which you pick out sides, sandwiches, soups, meats and/or dessert and you can either dine in our take to go. Lemonade is described on their website as “seasonal Southern California comfort food” which is a pretty good description. My favorite is their chicken chili! And the reasons I love Lemonade are all the healthy options AND its affordable! Win! Obviously they also offer delicious and unique lemonades to drink, such as Blueberry Mint, Pineapple Coriander, Passion Fruit Pepper or my favorite, Blood-Orange. If you are feeling less adventurous they also offer classic old-fashioned lemonade.
After lunch, we explored Abbot Kinney Blvd. This street epitomizes the culture of Venice in my opinion. Abbot Kinney is boho-chic and features unique and local shops and restaurants. The street is named after Mr. Abbot Kinney, a developer from New Jersey, who moved to California with dreams of creating a “Venice of America.” Kinney was fascinated with the culture and architecture of Venice, Italy and so in 1891 he purchased a plot of land south of Santa Monica to create his new Venice. He built Pleasure Pier, a golf course, a boardwalk and canal waterways all with the idea of establishing a cultural mecca. But unfortunately for Kinney his “Venice of America” did not take off fully, and the resort beach vibe dominated the location. Thus, by 1905 Venice came to be known as the “Coney Island of the Pacific” rather than “Venice of America.”
But Mr. Kinney’s canals did survive and that is where Hillary and I spent the rest of our afternoon. In 1905, Abbot Kinney built this district of man-made canals as part of his “Venice of America.” He sought to recreate the charm of Venice, Italy with his beautifully constructed canals and arched bridges. He even brought in gondolas and gondoliers from Venice, Italy! This area became quite renowned, but as automobiles gained popularity the canals became outdated; and in 1929 many were filled in to create roads. By 1940 the canals were in such disrepair the city condemned the area. It wasn’t until 1992 that there was enough support financially for a full renovation. The canals were drained and new sidewalks were built, and the area re-opened in 1993 to become one of the most expensive residential districts of the city.
I love Venice. There’s something so alluring about the calm, eccentric vibe of the Venice area. Unfortunately it is a bit of a far drive from my apartment; so it was nice to spend Sunday there. And it was really great to finally explore the canals! Definitely check out the under-the-radar-to-most-tourists area of Abbot Kinney Blvd and the Venice canals when you are next in the neighborhood!